Friday, January 26, 2018

Hi Jolly Monument by Zina Abbott

This has nothing to do with my book, Otto's Offer, that was published two days ago, but I couldn't help passing along a little tidbit about an area of the United States that I visited for the first time very recently -- Quartzsite, Arizona. 

Quartzsite is a small town in the middle of the desert where in the winter the wind always blows -- a lot -- constantly. It sure did the couple of days I was there, and I was told it is the norm. It has a certain beauty to it. The town of Quartzsite has an interesting history I will feature in the future, but today it caters to bazillions of snowbirds and others who scatter their RVs across miles of desert -- much of it BLM land -- which can be rented very inexpensively for months at a time for dry camping (as in, no facilities).

In addition to several gas stations, truck stops, groceries and the obligatory fast food, it offers a museum, an out of this world flea market (don't drive down the street with the flea market unless you have a lot of gas in your car and lots of time to kill--it takes forever.) In addition, there are more RVs for sale on sales lots than there are people in Quartzsite. 

Beyond that, the big attraction in Quartzsite is the Hi Jolly Monument which is located in the Hi Jolly Quartzsite Cemetery and oversees the graves there.

Remember those camels the U.S. Army brought over to the Southwest in the 1850's? With them came a handler named Haiji Ali. I guess that name was a little bit much for the American soldiers to wrap their tongues around, so he promptly became known as Hi Jolly. I'll tell more of his history in another post, but here is what the sign at the Hi Jolly Monument had to say about him and the camel experiment:

The famous camel herd with which the name of Hi Jolly is linked constitutes an interesting sidelight of Arizona History….

Jefferson Davis (Afterward president of the Southern Confederacy), as Secretary of War, approved a plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication in the arid southwest….

Major Henry C. Wayne of the U.S. Army and Lt. D. D. Porter (later a distinguished admiral in the Civil War) visited the Levant with the storeship Supply and procured 33 camels which were landed at Indianola, Texas, February 10, 1856. 41 were added on a second voyage….

With the first camels came, as caretaker, Haiji Ali whose Arabic name was promptly changed to Hi Jolly by the soldiers, and by this name he became universally known. His Greek (?) name was Philip Tedro….

On the Beale Expedition in 1857 to open a wagon road across Arizona from Fort Defiance to California, the camels under Hi Jolly’s charge proved their worth. Nevertheless, the War Department abandoned the experiment and the camels were left on the Arizona desert to shift for themselves, chiefly roaming this particular section [La Paz Valley], they survived for many years creating interest and excitement….

Officially the camel experiment was a failure. But both Lt. Beale and Major Wayne were enthusiastic in praise of the animals. A fair trial might have resulted in complete success.

The following is what was put on the Hi Jolly Monument itself:

 The last camp of Hi Jolly

Born somewhere in Syria about 1828
Died at Quartzsite December 16, 1902
Came to this country February 10, 1856
Cameldriver – Packer
Scout – Over thirty years a faithful aid to the U.S. Government
Arizona Highway Department, 1935

Zina Abbott recently published two books as part of the multi-author series, LOCKETS & LACE. 

The first, the prequel to the series, is titled The Bavarian Jeweler.  

The other, book 3 in the Lockets & Lace series, is Otto's Offer.


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