Hi Jolly

Hi Jolly

Hadji "Hi Jolly" Ali (1828 — December 16, 1902) was a Greek-Syrian specialist who was one of the first camel drivers ever hired by US Army in 1856 to lead the camel driver experiment in the Southwest. Hi Jolly became a living legend until his death in Arizona. Once, insulted because he had not been invited to a German picnic in Los Angeles, he broke up the gathering by driving into it on a yellow cart pulled by two of his pet camels. [citeweb|title=Military Trivia: The United States Camel Corps. Part 3|url=|accessdate=2006-12-21]


As near as anyone can determine, he was born either somewhere in Syria or in Smyrna around 1828 of Greek and Syrian parentage. Hi Jolly, originally named "Haci Ali" was an Ottoman citizen. He worked for the Ottoman armed forces and he was a breeder and trainer of camels. There is no record of what his parents named him. Some sources allege his father was of Greek origins and mother was Syrian, reporting that he was born Philip Tedro and he took the name "Hadji Ali" when he converted to Islam during his early life after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Hadji was given when, as a Muslim, he made Hadj pilgrimage. [citeweb|title=The Islamic Community In The United States: Historical Development|url=|accessdate=2006-12-21] While other sources report his mother was of Greek origins and his father was Syrian. Hi Jolly's membership in the Army's Camel Experiment was not his first quasi-military adventure. Hi Jolly served with the French Army in Algiers before signing on as a camel driver for the US Army in 1856.

Ali was one of several men brought over by the American Government who were to drive the camels as beasts of burden in transportation across what was then known as the "Great American Desert." Eight of the men, including Ali, were of Greek origins, having arrived at the Port of Indianola in Lavaca County, Texas aboard the USS Supply. [citeweb|title=THE MYTHICAL FORT TEJON "CAMEL CORPS"|url=http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:DOCu6xybjBIJ:www.forttejon.org/camels.html+George+Caralambo&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=8|accessdate=2006-12-21] In "Go West Greek George" by Steven Dean Pastis, which was a published both in Greek and English, it specifically identifies all eight men. These pioneers were Yiorgos Caralambo (later known as Greek George),, [ [ Fall 2004 ] at] Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly aka Philip Tedro), Mimico Teodora (Mico), Hadjiatis Yannaco (Long Tom), Anastasio Coralli (Short Tom), Michelo Georgios, Yanni IIIato and Giorgios Costi. The Americans acquired 3 camels in Tunis, 9 in Egypt, and 21 in Smyrna, 33 in all. Ali was the lead camel driver during the US Army's experimental US Camel Corps in using camels in the dry deserts of the Southwest. After successfully traveling round trip from Texas to California, the experiment went bust, partly due to the problem that the Army's burros, horses and mules feared the large animals, often panicking, and the tensions of the American Civil War led to Congress not approving more funds for the Corps. In 1864, the camels were finally auctioned off in Benicia, California and Camp Verde, Arizona.

After the Camel Corps, Ali attempted to run a freight business between the Colorado River and mining establishments to the east using a few camels he kept. Unfortunately, the business failed and Ali released his camels into the Arizona desert near Gila Bend. In 1880 Ali became an American citizen and used the name Philip Tedro (sometimes spelled Teadrow) when he married Gertrudis Serna in Tucson, Arizona. The couple had two children. [citeweb|title=Camel driver's dream lives on in Quartzsite|url=|accessdate=2006-12-21] In his final years Ali moved to Quartzsite where he mined and occasionally scouted for the US government. He died in 1902 and was buried in the Quartzsite Cemetery.

Gravesite and Monument

dedicated a monument to Hadji Ali and the Camel Corps in the Quartzsite Cemetery. The monument, located at his gravesite, is a pyramid built from local stones and topped with a copper camel. The monument is the most visited location in Quartzsite.


*The folk song "Hi Jolly" is based on Hadji Ali's exploits.
*1976 movie, 1995 video release, "Hawmps" was loosely based on this camel experiment.

ee also

* U.S. Camel Corps


External links

*Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce: [http://www.quartzsitechamber.org Grave of "Hi Jolly"]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3063 Find-A-Grave profile]
*Out West Newspaper: [http://www.outwestnewspaper.com/camels.html "U.S. Camel Corps remembered in Quartzsite, Arizona"]
* [http://www.helleniccomserve.com/philiptedro.html American West]

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