Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> U.S. CAMEL CORPS

Hi Jolly And The U.S. Camel Corps.
Prospector Convinced Arizona Still Has Camels.


Webmaster’s note.

Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, for whom Beale



(Above and right) Hi Jolly’s tomb in Quartzsite, Ariz. Vacation photos (1940s) showing Lt. Col. Henry Kendall, U.S. Army Engineer, of Shelby, N.C.

A sign at the site of Hi Jolly’s tomb reads:
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 of 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, Hadji 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 Phillip Tedro … On the Beale expedition (1857) to open a wagon road across Arizona from Fort Defiance to California, the camels, under 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. 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.

QUARTZSITE, Ariz. — When the desert cools this winter … when the burn is gone from the sand and the dry air packs a brisk tang, old Bill Keiser is going to get himself a pair of binoculars and look for wild camels.

Right now old Bill, a retired prospector and one of the few residents left in this ghost town, is content to sit on his front porch, shielded from the heat waves that dance in the street, and speculate about the camels.

He’s pretty sure he’ll find those wild camels, descendants, he says, of animals brought to this country nearly 100 years ago.

"There are sure signs that camels are in these parts," Keiser explained. "Just the other day, for instance, a prospector from St. Louis found fresh camel tracks in the hills a few miles from here."

Jefferson Davis, as secretary of war in President Pierce’s cabinet, approved the plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication in the arid Southwest. Maj. Henry C. Wayne of the army and Lt. D.D. Porter of the navy visited the Near East with the storeship Supply and brought 33 camels which were landed at Indianola, Tex., Feb. 10, 1856. On a second trip they got 41 more.

Trip Is Attraction

With the first shipment came a caretaker, a short, heavyset, happy-go-lucky Arab named Hadji Ali, whose name was promptly changed to "Hi Jolly" by the soldiers. Today, Hi Jolly’s tomb is this town’s only attraction.

A Texas base for the camels was Camp Verde, a frontier outpost in Kerr county. On the Beale expedition (1857) to open a wagon road across Arizona from Fort Defiance to California, the camels, under Hi Jolly, proved their worth.

Nevertheless, the war department abandoned the experiment and the camels were left to shift for themselves on the Arizona desert.

Keiser, tough, tanned and 73, got a swig of cool water from the well at the side of his porch.

"I’ll tell you why the government quit fooling with the camels," he said. "It wasn’t because they didn’t do a good job. They could carry a thousand pounds of freight 65 miles a day and they went three days without water. But they scared hell out of every varmint that sighted

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