Hi Jolly

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Hi Jolly
Hadji Ali
Philip Tedro
Gertrudis Serna & Hadji Ali.jpg
Philip Tedro

c. 1828
DiedDecember 16, 1902
NationalityOttoman, American
OccupationCamel driver (Camel Corps), Miner, Scout
Hi Jolly Monument
Hi Jolly is located in Arizona
Hi Jolly
LocationN end of Cemetery Rd, Quartzsite, Arizona
Coordinates33°39′53″N 114°14′11″W / 33.66472°N 114.23639°W / 33.66472; -114.23639 (Hi Jolly Monument)Coordinates: 33°39′53″N 114°14′11″W / 33.66472°N 114.23639°W / 33.66472; -114.23639 (Hi Jolly Monument)
Arealess than one acre
Built1935 (1935)
Built byEdwards, James
MPSPyramidal Monuments in Arizona MPS
NRHP reference No.11000054[1]
Added to NRHPFebruary 28, 2011

Hi Jolly or Hadji Ali (Arabic: حاج علي‎, romanizedḤājj ʿAlī; Turkish: Hacı Ali), later known as Philip Tedro (born 'Ali al-Hajaya c. 1828 – December 16, 1902), was an Ottoman subject of Syrian and Greek parentage,[2] and in 1856 became one of the first camel drivers ever hired by the US Army 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.[3]


He was born as Philip Tedro in Smyrna around 1828, to a Greek mother and a Syrian father who was a Christian Arab.[2] As a young adult, he converted to Islam. After going to Mecca to perform the hajj (pilgrimage), he called himself Hadji Ali. He reverted to Philip Tedro in later life.

An Ottoman Turkish citizen of Greater Syria, Hadji Ali worked as a camel breeder and trainer. He 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 hired by the United States Army to introduce camels as beasts of burden to transport cargo across the "Great American Desert." Eight of the men – including Ali – were of Greek origin. They arrived at the Port of Indianola in Calhoun County, Texas on the USS Supply.[4] The book Go West Greek George by Steven Dean Pastis, published in both Greek and English, specifically identifies all eight men. These pioneers were Yiorgos Caralambo (later known as Greek George), Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly, a.k.a. Philip Tedro), Mimico Teodora (Mico), Hadjiatis Yannaco (Long Tom), Anastasio Coralli (Short Tom), Michelo Georgios, Yanni Iliato, and Giorgios Costi. The Americans acquired three camels in Tunis, nine in Egypt and 21 in Smyrna: 33 in all. Ali was the lead camel driver during the US Army's experiment with the U.S. Camel Corps in using camels in the dry deserts of the Southwest. After successfully traveling round trip from Texas to California, the experiment failed, 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, Texas. Ali was discharged from the Quartermaster Department of the U.S. Army at Fort McDowell in 1870.

He next ran a freight service between the Colorado River and the mining establishments further east, using the few camels he had purchased. His business was unsuccessful, however, and he released his camels into the desert near Gila Bend. He became an American citizen in 1880, and he used his birth name of Philip Tedro (sometimes spelled Teadrow) when he married Gertrudis Serna in Tucson, Arizona. They had two children.[5] In 1885, Ali was again hired by the U.S. Army in Arizona, and worked with pack mules for Brig. Gen. George Crook during the Geronimo campaign.

In his final years, Ali moved to Quartzsite, Arizona, where he mined and occasionally scouted for the US government. He died in 1902 and was buried in the Quartzsite Cemetery.

Gravesite and monument[edit]

Hadji Ali grave in Quartzsite, Arizona. The mention of "Syria" on the grave refers to the region of Ottoman Syria.

In 1935, Arizona Governor Benjamin Moeur 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, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The monument is the most visited location in Quartzsite.[citation needed]

The plaque on the monument reads:

ABOUT 1828
DECEMBER 16, 1902
FEBRUARY 10, 1856


The folk song "Hi Jolly" is based on Hadji Ali's exploits. The 1954 movie Southwest Passage was largely based on this camel experiment. The 1976 movie Hawmps! was also loosely based on this camel experiment. The 2019 novel Inland by Téa Obreht includes a character based on Hadji Ali. The 1959 novel,[6] Hi Jolly by children's book author Jim Kjelgaard, also covers his story in a fictionalized form for young readers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Philip Tedro: A Greek Legend of the American West". helleniccomserve.com.
  3. ^ "Military Trivia: The United States Camel Corps. Part 3". Archived from the original on October 28, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Stammerjohn, George. "The Mythical Fort Tejon "Camel Corps"". Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved 2006-12-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Lowe, Sam (1999-11-01). "Camel driver's dream lives on in Quartzsite". The Arizona Republic. p. 38.
  6. ^ Kjelgaard, Jim, 1910-1959. (2013) [1959]. Hi Jolly!. Dodd, Mead and Company. ISBN 978-1-4864-8720-2. OCLC 908394421. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]