Yiorgos Caralambo

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Yiorgos Caralambo
George Caralambo.jpg
Greek George, George Allen.
Other name(s)George Allen
Nickname(s)Greek George
Bornc. 1828
somewhere in Asia Minor
DiedSeptember 2, 1913(1913-09-02) (aged 85)
Montebello, California
Service/branchUS Army

Yiorgos (or George) Caralambo also called Greek George and George Allen (? – September 2, 1913) was a camel driver hired by US Army in 1856 for the Camel Corps experiment in the Southwest. The camels were to be tested for use in transportation across the "Great American Desert."[1]


Caralambo, who was of Greek ancestry, was living in Smyrna when he was selected for the Camel Corps. The American government hired eight camel drivers from Asia Minor to tend the animals.[2] Caralambo and the other camel drivers arrived at the Port of Indianola in Lavaca County, Texas with their animals on the USS Supply.[3] In Steven Dean Pastis' article "Go West Greek George," the eight men are identified: Caralambo, Hadji Ali (later known as Philip Tedro), Mimico Teodora (Mico), Hadjiatis Yannaco (Long Tom), Anastasio Coralli (Short Tom), Michelo Georgios, Yanni IIIato and Giorgios Costi.

The United States had purchased a total of 33 camels: 3 in Tunis, 9 in Egypt, and 21 in Smyrna. The Camel Corps hauled supplies to build the Butterfield Overland Stage Route from St. Louis, Missouri to Los Angeles. The route was completed by September 1858.

Through his service in the Camel Corps, Greek George met Major Henry Hancock, a Harvard trained lawyer and wealthy Los Angeles landowner. Hancock was so impressed by Caralambo's dedication that he wanted to employ him privately to drive camels carrying mail along the Butterfield Route. Hancock allowed Greek George to build a farmhouse with stables to house the dromedaries in the northwest part of Rancho La Brea, in present-day West Hollywood. The plan fell through when the Army disbanded the Camel Corps in 1862. Greek George was forced to turn the camels into the wild; they roamed the area for at least thirty years afterwards.

Greek George remained at Rancho La Brea well into the 1870s, taking care of Major Hancock's cattle and horses. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1867 and changed his name to George Allen.

On May 5, 1874, Tiburcio Vasquez, one of the most notorious California bandits of the 1870s and 1880s, was captured while hiding out in a shack behind the home of Caralambos, known to locals as "Greek George". Vasquez, who terrorized Southern California for over twenty-three years, frequently used Greek George's farmhouse as one of his numerous hideouts. Someone informed on Vasquez, possibly Greek George himself, enticed by the $15,000 reward. However, others claim it was a relative of Vasquez, angry because the outlaw had had an affair with the relative's niece. A posse led by Sheriff Albert Johnson rode from Los Angeles to Greek George's residence. The site is in present-day West Hollywood, thought to be near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and King's Road.

Caralambos later moved to Montebello, California and died near Mission Vieja in 1913.

Historical landmark[edit]

The grave of George Caralambo became a California Historical Landmark No. 646 on May 5, 1958. The marker at the site reads:[4]

  • NO. 646 GRAVE OF GEORGE CARALAMBO, (GREEK GEORGE) – This is the grave of 'Greek George,' a camel driver from Asia Minor who came to the United States with the second load of camels purchased by the War Department as an experiment to open a wagon road to Fort Tejón from Fort Defiance, New Mexico. Because of the Civil War, the experiment was abandoned. 'Greek George' became a naturalized citizen in 1867 under the name of George Allen. He built an adobe home on Santa Monica Boulevard.
  • The site of the marker is Broadway at Gregory Ave in Whittier, in the Founders' Memorial Park at 33.986823,-118.046399. Caralambo's tombstone is located in the Civil War section of the Whittier Museum, Whittier, CA



  1. ^ "Greek George Hadji Ali". Archived from the original on October 14, 2006. Retrieved 2017-05-23.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Fall 2004 Archived 2011-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "FTHA History – Camels". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2017-05-23.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ californiahistoricallandmarks.com 646, GRAVE OF GEORGE CARALAMBO
  5. ^ CA Parks – Grave of 'Greek George'

External links[edit]