HI JOLLY’S GRAVE

Quartzsite, Arizona

All of my life, a stop at Quartzsite has included a visit to Hi Jolly’s grave:

Growing up in the southwest I learned about the US Army’s experiment with importing camels before the Civil War, to determine if they would be more suited pack animals for our desert climate. Hadji Ali came as a camel driver in 1856. Records are sketchy, but it seems he was the son of a Greek and a Syrian, born somewhere in Syria (Smyrna?) around 1828. The soldiers called him Hi Jolly, inspiring the folk song of that name.

Eventually the Army abandoned the experiment, sold camels at auction, and released the remaining camels into the desert. Hi Jolly stayed in the Southwest as an army scout/packer, freight hauler and miner; he married, and became a US citizen in 1880 as Philip Tedro. On December 16, 1902, he passed away in Quartzsite, to be buried in a simple grave with a wooden marker.

His story does not end there. On December 15, 1935, the Arizona Republic reported that Jim Edwards (foreman for building that section of US Highway 60) and his crew worked on their own time, Sundays and holidays, building the monument with materials paid for by Mr. Edwards. A copper camel is atop a pyramid built of stones gathered from “Northern Yuma county.”

The Arizona Republic urged the state legislature to create a fund to mark historic sites. Today, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Exit 17 from Interstate 10, north on Business 10, east (right) on Business 10 (Main Street); the entrance to the cemetery will be on your left (about 1800 feet).

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