Philip Tedro:

A Greek Legend of the American West

Greek-American Review

Whenever the complete history of the Greek Diaspora is finally written the life and legend of Philip Tedro will occupy much attention. That enduring legends continue to surround this man should not deter us from seeking to discover as much of the historic fact as is possible from this, now, considerable, distance in time. Compounding this whole process is that Tedro's actions and exploits in the United States Army, from the late 1850s onwards, is as intricate a part of the history of the exploration and settlement of the American southwest as any event one would care to name.

Philip Tedro was one of less than a dozen Greeks who took part in the United States Army's ill-fated experiment with the use of camels as dray animals in the American west. In the years just preceding the American Civil War these Greeks were involved not simply with driving and caring for the animals but also be-came much needed scouts for the United States Army. Yet it was after their participation in the Camel experiment that their real impact on the American southwest took place.

Archival documents, public monuments and popular culture all attest to the undeniable fact that this small group of Greek men led notable lives. Moreover these early pioneer Greeks continue to powerfully influence the world of America Western history and legends.



Philip Tedro, Agua Catlente Springs
Arizona 1896

Literalists may laugh at such claims. How could the actions of a handful of Greek men, in the 1850s, have any direct impact on the lives of those Americans among whom they were destined to live? While this point can be easily refuted, more is at work here. All such literalist positions automatically ignore the symbolic and mythic accounts concerning the actions of Tedro. That Americans, today, seek out the grave of Philip Tedro and participate in full-dressed reenactments of the Camel expedition's scouting of the American southwest is completely lost on those who only take an absolutist view of historical cause and effect. As we shall see Philip Tedro continues to spark something in the American Imagination that evolves in new ways with each passing year.

By focusing solely on the chronological events of Tedro's life we would totally miss events and actors who have accrued new meanings to this man and his actions. It is the inner workings of the American Imagination that has, and continues to; alter the meanings of this man's life. For it is Americans and not Greek-Americans who today honor the person and the legend of Philip Tedro, the man best known, to them, as Hi Jolly, the Camel Driver.

But first, something of the actual history, behind the tangle of legends, monuments, reenactments, and celebrations.

Philip Tedro, with his pack of mules 1986
Agua Catlente Springs

Camel Expedition

On February 10, 1856, some eight Greeks arrived at the Port of Indianola in Lavaca county Texas aboard the USS Supply. "Go West Greek George" by Steven Dean Pastis is the only published account, in Greek or English, that specifically identifies all eight men (c.f. Greek Accent 1984). These pioneers were Yiorgos Caralambo (later known as Greek George), Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly), Mimico Teodora (Mico), Hadjiatis Yannaco (Long Tom), Anastasio Coralli (Short Tom), Michelo Georgios, Yanni IIIato and Giorgios Costi. Needless to say handling and care of these great beasts of bur-den required special knowledge and abilities. Hi Jolly, Greek George and the others were hired to teach the soldiers how to handle and pack the animals.

Of all the Greek drivers and scouts, the man who would soon be nicknamed, "Hi Jolly" is the only one that shines on all occasions, in all accounts. This does not mean that Yiorgos Caralambro or Mimico Teodora, for example, did not each have their own moments of triumph and recognition. But rather than notoriety which (say) Caralambro excelled in, Hi Jolly, was by all persons, respected. As his fumble-lipped Anglo-Saxon compatriots freely admitted, "Hi Jolly," received this nickname because they were somehow vocally unable to pronounce, "Hadji Ali."

Hi Jolly was born Philip Tedro in Smyrna of half Greek and half Syrian parentage. Various sources report that Tedro was his 'Greek name" and since he had converted to Islam and had made the pilgrim-age to Mecca he was also a Hadji. 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 (c.f.

After The War with Mexico (1846-1848) ended in victory for the United States all the land that now includes Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and the western regions of Colorado and New Mexico were added to the nation-an area of some 529,000 square miles. With the 1849 discovery of gold in California thousands of Americans from the east began to surge west. Surveying, defending, and supplying the newly acquired lands fell to the federal government.

With all this in mind, in 1855, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was told of an innovative plan to import camels to help build and supply a federal wagon route from Texas to California. Davis approved the plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication in the arid southwest. Davis proposed a Camel Military Corps to Congress. "For military purposes, and for reconnaissance's, it is believed the dromedary would supply a want now seriously felt in our service," he explained. Congress agreed and appropriated $30,000.

Major Henry C. Wayne of the army along with Lt. D.D. Porter of the navy visited the Near East with the USS Supply and brought 33 camels, which were landed at Port Indianola, Texas on February 10, 1856. On a second trip the military brought additional animals, such that the total number was one hundred. "Uncle Sam's Camels," as they were quickly nicknamed, were of the one-hump dromedary breed from the Middle East countries and one large Bactrian, which came from the Amur River country of Mongolia. With much difficulty, they were loaded onto a Navy ship (with part of its deck modified to accommodate the large creatures) and transported to Texas.

From Port Indianola the expedition traveled to Camp Verde, a frontier outpost in Kerr County, Texas. Once the animals and their handlers reached Fort Davis Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893) assumed command. By November 25, 1856 Hi Jolly is cited, as a "camel herder", with a salary of $15 a month. On June 25, 1857, under Beale's command 25 camels, 44 soldiers, 2 camel drovers (Hi Jolly and Yiorgos Caralambo) and numerous horses and mules left Fort Davis to chart the shortest distance between Ft. Defiance in Texas and the Colorado River. From Ft. Defiance the expedition traveled to San Antonio and then onward to EI Paso. From EI Paso Beale roughly followed Lt. Amiel Whipple's trail west across Arizona through the Flagstaff area. The Expedition traveled due west and slightly north of Flagstaff through Peach Springs and Truxton Wash (the latter was named after Beale's son, Truxton). Moving through the Kingman area the Expedition made it to the banks of the Colorado River.

The camels were loaded with 600 to 800 pounds each and traveled 25 to 30 miles a day. If the animals fared well, a series of Army posts could be set up later along the route to relay mail and supplies across the Southwest. The expedition arrived at Fort Teton, California in November of 1857.

After reaching California the expedition returned to Texas, a success - at least to Beale. "The harder the test they (the camels) are put to, the more fully they seem to justify all that can be said of them," Beale wrote. "They pack water for days under a hot sun and never get a drop; they pack heavy burdens of corn and oats for months and never get a grain; and on the bitter greasewood and other worthless shrubs, not only subsist, but keep fat.

He concluded, "I look forward to the day when every mail route across the continent will be conducted and worked altogether with this economical and noble brute. But perhaps he was too optimistic. What he didn't say was that the camels had difficulty with the West's rocky soil. And prospectors' burros and mules -and even Army mules - were afraid of the odd-looking creatures and would sometimes panic at their sight.

Still, in 1858, then-Secretary of War John Floyd told Congress, "The entire adaptation of camels to military operations on the Plains may now be taken as demonstrated. He urged Congress to authorize the purchase of 1,000 more camels. Congress didn't act, however, as it was pre-occupied with trouble brewing between the North and South. In 1860 Secretary Floyd, again, made a similar futile recommendation. Between late 1857 and 1860 Beale used the camels - and, evidently, continued to use Hi Jolly and Greek George's expertise at handling them - to haul supplies back and forth from Los Angeles to Fort Teton by way of the Santa Clarita Valley (and Fremont Pass, later named Beale's Cut). In 1859, Hi Jolly traveled with the camels to Fort Tejon, staying some 5 1/2 months between 17 November 1859 and mid-April 1860. The camels were then taken to the Los Angeles US Army Quartermaster Depot.

Fort Davis

At some point between 1857 and 1859, Hi Jolly was involved in the delivery of the United States mail. While the fabled Pony Express is clearly the more romantic image it was the mule teams that in the end brought the vast majority of the mail to the new western territories. Locals soon dubbed this service the "Jackass Mail." Hi Jolly was quite literally among the very first individuals involved in the steady, if much less glamorous method, of delivering mail throughout the southwest. It should be noted that each mule driver was expected to make 180 miles a day. Yet with all the expedition's reported success with the first shots of the Civil War, the Camel experiment was finished. Nothing could save the camels.

Hi Jolly Plaque 1933

On February 26, 1864, thirty-four of the camels, then in route for Benicia, California were auctioned off upon their arrival. The remaining sixty-six camels were auctioned at Camp Verde on March 18, 1866. The camels found homes in California zoos, while others were bought by circuses and side shows. Although the majority of the camels were disposed of in these public sales it has always been said that a few escaped into the desert. These camels thrived in their new homeland. In time these wild camels were to be shot by prospectors and hunters as pests. When the last of the camels were finally abandoned at Fort Yuma in 1866 so were the handlers.

The events of the camel experiment cover only roughly ten years in the lives of all the individuals involved. The later experiences Hi Jolly, Greek George and the other Greeks have yet to see detailed documented examination.

Hi Jolly in the Wild West

After his service in the camel experiment Hi Jolly was to spend another 38 years in the American southwest. Tedro would divide his time between hauling freight (over roads he had helped to explore and establish), prospecting, and serving the United States cavalry as a scout. Hi Jolly first started a freighting business between various Colorado River ports and mining camps to the east immediately after the Expedition ended. Later, he changed routes and established a camel freight line between Yuma and Tucson. For various reasons, ultimately all of the old drovers' business ventures failed.

The on again off again nature of Hi Jolly's freight and drayage ventures were interspaced by work with the Army forts, just then, springing up after the Civil War. At various times and in various places Hi Jolly served the Army as a mule packer, guide and scout. From May 13, 1868, to August 7, 1869 Hi Jolly served as Pack Master at Fort McDowell with a salary of $100 per month. For reasons that remain unclear Hi Jolly left the Army once again and then returned on October 25, 1869 as simply a Packer and for only $45 a month.

It has been said that Hi Jolly worked as a prospector during his various departures from serving the Army. Stories also circulate that this was the period when Hi Jolly turned his last camel loose into the desert near Gila Bend returning to Fort McDowell soon after. On January 1, 1870, Tedro's designation changed once again. Now the man is cited as Guide and Scout and is said to have is "served as such until his discharge on June 20, 1870."

To gain some perspective on Hi Jolly's activities and role in the settlement of the southwest we should note that the Battle of the Little Big Horn did not take place until June 25, 1876. This was the infamous battle between the U.S. Army's seventh cavalry, led by George Armstrong Custer (guided by Crow and Arikara scouts) and several bands of Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Also known as "Custer's Last Stand," the entire command of 220 men (cavalry soldiers, officers and Indian scouts) was wiped out.

Hi Jolly's exact whereabouts and precise actions are unclear until, once again in 1880 he was employed, by the Army in Tucson. It was during his tenure at Tucson that the a man most people in the West knew as "Hi Jolly" is said to have taken on his "Greek name" Philip Tedro (sometimes also spelled Teadro and even Teadrow) when he became a naturalized citizen on May 7, 1857.

Since this was also the same year Tedro married we can suspect that more than just reemployment with the Army occupied his thoughts. It has been said that Hi Jolly emphasized his Greek ethnicity, at this particular time, so that he would be able to marry. Whatever the case maybe we know for certain that in 1880 Tedro married Gertrude Serna of Tucson and lived in that city for a time. He is reported to have been with the Army at Huachuca and other posts until the surrender of Geronimo and the last of the Chiricahua Apaches in 1886. As with so many other moments in his life Philip Tedro's role as one of the very last of the "Indian Scouts" employed by the US Army during this crucial moment of settlement in the American southwest, has never been systematically studied. In the meantime he became the father of two girls, Amelia and Herminia, both born in Tucson.

A few years before he died Hi Jolly moved to a cabin near Quartzsite where he mined with a burro. The town of Quartzsite (who's original name was Tyson's Wells, which is how the old Greek would have known it) is a high desert town on the very fringe of the Mojave Desert.

Edward Fitzgerald Beale

Sometime after 1889, Hi Jolly went to Ajo and tried unsuccessfully to collect one or two of the surviving camels for transportation. During this period he stayed frequently with the Cullings family west of Wickenburg. Daniel Cullings, Sr. reported that Hi Jolly brought him a quarter grown camel calf and gave it to him. It finally wandered off and was never seen again. Until his death Hi Jolly was largely supported by merchant Mike Welz and other friends. Arizona Congressman Mark Smith tried to get him a pension for Tedro from the United States Army but was unsuccessful. It seems that since Tedro had never formally enlisted in the Army but was only hired by it he was not entitled to a pension.

To gain some perspective on Tedro's pioneer status in the American west it was Frederick Jackson Turner's 1893 lecture, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" at the Chicago World's Exposition that is understood as the moment when the era for founding the American West had come to a close. Tedro was to live, work and influence events in the American West during the very years it was first explored and settled.

In the summer of 1896 we "see" Hi Jolly one last time. A Mr. Ross of Phoenix was visiting Agua Catiente Springs. Once there, he met Tedro, and was told something of the man's life as "Hi Jolly." Mr. Ross took two pictures of Tedro and his burros that found their way into museum archives. Hi Jolly was riding his burro "Johnny." On the back of one of these photographs is the memory that Tedro told "Johnny" he was "getting dam stylish getting' your picture took.'

Philip Tedro died walking along the old desert road from the Colorado River to Wickenburg on December 16, 1902, at the age 73. Tedro was buried in the Quartzsite Cemetery. All this was a full ten years before the Arizona Territory became the 48th state in the Union.

The legends have it that Hi Jolly was searching for one of his camels when he died. That Tedro did in fact find the camel during a sand storm and was discovered dead the next day with his arm across the camel's neck is one of this man's most en-during legends. Newspaper accounts report that to his dying day, Hi Jolly believed that a few of the camels still roamed the desert. And he was right. The last wild camel in Arizona was captured in 1946. The last reported sighting of a wild camel in North America was in Baja California in 1956.

The Last Camp

Tedro was buried in a simple grave with a wooden headboard. It is said that all the remaining old prospectors attended Hi Jolly's funeral. For more than 30 years, Tedro's grave lay forgotten, until James L. Edwards of the Arizona Highway Department had a handsome pyramid tomb erected over Tedro's gravesite in 1934. Ten feet tall the new grave marker is a pyramid-shaped monument made of the stones from the area such as black malapai rock, petrified wood, gold-bearing quartz, and natural red, white and blue rocks (symbolizing the flag). Some of these stones also feature ancient petroglyphs still to be seen on their exterior surfaces. Crowning the pyramid is the silhouette of a one-humped camel made of copper.

The copper silhouette that tops the pyramid catches the rays of the sun in twilight. This fact is frequently mentioned as it said to symbolize the various legends of Red Ghost
the camel. Without going into detail it is enough to report here, that various camels, that were part of the ill-fated experiment such as "Old Douglas," "Topsy," and "Red Ghost," each have their own documented history as well as legends. So striking did these animals prove in the American West that even the indigenous Amerindians soon had stories about these animals. It is the Indian name, translated into English, which still denotes Arizona's, Camelback Mountain.

The tomb of Philip Tendro

A vault in the base of the pyramid is said to contain a few old letters, Hi Jolly's government contracts as camel driver and scout, and less than a dollar in change (his total wealth when he died). The vault also contains something else, the ashes of Topsy, and the last camel from the original herd. As fate would have it Topsy had died in 1934 at the Garfield Zoo in Los Angeles nearly eighty years old.

The dedication ceremony for what was called "Hi Jolly's Last Camp" received "a big blowout," as it was, then, described, with Governor B. B. Moeur and other dignitaries all in attendance. Various Arizona Highway historical markers were also erected and so continue to identify the gravesite. Today, this pyramid gravestone is one of the most visited tourist spots in the American southwest.

But Philip Tedro's exploits were not to fade from popular memory.

The Ballad of Hi Jolly

While everyone on the planet has heard of American folk songs only those who are familiar with this tradition know the rowdy ballad, Hi Jolly the Camel Driver. As with many such folk songs the lyrics often vary considerably.

Here are three of the most often heard verses:

Hi Jolly was a camel driver, long time ago/ He followed Mr. Blaine way out west-Yee-hawf/ Didn't mind the burning sand in that God-forsaken land/ And he didn't mind the pretty gals the best.

I'm singin' Hi Jolly, Hey Jolly 20 miles a day, by golly 20 miles/ Before the morning light Wee-chaw! Hi Jolly, Hey ya Gatta get ani My way ya Told my gal I'd be home Sunday night.

There's pretty girls in Albuquerque 'Least that's what they say, There's pretty gals in Tucumcari too Woo-hoo! But honey don't you mind I won't pay them anytime 'Cause I'm savin' all my lovin' just for you. I'm singin' Hi Jolly...

Old timers down in Arizona tell you that it's true lIt's true! That you can see Hi Jolly's ghost a-ridin'throughIOoooh! When the desert moon is high He comes riding into sight Driving 4 and 20 camels over the hill I'm singin' Hi Jolly...[edd: The creator of this 1963 song and lyrics is Randy Sparks, founder of The New Christy Minstrels in whose album "Ramblin'" the ballad appears. Click here to read the complete lyrics, the correct version of Mr. Sparks's lyrics which he has so graciously granted permission to reproduce on 26 November 2007.]

I have not been able to determine the origin or nature of this song. Is Hi Jolly the Camel Driver an anonymously composed folksong of the Old West? Or is this song a later composition of the late 1950s early 1960s American folk song revival? For the moment all that can be determined is that Randy Spears, one of the founding members of the New Christy Minstrels, is credited Christy Minstrels, is credited with the version heard on their recordings. The New Christy Minstrels on their self-titled premier album are the first group known to release a version of Hi Jolly the Camel Driver (c.f. Columbia CK 8855).

This was not a novelty song. Just to quickly name four versions of this song we need only cite The Travels 3 version of this song recorded in 1963, then the Canadiana Folksingers offered their own take on this song on their This Land Is Your Land album in 1964, the Merrymen recorded a version in 1993 and you can hear yet another version on the River City Ramblers' 2001 album On Time. Other singers and groups could be cited.

An entirely different venue dem-onstrates that Hi Jolly the Camel Driver is far from a forgotten ballad. Somehow this song of Hi Jolly became an extremely popular camp song. Many reports exist of American teenagers and children who first heard this ballad while sitting around the late night campfire. The song came at the end of a dramatic retelling of Hi Jolly's life and how he and his camels-as this campfire story goes-became restless ghosts.

The camp fire story of Hi Jolly the Camel Driver has many variations of its own. Most Hi Jolly tales present the man lost and searching through a sand storm for Red Ghost last of the camels. Variants of the story have Hi Jolly either found dead next to Red Ghost or (once again) dead (only this time) tied to the great camel's saddle in the manner he would be during a sand storm. The horror of this ghost story has Hi Jolly riding the camel forever more.

This is the meaning in the refrain:

"You can see Hi Jolly's Ghost travelin' still, / When the desert moon is bright he comes ridin through the night Leadin' 4 and 20 camels cross the hill."

In death the legend of Hi Jolly has quite literally saved a town and continues to give thousands of Americans an excuse to gather together.


This January 10th, the Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce will host the annual "Camelmania: Hi Jolly Daze." Quartzsite is located at the junction of Highway 95 and Interstate 10 on the western edge of Arizona. Quartzsite town limits are just nine square miles in size. The town cemetery (where the Tomb of Hi Jolly is located) is approximately one mile west on Business Loop 10 from the intersection of SR 95 and B-10. In broader terms Quartzsite is four hours due east of Los Angeles and two hours due west of Phoenix. The Colorado River is 17 miles west of town.

In 1967, the Quartzsite Improvement Association held its first "Pow-Wow" which was meant as a civic celebration and to highlight the up until that time informal gem and mineral show. As one can see on the official Quartzsite website ( this annual celebration is explicitly held to 'honor Hi Jolly.' Hi Jolly was not only a local prospector but his 6 foot tall grave marker is composed of local semiprecious stones and minerals. The "Hi Jolly Daze" opens with a parade that begins at the post office and goes west to the rodeo grounds. Camel races follow. Other entertainment includes swap meets, air balloons rides, a barbecue, games, musicians and gemstone conventions. This annual civic celebration transforms this tiny Arizona hamlet, of some 1,000 to 2,000 year round inhabitants, into a carnival with literally more than a million visitors.

As reported in National " Geographic's, "ZipU5A," feature section seven months out of the year Quartzsite is transformed into ," "America's Largest Parking Lot (January 2001 Volume 199 No.1: 124-128)." This startling alteration of the landscape is due to the winter tourists who travel in recreational vehicles (or "Rvers"). "Within weeks 175,000 RVs cram inches apart into 79 trailer parks, onto front yards, and spill out seven miles on either side of town (Ibid: 126)." RVers flock to Quartzsite because of the warm Arizona climate and because of the very cheap rentals charged in the 11,400 acre Bureau of Land Management campground.

Clearly we have yet another case of regional history has been utilized for commercial purposes. The state of Arizona's intention with its honoring of Philip Tedro's gravesite was much like other monuments raised in the American West during the 1930s. Like Mount Rushmore "Hi Jolly's Last Camp" is both a monument to great American pioneer as well as a source for much needed tourist dollars.

It seems highly unlikely that the vast majority of those attending the Hi Jolly Daze do so because of Philip Tedro. All of this has worked to great success. But Quartzsite is not the only place that has special observances related to the Camel Experiment.

The Texas Reenactments

In Texas they commemorate the Camel Expedition as well. Everyone has heard and perhaps seen Civil War reenactments. Since 1997, Doug Baum, a former zookeeper, formed the "Texas Camel Corps" whose mission is to educate the general public about the historical US Camel experiment of the Nineteenth Century. Baum and his troupe wear exact period uniforms use only the historically proper gear and naturally enough live camels. Baum's Texas Camel Corps "has been a crowd favorite at Texas frontier forts Living History Days and 19th century reenactments." But Baum does not stop at reenactments. In partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Baum offers two-day trail rides on camel-back in the Big Bend Ranch State Park, "retracing (the) steps of the original Camel Corp (www.lifeadventures.comj camel.htm)." The state of Texas has a complicated history with the US Army's Camel Experiment. One of the original camels, known as Old Douglas, was brought from Texas by Colonel William Hargrove when he left his post in the Camel experiment to join the 43rd Mississippi Regiment. So unique was the presence of Old Douglas the 43rd became known as the "Camel Regiment. :This regimental mascot was killed by a sniper at the siege of Vicksburg. Old Douglas was never forgotten. In terms of the historical reenactments and other cultural spin offs of the Civil War era Old Douglas has his own hand painted metal Civil War figurine (

American Popular Culture

All the various manifestations of the Legend of Hi Jolly clearly evident in American Popular culture are nothing short of astounding. We see or hear of Hi Jolly in dime novels, radio shows, children's books, and even movies.

Elements of the Camel Experiment were fictionalized in the dime novels. These "novels" were in fact sensationalized cheap mass market publications of the late 1800s and early 1900s. "The dime novels were aimed at youthful, working-class audiences and distributed in massive editions at newsstands and dry goods stores. Though the phrase conjures up stereotyped yarns of Wild West adventure, complete with lurid cover illustration, many other genres were represented: tales of urban out-laws, detective stories, working-girl narratives of virtue defended, and costume romances." Stories of Red Ghost the camel, Arab camel drivers, or Greek George and the outlaws were simply fictionalized versions of a not very well understood historical past.

Noted screen legend Joel McCrea is the principal character in the radio drama, "The Camels Are Coming!" which is a more than less realistic (if much abbreviated) portrayal of the Camel Experiment. There is something of a cottage industry in children's books about Hi Jolly. For our purposes here we need only cite but two of the many children's books Hi Jolly by James Kjelgaard (New York: Dodd, 1959) and Camels West by James Ralph Johnson (New York: McKay, 1964).

Two Hollywood movies, to date, offer something of the Camel experiment. HAWMPS! A 1976 comedy featured Gino Conforti as Hi Jolly is a lackluster film that presents Tedro as an Oxford educated man who traveled the American desert in a gentleman's suit. The bizarre 1999 film, A Texas Funeral, with among others Martin Sheen in an unnerving way asserts that the central family involved in this narrative the Sparta family acquired some of the US Army camels sold in 1866.

With all these various permutations of the Hi Jolly Myth to be found in American Popular Culture one would think one of our many Modern Greek Scholars would be employing all their skills to extract this one man from the complexities of symbols his life and exploits still seem to engender among Americans in all walks of life. No such studies are underway.

Sorting through all this material, much of it often secondary is hard work. Tedro is as frequently referred to as an Arab or Syrian as he is a Greek. But even these designations seem to follow their own patterns. Much of the voluminous material on Tedro's history and legend contradicts itself. Which far from discouraging Greek scholars should in fact spur them on! For Tedro, as all these various strands of popular culture demonstrate, remains so viable and powerful a symbol he can be readily found by anyone who takes the time to simply look.

Having said that none of the 38 chairs in Modern Greek Studies is investigating anything related to Greek-American history. Or is doing so where there is no contact with the community. Still Tedro and Caralambo and all the rest may yet get their day in the sun. Steven Dean Pastis, researcher and author of the article "Go West Greek George" has never stopped his research on these intrepid Hellenes. Pastis has a draft of a volume, tentatively entitled "Hi Jolly and Greek George" in which the wider circumstances of these men's lives is finally dealt with on the printed pages.

The Realm of Legends

Philip Tedro, as "Hi Jolly the Camel Driver," is a long recognized figure of the Old American Southwest. As packer, scout and among the first of the "Jackass Mail" drovers Philip Tedro's documented historic role in the old American southwest cannot be denied.

Yet it is Tedro's place in the realm of Western Legends for which most contemporary Americans know of this man. Hi Jolly stands on that thin line of real American heroes of the frontier like Davy Crockett or Kit Carson whose real life exploits have also become the subject of tall tale fabrication and outright mythologizing. Philip Tedro's life story, in its broad outlines, is clear and uncontested. His legend continues to develop all on its own.

For Greek-American Studies Philip Tedro's life is singular since no other person of Greek descent has a civic holiday held in their honor. Nor a tomb erected by a state which is among the most visited historical graves in the entire American south-west. And, as if all that were not enough there is, now, a folksong as well as other popular cultural elaborations on Tedro's exploits.

It should be stressed that the first generation of Greek-American writers were very aware of Philip Tedro. While Seraphim Canoutas reports little on Tedro in 0 Ellenismos en Ameriki... (0 Cosmos: New York City, 1918) Elias K. Ziogas in his Oi Ellenes tis Amerikis devotes a brief vignette "(Tedro)" to this man's exploits (Athens, 1977).

Philip Tedro, during the course of his entire life, was never more than working class poor. This man was never 'notable' or a 'hero' in any conventional sense. While recognized throughout Arizona as a pioneer, Tedro was still never more than a "local character." Only by assessing Tedro's entire life, from our perspective in time, can this man's many accomplishments and their lasting impact be recognized.

We certainly do not need or require the approval of WASP scholars to study any person or event. If the role and actions of the Greeks are left out of all but a select handful of written accounts on the Camel Experiment that can be seen as a by-product of racism and the sort of elitist history common for the times when these accounts were first published. That the majority of primary accounts (and so secondary publications) only cite the White Males, as if no one else was physically there in the southwest, must be first recognized before the mandatory revisions can take place.

What are the symbols of the Old American southwest? A Pueblo village nearly lost in the red-banded hues of a mountainside. A lone cavalry patrol weaving through the tall Buffalo grass. Muleskinners driving supply trains to the far-flung settlements. Music and light flooding out into the night along the cobblestones of the Spanish haciendas' courtyard garden. Even, here, in the most unlikely of times, locations and mythic realms Greek immigrants made their appearance felt well beyond their demographic numbers. Legends, ghost stories, and songs of these but handful of Greeks is still to be heard around American campfires. For Philip Tedro, the symbolic odyssey, seems far from over.

Clearly, the history of Greeks in North America, is far more complex than is now understood.

(Posted October 2006; updated 26 November 2007)

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