Hi Jolly Cemetery

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Welcome sign in Quartzsite, Arizona. Why are there camels on it?

Did you know there were once camels in Arizona? I didn’t know until I spent some time in Quartzsite.

According to http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11284

In 1856, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (later President of the Confederacy) had a novel idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels. He eventually imported over 70 of the beasts. Along with the first batch came a Syrian caretaker, Hadji Ali. His American masters called him Hi Jolly.

The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz. It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903. Thirty-three years later the Arizona Highway Department came along and cemented a bronze plaque to the tomb, telling Hi Jolly’s story, and topped the pyramid with a metal camel silhouette.

In those long-ago days the Quartzsite cemetery was remote, just bare ground and a few scrubby sagebrush at the edge of an obscure desert outpost. Now you have to drive through the very busy Quartzsite flea market to get to Hi Jolly. Still, his tomb is the biggest thing back in its tiny patch of desert solitude.

The camels, by the way, outlived Jefferson Davis, Hi Jolly, and even the cementing of the plaque. Their last reported sighting was in 1942.

On my way to California, I stopped in Quartzsite and visited the Hi Jolly cemetery again. This time it wasn’t so hot, so I stayed longer. Also, this time I had a functioning camera, so I took some photos.
This is Hi Jolly's tomb.

This is Hi Jolly’s tomb.

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Hi Jolly is not the only person buried in this cemetery. Many of the graves are very old, the final resting place of many Quartzsite pioneers. During my first visit I picked up a booklet with a map of the graveyard. The booklet (found in a nearby informational kiosk) also offers biographical information about many of the people buried in the cemetery. One day I hope to go back to the cemetery when I have a lot of time and a hat and a bottle of water and the booklet so I can read about the old-timers buried there.

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Many of the graves in the cemetery are decorated with local stones.

Many of the graves in the cemetery are decorated with local stones.

I think that's petrified wood all around the tomb stone.

I think that’s petrified wood all around the  headstone.

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What a wonderful inscription! “A wise and loyal friend.” I hope I am remembered that way.

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I don’t know the story behind this one.

This is one of the old grave sites.

This is one of the old grave sites.

I'd never seen a grave with a head stone and a foot stone.

I’d never seen a grave with a headstone and a footstone.

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I think this plaque set in the ground is related to the cemetery being on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also according to http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11284, to get to Hi Jolly Cemetery from
I-10 exit 17. North side, about a half-mile east on Business 10/W. Main St. Turn north at the Hi Jolly Tomb sign and drive through the flea market to get to the town cemetery and the monument.
I took all of the photos in this post.

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I’ve never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again.

I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist.

Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it.

I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk.

This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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  1. Pingback: Quartzsite, Arizona | Rubber Tramp Artist

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