Horses of the White City

Part III

By Charles and Jeanne Craver
First published in Arabian Horse World Nov 1989 pp 178-191,209-211

Return to Part II.


Its debts exceeding its assets, the Hamidie Hippodrome Society was placed in a bankruptcy situation. The horses were sold at Tattersall's auction facility on January 4, 1894. In all, 28 head said to be of the Hamidie Society sold. Published sale results of the time list one as a "Gray mare," which was not listed in the sale catalog. The others were sold as identified in the catalog (said by him to have been prepared for the purpose by A. G. Asdikian) except that Gidran, who was shown in the catalog, was not listed as having been sold. [70, 71]

It is impossible to know how accurate this catalog is but, if it has some errors, it is not different from plenty of catalogs prepared for sales today. The number of horses sold at the sale plus the seven horses known to have died in a fire immediately after payment of entry duty adds to only 35 head. Forty horses passed through customs at importation. The balance of 5 head must have gone somewhere. Perhaps they died or were sold separately.

The average sale price per horse was $360, with the lowest price received being $150 and the highest $1200. In those days in Chicago the going price for a horse was $150-$175. [72, 73, 74] The published report of the sale included the comment that "a good crowd of bidders was in attendance and the prices realized were fairly satisfactory, considering the use to which the horses had been put." [75]

At that time, the buying public for Arabian horses was very limited. These horses were mostly young desert-bred males, which is a category of horse that hardly ever achieves the condition necessary to be attractive to western eyes, and one doubts that finances of the Hamidie Society had allowed for a full ration of feed. Moreover, the horses had been trained for a type of performance that was strange to American horsemen and probably suspect. Finally, it should be remembered that this was a time of severe national depression. Considering everything, these horses sold pretty well.

Three grey stallions were bought by a P. J. Wrenn to be used to breed saddle horses from ranch mares at a large cattle ranch in Colorado. Six head were bought by Dr. H. A. Souther acting as agent for Peter Bradley of Hingham, Massachusetts. The intended use for these horses was in the production of polo ponies from Texas or Southern-bred mares. The remaining horses went to several different buyers. [76] Some of these may have been purchased for resale, as a number of them turned up in other ownership later.

As matters of ownership finally settled down in the Arabian horse owning community, the mare *Nejdme was owned by Mrs. J. A. P. Ramsdell, and five of six horses purchased by Dr. Souther (*Obeyran 2, Sirhal, Halool, *Galfia 255, and *Mannaky 294) went directly to Peter Bradley, according to a contemporary newspaper account. By some indirect route, Bradley also probably received six horses for which identifying stall signs (now in the Hingham Stock Farm collection of information and material owned by Mr. Peter R. Sarra, Canton, Mass.) were found among discarded refuse from the Bradley farm. These horses were Araby, Abbya (purchased by Souther at the auction but not reported as delivered with the other five), Kazoiv, *Koubishan, Miggour, and Zariffey. Of these horses Araby is not catalogued by Asdikian.

Another Hamidie horse, Abeya or Abeyan, may also have been at the Bradley farm some time prior to 1906. This horse is catalogued by Davenport in his "World's Fair Arabians" as an Abeyan Sherrak named Abeya. Because of the similarity of name and other coincidental factors, there is conjecture that this is the same horse as shown in the Asdikian catalog as "Abbeian" and/or in Arabian Horse Club registration as *Abbeian 111. This is a complicated matter which is discussed below.


We know very little about most of the forty horses imported by the Hamidie Society. They came to this country, participated in the World's Columbian Exposition, and then were scattered in the general horse population. We have specific information for a few of them, however, telling us something of what they were and how those which were eventually registered contributed to Arabian breeding in this country. Some of this information is contradictory and some of it is incorrect. These are problems with almost any body of factual information about events of almost a hundred years ago concerning horses and almost everything else.

In the case of Arabian horse matters of that time, understanding is greatly complicated by several of the self-appointed experts of that day who did not differentiate very clearly between what they knew for fact and what they assumed. (Of course, researchers of today have no such problem recording current events for posterity.) This is a problem with practically all major breeding groups: English, European, Egyptian and American. The record of the Hamidie horses in this respect is not different from that of the others. General confusion on the subject has not been helped by the newspaper reporters of those days whose writing furnishes much of the written record. These gentlemen were more interested in a good story than accuracy, and what better subject for drama and tale-spinning than the Arabian horse?

*Nejdme 1: She was universally considered by Arabian horse people who knew her to be the best animal of the importation. Huntington, Davenport, Vidal, Asdikian, Bistany, and Dolbony all left comment that she was outstanding in the group. At the auction, she brought the highest price, $1200, which was a lot of money for a mare in those days. She went on to become an ornament of the J. A. P. Ramsdell herd and then to the ownership of Homer Davenport. That she was given the position of the first registration in the stud book of the Arabian Horse Club of America is an indication of the regard in which she was held by Arabian horse breeders in this country of her day. She was also registered by the American Jockey Club. That is a reasonable indication that other Hamidie Society horses could also have had Jockey Club registration had the effort been made to obtain it for them.

There is, in fact, evidence that such registration did occur for a number of Bradley's horses. At a hearing held May 27, 1909, in regard to the Durland Horse Show, Davenport appeared with Jockey Club registration certificates in hand for a number of Bradley's Hamidie Society horses. [77] Elsewhere he indicates that among the horses so registered were "Koubishan, Halool, and others." [78] (N.B.: There may be difficulty in documenting Jockey Club registrations of Bradley's Hamidie horses in the Jockey Club stud books.)

The major picture attributed to *Nejdme does not show her head clearly, but from the rest of it, she was obviously a beautiful mare with the attributes of type which should define the Arabian breed.

In a pamphlet put out by her owner of the time, J. A. P. Ramsdell, she was described:

"Nedjme (sic) is 14.02 hands high... She is almost white, with the thinnest blue-black skin; her head is a typical Arab's, not too small, deep through the jowl, large in the brain space, with the forehead (called by the Arabs the jibbah) well developed: her eyes are very large and set in Arab fashion, rather lower in her face than in that of our horses; around them the hair is thin and shows very perceptibly the black skin... The skin of the eyelids, lips and nostrils is extraordinarily fine and the opening of the latter small when she is quiet, but expands splendidly when she moves. The "mitbah," where the head joins the neck, is very gracefully cut, and she has plenty of room for the wind-pipe... Her ears are long and thin, with a quick but not nervous movement and when forward point inward. Her neck is long and well set on, shoulders running very far back; she is well ribbed up and has to perfection the far famed carriage of the tail, it having the effect of being "thrown on," so perfect is the arch, and carried at such height. Her hocks are strong and large. The legs are perfect, the feet blue and rather cup-shaped." [79]

The relationship of the mare and her attendant when at the Fair is described:

"Hedje Memmed had a tent entirely to himself and in sight of Nedjme's stall, and I was told the pair often spent the nights together. I have many times read of the devotion of the Arab to his horse, but this was the first occasion I had seen it demonstrated. Nedjme would follow the old man like a dog, and rub her soft nose against his face and neck, while he would talk to her and whisper his queer Arab gibberish into her velvet ear, and pass his hands over her lovely dark eyes. It is almost impossible to imagine such a perfect understanding between a man and horse. He would bring her out with simply a cord around her neck, and if he felt in a pleasant humor, leap on her back, going through the most astounding feats of horsemanship without bit, whip or spur." [80]

The attitude of *Nejdme towards mankind may not always have been benevolent. Randolph Huntington writes that he examined her thoroughly when she was at the Fair: "She was at that time a dangerous mare to a stranger. Without provocation, she would dive her teeth into one furiously, so that the old man always stood at her shoulder when I was examining her head, ears, eyes, glands and mouth. She could break a man's arm or ribs as quick as a flash; but was the best mare there." [81] From this description, it sounds as though *Nejdme may have been trained as a guard mare, which Arabs did from time to time. That probably tended to discourage horse theft, and it may not have been out of place in Chicago.

*Nejdme is registered as of the Kuhaylan-Ajuz strain by a Saqlawi-Jidran stallion. Like the other Hamidie horses which were registered, she had no surviving written pedigree. Huntington writes that he and Asdikian carefully questioned the man handling her as to her strain and concluded that he did not know what it was and that the designation "Kehilet Ajuz" was simply a way of saying she was a purebred but of no known strain. [82] This was a possible usage of the term according to Upton. [83] She was described by Bistany as a Kuhaylat-Ajuz, [84] but in The Rider and Driver shortly after her purchase by Ramsdell as a Saqlawiyah-Jidraniyah. [85] She is described by Dolbony as a Saqlawiyah-Jidraniyah by a Kuhaylan-Ajuz. [86]

*Nejdme was a prolific mare, dam of eleven registered Arabian foals, including Jerrede 84 (foaled 1910) who was apparently bred after she entered Davenport's ownership in 1909. Additional foals are also shown as her progeny in some registration records, but these appear to be incorrectly attributed. Her blood is very widely distributed in the breed, with an estimated 77% of horses of registration in Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book tracing to her. [87]

*Gouneiad 21: Chestnut stallion foaled 1889. This horse was one of the Russian Arabians. He has been described in detail above. After the close of the Chicago World's Fair, he passed through the hands of Spencer Borden, Randolph Huntington (whose stud used him on several mares including Arabians), [88] and eventually went to the ownership of the sculptor H. K. Bush-Brown, who is said to have used him as a model in preparing the equestrian statue of Gen. John Reynolds, Civil War hero, at Gettysburg National Park. [89] *Gouneiad left no registered progeny.

*Galfia 255: A Hamdaniyah-Simriyah. Shortly after her arrival in Boston following purchase at Chicago, *Galfia was described:

"...7 years old and about 14 hands in height. Gallfea (sic) has capital legs and feet, a good intelligent head, though hardly broad enough across the forehead for a typical Arabian, and is a little slack in the neck. In a few months it will probably be difficult to recognize in the sleek, well groomed animal the rough, half-starved mare she was said to be when Dr. Souther picked her for her make and shape." [90]

The AHC stud book credits *Galfia with three purebred foals. A fourth one, *Pride 321, may also be hers, as discussed below. She also produced foals which were not registered. A random sampling of Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book indicated that *Galfia appeared in the pedigrees of 61% of horses registered in that book. [91]

*Pride 321: One of the mysteries of early Arabian registrations is the mare registered as *Pride 321, a chestnut mare of unknown foaling date imported by the Hamidie Society for the World's Fair in 1893. In the 1909 issue of the Stud Book of The Arabian Horse Club of America, the dam of Sheba 19 is given as "imported Dawn". In Vol. I of The Arabian National Stud Book (1913), the dam of Sheba 19 is shown as "imported Pride". It would therefore appear to have been an obvious change of name from "Dawn" to "Pride." However, a letter from Homer Davenport written before registration of *Pride 321 indicates that Dawn and *Pride were separate mares, both out of *Galfia. [92] This may have been a simple puzzle which was worked out prior to final registration of *Pride herself in Vol. II (1918) or it may be one of those blanks in early registrations which will never be completely understood.

Whether *Pride and "imported Dawn" were one or two mares, the strain name assigned to one or both is unconventional. It should have been Hamdani-Simri, since that was the strain of the imputed dam, *Galfia. However, the strain Maneghi-Slaji is given by the stud book, as it is for Dawn in Davenport's catalog of his Hamidie horses, which does not include an entry for the name "Pride." [93]

The newspaper account of the Bradley purchases mentions a week-old filly called Albani born to *Galfia while in transit from Chicago to Boston. [94] This filly would have been bred before the Hamidie horses were shipped from the Middle East, thus fitting the description of either Dawn or *Pride -- if they were different -- as an imported mare, since she would have been imported in utero. There is, however, no way of knowing for certain that this filly survived to be registered. If she did, she may have been by Kibaby. The sale catalog of Hamidie Society horses indicates that *Galfia was in foal to that horse, a grey Saqlawi-Shu'ayfi stallion and considered by Asdikian to be one of the best of the Hamidie importation. [95]

According to a random sampling from Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book, *Pride is estimated to be an ancestress of 61% of registrations in that book. [96]

Sirhal: Strain not given. He is described on arrival in Boston as "an iron-gray stallion, just four years old. He has capital body, legs and feet -- an Arab with bad feet is very rare -- but his head is too thick through above the jaw." [97] Like most of Bradley's Hamidie Arabians, Sirhal was not registered with the Arabian Horse Club.

*Mannaky 294: A chestnut stallion imported by the Hamidie Society in 1893 and registered as a Hamdani-Simri. He is catalogued by Asdikian and later Davenport as a "Maneghi-Slaji." The reporter for the Boston Herald who saw him shortly after arrival from Chicago described him as follows:

"The stallion Manakey is worth all the rest put together, and it is said, was possibly worth all the other 32 horses and mares at Chicago. For breeding the polo pony, this stallion should be in demand. Imagine a beautiful golden chestnut, standing 14.2, 7 years old, sound, quiet and yet full of fire. He has all the points of the true desert breed admirably developed. Small, intelligent head, good tempered, fearless eye, magnificent chest, capital legs and feet, a perfect shoulder, just enough sag to the back to give springiness to the pace, yet not sufficient to cause weakness, and legs that are hard and lean as possible. His flag is set on high and carried gayly, but owing to wear in the cars, is not as full as it will be. The hind quarters are very powerful." [98]

The reference in this quotation to "all the other 32 horses and mares at Chicago" gives an indication of how many Hamidie Society horses were probably alive at the time of the bankruptcy sale. *Mannaky plus 32 makes a total of 33. Seven horses had previously died in the fire. Thus 40 horses are accounted for, which is the number reported to U.S. Customs as imported. The sale results give 28 head as sold, counting the mysterious grey mare. The remaining horses must have changed hands in some way not now known.

Only two foals by *Mannaky 294 were registered, Zitra 68 and Mannaky Jr. 292, both out of *Galfia. Both left foals represented in modern pedigrees. Skeletal remains of Mannaky Jr. are preserved at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. They are of special interest because both sire and dam were imported by the Hamidie Society. Mannaky Jr. was a fine-boned horse with pronounced dish and moderately wide head in relation to its length. No one could have mistaken his head for anything but an Arabian's. Photographs of Zitra exist, showing an elegant mare of easily recognizable Arabian type.

According to a random sampling from Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book, 61% of the registrations in that book are estimated to trace to *Mannaky. [99]

Halool: He was catalogued by Asdikian as a bay Kuhaylan Ras Al-Fidawi stallion. His description by the reporter shortly after arrival in Boston was: "Halool, 8 years old, is a fine upstanding dark chestnut, with four white feet. He carries an imposing crest, and is well put together in every way. This stallion is fully 15 hands high, and he exhibited a very pretty trotting action when trotted in the paddock -- not high stepping, like the hackney, and with nothing like the speed of the American trotter, but a very good trot all the same. This horse would probably make a valuable mate for saddle mares or hunters. Indeed, being a big, handsome, sound animal, his blood might be valuable in more ways than one." [100]

Halool was not registered with the Arabian Horse Club. There is a contradiction in his description in that Asdikian gave him as a bay and does not mention white feet, whereas he was delivered in Boston as a dark chestnut with white feet. This was an apparently different horse than a bay of the same name -- probably a son -- owned by Davenport and described by him in his catalog of horses at the Lewis and Clark Exposition as bred by Peter Bradley and out of the mare later registered as *Galfia 255. [101]

He should have been of the same strain as his dam, according to the traditional way strain names of Arabian horses are assigned. Instead, Davenport's Lewis and Clark catalog gives him the strain "Ras el Fedawi" which would have been the strain of the horse after which he was named and which could have been presumed to have been his sire. That does not make sense, but it seems to have happened, and is similar to irregularities in strain assignments in the registrations of several other horses of those days, such as *Pride 321 and *Mannaky 294.

Abbeian: He was catalogued by Asdikian as "Gray stallion; 14 3/4 hands; foaled 1888; white nose; breed, Abeyan-Dahra." [102] He was bought at the auction of Hamidie Society horses by C. Kindorf who also bought *Nejdme, Dinyan, and Miggour. [103] Of the four horses purchased by Kindorf, *Nejdme and Miggour subsequently turned up in the ownership of the American Arabian breeding community. It is not certain that the horse catalogued as the Hamidie Abbeian did so as well. Photographs of Arabian horses of his presumed time period identified variously as "Abbeian," "Obeyran," and "Abeyan" seem to lack the "white nose" marking described by Asdikian. For more concerning the Hamidie Abbeian see under "Hypothetical Abeyan" below.

*Koubishan 113: He was catalogued by Asdikian as "Light bay Stallion; star and snip; 14 1/4 hands; foaled 1888; breed Kebyshan-El Omeyr"(sic). [104] This horse was purchased by Homer Davenport from Peter Bradley in August, 1898. [105] He was the first Arabian horse owned by Davenport. He was sold by Davenport in 1902 to a Mrs. Howard Gould, [106] but returned to Davenport's ownership by gift as of 1906 [107] and resold 4/1/1906 to a Mr. Shoemaker. Mr. Shoemaker wrote that when the horse was around twenty, he performed a one-day ride of seventy hilly miles, carrying over two hundred pounds, and finishing in fine condition. Davenport noted that *Koubishan had nearly severed his front tendons while still in Chicago, as a result of poor shoeing. [108] (N.B. The owner of *Koubishan is spelled "Shoemaker" in Davenport's book, but a Davenport letter to the 5/9/1908 issue of The Rider and Driver calls him "Mr. Henry Schumacher, of the banking firm of Schumacher, Bates & Co.")

A picture of him in the Woman's Home Companion [109] describes him as chestnut, but appears to show a bay. *Koubishan was registered in Vol. I of the AHC stud book as number 113 and as imported 1893, which makes his connection with the Hamidie Society group unmistakable and is an especially interesting aspect of the registration, because the registration of *Abbeian 111 shows no such designation, although it must have been done at the same time. In Vol. II of this stud book, *Koubishan's registration is cancelled. He sired no registered foals. Dolbony says he raised him from a foal and references his big jibbah, which is observable in photographs. [110]

*Obeyran 2: He was given a place of honor in the stud book of the Arabian Horse Club of America, as his registration is second to that of the mare *Nejdme 1, and he is the first Arabian stallion listed. He was catalogued by Asdikian as an "Iron Gray Stallion; 14 1/2 hands; foaled 1889; breed, Seglowi-Obeyran"(sic). [111] He is registered in the 1909 issue of the AHC stud book as "Seglawie Obeyran," Vol. I as "Seglawie Jedran" foaled 1879, Vol. II as "Abeyan-Sherrak," foaled 1879, Vol. III as "Abeyan-Sherrak," foaled 1879, Vol. IV as "Abeyan-Sherrak," foaled 1879.

Davenport's "World's Fair Arabians" catalog gives him as a "Seglawi Obeyran" bred 1879. [112] However, Davenport's earlier catalog of Lewis and Clark Exposition horses lists an Abeyan Sherrak named "Abeyan" which appears to be the horse subsequently registered as *Obeyran 2. Photographs of the Lewis and Clark Exposition horse show several points of similarity with known photographs of *Obeyran 2, namely a small scar over the left eye, individualistic ear shape and position, and a concentration of brown speckling ("flea bites") on the left forearm.

Davenport's identifications of photographs as "Obeyran," "Abeya," and "Abeyan" were erratic. It may be that most if not all such photographs were actually of *Obeyran 2, who was one of those horses that could look great in one photograph and not very good in another. Support for the possibility that the grey at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 was *Obeyran 2 is found in an article published in 1906 and written before Davenport's trip to the desert in which the only grey Hamidie Society import in Davenport's possession at that time is the horse subsequently registered as *Obeyran 2. [113]

Dolbony describes *Obeyran 2 as a "Seglawi Obeyran" by "El Tahy Managi Hadruj" out of "Senena Seglawieh." *Obeyran 2 was registered as born 1879, which was ten years older than the horse described by Asdikian. This coincides approximately with the date of birth given by Dolbony for *Obeyran 2 which was "in or about the year 1880." [114] It may be there was a connection between information from Dolbony and the date of registration of this horse, which would therefore not have been a mistaken version of the Asdikian date. The description of *Obeyran 2 a few days after arriving in Boston was as follows:

"Obeyra [sic] is an aged horse, and has evidently done a lot of hard work. His head is very characteristic, however, and as long life is one of the prerogatives of the desert breed, he may do capital service at the stud for many years to come. His head is good... but... there is an absence of quality in the rest of his make-up..." [115]

The difference of apparent age in this description of the horse which was actually delivered to Boston and the description of the horse in the Asdikian catalog causes one to wonder if there was some kind of mixup in horses. Asdikian's description gives an iron grey foaled 1889. At date of delivery, that would unmistakably have been a young horse, barely five and probably under. The horse as actually delivered was "aged," which would have been an unlikely description for the iron gray described by Asdikian. It would, however, have fitted the Dolbony birth date.

Whenever he was born, *Obeyran 2 lived to a nice old age in America. He went from Bradley's ownership to Davenport's some time prior to 1906. Davenport sold him to the authoress, Eleanor Gates Tully, between publication of Davenport's World's Fair Catalog of 1906-7 and the 1909 edition of the AHC stud book. She appears to have been a loving owner who gave him a nice twilight period in the golden hills of California. Heaven.

In all, *Obeyran had seven registered foals. He is represented in American breeding, most notably through Aared 91, from whose female line has come the Bint Sahara and its subsequent Fadjur-Fersara-Ferzon dynasties in American breeding. According to a random sampling from Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book, 55% of the registrations in that book are estimated to trace to *Obeyran. [116]

Hypothetical Abeyan: This horse, if he existed at all, is not included in the Asdikian catalog of Hamidie Society horses or in the substantially identical listing of horses sold at receivership auction on January 4, 1894. That, of course, does not mean that there was no such horse in the Hamidie group, since at least five more horses were imported than are included in Asdikian's catalog (40 through Customs minus 7 burned minus 28 catalogued equals 5).

Homer Davenport repeatedly refers to a grey stallion of "Abeyan Sherrak" strain as of the Hamidie Society group. Such a horse is included in his Lewis and Clark Exposition catalog of 1905. However, judging from photographs taken at the Exposition, this horse was probably *Obeyran 2.

A horse named "Abeya" of Abayyan-Sharrak strain is shown in Davenport's catalog of "World's Fair Arabians" of 1906-07. He is described as a "light gray stallion, bred 1888. Imported with the World's Fair importation. A beautiful horse, in perfect condition, who has sired some remarkable polo ponies from mustang and Southern mares." [117] The reference to use as a sire of polo ponies from western and southern mares is an indication that this horse, too, may have been connected with Peter Bradley's farm.

An undated letter of J. R. Dolbony in response to a letter by Homer Davenport to him dated September 22, 1909 may have bearing on this subject. In this letter, Dolbony indicates that he had full knowledge of the Hamidie Society horses and was apparently part of the Hamidie Society staff. He then gives particulars concerning the Hamidie Society horses alive during the Fair (not including "Dawn" and/or *Pride) and which were subsequently registered by the Arabian Horse Club as of the Hamidie Society.

These horses were *Nejdme 1, *Obeyran 2, *Galfia 255 (called by Dolbony "Jelfeh," indicating that some would have pronounced *Galfia with a soft Arabic "G."), *Mannaky 294 (called by Dolbony "Manaki"), and *Koubishan (cancelled number 113). An additional horse is also described: "Obeyran, the White Stallion. The Dam of this horse, Obeyah Sherrakieh, one of the rarest mares in that country, was owned by Mohemed Agga Swidan, of Hisseh, sired by the stallion unknown to me though I have heard that he was a pure Hamdani Simri, descending from Shammar, but I cannot swear to its positive breeding." Dolbony's letter then says "this is as much information as I have concerning these horses that you mention in your letter." [118]

It appears from the foregoing that Davenport had written to Dolbony and inquired as to six specific horses of the Hamidie Society importation. These horses included five whose bloodlines Davenport was known to possess and which were subsequently registered by the Arabian Horse Club as of the Hamidie Society. At the time of the inquiry, some of these horses were still alive, some apparently dead. A sixth horse named "Obeyran," an Abayyan-Sharrak, is also described and from the context would also seem to have been inquired about by Davenport. Allowing for alteration of name from Obeyran to Abeya to Abeyan and for difference in substrain, this horse could have been the horse of that name catalogued by Davenport as of his Hamidie Society horses.

Some years ago, the late Gladys Brown Edwards wrote an article titled "Is Abeyan *Abbeian?" [119] The question raised was whether the Abbeian of the Asdikian catalog of Hamidie Society horses was eventually mistakenly registered as *Abbeian 111, imported by Homer Davenport. If "Hypothetical Abeyan" was a real horse, the question could be rephrased "Were there three Abeyans?"

The addition of "Hypothetical Abeyan" as the third horse makes the question more involved because it removes evidence of intermediate ownership of a horse named "Abbeian" between the time of the Hamidie sale of 1894 and the time of ultimate registration of *Abbeian 111 in the 1913 stud book of the Arabian Horse Club. There is therefore an increased likelihood that the Hamidie Abbeian -- like most of the others, including Sirhal, Halool, Miggour, Araby, Zariffey, and Kazoiv -- did not make it into the AHC stud book, probably because of non-survival.

It seems doubtful that such a horse was alive by 1906, when Davenport wrote in his catalog, "World's Fair Arabians," that he had in his possession all the surviving Hamidie horses except *Nejdme 1. His listing of horses at that time did not include the Hamidie Abbeian, although it did include the horse of different substrain called "Abeya" and here referred to as "Hypothetical Abeyan."

If Davenport had a Hamidie horse named "Abbeian" or "Abeyan" and, if such a horse was registered, it could just as well have been shown as of the Hamidie Society as was the case eventually with the others of that importation, including that of *Koubishan 113, who appears to have been registered at the same time as *Abbeian 111. Instead, the initial registration of *Abbeian 111 in Vol. I of the AHC stud book lacked indication of importing source, as did the entries for the other horses of Davenport's 1906 importation. With publication of Vol. III of the AHC stud book, the registration of *Abbeian 111 was supplemented to show importation by Homer Davenport.

When this volume was published Davenport himself was long dead. The president, vice-president, and three of the five directors of the Arabian Horse Club of America either had or were in a position where they can be assumed to have had personal knowledge of the horse registered as *Abbeian 111, shown in their stud book as "Imp. 1906 by Homer Davenport." One would like to think that such a designation was not added by caprice.

This addition filled a gap in the record of importations provided by the AHC stud book, as in the immediately previous Vol. II information about importation source had been added for the Hamidie Society horses and the other Davenport horses.

This is the sort of conundrum that delights pedigree nuts. It has no answer at present beyond conjecture. If some horse named Abbeian or Abeyan of the Hamidie Society group happened to be registered as *Abbeian 111 and was mistakenly designated as imported by Homer Davenport, then the influence of the Hamidie Society importation in American breeding would be stronger than is presently thought.


In strict purist circles, Arabian foundation breeding stock is acceptable according to the hands through which it comes to modern breeding. With desert-bred stock, this has little to do with written bedouin pedigrees because in most cases such pedigrees do not and probably never did exist. It has a lot to do with whether horses were accepted by Ali Pasha Sherif, Lady Anne Blunt, Homer Davenport, the Weil stud, or other reputable early breeders.

Whether the Hamidie horses actually had Arabic pedigrees has little to do with their acceptability as authentic Arabian horses. Historically, desert pedigrees for Arabian horses are difficult to evaluate unless it is known how they were obtained. Most desert-bred Arabian horses have come into western hands whether in England, America, Egypt, continental Europe or South America by an indirect route, often involving horse dealers of one sort or another. Some have had written pedigrees and some have not, probably depending on what the buyers wanted. Such pedigrees mean very little unless it is known how they were obtained.

It would, of course, be better if convincing desert documentation for the Hamidie Society horses existed today. Since it does not, we have to take them in the same way that we take most other desert-bred Arabians: we evaluate them for what they were as individuals and according to the credibility of the sources from which they came to us. According to both standards, the Hamidie horses compare well with most other desert-breds in the pedigrees of current Arabian breeding: they looked like the real thing, and we have good evidence that they derived from a serious effort by the Ottoman Empire to show the best of its products and the most interesting parts of its culture to the American public.

One of the problems for the Hamidie bloodlines was a persistent campaign of gossip against them which publicly surfaced in Rider and Driver magazine only a few weeks after the Boston Herald's report of the arrival in the Boston area of the horses Peter Bradley had purchased at the auction in Chicago. [120] The article was written anonymously. It repeated the Boston Herald material to which was added commentary questioning the purity of most of Bradley's new horses. Perhaps frequent mention of Randolph Huntington's horses in this commentary is a clue as to its source. If so, the tone and manner of it would have been typical.

This type of criticism has continued to the present day, fueled initially by conflicting factions in the early Arabian horse breeding community and on a continuing basis by Asdikian's unfortunate early article about them.

There are, of course, unresolved and probably unresolvable questions about specific details concerning the Hamidie Society horses. Similar questions exist for almost every major breeding group of horses of that long ago.

One good indication of the value of Hamidie Society bloodlines is that they were used by respected breeders who were close to the time of their importation, including Bradley and Davenport, as has been noted. W. R. Brown, who was the best American student of Arabian breeding of his day, went to great effort to obtain Jockey Club registration for the stallion Jerrede 84, son of the Hamidie mare *Nejdme 1, so that he could use him in his own program which specialized in Arabians of Jockey Club registration. Brown would not have used a stallion which he thought of questionable authenticity.


It is now almost a hundred years since the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. As we look back on the event, the financial problems of the exhibition are mostly forgotten. We remember instead its color and romance and are grateful that it provided opportunity for early Arabian breeders to be drawn to a unique display of the breed. A number of those people went on to be the leaders of the new Arabian horse community in America with important breeding ventures of their own and to found the Arabian Horse Club of America.

We also have something of the horses left. Several of them are ancestors in most American pedigrees. According to recent statistical research by D. L and J. F Dirks, they appear in the pedigrees of 82% of a random sample of horses taken from Vol. 50 of the AHR stud book, contributing 00.80% of the blood of horses tracing to them. This is estimated at 5.2 times their statistically expected contribution to the breed. (See Table 1.) It is a remarkably high figure for horses which are usually considered to be an obscure part of American breeding. Except for *Nejdme, these horses were mostly out of production before Arabian breeding got going in this country. Their impact on the breed would no doubt have been much greater had they had more normal opportunity for utilization.

There were not enough registered Hamidie horses so that by themselves they contribute a large percentage of the ancestry of any presently living horse. But they are a very important part of an integral element in American breeding: that little group of bloodlines which have come from desert Arabia to America without leaving breeding stock in intermediate host countries.

Almost all Arabian horses of American registration trace to such ancestry. Often the overall percentage by which they do is surprisingly high. This is an aspect of Arabian breeding which is unique to American bloodlines. Its persistent survival in the presence of the multitudes of imports from highly publicized national breeding programs of other countries shows that this major bloodline source contributes to the kind of horse that is desired by American Arabian owners.

It may be that an appropriate definition for the "American" Arabian horse is that it descends from some such uniquely American foundation stock. That would differentiate the "American Arabian" horse from the mixture of bloodlines of various sources that seems to be developing on an international basis, mostly in other countries. Surely the "American" Arabian horse should have a feature that is uniquely American.

Many bloodlines contribute to this uniquely American element. The Hamidie horses of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 were among them, setting a context for Arabian breeding in a new country, led by lovely *Nejdme, who is number one in our national Arabian stud book. She and those in her importation were joined by others, most especially their contemporaries in the Huntington and Davenport groups with whom their blood blended so well.

Examples of other horses in the same tradition are *Mirage, *Turfa, *Exochorda, the imports of Bistany, Harris, Hearst, and Rihani, and more recent desert-breds imported in the years following the second World War.

And, finally, when thinking about the horses of the Hamidie Hippodrome Society, we ought to recognize the name of their importation as a continuing memorial to Abdul Hamid II, Lord of the Two Seas, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, a man of intrigue, an oriental despot, and, in his way, one of the contributing founders of Arabian breeding in America.


The research background of this article has been greatly enhanced by material generously furnished by Matthew Zuppas and by Jerald and Debra Dirks from their research into U. S. Archives. In addition, reference materials were furnished by Dr. James Keith and Mrs. Joyce Hampshire. Dr. Zeynep Celik graciously translated Turkish language material from an 1893 Turkish newspaper. Mr. Howard Shenk of the Arabian Horse Foundation was very helpful in furnishing material from the early Jockey Club studbooks, and much other material from the Foundation files was used pertaining to the early establishement of the Arabian horse in the U.S. The Arabian Horse Trust, Lori Grumet, librarian, has been most helpful in making further material on the subject available. We express particular appreciation to Mr. Peter Sarra for furnishing a facsimile edition of the Asdikian catalog and other items of material as well as personal consultation.

The manuscript for this article has benefited from constructive criticism from Mrs. Bertha Craver, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bowling, Mr. R. J. Cadranell, Dr. and Mrs. Jerald Dirks, Mrs. Joyce Hampshire, and Mrs. Carol Lyons. They have each tried to contribute to its greater accuracy and clarity, and where problems remain it is only because of the obtuseness of the authors who have too often persisted in their own errors.

Table 1: Hamidie Influence
% Presence in Pedigrees % Contribution per pedigree where present
*Nejdme 1 77% 00.33%
*Obeyran 2 55% 00.29%
*Galfia 255 61% 00.20%
*Mannaky 294 61% 00.10%
*Pride 321 61% 00.20%
TOTAL 82% 00.80%

Statistics courtesy of Debra L. and Jerald F. Dirks. Compiled from a random sample of 100 horses from Vol. 50 of the Arabian Horse Registry Stud Book. (Note: The influence of *Galfia 255 is calculated on the assumption that she was the dam of *Pride 321.)