Beyond Borders: Moroccans in Britain and America

Project Editor: Dr. Khalid BEKKAOUI

List of Moroccan Slaves in the New World, 1595-96

Almançor de Marruecos

Cassimo de Fez

Yaçyn de Marruecos

Hassan de Xexuan

Hamete de Fez

Hamete de Fez Hamete

Hassan de Alcazar

Ali de Miquinas

Ali de Selen

The Delaware Moors, 1600?

A Peculiar Race and Its Very Queer Origin

         Cosmopolitan America is made up of queer people, but probably none are more peculiar or claim a more remarkable origin than Delaware Moors, whose homes are in the southern end of Delaware. Tradition has it that one of their  progenitors was a Moorish prince who had been sold into captivity because of troubles in his own dominion, and who was brought to his country on a slave ship over a hundred years ago.

        As fate would have it, this prince was bought by a young Irish woman who had been banished from a dutchy in Spain which rightfully belonged to her. The woman was wealthy and kept many servants, and her hand had been soughs by all the beaur of the vicinity of Lewes, Del., where she had taken up her down. But she treated all of them with scorn.  When Moorish prince became her property she was greatly impressed with him. He told her his story, and the first that the people knew she had set him free and become his wife.

       Considering the husband she had married as nothing more or less than a Negro, the society people of Lewes pro ceded to ostracize the young woman and the children who were born to them found themselves classed with the Negroes. At this their pride made them  revolt and they act up a community of their own, at Cheswald, Holding themselves too good for the blacks and not being allowed the society of whites it cams about that these unfortunate people intermarried with the Nanticoke, who had attained a high degree of civilization. This curious combination of races brought about the Delaware Moors of today.

      The Delaware Moors are intelligent and industrious and make good law-abiding citizens. Yet they are hated by the whites and blacks and hate in return. They put a good deal of faith in education, and have their own school and schoolmaster. They also have their own church of the Methodist denomination. Contrary to what might be expected, they did not follow the faith of their forefathers. They are not Mohammedans.

Two Moroccans Enslaved in America, 1736

      Copy of the Declaration of two Moors named Hamed and Guylance natives of the Country, taken upon oath by Maje Mohamed Lucas, Governour and Seedee Absallem Ben Kurrich, Chief Justice of Tetuan in the presence of William Petticrew Esqr: His Britannick Majesty’s Consul Generalle.

 

      Hamed and Guylance doe upon solemn oath administered by Seedee Absallam Ben Kurrich Cady or chief Justice in the City of Tetuan and in the presence of Mohamed Lucas, Governour and the Adools, or Notary Publicks of said City whose name are under written, Declare that in the year 1736 as they were going in a small boat from the port of Sallee to that of Mogadore with design to load corn for Sallee, they with six other Moors were taken by a Portuguse Cruiser and carryed to Mazagone a Garrisson belonging to the Portuguese on this coast, that after they had been in that Garrisson some few days, the said two Moors were ordered daily to work at the waterpost, where an English Master of a Ship that was then discharging his cargo of Corn, often came up to them and in private would speak with them, but they not understanding said Masters language, he often made use of the words  Vamos a Anglotterra, by which they understood that the said Master commiserated their bondage, and was desirious of freeing them therefrom and taking them to England, which they were greatly pleased with imagining they would not be detained but have liberty to return directly to their own Country, they afterwards resolved on escaping from the Portuguese and finding their opportunity the day before the said Master sailed, by their blessing of the Prophet they got onboard the Ship, no search being made onboard for them (as Moorish Slaves frequently escape by land) the ship sailed, and during time of a long passage the Master often repeated his former words to them, they at length arrived in a river as they imagined to be in England, and in two days after were taken out of the Ship put into a little Sloop and sent a great  way round the land ,they at last were put on shore near a Plantation far remote from any Town or Village, where a number of black Slaves were kept at very hard labour, and they were put to the same with the blacks in the day, and at night [words missing] those blacks rested , the said Moors were obliged to grind a suffiscient quantity of Indian corn for the subsistence of all the Slaves, whereby they got little or [word/s missing] their food was constantly Indian corn, except two days in the year that a little flesh was given them, little or no cloathing the same as the blacks , the said Moors underwent the cruelest of Slavery near to the term of fifteen years, that in all that time they were not permitted to see any person to whome they could apply for redress, and having learned to speak English they found that the Master who took them away and detained them was earned by Chaff Daves [word/s missing] with the Master of the plantation called Larosh, the place is called Lieddewen,  distant from Charles Town in South Carolina about one hundred and fifty miles, Daves and Larosh failing and flying that Country their creditors from Charles Town came to take possession of the plantation and their effects, to whom the said Moors applyed for Liberty which was immediately given them after their arrival at Charles town , with a Certificate to each of their long Slavery from the Governour of that Country, a true copy of said Governours Certificates are hereunto anexed in Araback to prevent mistakes or misunderstanding, the same has been properly explained before the English Consul and Merchants, who own other translation just, and that the said Hamed  and Guylanee doe pretty well understand the English Language which corroborates their declarations and the Governours Certificate of being long under the English.

      Sworn to, by Hamed and Guylanee and signed by the lady and the Adoolls in the city of Tetuan this 28th: of Septembre : 1753    

Petition of Moroccan Slaves in America, 1790

      A petition was presented to the House from Sundry Free Moors, Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco; and residents in this State, praying that in case they should Commit Any Fault amenable to be brought to Justice, that they as Subjects to a Prince in Alliance with the United States of America, may be tried under the same Laws as the Citizens of this State would be liable to be tried, and not under the Negro Act, which was received and read.

    The humble Petition of Francis, Daniel, Hammond and Samuel, (Free Moors) in behalf of themselves and their wives Fatima, Flora, Sarah and Clarinda, Humbly Sheweth That your Petitioners some years past had the misfortune while fighting in the defence of their Country, to be captured with their wives and made prisoners of War by one of the Kings of Africa. That a certain Captain Clark had them delivered to him on a promise that they should be redeemed by the Emperor of Morocco’s Ambassador then residing in England, in order to have them returned to their own Country: Instead of which he brought them to this State, and sold them for slaves. Since that period they have by the greatest industry been enabled to purchase their freedom from their respective Masters: And now prayeth your Honorable House, That as free born subjects of a Prince now in Alliance with these United States; that they may not be considered as subject to a Law of this State (now in force) called the negro law: but if they should unfortunately be guilty of any crime or misdemeanor against the Laws of the Land, that they may have a just trial by a Lawful Jury. And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Prince of Morocco, Captive in America, 1790s

 

A Royal Slave : PRINCE OF MOROCCO CAPTURED BY PIRATES OFF TANGIER AND SOLD IN GEORGIA

 

Ignorant of English and Unable to reveal His identity—lived and Labored for Years in This Country—Raised a Family, and finally Wrote to the Emperor of Morocco Asking to Be Released. A Bit of Unwritten History.

 

During the siege of Vicksburg a contraband came to my quarters one day, and said he desired to obtain some information and advice as to what course he should take to get to Missouri or Kansas. He added: ``General, I cannot tell you how anxious I am to get there, for I believe my wife and two children are in St. Louis or Kansas City. I was separated from them two years ago this month, but within a few weeks I have providentially heard from them, and now, thanks to the good Lord, it appears to me that my prayers will be answered in due time,’’ The poor old man completely broke down with the intensity of his emotions. His whole appearance and manners, and his language—for he spoke good English, entirely free from the broken idiom of the ignorant colored people—impressed me at once that he was a person of far more intelligence and education than would be expected in one who had passed his whole life in bomdage. I became interested in him, and requested him to give me a sketch of his life, as there was a little leisure that afternoon, the contending forces on each side being quiet for a few hours. Said he: ``I will, general; but tell me first, can you give me any hope of getting up the river to St. Louis?’’ I replied that I would endeavor to procure transportation for him, and thought there would not be much doubt about it, then he broke forth in profuse expressions of gratitude and began:

 

STOLEN BY SLAVE PIRATES.

 

``My name is Jacob Rahman, and I am the son of Abdul Rahman, I was born 57 years ago, last May, near Bolivar, Tenn. But before I proceed further with my father’s history. He was a native of Morocco, from whence he was stolen away by a slave ship when he was 15 years old. He always claimed he was a Moorish prince in that country. He said been thoroughly educated for one of his years, according to the education and customs of his country, and was raised in luxury, for his family were the possessors of great wealth, as well as of rank. He and a companion went down the harbor of Tangiers one summer afternoon for a sail, when, a squall coming up suddenly, their boat capsized and the companion was drowned. Father clung to the keel till a boat put out from a ship lying at anchor close by and rescued him.

 

``On being taken abroad he was informed that as it was no near evening he would have to remain on the ship till the next day, when he would be sent back to the city. He suspected nothing wrong, and was satisfied to remain. When he got up the next morning he was amazed to find  the ship out in the ocean with no land in view. As he often expressed it, he was overwhelmed with despair. He begged the officers of the ship to send him back by the first vessel they should meet, but his entreaties were of no avall. The officers and crew were hard-hearted, and they only laughed at his pleadings. He soon learned that he was on a slave ship, bound for the west coast of Africa for a cargo of slaves. He then realized that he was to be sold into slavery. He often told me of the terrible agony he endured in this being torn away from his family and country, with nothing to look forward to but hopless bondage. Once, in his despair, he attempted to jump overboard, but n

 

``He was then kept in confinement. The vessel reached her destination on the African coast, and after securing her cargo of slaves, set sail for Savannnah, Ga. On her arrival at that port the Africans were sold at auction, he among the number. As he had the dark skin of the Spanish Moor he readily passed for a mulatto, and as he could not make known who he was or where he was or where he was from, and if he had been able to tell his story no attention would have been paid to it.

 

``He was bid off to a planter b the name of Johnson, in the northwestern portion of Georgia, near the Tennesse line. Here he remained a few years, working in the cotton fields, subjected to the hard treatment of slaves, but never forgetting his kindred and country or its language. He was in the habit, of taking with himself in his native tongue when alone, so as to retain it in memory. He remained here a few years, when he was sold to John Western and moved to Bolivar, Tenn.

 

Mr. Western treated him with marked kindness and permitted the governess of his children to teach him also. He married a mulatto girl belonging to his master who was maid to Mrs. Western. Here I was born and was one of seven brothers. As we grew up our lives passed pleasantly, for the family were all together, and we were happy and contented. Our master allowed us the same privileged for obtaining education that he had given to father. Father was able to teach us all the common branches of education, and we were allowed an hour each day after our work was done for that purpose. But those pleasant times were soon to end. Things seemed to darken. Master Western appeared sad and melancholy, and walked about speaking to no one. We began to hear the white folks speaking of his having met with heavy losses, and that he was in great trouble. It was not long till he sickened and took to his bed from which he never got up again. We all helped to lay the good master tenderly away for we realized our best friend was trouble coming now, for she could see the shadows on the wall. In a few weeks the administrator came to the place and reported that Mr. Western had been ruined financially by the betrayal of others in whom he had put his confidence, and that his plantation and the slaves must be sold, for the estate was insolvent.

 

``The news came with crushing force. From that time on we were sobbing and mourning most of the time. The day for the auction was fixed, and the night before our family were all together in our cabin, which was really a comfortable house. We were all crying as if our hearts would not forget us; and then we all knelt down and he prayed, and O, such a prayer seems as if I can hear him now, his voice coming back from that far-away time pleading with the good Lord that our family might all meet again, if not in this land, then in the heavenly kingdom, where no separation could come.

 

SEPARATED FROM CHILDREN AND FRIENDS.

 

``It was some consolation the next day to see that father and mother Charles Merwin, a planter from Natchez. Miss. My five brothers were sold Natchez, while I was bid off by a gentleman named George Woodford of Bowling Green, Ky. The parting scene the next day I can’t attempt to describe. We clung to each other until the men tore us apart, and then, saying a last good by, I went my sad and weary way.

 

``I found my new master was a man of great wealth, the owner of several tobacco plantations, and conducting a large business. I determined to make myself as useful to him as I possibly could, trusting thereby to secure kind treatment from him. He soon discovered that I could read well and write a good hand. He did not put me in the fields with the other hands, but kept me employed about his office and the mansion. After trying me thus for some months he appeared to be convinced that I was thoroughly honest and faithful, and made me his trusty attendant. After I had been with him about four years I fell I love with a mulatto girl on a neighboring plantation and married her. My master thought so much of me that he purchased her and brought her to his own establishment, and gave us nice quarters to live in. I had told him about my brothers sold to different parties in that vicinity. One morning he told me ‘Jake, I am going to start for New Orieans in a few days, and shall stop the river. I shall take you with me, and while stopping there you can look anything about your parents.’’

                                       

EMPEROR OF MOOROCCO DEMANDS HIS EMANCIPATION.

 

``I was overjoyed at the thought of seeing them again, and yet I was afraid I would not be able to find them, for thirteen years had passed since we were separated; but there was hope. On our arrival at Natchez I immediately inquired for Charles Merwin, who had purchased my parents, and learned that he lived on his plantation two miles out from the city. Thither I went, filled with hope and dread. I readily found Mr. Merwin, and made myself known to him. After listening to my statement, he informed me that all my family were set free some eight or nine years before, and were sent to Morocco. He said my father claimed to…

 

be a Moorish prince, and with his permission’, wrote to the emperor of Morocco a letter in Arabic, starting who he was, how and when he was taken away from his native country, and where, giving his owner’s name and address and asking him to secure his celanse and that of his family.

 

``Mr. Merwin took the letter to the Spanish Consul at New Orieans, who forwarded it to its destination. In about two years Mr. Merwin Received a letter from the American Consul at Morocco stating that the Emperor had caused an investigation to be made, and it was found that the statement contained in Rahman’s letter was true—that a prince named Abdul Rahman disappeared about the year 1787, and his fate was never known until his letter was received. He also received a communication from Henry Clay, Secretary of State, making inquiry about one Abdul Rahman a slave, who claimed to have been a prince in Timbuctoo, starting that the Emperor of Morocco desired his emancipation, and to have him sent home, and asking if that could be brought about. Mr. Merwin wrote back that he could set Rahman and his wife free if the government would secure transportation for them. After a while it was so arranged and they were sent to Timbuctoo. In the course of two years, through the intersection and the aid of the Emperor of Morocco. The rest of the family living about Natchez were emancipated and sent to the same place. He said father told them of another son. Jacob, but they get no intelligence of his whereabouts, and he was left behind. This information was a dreadful disappointment to me for it banished all hope of ever seeing my kindred again; but it was a satisfaction to know they were all free and that my good father was restored to his country and to his rights again.

 

THE ESAPE OF HIS SON.

 

``I returned with my master to my Kentucky home, and lived there happily with my family till the war came on. Master Woodford joined the Confederate army and took me along with him. He was in the quartermaster’s department, and we were with John son’s army at the battle of Shiloh. After serving at different places we joined Gen. Joe Johnstone’s army, which is trying to help Permberton, and is now at Jackson. A few days ago I met a gentleman, an old resident of Bowling Green, who knew me and my family well. He had just returned from a furlough during which he visited his home in citizen’s dress undiscovered. While there some of his colored people told him that the ‘Feds’ had carried off a lot of colored folks, among them any wife and two daughters (I had but two children then, having buried four.) to St. Louis or Kansas City. From that moment I determined to make my way into the Union lines, and to go up the river if possible. In escaping through the picket lines of the rebels I was shot at three times, and was wounded once. Here is my wounded arm not yet dressed. I have now told you all; and, O, sir, if you will help me to get to St. Louis I will never cease to pray for you.’’

 

His appearance and manner and evident sincerity convinced me he was honest and truthful. I sent him to the hospital to have his arm dressed, and the next day secured transportation for him to St. Louis on one of the government transports, and supplying him with ten days’ rations bade him goodby. He started on his way rejoining and I never expected to see him again.

                                       

In 1865, after the close of the war, walking along Fourth street, in St. Louis, one day, I was accosted a great deal of pleasure at meeting me. Looking at him for a few moments, I told him I could not recall him. He then asked me if I did not remember Jacob Rahman. Then I recognized him. In answer to my inquiry if he found his wife and children he replied: ``O, yes; I found them after a long search. They told me that word came back from the army to Bowing Green that both my master and myself had been killed. Not knowing what to do in their great distress, but being anxious to get as far away from the war as they possibly could, they were advised by the Federals, to St. Louis. On their arrival there they fell in with Mr. Wilson, at whose place I found my wife, who was looking for female help and took them to his home, and found places for our two girls in the neighborhood. They were sent for, and in a little while we were all together. It was a joyous family reunion. I was employed by Mr. Wilson, and we are with him yet. I assist in cultivating the farm, and bring the produce to market. I came in with a load today, and it has given me the opportunity to see you again, and to again thank you for aiding me in coming to this city.’’

After assuring him it gave me great pleasure to learn he had been united to his family again. We said goodby.

 

EXTARCT FROM JOHN QUINCY ADAMS’ DIARY.

 

In coming over the memoirs of John Quincy Adams, a few months ago, I was quite surprised and pleased to find the following entry in his diary in May, 1828:

 

``Abdul Rahman is a Moor, other wise called Prince of Ibrahim, who has been forty years a slave in this country. He wrote two or three years since to the Emperor of Morocco, in Arabic, in consequence of which the Emperor expressed a wish to our Consul that he might be emancipated and sent home. His owner, residing at Natchez, Miss., offered to emancipate him on condition that he should be sent home by the United States, which we accordingly determined to do. He has now come on from Natchez with his wife and met Mr. Clay at Baltimore.’’ (Mr. Adams was President at that time and Mr. Clay Secretary of State.) ``He came in while Mr. Southard (Secretary of the Navy). Was with me, and we had some consultation how and when he should be dispatched to his home, which he, says is Timbuctoo. He says he has left at Natchez five sons and eight grandchildren, one of them only four days old when he came away, all in slavery and wishes they might all be emancipated and be sent with him or to him. He says he is 60 years old and assumes to have been the lawful Prince of his country.’’

Early Moroccan Acrobats in America: Hadj Nassar, Ushgayer, Netamo, 1847

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Early Moroccan Ambassadors in America: Sid-el-Hadj-Idris, Sidi el- Bernoussi, and Abdel- Kader, 1860

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A Pretty Moorish Girl in New York, 1888

 

A Pretty Moorish Girl in New York,

Worcealer Spy


         Features of the perfect Caucasian type, brilliant eyes abundant brows and lashes, a complexion of beautiful brown, not sallow enough to be called olives, yet too soft and delicate to be called black, a figure that was tall, plump, and well rounded, but not too exuberant, and the entire framework and model of feminine loveliness set off by a quite costume that both satisfied the requirements of good taste and gave affluent indication of the exquisite form it covered. Such was the girl I saw crumbling  chicory salad and ducting grated choose over a big dish of excellent macaroni in a well-known Italian restaurant the other day    he was an Arab, a Moor. At the same table set a corpulent, curly haired man of unmistakable Italian physiogemy.

    “Yes,” said the waiter, he laid a dish of anchovies and the olives before me; “she is very pretty; she come often sometimes.”

    Her escort is a well-to-do attache of the Italian Consulate.

Benasuli Visits the White House to Complain of American Consul in Tangier, 1889

An Arab Merchant Calls on the President to Complain of Consul Lewis, 1889

 

               Washington, Oct.8—Mr. Benasuli, an Arab merchant from Tangier, Morocco, appeared at white house today in Arabian Costume and through an interpreter laid before the president his complaint against Consul Lewis of Tangier. Benasuli placed himself under the Consul's protection and two years ago, he asserts the Consul had him arrested, that the consul had him arrested for alleged conspiracy to kill a debtor. After being kept in jail nearly a year, Benasuli was released, investigation having disapproved the charge. He asks that suitable reparations to made him. The president sent Benasuli to secretary Blaine, who will investigate the case.

Wild Moorish Caravan Brought to America, 1892

 

          Ben Hadjali Pasha, the most celebrated of all oriental showmen has brought to this country this year thirty five Moorish and Arabian men, women and children, together with all their trappings, tents, implements, etc., and will exhibit them as one of the features of the Adam Forepaugh Shows. They form the Imperial Circus Caravan of the Sultan of Morocco, and have come to America by his special permission as well as that of the protectorate government of France. They are the most skilled and daring performers of their race and their feats are all something entirely different from anything ever seen before in America. The company includes two ladies from the Imperial Harem which were presented to Hadjali by the late Sultan as a mark of special favor, and was further granted the extraordinary privilege of taking them to foreign countries. The company includes several kybales and several (Asiasons), who are the direct lineal descendents of the Ancient Assyrians, and they will participate most appropriately in the sublime historical Bible Spectacle ‘‘The Fall of the Nineveh,’’ which is given as a part of the programme of the Adam Forepangh Shows. The company will be seen living in the shows in precisely the same manner in which they live on the sun scorched sands of the great desert of the Sahara.

                         The Adam Forepangh Shows will exhibit here Wednesday, Aug. 31. 

Ahmad Fears for His Head, 1893

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Zahra’s Impressions of New York, 1894

      In the outer tent of Sheik Hadj Tahar in the camp of the Riffian Arabs at the Wild West show yesterday, a singular looking group sat. There were three Arabs and one American. Two of the Arabs were men, Sheik Hadj Tahar and Sie Hassan Ben Ali, and the third was a beautiful woman of Morocco, Zahar Ben Tahar, wife of the Sheik. The American was the inevitable reporter, who wanted to know how America looked to feminine eyes from Morocco.

      Zahar Ben Tahar is young and very fair of complexion, she is the belle of the show; her peachy cheeks, ruby lips, large, beautiful brown eyes, white teeth and huge masses of curly dark hair made her countenance a pleasant picture. Her figure, of medium height, was straight and supple, she carried herself superbly, her dress was gorgeous, clouds of gauze, shot with gold and diverse bright colors falling over heavy brocades.

      A richly jewelled crown was set among the dark curling locks above her forehead and at her throat and on her arms were necklaces and bracelets. Carelessly bound about the head was the graceful gauze yashmak, on the feet were the large embroidered red leather slippers which the women of Morocco wear.

      Hadj Tahar and Ben Ali assisted in translating the questions and answers. Zahar displayed much interest and her eyes danced with fun at some of the reminiscences called up. In taking her seat she first tried the edge of a steamer chair but gave it up with a little scream and sat on a divan. Leaving out the reporter’s questions and the interpreter’s interjections and discussions this is what Zahar Ben Tahar said:

     “I have been to New York. It was last Saturday. I went to a great bazaar, far greater than any in Tangier. It was hard for the imagination to understand it. It was called Macy’s. I went there to get a long mirror. I saw cars that went without any one pushing or pulling, and I thought there must be devils inside. I did not go on them, but on railroad high up in the air. I was afraid that it would fall down, but it did not. At Macy’s the people stopped buying to look at me and the Arab boy. They came all about us so that we could not pass. Everywhere were women’s faces–so many that I could not tell whether any of them were beautiful. Some of them were nearly cut in two at the middle. They must be tied with strings. They wore funny looking things on their heads. I would not wear one of them for the world. There were fat women there with little boots and high heels. I have seen such shoes before in Tangier. The feet are too small. They must be tied up. The women crowded around me so that I could not move. I or the Arab boy. They talked to me, but I do not know what they said. I just kept saying ‘Arab! arab!’ Their voices sounded like the voices of the birds we have in our country, birds that talk, say words–no, not parrot [the interpreters could not tell what bird was meant]. The women pushed each other and used their elbows, so. They do not get out of the way of the men, but push right into them. It seemed shameful to me that their faces were uncovered.

      “At last some of the men of the store rescued me and the Arab boy and we were taken to the oriental part and there I found much goods that I recognized. It was about 8 o’clock in the afternoon when I was at Macy’s. I and the boy went out to go to home. We had bought much. We went on the wrong railroad and it took us far away off to another city [Harlem]. All I could say was ‘Buffalo Bill!’ and no one understood me. It was 1:30 o’clock in the morning when I got back to this place and the sheik had been running everywhere like mad looking for me: ‘Oh, where were you?’ he cried. ‘See,’ I said, ‘I have bought everything in the city and there is the bill.’”

      At this point Zahar laughed mischievously and the sheik joined with the utmost good nature. “Next time I went to New York was on Tuesday. The boy, Joseph, was with me. Somewhere far up in the city [this was figured out Fourteenth street] a party of boys drew across our path like soldiers. They all had stones. People drove them away, but they came back in front of us again and threw the stones, and at one time we had six policemen to take care of us because the people were all about us and would not let us alone; they wanted to look at us because I wore my dress of Morocco and had my face covered. We went further down the city and heard a man in the shop shouting very loud; so we went in to see what the shouting was all about. But the people left the man who was shouting and came all about us. Then the man who was shouting went out and got a policeman and pointed to us; so the policeman came and took hold of us and led us away. ‘Where is he leading us to?’ I asked the Arab boy. ‘He is taken us to prison.’ Said the boy. Then I felt very badly to think I should never see my people again. But it was not true; the policeman was not taking us to prison. He was just taking us away from the store. The man who was shouting was selling things and he could not sell things as long as we stood there and kept all the people looking at us. “On a street we found a Christian mosque. We pushed open the door and looked in. There were images and pictures, and at the head of the room a great white thing with candles lighted all over it. It looked as if there was to be a feast and we went away. In Mohammedan mosques they will not have pictures or images, for it is very wrong.

      “Some of the food the Christians here eat, ugh! I would sooner eat stones–soft, slimy, horrible things that come out of the sea–oysters and craps and lobsters. It is dreadful. The people also eat pork, which is wrong. A new waiter brought ham and eggs to the camp here yesterday, and some of the Arabs eat it. Then came one who said, ‘do you know what you have done? You have eaten pork! Then there was fighting. It was terrible. I cook for myself here in the tent, because I am afraid of what I might eat. It is forbidden by the Koran for women to eat onions or garlic. I hear that sometimes women in this country drink liquors. That would be terrible. It would make them worse than animals.

      There were some women of Tangiers who drink water in which barley and wheat was boiled. When the other ladies of the city find it out they did not want to speak to them anymore; it was too much like drinking liquor. It is not true what some people say that in our country the women are badly treated. They are well treated. The husband is as God to his wife. They have more than one wife there, but that is well. Here the women are jealous, but there they live like sisters. It is the husband’s will; he is God and that is right. I here some women in this country preach. Do they wear men’s clothes? No. It seems very funny. If a woman were to try to preach in our country the men and women would stone her to death. She has no right to preach.

      “There are some things I would like to see in this country. I would like to see a little American baby; I would like to see a school where the children are taught and I would like to see how they make the newspapers. This show is a wonderful thing. I am afraid of the Indians, though my husband says they will not hurt me. The first time I saw them I thought they were dead men. They were painted like some of the dead men in our country [the writer suggested mummies and Hassan and the Hadj agreed that that was what was meant]. I have never been in their tent. I am afraid to go there. Sometimes they come and sit here, but I always run away inside. This show is wonderful. Of all that is given. I like best the fight where the horses are made to lie down and the men fight from behind them. I thought it was real at first; that they killed a lot of men everyday and got new ones for the next day, but I find that is not true, because I see the same men on different days. Next to that I like best the tumbling horses that turn somersaults when the men try to ride them.

      “Some of the American men are good looking, but they have no beards, only mustaches, and who can tell whether they are old or young. Some have no mustaches even, and they look like women. The clothes make them look funning. So tight about the legs they look like scissors. One thing that seems strange to me is that men and women should be mixed in the seats of a place like this show. I have never being to a theatre yet in this country. I must go.”

      At the conclusion of the strange interview the beautiful Moor invited the visitors to stay and partake of something. All took lemonade.

      The leave taking was quite elaborate. The courtesy of the Moors being truly Parisian.

 

Moors at the Brooklyn Eagle Office, 1894

They Riffian, Moors headed by Hadj Tahar, visited the Eagle office this morning and saw, as they declared, “More wonders than there are in all Morocco.” In the party with Hadj were Hassan Ali, Hadj Hassan, Braheem Ben Hamdo, Mohamed Basher, Hadj Ahmed, Sie Fadal Wajum, Hadji Ambark, Sallem Nassar, Ali Ben Mahane and Cheriff Ben Taible. The callers made up the most picturesque group of visitors the Eagle has yet had. They were dressed in their best and brightest costumes in honor of the occasion.

They were put on the elevators and shot up to the eighth floor of the building, expressing great astonishment at the mode of ascent. When they understood that it was water pressure that sent them flying up they were still more surprised and looked about for the fluid. They talked excitedly with one another when they looked about in the composing room. One of the criticisms was that it was strange to see the women working with the men. The vast amount of type and the method of setting, it was very interesting to them, and when some proofs were pulled from a galley of type they seized them eagerly.

The whirling dervish is a little follow of very powerful frame. He is full of curiosity and very voluble. On learning that the roller of the proof press was of solid iron be straddled the press and tried to lift it. He was heartily laughed at when he failed.

The telephone caused the Arabs to shout with surprise. The dervish made an eager grab at it and tried to look in the receiver. Then he shouted at it. Central had been previously rung up, and the reporters stood around with happy smiles on their faces while central and the whirling dervish had it out. The chief and the other big men listened to central also and jabbered at her in choice Arabic. Her voice excited them greatly and they looked all over the machine for her. The guide explained that by means of the telephone people can talk to any part of the city; that he had just been talking to a young man in Mr. Salisbury’s tent and that the young man had told him that Arabs had left the camp. This was translated and excitedly discussed, and they wanted to know how many days’ journey a person could talk. They were told that the telephone could talk one hundred days’ march and that as fast as they were spoken.

The stock ticker, the telegraph instrument with the operator sitting behind it and calmly receiving on the typewriter, were recognized as other marvels of the most extraordinary kind.

“Devils!” some said.

“Prophets!” said others.

“You must have very great heads!” said the Hadj.

“Not till next day,” said the city editor.

They were shown the women proofreaders and were told about their work.

“You American women are just like the men,” said Hadj Tahar.

“Oh, they’re much smarter than the men,” said the guide.

“Yes.” Said the Hadj, shaking his head sadly, “but that is wrong.”

The whirling Dervish could hardly be torn away from the telephone. He wanted to break the receiver feeling sure that central was inside. In the bindery department the youngest and handsomest of the Arabs, who has big brown eyes and curling black hair, fell a victim to the charms of a brunette houri who operated a stitching machine. He could not talk English, but he could look the language of love and he did.

“Say?” said Hadj, “he was stuck on that girl, eh? He thank he was in Arabic.”

The whirling Dervish got in trouble in the stereotyping department. He saw the molten lead poured on paper and the cast from taken off, but in order to satisfy himself that there was no deception, he thought he would like to touch the form. He was warned three times but he came back the fourth time and put a forefinger against it. There was a calliope yell and the dervish hopped about with a finger in his mouth. The other Arabs laughed, and they sceptic was convinced. In the business offices the Arabs found a thing that shocked them terribly. It was a moullah’s prayer carpet from Persia.

“I don’t know how you got it,” said the Hadj, “but it is wicked to walk upon that carpet. Excuse me.”

The wonders of the press room almost put the visitors beyond speech. Seeing the paper going into the press all blank at one end and coming out all printed, folded, cut and pasted was an overwhelming surprise. That the press should count its own product was another great curiosity. The electric fans, the pneumatic tubes also caused great surprise and the counting room, with its beautiful stonework, was compared to the sultan’s palace.

The Arabs were invited to some refreshments. They demurred till they were assured that there was no pork in any of the viands that would be offered. Some picked up their bricks of ice cream with their fingers and dropped them saying that they burnt. They did not like to use spoons, as they said God made the hands to eat with. They had a spirited discussion about Christians.

“What do you think of them now?” the Hadj asked triumphantly. “Didn’t I tell you the Christians are good people?” asked Hadj triumphantly.

“Oh, yes. These are good people,” the Moors all said; “but they are not at all like the other Christians. The Spaniards are bad, but the Americans are good.”

They went away after many salaams with arms full of souvenirs. They were as happy as children.

“You have more wonders in that one building than are to be seen an all our country,” said chief, and he added: “Those boys will fill all the post offices in Morocco with the letters they will write to their people.”

They all got safely aboard the cars on their return journey, though the curiosity of the whirling dervish nearly got him run over by a trolley car.

Moroccan Weds Egyptian Dancer in Louisville, 1894

 

"LOUISIVILLE, Jan. 17. — A novel wedding ceremony will take place in this city Saturday night on the stage of the Buckingham theatre. The groom will be Hash Hassan, a Moor from Morocco. Amena Mahomet, one of the Egyptian dancing girls, will be the bride. The license for the wedding was secured today. The ceremony will be performed according to Mohammedan rites, and will have all the Oriental coloring attending such events in the countries of which the parties are natives. It will be supplemented by a civil marriage, performed by a magistrate. This is the second marriage resulting from the congress of nations on the Midway. The other took place in the streets of Cairo at Jackson park.

Miss Tisha Hahjali Dies in Brooklyn, 1896

        HADJALI. – Miss Tisha Hadjali, Moorish acrobat, died suddenly Jan, 5th, at her home in Brooklyn, N. Y., U.S.A, from haemorrhage of the lungs. The deceased, who was twenty-eight years old, was the only daughter of the late Sidi- El- Hadjali Ben- Mahommed- Masfiri, who died ten weeks ago. She performed with her father’s troupe of acrobats through Europe, Asia, and America. The remains were interred in the Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 8th. Her mother survives her.

Morccoan Project to Buid the First Mosque in America, 1897

     A project is on foot to build in New York city a Mohammedan mosque or School, to provide a place of worship for the few followers of the prophet there, and a religious school where Arabian youth may learn all that is valuable in western civilization without being led away from the teachings of Islam.

    The Eedm Oriental society, an influential Arabian religious and benevolent association, with headquarters in Morocco, is pushing the project, and has named Hassan Ben Ali, of 531 Sixth avenue, as its agent. He has been consulting with real estate dealers, architects and the building department for the last four weeks, and has forwarded to Morocco plans for a building to cast $94,000.

   Arabian boys, probably 50 each year, are to receive in New York a thorough legal, medical, scientific and technical training. The religious and literary branches of the school will be taught by Mohammedans, and the presence of the mosque will enable the full Mohammedan ritual to be maintained. The sultan of Morocco, Abdul Aziz, a man of progressive ideas, tried the experiment of sending young men to study in Germany, but it did not turn out satisfactorily; the students became dissipated. The Eedm society believes that its plans will meet with his approbation.

Massuda Sues Hassan in New York, 1899

       Seven Moors, some with oriental costumes and others only with Turkish fezzes on their heads, attracted attention in the Supreme Court this morning. Before justice Maddox and a jury was begun the trial of the suit of Masouda Bent Hadji, a woman whirling Dervish, against Hassan Ben Ali, a manager of Tow-Zoon-In troupe of performing Arabs, known as “The five Whirlwinds,” in Europa, to recover. $308, alleged to be due for salary and expenses. The suit of Hadji Hamed Azoudad against Ben Ali to recover a similar sum was tried with the suit of Masouda Bent Hadji. Masouda is called in defendant’s papers the wife of Hadji Hamed, the other plaintif, but both Masouda and Hadji Hamed deny that relationship and assert that they are merely business partners and are now in very hard luck. Masouda wore the latest French fashion and has a ready command of English, while her features and accent are of the Hibernian stamp. F. L. Carreo, an Italian lawyer, appeared for plaintiffs and Patrick O’Beir for defendant.

       It is alleged by each of the plaintiffs that Hassan Ben Ali was at Gibraltar last summer and by correspondence entered into a contact with the plaintiffs, who were at Paris, to come to America. The agreement was that Ben Ali was to bring the couple to New York. Masouda wrote the letters, while her partner, Hadji Hamed Azoudad, directed the terms of agreement. Ben Ali Agreed to hire each of them for $20 a week for twelve weeks, and the plaintiffs say that in a house at 520 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan, on or about August 22 last, the contract was put in writing, and was to last to November 22. After the troupe performed a week at proctor’s it was taken to San Francisco and thence to Los Angeles, where the plaintifis were discharged. They allege that they were willing to work, but could not get employment; so they came to New York and began the suit. They asked for board for six weeks, amounting to $60; $24 fare from Paris; $59 fare from Los Angeles and wages $240 each. Against this they say they got from defendant $75 each.

        The defendant denies that there was a written contract. He agreed to pay the couple $25 a week, he says, the man to get $10 and the woman $15. He was to pay expenses to Los Angeles and return and to pay board for them while in his employ. He carried out the agreement and two weeks before they were discharged he gave them notice of dismissal, as has been agreed in New York. He claimed that he paid for the five weeks services $150 to the plaintiff. He bought tickets for the troupe to return to New York, but they would not accept them.

       There was some difficulty experienced by the court officers in knowing how to get along with the Moors in court. They insisted on wearing their fezes, saying it was the custom of the Mohammedan religion to keep on their head covering in court. Before this excuse was known, however, the court officers bundled the troupe into the corridor until the case was called on for trial.

       Defendant Ben Ali, after the plaintiffs had been on the witness stand, without telling the cause of the trouble in Los Angeles, testified that in September both plaintiffs notified him that they wanted to return to New York, giving no cause. It was necessary that he should have Masouda to finish his contract with the orpacon Theater manager in Los Angeles. Questions as to the further situation in that city were ruled out.

      Defendant’s counsel introduced a letter in evidence apparently written by Hadji Hammed, at Paris, to the defendant, in which the writer offers to consent to an engagement at $100 a week or less for four Arabs.

      The counsel were compelled to sum up in five minutes each. The jury was out but a short time, when it returned with a verdict for the plaintiffs for $260 each.

Four Moors Seek Citizenship, 1899

 

      John H. Loos, clerk of the Naturalization Bureau of the Supreme Court, had a troublesome half-hour yesterday when four Moors presented themselves before him and demanded their first papers of citizenship. They were in charge of Hassan Ben Ali, who has been a naturalized citizen of the United States for many years. The four aspirants for the citizenship were Hamed Azdued. Hamed Ben Yedr. Ambark Ben Hadji and Jahmon Ben Abdallah. The first two have been in this country for three years. They dress in American costume and speak fair English. Ben Abdallah and Ben Hadji have been here only a few months. They however insist that they could both speak and write English, and made several attempts to inscribe their names on the roll of intending citizens.

      Mr. Loos at last became afraid that his records would be irretrievably destroyed and asked Clerks Guntzer and Brown to interfere and induce the Moors to spell their names. After a hard struggle the three clerks evolved the foregoing names for Hadji and Abdallah. They were dressed in the Moorish garb, and wore turbans and flowing gowns trimmed with fur.

     The four Moors renounced their allegiance to the Sultan of Morocco with uplifted hands and swore allegiance to the United States.

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Arab Acrobats Trained at New York Flat, 1902

A  NEW PRINCE OF ARABIA HAS JUST COME TO TOWN.

He draws lots of tribe in his own country and a big salary here.

 

For the past three weeks a real love Prince, and a wealthy one at that, has been in this city, and, strange to say, no American beauty has flung herself and fortune at his feet in the wain hope of herself becoming a Princess. This, however, is accounted for by the fact that the identity of the Prince is not generally known.

This Prince is by name Muly Ali Sidi Hmad Omossa, and is one of the cleverest tumblers with the Town- Zoon- In Arabs at the Orpheum.

To tell his story, one must first introduce Hassan ben Ali, who brought the Town- Zoon- In Arabs all the way from far-off Arabia to San Francisco. This same Hassan ben Ali brought o this country the first Arabian acrobats and gunspinners ever in America. That was years ago, and he has been in this sort of business ever since. Years ago he came to England as a boy on an English ships. In London he joined a troupe of acrobats and a few years later he struck out in the business for himself and toured both Europe and America. He knew that he has seen acrobats in his native country who could excel anything he had ever seen in Europe and America. But how to get them permission to leave their homes in Arabia was the question that puzzled Hassan ben Ali, but not for long, as he is a resourceful fellow. He hit upon an idea and started at once for Arabia.

He traveled to the interior and calling the various chiefs around him he propounded this question to them: “These Christians keep sending their missionaries over here to convert us: why not give them a dose of their own medicine by sending a few missionaries over to America to convert its people to Mohammedism?”

This phase of the missionary question had never dawned upon the followers of the prophet and they asked time to think it over. Next day the chiefs assembled in council and Hassan ben Ali addressed them further on the subject. It was the unanimous opinion that the Christians ought to be converted, and Hassan Ben Ali was instructed to pick out his missionaries. That was just the point he was working for.

He addressed the assembled chiefs and plausibly told them that when the Christians assembled for worship they always had some amusement to attracte the people. The Christians attracted their congregations by singing and playing on musical instruments, and if they were to attracted to Mohammedanism it would be through some novel entertainment. If the Christian would not listen to the gospel of his own religion unless some side entertainment was furnished, he certainly would not listen to the words of the prophet. The chiefs saw the force of the argument and told Hassan Ben Ali to pick out his own missionaries. This was just what he had been leading up to, and he chose all acrobats.

In Arabia a young man practices acrobatic feats just for the fun of the thing and to amuse his neighbors. They never think of performing their feats for money. Of course a few excel and are regarded with pride by the tribe. Each tribe usually has one young man who excels all the others, and Hassan Ben Ali requested the chief of each tribe to send his best acrobats. They did so and these so-called missionary acrobats formed the first tribe of Arabian acrobats brought to America.

They were a novelty and took well. However, as they learned to speak English they discovered Hassan Ben Ali’s ruse, and they made a vigorous Arabian protest for something more than board and clothes out of the $400 a week Hassan Ben Ali was being paid for them.

A split among the troupe followed and Hassan hastened home for more Arabs. He reported great progress in the conversion of Christians and told of the great crowds that came to see the Mohammedan missionaries. He got another troupe and years later still another. Finally there came a day of reckoning and Hassan Ben Ali had to account to the chiefs of Arabian tribes for his conduct.

Now, considering his day and generation, Hassan Ben Ali is as wise a man as ever came out of the East. During all the years he had maintained a close friendship with Prince Ali, the favorite son of the great Mohammedan chief, Sidi Hmad Omossa, to whom all the tribes of Morocco and the Great Desert pay tribute. Every time he returned to his native land Hassan Ben Ali carried in his train many useful if not costly presents for Prince Ali. Field- glasses, Colt’s revolvers, a repeating rifle, a watch and trinkets for personal adornment were all of almost inestimable value to All, prince of the desert.

When the day of reckoning came Hassan Ben Ali’s stanchest friend was Prince Ali, and the inquisitive chiefs were promptly told that if they dared to interfere with Hassan Ben Ali and his plans they would be made to pay double tribute to Sidi Hmad Omossa, and furthermore not a member of any of the rebellious chiefs’ tribes could find shelter in any of Sidi Hmad Omossa’s Zaouias. This was the most feared of all, for Prince Ali’s father maintained twenty- six Zaouias along the edge of the Great Desert. These Zaouias are resting places wher a stranger may find shelter, food for himself and horse or camel and if necessary fresh horses or camels and guides if on a strange journey. The Zaouias are maintained wholly by Sidi Hmad Omossa out of the tribute money paid him by the wandering tribes, and in turn he extends the hospitality of his Zaouias in time of need. He reserves the right, however, upon justifiable cause, to refuse admission to any member of the tribe who may have offended him.

It was about two years ago that Hassan Ben Ali made the star play of his life. He landed in New York with a fresh troupe of Arabs, all of whom he promptly hid somewhere in the city.

A few days later a cab drove hurriedly to the Fifth-avenue Hotel. A richly dressed and mysterious-looking Arab alighted. Another cab followed with a servant and no end of boxes and bundles. The Arabian potentate registered a queer-looking name that no one to this day has been able to decipher. He selected an elegant suite of rooms. At night his servant lay on a mat in front of his door like a big dog watching his master.

This mysterious Arab never appeared in public without his servant. His rich dress naturally attracted attention. His hands were covered with diamonds and rich jewels. Diamonds hung by gold chains from the four sides of his fez, a bejewelled scimitar showed itself from under the folds of his purple girdle. The reporters pursued him continuously, determined to learn his identity, but he rudely brushed them away.

The rich Arabian would not condescend to hold conversation with anybody. By signs all questioners were given to understand that it was a severe breach of Arabian etiquette to address directly so high a potentate. All conversation should be held first with servant, who on bended knees and the most devout salaams delivers the message to his great master. As the servant professed a dense ignorance of English conversation with the high blooded Arabian was of course impossible.

The reporters were nonplussed for the time. The rich Arabian became highly indignant whenever a reporter attempted to force his way to his presence.

At last the secret came out. One persistent reporter followed the Arabian to the office of an architect. Here was discovered the plans for a most magnificent mosque. This was too good a story to lose and interpreters were hunted up and the Arabian confessed that he had been sent over by the heads of Mohammedan church to erect in the heart of New York City a most gorgeous mosque devoted to the worship of the great Prophet. The New York papers gave up columns to the story and cuts of the proposed mosque were printed. The story was sent all over the world. For a time the mosque story was kept hot. Suddenly the rich Arabian disappeared. He went as mysteriously as he came. Had the reporters followed the thing a little more closely they would have discovered the projector of the mosque schemes, two weeks later, in the person of Hassan Ben Ali, doing a turn with a troupe of Arabian acrobats at a New York vaudeville house.

 During all these years Hassan Ben Ali had been laying his plans to someday bring Prince Ali to America, for the Prince was always nimble youth and Hassan had seen to it that his royal friend had developed into one of the most expert tumblers in the country. The time and opportunity came a few months ago. Last spring the Five Whirlwinds played the Orpheum circuit under the direction of Hassan Ben Ali. His contract with them ran out Kansas City. He started direct to Africa for another troupe. This time he journeyed inland forty days’ camel ride from the cost to the great slave market, Town- Zoon- In. Here he met his friend, Prince Ali, and the town began to plan that the father, Sidi Hmad Omossa, should give his consent that the favorite son could visit America. The news of the information that commodore Watson was likely to sail with his fleet for Spain by the way of the Canary Islands. Hassan Ben Ali saw in this his opportunity for ten stroke and he did it in a way that set all the diplomats of Europe to scratching their heads. He went straight to Sidi Hmad Omossa and demonstrated to him the advantage of a close alliance with America, the coming nation of the world.

As a result of this interview Sidi Hmad Omossa immediately entered into diplomatic correspondence with President Mckinley and offered that in case Commodore Watson sailed for Spain with his fleet Sidi Hmad Omossa would meet him at the Canary Islands with troops and supplies. Hassan Ben Ali took good care that a copy of this correspondence was mailed to the New York Herald, and the matter was telegraphed around the world. Such a procedure on the part of the great Mohammedan chief would have been nothing unusual, for year ago he rendered valuable aid to his friend, Napoleon Ney; and it was only by the assistance of Sidi Hmad Omossa that the French caravan reached Timbuctoo.

During all these years the Prince, at the suggestion of Hassan Ben Ali, had been training himself as an acrobat until he became the most expert in all the Town- Zoon- In country, and to say this means a great deal, for when it comes to tumbling, turning hand-springs, cartwheels and turning somersaults and striking on the hands, the Town- Zoom- Ins have no superior.

Moorish Dancing Girls Want to Stay in America, 1904

Moorish Dancers Want to Stay at ST. Louis

Authorities will probably Deport them Back to Morocco, 1904

 

ST. Louis, Dec. 15, their hunger appeased, with the prospect of more food and plenty of warmth and shelter, the four Moorish Dancing girls who were found Monday morning by police in dire want, do not wish top return to their own country.

"Me want to stay in Sent Louee and work." Said Gentilla yesterday, and her desire was echoed by Rachel, Lucie, and Sola, all of whom wish to remain here.

The girls are now in want of food or coal, as the concession department has been furnishing the former and police the latter. They are still housed in the shack of Morocco Hill, but it has been fairly made comfortable, the girls having nailed boards over all the windows except one to keep the chilly breezes out.

In spite of their desire to remain in this country, the authorities probably will not allow them to do so,  as their ignorance of the language would render the; dependents on charity here. The exposition officials are daily expecting to hear from Washington the immigration bureau has ordered their deportation back to Morocco.

The three men who were left behind with the girls and who wished to share the charity of the exposition with them, were not about yesterday. As they were told they must work for their food and warmth, it is supposed that they were seeking occupation.

Moroccan Dancer Arrested, 1904

HOLD Garden Dancer, 1904

 

Police Also Arrest Other Women in Morocco show

 

When the Moroccan dancer, whom the police arrested at Madison Square Garden night before last, came before Magistrate Flammer in Jefferson Market Court yesterday she had on her costume ready to give her dance to prove to the Magistrate that there was nothing wrong about it. But he threw up his hands in horror and refused to allow such an exhibition to disturb the dignity of the court. The woman, who is known in the show as Rosina, gave her name as Mrs. George Biddie, and said she lived on Central Park West.

    She gave a different name yesterday, so the bait bond was declared void, and the fair Rosina was put in the lock-up Her three colleagues who airs dance in the morocco Village at the Garden, were visited by Capt. Cottrell and two of his ,en last night; and  taken to the Tenderloin Statton. This subtraction from the population of the "Moroccan village" left it a very sparsely inhabited place, the remaining villagers consisting of only a few men, whom nobody seemed to take any interest in, and an elderly looking woman.

They kept up the show just for appearance's sake.

 

Absalom: A Moorish Slave in New York, 1905

 

Absalom is Getting to Be Too Much for the Gilber White Studio—He’s a Slave

by Profession. Not Compulsion—Any underground Railroad Welcome to him

 

Gilbert White, portrait painter, has a Moorish. slave named Absalom. That is, he had. Absalom may have been sold in open market by this time, because it was announced yesterday that he was going under the hammer. Any one who wants a fine Moor, 0 feet 3 tall, chest 48 inches, biceps 17, hits 1.560 on the punching machine, should apply before it is too late to C. White, painter.

Absalom is a real slave. That's straight. In spite of the fourteenth amendment he remains a slave. He insists.

An American showman went to Morocco to get natives for the St. Louis fair. He raised quite a bunch, and incidentally made a great hit with the Sultan by his recitations of “Casey at the Bat” and“Freda Leon, the Dread Boy Road Agent." So when the Sultan said good-by to the showman he sent a vizier to the harem for his finest slave. The vizier brought back Absalom, who's a kinsman of Raisuli, the “Raisuli dead" Raisuli, and was captured in a raid. So Absalom went to St. Louis with the show. All this on the authority of the showman's press agent, who drops out of the tale right here. Of course Gilbert White doesn't have any press agent. That is why the rest of this tale is so true.

When the show broke up the showman didn't want Absalom any more. Neither did he want to send him back to Morocco, so he offered him to White.

“He'll never know the difference," said the showman. "Holding slaves is against the law. Or rather it ain't sanctioned, but it's all right. He couldn't live any other way. and in them clothes he'd look great in a studio."

Well. Mr. White didn't want to go against the fourteenth amendment, so he left it to Absalom through an interpreter. Absalom chose slavery. He was all for it, and besides he liked the looks of the studio. He didn't know any other way of living. So Mr. White became the only slave owner in New York.

This is straight. The rest of this story of Absalom and Gilbert is only common truth. This is preferred truth.

So Absalom abode in the studio, and sewed himself a few new Moorish clothes when the old ones wore out, and became a domestic jewel. After he was once told how to do a thing he did it perfectly thereafter. He learned to cook and to serve tea in such a manner as to enrapture the ladies who came to have their portraits painted. He made only one break in the early stages of his tuition. He'd been taught how to wash clothes. One day Mr. White spilled oil in his best, new sack suit. Absalom was doing the washing that day and in went the suit with the rest of the wash. It was boiled, scrubbed, rinsed and dried, and when Absalom’s employer saw it again it was in such a condition that even the old clothes man wouldn't have it. Absalom's way of mixing up towels and napkins was also embarrassing. When at a studio dinner he approached the chaperon with a low bow and spread a six-foot Turkish towel over her lap it took a lot of explanation. Still, these were only incidents.

But Absalom has certain warped Moorish ideas about the conduct of masters toward servants and servants toward masters. It's all right for him to get familiar with his master or one of his master's guests. He's fond of slapping them on the back and of offering to shake hands with them. That's all right, he thinks. It is like a dog wagging his tail or a cat rubbing against your legs. But let Mr. White or his friends return the slap, and he's shocked and angry all through. That is considerable, for Absalom is of the James J. Jeffries class.

Well, the other night White arranged a stag dinner for four in the studio. One of the guests was Emory Pottle, magazine editor and fiction writer. Another was one whom Mr. White wishes to have designated as Jones. Jones is in the shadow weight class physically. He had never

been up against Absalom before. So when the slave, liking the looks of Jones, clapped him on the hack, Jones slapped in return. To prove that he was really a good fellow and liked Absalom, he slapped again and yet again.

Absalom dropped the tray he was carrying and strode into the kitchen. Foreseeing trouble. White and Pottle followed him.

Absalom was standing before the sink, drawing a bread knife across a-whetstone. Now and then he would stop to feel its edge. Then he'd point its hilt toward the unconscious back of Mr. Jones, who was gazing at a new painting. Then he'd whip the back of the knife across his throat and

make his palate go "crr-rr-r-rl" in a dreadful fashion.

"Shall we take the knife away?" whispered Pottle to White.

“Can't." whispered White, trying to be calm." You ought to see him stripped! I'll fix

him." And in their private pidgin English he said to Absalom:

“Don't hurt him. He's crazy."

“This is the way we treat crazy people in my country," said Absalom, and he described four curves with the blade and let it rest over his heart, where he gave it a convulsive thrust.

“Don't kill him now," said Mr. White, still in pidgin English, "you'll spoil the dinner. He'll come again." .

“All right," said Absalom. I’ll get him, though." and he stuck the bread knife in the folds of his robe and went on with dinner.

 

The dinner wasn't wholly a success. Absalom insisted on standing behind Mr. Jones's chair. Now and then when he caught Mr. Pottle's eye he would make more gestures toward his throat.

 

Just after the roast was served, White and Pottle, watching from the tails of their eyes saw a change come over the feature of Absalom. The Moor began to creep up on Jones. He was close behind Jones's chair; his loft arm crept over the shoulder of his victim; his right hand crept into the folds of his robe, where the bread knife lay hidden.

 

It was a moment of tension. Pottle half rose from his chair; While tried to remember the first fall in jiu-jitsu—and then Absalom’s hand dropped to the table and grasped a dish, and Absalom himself disappeared through the portieres into the kitchen.

“What’s the matter with you, White? You don t look well," said the unconscious Mr. Jones

“Oh, nothing. It's a little warm in here,” said White.

 

Mr. Jones, got out alive. When he paid His dinner call Absalom was out, and Jones Was saved again. Then Mr. While got an interpreter from a rug store and explained fully to Absolem the difference between Moorish and American ideas on slave etiquette.

 

On Saturday, however, it happened that a man came to the Studio to see about getting his portrait painted. He'd heard about Absalom, but he hadn't informed himself about Moorish etiquette. While the visitor waited for the painter, Absalom came and slapped him on the back, and the visitor made  the same mistake as Jones. White came in just in time to see the return slap And further to see Absalom duck for the kitchen. The manner in which Mr. White herded his visitor out to have a drink savored of indecent haste. Just as he locked the studio door behind him, a heavy body was heard to strike it from within.

 

Mr. White succeeded in remembering an engagement and making an appointment with his prospective sitter for next Tuesday. Then he went back to the studio and announced the first slave sale to be held in New York for nearly a century.

“This thing is getting to be a matter of business”, said Mr. White

The Giant Mohamed Aghram dies in America, 1906

ARAB GIANT’S HEALTH IS WARNING TO ATHLETES

 

SLIGHT COLD OFTEN PROVES

THEIR UNDOING

 

Stage and Circus Performers Who

Ignore Rules of Health Find

That Nature Is a Stern Mistress

 

              Amateur athletes, actors and others who read in The Herald the story of the giant Arabian acrobat who died in Los Angeles after a cold that he regarded as a trifle agree that it should serve as a warning.

 

              In speaking of the case a well known amateur athlete said yesterday that consumption often seizes upon the strongest of men, especially when their work took them on a theatre stage where they performed remarkable feats of physical strength and then retired to a cold dressing room, reeking with perspiration.

 

              A sight cold often developed into something worse, said the athlete, and many of the noted stage and circus acrobats were short-lived.

 

                                                              The Arabs Case Was Pathetic

              A giant acrobat, not long ago on the Orpheum circuit, Mohammed Agraham, died last week at the country hospital and now lies in a pauper’s grave, a victim of consumption.

 

              He was a member of a troupe of Bedouin Arabs who grave a splendid exhibition of acrobatic work at the Orpheum some time ago. Mohammed was the strongest member of the company and was a perfect specimen of physical manhood.

 

Gloried in Strength

               He gloried in his strength and performed feats that were a marvel even to his companions. No weight was too heavy for him to lift, and as the under man in the “human tower” he excited the applause of the audience by his almost superhuman strength.

 

               After leaving Los Angeles the Arab troupe performed in Denver and there Mohammed Agraham contracted a slight cold that rapidly developed into consumption. In St. Louis the giant was prevailed upon to see a physician and laughed incredulously when the doctor told him he had the worst form of consumption.

 

                But his strength began to wane and when it became necessary to put on an understudy poor Mohammed sickened rapidly.

 

                His friends made up a purse and sent and sent him to this city, in hope that the ravages of the white plague might be stayed. But there was no hope for the giant athlete and at the country hospital he passed away, far from his home and friends.

 

                To a nurse who watched by his bed-side he told rambling tales of sunny Arabia, where men died of old age or in conflict. He said he hated the treacherous climate of America and when he got better would return to his native land. But he never got better and sank away, a shadow of his former robust manhood.

Divorce Her, Moorish Way, 1907

      Because he thought she was staying out too late at night, Achmar Siver, once a chieftain of the Kabyle tribe in Northern Africa, but now a hold carrier, divorced his wife after the custom of race. By throwing his shoes at her. As a result he was before Magistrate Droege, in the Tombs court, yesterday afternoon, on a charge of assault. The Sivers live at 26 Washington Street.

      Siver admitted that he had thrown his shoes at his wife, but sald her conduct had worn out his patience, and he had adopted the custom of his tribe to get rid of her.

      The wife explained that Siver treated her kindly as a rule. But, like all of his race, was desperately jealous, and when she stayed out trying to increase the family income by working as a waitress in an all-night restaurant near home, he grew angry.

      Three years ago Siver left the Kabyle tribe, which is now giving the French so much trouble in Northern Morocco, and came to America to make his fortune. Soon after his arrival he met and married the Bohemian girl who had him arrested yesterday. The problem of providing for the two on the husband’s small wage proved too much for the wife, and she started out to earn more money. It was this that led to the shoe throwing.

       “If I had her in my own country, Judge,” Said Siver, “I should know just what to do with her when she stayed out late, but in this America I could only throw my shoes at her. That means divorce in my country.”

       On the wife’s promise to stay at home if her dark-skinned husband would increase the weekly allowance from $2.50 to $3 the magistrate sent the pair home.

Moroccans celebrate Aid in Conley Island, 1908

Police reserves and agents for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals routed twenty-seven Moorish bandits who began their annual feast to their patron at Coney Island yesterday. The Moors who were, who were a part of Ralsull’s brigand tribes until they were engaged by Ste Hassan Ben Ali to exhibit ant the dreamland, had for the first time since their arrival in this country tasted meat from an animal slain by one of their own high priests. When the society agents put a stop to the high rites that had been going on since sunrise on the sand dunes between Gravesend Bay and Coney Island.

The altar, which had been bullt and consecrated by the representatives of Ralsull, was scattered by the invaders, who at the same time disarmed every one of the bandits and brought their leader. Dowdie, the scribe, who took part in the negotiations to free General McLean from Ralsull’s camp, to the Brooklyn office of the society, where a promise made by Hassan that Dowdie and his followers would not continue their feast and sacrifice resulted in a parole being granted. While efforts are being made to obtain a permit from the Board of Health to carry out the festival of Ralsull to-day and to-morrow.

The raid created no end of excitement at Coney Island, when it was reported that the brigands had raided the camp city adjoining the Moorish camp near Ulmer Park. While the most secluded spot that could be found was selected for the ceremony, the agents of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had no difficulty in locating the worshippers. The management of Dreamland refused to allow the ceremony because of the powder dance, which required the use of a large amount of gunpowder. At the bridge across the Coney Island Greek a crowd of indignant residents directed to the police to the spot where the shooting, playing of tomtoms and revelling  were going on, while the Moors were preparing there meat in accordance with Mahometan rites.

The sheep which was sacrificed to the Bedouin patron was brought here from Morocco several days ago. After being killed the sheep was roasted and divided among the “bellevers.” As the last morsel was being devoured the police and the society’s agents rushed into the camp with blank warrants for Dowdie and the younger Ralsull, who is also a member of the troupe. The men unable to understand English, thought the demonstration hostile, and immediately prepared to resist the attack, but the arrival of the police reserves soon quieted the worshippers, and they agreed to give up their sheath knives and Arearms.

Then the raiders read the law to Hassan Ben Ali and Dowdie, but the Moors raised a rumpus when they were told they would not be allowed to kill their own sheep in this country,  when their religion makes it the most serious offence to eat an animal that has been killed by an “unbeliever.” Hassan declares that the laws of the United States allowed religious freedom, but the society’s agents insisted that the health rules were being violated.

Hassan declares he was assured by the immigration authorities that the men would be allowed to worship in their native manner. He sent a cable dispatch to Tangier informing the Moroccan government of the breaking up of the feast. He will fight the case, as he declares that under his contract the Mooors are to be allowed to eat meat at least once a month.

Moroccan Envoys to America, 1909

1

MOROCCANS RECEIVED, 1909

 

Sultan’s Envoys Present Letters for President and Mr. Knox.

 

Washington, Oct. 4. - Clad in the picturesque white robes and turbans of their native country. Sid Laarby Zenhaji and Sid Mohamed Ben Abdeslam Ben Jelul, accompanied by their interpreter, Dr Holtmann, were received at the state department to-day by Acting Secretary Adee and Assistant Secretary Phillips. They came to this country as the personal representatives of the Sultan of Morocco at the Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York, and to deliver letters from the Sultan to the President Taft and Mr. Knox.

In presenting their letters the Moroccans said they were greatly pleased with their reception in this country, and spoke of the wonders of the celebration in New York. They extended the congratulations of the Sultan, who they said, was an admirer of the great American nation. They asked to be personally remembered to the President and to Mr. Knox.

Mr. Adee, on behalf of the President and the Secretary of State, welcomed the visitors and expressed the appreciation of the government for the good wishes of the Sultan.

Each of the letters presented was wrapped in a figured silk scarf, beautifully embroidered. The letter to the President was not made public, but that to the Secretary of State was as follows:

Praise to the only God. There is no strength or power but in God, the Great, the Almighty.

To the dear, the wise, the statesman, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Secretary of State) of the great American nation, the honorable Philander Chase Knox.

We beg to inform your excellency that our master, the Prince of the believers, the Sultan of Morocco, upon the invitation of the illustrious and honorable President of your nation, regarding who will be officially sent to represent this Holy Empire on the occasion of the two great celebrations which will be held in the city of New York: one being the 300th anniversary of the discovery by Hendrick Hudson of the river of his name, the celebration to take place on both its banks, and the other being the 100th anniversary of the first successful application of steam to the navigation of the said river by Robert Fulton, has sent, in answer to said kind and courteous invitation to participate in the said celebrations jointly with the members of your great nation and people, the servant of  his shereefian majesty, exalted by God, the Fekeih, the scribe, the wise, Sid Laarby, son of the famous Fekeih, the late Sid Mohamed Sanhagi, who was one of the viziers of our master the great king, the late Sultan Louley Hassan, may God have mercy upon his soul, being accompanied by the servant of his majesty, the Amin, the wise, the well known for his truthfulness commercial liability, Sid Mohamed Ben Abdeslam Ben Jelul. They are bearers of a holy letter from his shereefian majesty to be presented to the President of your great nation. The said letter is adorned with expressions of friendly congratulations on the occasion of the said invitation, which is felt to be most agreeable to bolt, of our countries, and contains assurances of these reiterated congratulations of the government of our victorious and great master the Sultan.

We trust that the friendly relations will develop and increase to the satisfaction of both our countries.

                                          In peace, Shaaban 20th, 1327, Sept. 6. 1909.

                                                                       AISSA BEN OMAR.   

 

 

2

 

MOROCCO ENVOYS REACH AMERICA

 

      Boston, September.  27. - Four envoys from the Sultan of Morocco to the Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York arrived on the steamship Canopic to-day. Garbed in vari-colored robes, they attracted unusual attention. They party consists of Prince Sid Mohemed Abdslam Ben Gelul, of Fez; B. Othmann Hortzmann, physician to the Sultan; Sid Mohemed Alarbi Essenhadji and Mohemed Ben Gelul. The party will remain in this country ten days.

 

 

      Prince ABBAS BEN OMAR, the Oriental dancer, of “A Scene In the Orient at Evening” Co., is seriously ill with congestion of the lungs. He has cancelled all immediate dates, and leaves for Hot Springs, in Virginia, as soon as he is able to travel. His mother princess Hayha El-Ghur, and Princess Lalla Turquia, will also be of the party.

 

3

 

MOROCCAN DELEGATES HERE 1909

        One of Them Has Two Slaves to Make Him Safe at the Astor

 

        Sidi Elarbi Hassan Hadji. Son of the under secretary of the state of the Interior Department of Morocco, is the head of the Moorish delegates to the Hudson-Fulton celebration who arrived at the Hotel Astor yesterday afternoon. The delegation is here with letters from the Sultan of Morocco to the president, which they will deliver after the celebration is over.

        They all went up to West Point yesterday afternoon except Sidi Tebab Othman, who is known to foreigners as Dr. Holxmann. He remained behind at the store with two slaves to guard him. Dr. Holxmann is court physician to the Sultan and the only one of the delegation who speaks English.

        The thing that surprises the Moorish delegates most is the freedom of American women. In their own country the women are kept behind walls and are not allowed as much liberty as the slaves.

 

4

 

Moroccan Diplomats in America, 1909

 

         There were three gentlemen who did not leave their wraps at the ticket desk; they took them in to the tables and sat thoroughly wrapped in them during the entire banquet. These were the special envoys from Morocco, who had just arrived from Boston, so rumor buzzed about the cloak room. Each of them was swathed in a mantle of white which enveloped the head and fall in loose folds to their sandals. Their cloaks they held tucked about their chins, just below the barb of their black beards and with half timid smiles they made their way through the press to their table.

        Sidi Laarby Ben Zenashi and Sidi Mohammed were the delegates and the third member of the strange deputation from Africa was Dr. Ben Abedeslam Ben Jelui, the interpreter. There was a pardonable craning of necks as the three sheeted ones took their places at table and pardonable absence of vivacious conversation at that table might be explained by the fact that among others who sat there were a stock exchange man, a professor of mathematics and a dealer in leather findings. There was nothing ritually unclean on the menu, however, and the Moroccan delegates seemed to be having a quietly pleasant time during the rest of the evening.

                    WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES, TUESDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 5, 1909

 

MESSAGES OF GOOD WILL  FROM MOROCCO’S SULTAN 1909

     ENVOYS AT WASHINGTON BEAR

    LETTERES RO PRESIDENT AND

             SECRETARY OF STATE.        

 

 

Washington, Oct. 5.- Clad in the picturesque white robes and turbans of Morocco, their native country. Sid Laarby Zenhagi, first secretary and Sid Mohamed Ben Abdeslam Ben Jelul, a native of Fes, accompanied by their interpreter, Dr Holtmann, were received at the state department yesterday by Asst. Secr. Adee and Assistant Secretary Phillips.

They came to this country as the personal representatives of the Sultan of Morocco at the Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York, and to deliver letters from the Sultan to the President Taft Secy. of the state Knox.

In presenting their letters the Moroccans said they were greatly pleased with their reception in this country, and surprised at the wonders of the celebration in New York.

They extended the congratulations of the Sultan, who they said, was an admirer of the great American nation. They asked to be personally remembered to the President and to Mr. Knox.

Mr. Adee, on behalf of the President and the Secretary of State, welcomed the visitors and expressed the appreciation of the government for the kindly expressions of the Sultan.

Each of the letters presented was wrapped in a figured silk scarf, beautifully embroidered.

Night of Prayer on Theatre Roof, 1911

      Last night at midnight, after nearly all the employes of the Century Theatre had scattered to their homes, the twenty-five Arabs who have crossed the water to be themselves in the “Garden of Allah” toiled up to the roof of the building, there to look out across Central Park beyond Blackwell’s Island to Mecca and Kneeling to pray until long after the sun has risen this morning. For these men are Mohammedans all, and they are trying as best they can in the alien and unsympathetic surroundings furnished by the upper west side to observe the day of Arafa, the ninth of pilgrimage month. The night of prayer spent under the sky is the preparation for the sacrificial feast of which they will partake to-day at noon, and those occupying matinee seats to-day must not be surprised if parts of the caravan seem to suffer from repletion and drowsiness.

      Whether the sheep to be/eaten this noon has actually been killed as a sacrifice was impossible to learn yesterday. Even for religious purposes one must not violate the slaughter house laws, a fact which has penetrated the Oriental mind sufficiently to make the subject distasteful, and if the reporters had pressed the question they might not have been welcomed to the brief breaking last evening before the curtain went up of the fast which began yesterday morning at 8 and otherwise lasts until noon to-day.

      Under the protection of Sie Hassan Ben Ali, the reporters made their way to the tenth floor of the theatre building, where, in a bleak room used sometimes for rehearsal purposes, they found an Arabian encampment, with the sounds of the street below and the creaking of the elevator giving to the thin twanging of a Moroccan lute. Ordinarily, the Arabs are content with the fare of a Broadway restaurant, but heathen hands must not prepare the food that breaks such a fast, and they had waited to partake of their favorite Kuss-Kuss, which Ben Ali had cooked at his home-Kuss-Kuss, an oaten food, served in a mammoth bowl with a sauce that is deviously concocted of chicken, tomatoes, squash, onions, and olive oil.

      As Ben Ali entered, there were profound salaams, for he is a peace-maker and much to be revered. Down went their heads, and even the most distinguished of their number kissed their hands that had stroked his. The music stopped, the chatter was dropped, and the Arabs gathered in cross-legged circles on the floor, while the Kuss-Kuss was placed in bowls before them. A heaping, still heated portion, was ceremoniously delivered to the group that was made up of Ben Ali, three reporters and one of the press agents, who was having the time of his life.

      It was with something of dismay that the aliens learned that their fingers were to as spoons and forks, and it was some time before one particularly immaculate reporter could be placated after it became apparent that the hosts proposed to wash his for him. The four submitted, however, and tried to look highly gratified when two of the most impressive of the Arabs went around the circle with water and soap and a towel.

      Eating Kuss-Kuss is an art itself. You thrust your hand into the bowl, take a small handful, and half juggle, half caress it into something resembling a ball of cottage cheese. This you put in your mouth, and are rewarded, but your hands get ever so sticky. One American reached furtively for his handkerchief, but was checked by a scowl from Ben Ali, which convinced him that it was not a nice thing to do. After the Kuss-Kuss had been finished the two priests reappeared with the water and the towel, leaving a wake of clean hands to tackle the shebbakia, an indescribably toothsome pretzel-shaped confection that is made of honey and flour and olive oil. The reporters were guzzling a strangely spiced tea when in bounced a call boy shouting “First scene,” and the meal was hastily concluded.

      At the theatre it is said that the Arabs are quite content with their quarters, and after the trials of their first arrival they have been pleased with New York. Sie Hassan Ben Ali had a fearful time in the subway the day they reached New York, for he lost his hold on them and they rode riotously in groups that scattered to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Van Cortlanat? Park. It took him twelve hours to reassemble them. Their most recent conflict with the Occident came day before yesterday, when two of them were wandering in the shrubbery of Central Park. A squirrel tempted them, and for lack of a stone they threw their sandals. They were in full pursuit when a large, rough-speaking heathen in blue clothes with buttons of gold leaped upon them and bade them begone from the garden.                   

When the prayers began last night it was Sie Hmad who led his brothers, for, though he is younger than Sie Abdussalam, the other priest, he does not smoke. The other priest has a weakness for cigarettes, and, though the Koran does not forbid the indulgence, a priest who smokes is considered most unorthodox.

Hassan Gives Dancing Lessons to New York Ladies, 1912

 

      Tumbling as an aid to beauty and health is an, altogether new prescription for women, but apparently it is an efficacious one, for several society women have already taken it up in New York, and at least three actresses are ardent advocates of its beneficial effects. Sie Hassan Ben Ali, of Tangier and New York, the trainer of the Berber acrobats at the Tivoli, is the tumbling master and the high priest of the new health religion. It came about in strange way. Hassan was induced by Charitable bodies to loan them the use of some of his Berber acrobats, both for exhibitions and for atmosphere, in a fair given in New York in the Hotel Astor. He also lent them many of his prized decorations and Eastern curtains and rugs; when the ladies came to thank Hassan they stayed to have Turkish coffee and hear about his boys. Several of the acrobats performed a few dances of the miniature gymnasium which Hassan has fitted up in his flat in Broadway.

      Hassan told them about several well-known dancers who had been taught tumbling by him, and right away the ladies asked him if he could not give them lessons. So it happened that a small class was formed, and gradually tumbling became a craze. Hassan at first looked upon the thing as a joke, and refused to take any money for it, but the women would not allow it, and showed so much seriousness that he consented to make it a professional matter. In speaking of the class, Hassan says: -“Tumbling is as fine a form of exercise as any that could be devised, and is harmless if indulged under the direction of a careful teacher. I have taught my system to several young women who are known as athletes and tumblers all over the world. It is a very beneficial thing to allow the heart, abdomen, and lungs to rearrange themselves as they have to in the inverted position. It helps digestion wonderfully, and is splendid exercise. It must be taken very slowly at first, or harm will come from the unusual exertion. I take my boys when they are very young, and train them for years before I allow them to go on with my troupes, but I do not expect so much proficiency from my class of society ladies”.

Moroccan Funeral in Brooklyn, 1919

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Hadj Tahar’s Biography, 1928

 

Marry girls of your own religion, advises of 86- year- old princes Tahar, as He Tells of his three romances; only first was happy.

 

Original princess lost at sea Second Was Moor and They Separated Third, Hungarian Film Actress Who Threw Him Into Jail for Failure to pay $25 Weekly Alimony Arabian Actor Recalls Early Triumphs With Native Acrobats at Centennial in 1876.

 

                                                                  By Marjorie Dorman

                      

            Fortune’s wheel has taken a strange turn in the 86-year life cycle of Prince Hadji Tahar of Yemen, first cousin of the king of Arabia.

            The distinguished Arab, whose full name is Sheikh Hadji Tahar Beni Mohamed Ibn Saud Wahb; Shereff, has, landed in the county jail on W. 37th st.. Manhattan, where he is the oldest member of the Alimony Club on record.

            The man who passed through the pillars of the mosque El Aksa in Jerusalem slaked his thrirst at the Well of Hagar in the desert, pressed his forehead against the Kaaba or sacred stone at Mecca and is, therefore, entitled to wear the green ribbon of Islam in his turban, now passes his days in jail because the refuses to pay his third wife $25 a week alimony. And great is the sorrow threat among the city’s 25.000 Arabs, about 15.000 of whom, according to the Prince, live in Brooklyn, mostly along Atlantic ave., which thoroughfare is well known to him.

 

Has No Money.

 

``I have not this sum``, the Prince said, with whom stole dignity. ``All that I had she has taken. Once, it is true, I was a man of means and many checks came in. But of late years, since my third wife took everything, I am dependent upon friends, and there are no more checks coming in``.

The Prince speaks English far better than the average individual one meets on W. 37th st., Manhattan. He was educated at Cambridge University, England, and his Oriental courtesty and suavity, combined with his English education, make him in a very charming personage. He is short of stature but very strong and wiry and has unusual hands-the hands of a wrestler with a mentality behind them. His eyes are dark and intent, his head is covered with a wiry crinkle of black hair streaked with gray and his closely clipped beard and moustache being of the same texture. He gives the impression of the middle sixties rather than of having passed into the octogenarian age.

``This is so because all my life I have lived on a horse,`` he explains in response to a very real curiosity. ``The Arabian horse is the comrade of the Arabian boy. If my doctor would permit me I should continue my wrestling and riding as always but he says--enough.

 

Recalls Visit to Eagle.

 

``I know your great paper. Today I refused to see two gentlemen of the press—but when I am told that a lady from the Eagle is here, I am glad to welcome her, because 24 years ago that great paper welcomed me. That was the year you got your new machinery and I was shown from top to bottom of that great building. There was a picture of me made by your heat of the noon, the chuill of the nights…

``Have you always worn our dress?’’

``Oh, not; my own.’’

``And—the romance?’’

There is silence in the room, save for the scratching of the pen of an official at a desk. Silence and old age and hardship coupled with strength and courage.

 Mr. Stacy. I recall it all very welt. This year I had my Arabs with me and we spent the summer in a suburb of Brooklyn, where great crowds visited our encampments attracted much attention’’

The Prince, after his education at Cambridge, where he met many not- ables, among them the present King of England, decided, at the age of 34, to come to America with Arabian acrobats.

``I met a man named Van Amberg, who had a circus in America, and he told me that people would be eager to see the Arab acrobats. None had ever visited the United States. I came to the Centennial in 1876 with 75 acrobats, dancers and horsemen. With me I brought the pretty Sultana, the dancer, and she became famous. I met Van Amberg in Constantinople. Naturally, like all money. I selected picked men and taught them even more than they already knew.

``There is a certain strength in the Arab. I do not know that I can explain it to you, it is difficult’’, and the Prince touched his diaphragm, covering his vital organs with his pliant and flexible hand—a marvelous hand for any man to possess and all the more amazing to meet with in a man of 86.

 

Inherent Strength.

 

``We are born with this strength, this astonishing vitality; we inherit it from generations back, our strength. Men who are all their youth on a horse know it. It cannot be acquired from machines. Against the background of our heredity we have a youth of extreme endurance and activity. I am an old man—yet I have great strength of body’’.

As he talked the colorless, unenchanted   walls of the jail faded out and color came, somehow, into the atmosphere by the alchemy of his speech. Barefooted, olive skinned boys ran over the hat sands. Date palms waved on the horizon, camels moved in strings across the desert and only the strong could endure the sheep; over at Fort Lee N.J. that I met my third wife. This ten years ago.

``She was a truly beautiful girl, and was almost maternal in her attitude toward me. She is a Hungarian, and her name was Julia Bekesy. We spent many happy hours of courtship. She was 24 when we married, I was 76. I proposed on Agust. 14, my birthday. Now, after taking all I have, she has thrown me into jail to get from me money I do not possess’’.

Mrs. Tahar, according to her husband, found younger men more attractive to her than himself after a few years of marriage. They lived at 62 Lynbrook ave., Lynbrook, L, I., at the time she started a separation suit in the Supreme Court last October.

 

Lost first wife at sea.

 

      ``With me, to the centennial, there came my wife.’’ Says the Prince.

His voice was unchanged, but his eyes were other than before. There was about him a dignity that the ridiculous wearing apparel of the modern male—the stovepipes of the trousers, the silly short coat of the modern suit—could not change. It is a dignity that, alone among the races of all mankind , pertains to the Greek and the Arab—the men who could wear the toga and the burnoose, to be themselves.

``She was the mother of my son. Abdullah, who is 51 now and is very successful. He conducts a school of physical culture at San Diego.

        ``She went back many times to Arabia to visit her people—and the last trip she took was on la Burgoyne. It was so I lost her.’’

 

Wed Moorish Girl.

 

In 1893, at the World’s Fair, the Princes married a second time. She much caste objection among his people to this marriage. They went to   London to live but after a time the wife, too, agreed it had been a mistake.

``So I went to Chicago to live y. my divorce was granted on grounds of desertion. For thirty years, now, I am a citizen. And I entered the motion picture work, I and my Arabs.’’

Many readers of the Eagle saw the Prince in the movies—for it was he and his Arabs who appeared in all the early desert pictures. Usually the Prince was cast for a role of an Arab chieftain, appearing on his horse at gallop across the sands. He was usually with Universal.

 

Played in Arab Pictures.

 

``We were the Arabs with Rudolph Valentino in ‘The Sheik’’’ said the Prince. It was we who were in ‘the Garden of Allah’. And it was while I was technically directing my men, who did all the riding in these and many other pictures set in the deserts of Arabia and elsewhere, in Barbary…

Owes $775 Alimony.

 

Ordered by the court to pay his wife $25 a week alimony, the Prince failed to do so. He is now $775 in arrears and three weeks ago Justice Crane signed an order for his arrest on application of Samuel Jacoby, attorney for the third Mrs. Tahar.

``Men should marry among their own religion’’, said the Prince. ``My first marriage was happy one. I realize that I am too old to be the husband of a woman of 34—but she did everything possible to convince me, in the days of my wealth, that we would be happy together. So, too, did her family. And I thought she was me, my other self, and that she and her family would love and care for me in my old age. Well,’’ as the keeper came to tell the Prince thatr the Alimony Club was sitting down to lunch. ``I go.’’ And with a farewell gesture to his brow and the selah of his people, the Prince, a dignified figure in the crudity of his surroundings, suavely departed behind a changing barred door, in which, an instant later, a great key turned the look leading to the sunshine drenched streets.

Hassan Ben Ali’s Biography

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Hadj Moulay Ali Semlali’s Biography 

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