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Arieana Arabians ~ CMK Heritage Notebook
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CMK and The Days of Yore

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Looking Back ~ 1906

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A short story about a sketch, a bale of hay, and
The Davenport Importation of 1906
derived from Arabians (September 1985) by Suzi Morris
and enhanced with photos from various sources.

Click to view larger image (75494 bytes)In 1906, the renowned newspaper cartoonist Homer Davenport secured passage to the Middle East to further his search for purebred Arabian horses. Davenport had dreamed for years of traveling to the desert to personally obtain Arabians.

During this period, to export Arabians from the Middle East, a permit from Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey was required. However, for nearly three decades, the exportation of Arabian horses from the Ottoman Empire had been almost completely forbidden.

Nevertheless, with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt, Davenport managed to get a permit from the Sultan, via the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Chikeb Bey.

No sooner was this permission granted, than Davenport and two companions, John H. Thompson and C.A. Moore, boarded a liner bound for France, where they then took a train to Constantinople. They reached Turkey in July 1906.

While in Constantinople, Davenport and his colleagues had the rare opportunity to see the sultan during a special royal ceremony. Davenport, who kept an illustrated journal of his travels, was overcome by the desire to sketch the aging sultan. But he had been forewarned ~ no photo had ever been taken of His Highness, nor had any likeness ever been sketched.Sketch of the Sultan

After the ceremony, Davenport and his friends quickly made their way from the palace so that Davenport could make a drawing of the sultan, away from the presence of guards and spies, while his memory was still fresh. The sketch proved to be a remarkable likeness and Davenport was persuaded to show it to an intimate friend of the sultan in Constantinople.

Upon seeing the drawing, the man paled and whispered, "It is the only picture of him ever made. If it is ever known that you have it with you, your visit to the Ottoman Empire will be a sad one."

He asked Davenport to promise not to write to America about it and to keep it always in an inside pocket, tightly buttoned.

Davenport's mission to the Middle East was fulfilled a few months later, after he had acquired 10 mares and 17 stallions. During the entire trip, he showed the picture to only three more men: Akmut Hafez and Hashem Bey in the desert and to one friend in Aleppo. He felt certain that none of the sultan's spies would hear about it.

Click to view larger image (102035 bytes) Yet on the way back, as the three men and 27 horses approached Alexandretta, to make passage back to America, an American met them in the mountains. He informed Davenport that the Turkish spies in Alexandretta knew, or thought they knew, that he had a picture of the sultan. He said that if the picture was discovered, Davenport's horses would be confiscated and he would never be allowed to return to the Middle East. Davenport put the picture in the middle of a bale of hay, which he secretly marked.

When they arrived in Alexandretta, spies searched all their belongings but failed to find the drawing. They reluctantly allowed Davenport, his horses and the bale of hay go aboard the steamer in the Mediterranean, bound for home.

The entourage arrived in America on October 8, 1906. Once again, providence helped to shape the history of the Arabian breed in the United States, for had a Turkish spy thought to search an innocent-looking bale of hay, there would be no Davenport-bred horses in America.

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Arieana's Arabians proudly descend from these horses imported by Homer Davenport in 1906: *Abeyah, *Azra, *Deyr, *El Bulad, *Haffia, *Hamrah, *Jedah, *Muson, *Reshan, *Urfah, and *Wadduda. For more information on these horses or to see for yourself how their influence still lives on today in our prized and cherished horses, please contact us. Visitors are always welcome; appointments are appreciated.

Suzi Morris
30685 Calle Chueca
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-1601
Phone: 949-248-1260

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Copyright 2003-2012. Website designed and maintained by Suzi Morris. All rights reserved. This page created for Arieana's Heritage Notebook June 10, 2005. Updated and Current as of August 11, 2012.