by Charles and Jeanne Craver
Arabian Horse World July 1984
Used by permission of the Cravers
all rights reserved
In Arabian circles, Peter B. Bradley (1850-1933) is usually referred to as the financial angel for the Homer Davenport expedition to Arabia, which is considered a major contribution to the establishment of the Arabian horse in America. In addition, Bradley was primarily responsible for keeping the imported Davenport bloodlines intact as a breeding group and for preserving the bloodlines of the Hamidie Hippodrome Society. His was one of the earliest collections of Arabians in this country.
Despite the fact that he played an important role in the founding of the Arabian Horse Club of America, Bradley’s preference for staying quietly out of the limelight was such that he is now almost completely forgotten as a personality within the Arabian community. The rather impersonal printed records of his Arabian horse activities remain, however, and from them his importance can be estimated. More important, however, is that pedigrees of currently living Arabian horses show that his influence on Arabian horse breeding is still significant.
Peter Bradley was an industrialist from the Boston, Massachusetts, area, with business interests in fertilizer, lumber and heavy machinery. Perhaps there were other fields of activity as well, since he is mentioned in one of Homer Davenport’s letters as being “worth 50 millions of money.” (1) The amount may have been an easy exaggeration, but Peter Bradley was no doubt well-established from a financial point of view. His activities as a horse breeder centered around his farm near Hingham, Massachusetts, a farm known to every fan of the earlier Arabian Horse Club stud books as the “Hingham Stock Farm,” The name appears frequently as breeder and owner of historic horses, and according to one description, the farm was extensive, with stalls for 50 mares and foals. There were also a polo grounds and a race track. Davenport writes that, in addition to his Arabs, Bradley had Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Hackneys. (2)
Peter Bradley first became involved with Arabian horses in January of 1894 when the horses of the Hamidie Hippodrome Society were auctioned in a mortgage settlement. These horses had been brought to this country for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, as part of an exhibition of Syrian village life presented by special arrangement with the government of the Ottoman Empire, which then controlled Syria and most of the rest the rest of the Arabian peninsula. In view of the substantial emigration going on from these areas to the U.S. at that time, it may be that Abdul Hamid II, the Ottoman Sultan, felt that public relations between the two countries would be advanced by a World’s Fair exhibit. If a similar exhibition were to be held today, it would be called a matter of “cultural exchange” between nations. The highlight of this particular exhibition was a demonstration of Arabian horses ridden in native Bedouin style — rather like a wild West show with Arab riders instead of Indians.
Of the horses imported by the Hamidie Society, nine were supposed to have been killed in a fire — said to be incendiary — which also destroyed the importation documentation for all the horses except one. Some horses may have been sold privately. Twenty-eight remaining horses were advertised for auction, which was held January 4, 1894, by Tattersall’s of Chicago.
Bradley, either by direct purchase at that sale or by subsequent private purchase, acquired a major collection from the group offered. Included were *Obeyran, *Galfia, Koubishan and *Mannaky, as was *Pride, a mare which was apparently from among the imported horses under another name, although she may have been the foal of *Galfia or one of the other mares born after Bradley’s purchases at the Tattersall’s auction. The full extent of Bradley’s collection of Hamidie horses recently became much more apparent when Peter Sarra, an astute collector of historical items concerning the Arabian horse, discovered in the New England area a collection of stall signs for horses known to be of the Hamidie importation. That these signs turned up in New England is an indication that the horses designated by them were likely among the Hamidie horses eventually owned by Bradley. The signs were as follows: Araby, Abbya, Miggour, Koubishan, Zariffey, Halool, Manakey, Galfea and Kuzoiv. (It will be noted that two of the signs – those for “Manakey” and “Galfea” — were for horses among the ones ultimately registered.) An additional Hamidie horse known to have been in Bradley’s ownership was a stallion catalogued by Davenport as “Abeya” or “Abeyan.” There has been conjecture that this horse was subsequently registered as *Abbeian, a horse who is registered, however, as imported by Davenport in 1906. Also among the horses purchased by Bradley’s agent, Souther, at the Tattersall’s auction was a light grey stallion, Sirhal. (3)
In all, therefore, at some time Bradley may have owned as many as 13 horses of the Hamidie Society importation. It is not possible to assign the total number precisely, because ownership records for the time are incomplete. We do know, however, that beginning in 1894, he acquired a substantial collection of Arabian horses of desert origin from the Hamidie Society dispersal.
From a breeder’s point of view, the potential of these horses as a closed breeding group was limited because there were only four mares, of which *Pride and *Galfia produced foals of eventual registration. The blood of *Pride and *Galfia in conbination with the Hamidie stallions *Mannaky and *Obeyran is still present in Arabian horses today. The major survival of a Hamidie bloodline into current breeding, however, occurred when *Obeyran was bred to *Wadduda, of the Davenport importation, producing Aared, who through her daughter Sedjur established one of the most successful female lines in American breeding, leading, among others, to Bint Sahara, who is noted for founding the McCoy dynasty, including Fersara, The Real McCoy, Fadjur, Ferzon, and other distinguished horses.
Of the Hamidie Society imports, only one which has survived into modern breeding was not purchased by Bradley. That was the noted *Nejdme, supposed to have been the best of the group. He did eventually obtain her daughter Nanshan, however, who is especially known for producing for him Dahura, a mare which appears in a legion of pedigrees tracing to old American breeding.
During the exhibition of the Hamidie horses at Chicago, a young cartoonist named Homer Davenport was captivated by their beauty. After the Fair, he lost track of them for some years, but eventually discovered that Bradley still had the remnants of the group at Hingham. Davenport visited the farm for the first time in 1898. By then, he comments that some of the original horses had died, but he purchased one of those remaining, the stallion Koubishan. (4) This began a business relationship with Bradley which lasted for years and had a major influence on the establishment of the Arabian horse in America.
The association between the two men was mutually complementary in that each contributed to it in ways that the other could not. Davenport — the artist — furnished the verve and imagination, which tended to be lacking in the Boston industrialist. On the other hand, Bradley furnished a steadfastness of purpose and a financial stability which Davenport may not have had. Bradley’s involvement with the horse enterprise did not end with money. In accounts of public horse meetings of those days, he is shown as frequently present along with Davenport, not saying anything of record, but no doubt keeping his eye on how things were going. Probably, too, his ownership of a race track and polo grounds indicates personal interest in the performance of his horses. Davenport wrote of him,
“Mr. Bradley used his horses constantly; drove them as well as rode them, played polo on them, and their performances have amounted to more in the few years that he had them than those of all the rest of the Arabs that ever came to the country.” (5)
By 1906, Bradley and Davenport had formed a partnership in Arabian horses. (6) Davenport writes that at that time all of Bradley’s surviving Hamidie horses were in his stable, (7) which may have been part of the partnership arrangement. If it indicates that Bradley was out of Arabian horse at Hingham, the condition was only temporary, because by then he and Davenport had joined in a venture for the importation of Arabian horses directly from Arabia to the United States. Bradley was furnishing most of the financing; Davenport was supplying some of the money and was to carry out the actual expedition.
The circumstances which made this project possible were unique in the history of Arabian breeding. Davenport’s occupation as a political cartoonist had led to a contact with another horse enthusiast, Theodore Roosevelt, who was at that time at the height of his power as President of the United States. In those days it was contrary to Turkish policy to export Arabian mares from Arabia. Stallions could be exported, but not mares. (8) Through President Roosevelt’s personal intercession, Abdul Hamid II, the Ottoman Sultan, issued an official directive — called an “Irade” — permitting Davenport to export both mares and stallions from the Ottoman Empire, which at that time included the areas of the Nafud and Hamad deserts from which the best Arabian horses came. The Imperial Irade was more than a simple permit to get some mares through customs inspections. The response to it by Nazim Pasha, Governor of Aleppo and Syria, indicated that it was considered a deliberate sign of the Sultan’s intent that Davenport should get Arabian horses. Even today, a project for export of horses sponsored by two chiefs of major states would be considered a remarkable venture.
In backing the Davenport expedition to Arabia, Bradley was by no means betting on a sure thing. Davenport was a horseman with considerable experience in Arabian horses, but he was a complete novice in the matter of desert travel. Furthermore, the Middle East of those days was an inhospitable area where law and order were not well-established and travel hazardous — as it still may be today. The Irade offered a unique opportunity for buying horses, but the success or even the safety of the person using it was not assured.
As matters worked out, however, the trip went very well. Twenty-seven Bedouin-bred horses of asil lineage were obtained. The large size of the importation was unusual. Even more so was the emphasis which had been placed upon pedigree authentication of the horse acquired. Probably most horses sold from Arabia have come into western hands by way of horse dealers, but these horses had been obtained by their ultimate purchaser, Davenport, under desert conditions from Bedouin owners who together with witnesses had testified under religious oath as to the origin and character of the horses sold. Ostensibly similar documents were of easy manufacture from mid-eastern horse dealers, but, where Davenport was himself present at the time of the sale transactions, he could be sure he was getting bona fide testimonials authenticating the horse.
The importation arrived in October, 1906. Some of the horses went to Bradley’s Hingham Stock Farm near Boston. Others remained with Davenport at his farm in Morris Plains, New Jersey. The partnership arrangement between Bradley and Davenport became a corporation acting under the name of “Davenport Desert Arabian Stud.” Foals were registered as bred by the Davenport Desert Arabian Stud, and sale catalogs were issued under that name. Exhibition of the horses was done jointly, with Davenport serving as spokesman but Bradley often being in attendance. There were exchanges of breeding stock between the farms of the two men to the point that it is not completely possible to separate the foals bred by Peter Bradley from those bred Homer Davenport. (However, some clues to the actual breeder of individual foals can be found in changes of breeding credits between the 1913 and 1917 AHC stud books.)
Working together, Bradley and Davenport accomplished much for the Arabian horse in its new American home. The surviving Hamidie lines, though few in number, were maintained and allowed to expand. The horses of the 1906 desert importation were incorporated into an overall breeding venture making optimum use of breeding stock available. Not least, public presentation of the corporation’s horses was so successful that some of its annually published promotional catalogs are still in circulation. The horses described in them are long dead, of course, but the catalogs are studied for a better understanding of foundation Arabian breeding in America. The overall goals for the organization are given in an advertisement:
“It is not the purpose of this company to cross Arabian blood with the trotter to improve the trot, or to cross him with the runner to increase the speed of running, but it is the purpose of this Stud to produce the most beautiful, most intelligent, and best saddle horses for parks and estates that have ever been seen in America. It is also the purpose to produce the best polo horses that ever followed a ball . . . Horsemen of the country that would care to see the real Desert bred Arabian horses . . . are cordially invited to come and see them. They will find them being driven in carriages and used under saddle, and they will readily see what the Arab horse is suited for.“
Unfortunately, the cooperation between Bradley and Davenport did not continue smoothly. Perhaps in 1909 or 1910, their business relationship deteriorated. One of the other prominent Arabian breeders of the day, Spencer Borden attributed the change to the actions of Martin Towle, who acted for Bradley as general manager. (9) (Borden indicates that it was to make up for the loss of the Bradley connection that Davenport went to England in 1910 and imported three horses, the most notable of which was the famous *Abu Zeyd.) Another factor may have been that in 1909, for personal reasons, Davenport may have been considerably distracted from his horse enterprise. There is no evidence of bitterness between Bradley and Davenport, and the two men seem to have continued to cooperate in the exchange of mares, so perhaps any break between them was not a drastic one.
The fly in the ointment concerning the 1906 importation from the desert was that a problem developed in getting the horses registered. Previous to the 1906 importation, the Jockey Club had performed registration functions for Arabians in this country without much regard as to points of origin of the horses; but Davenport had cartooned August Belmont, President of the Jockey Club, unfavorably. This, combined with personal animosities towards Davenport on the part of other Arabian breeders who were promoting rival groups of horses, jelled a Jockey Club policy excluding the horses of the 1906 importation from registration. The same exclusion extended to almost all other Arabian horses in this country not imported by way of England. The problem was eventually worked out after Davenport’s death, but, at the time, it was a very serious matter for Bradley and Davenport, who between them had a herd of horses that needed registration services. Others with lesser numbers of horses were in the same boat. Obviously, something had to be done if Arabian breeding in the United States was to progress in an orderly way.
The solution to the difficulty was the establishment in 1908 of the Arabian Horse Club of America. At its time of organization, Bradley and Davenport were first and second vice-presidents. When the organization’s initial stud book was published in 1909, Bradley was still vice-president, but Davenport no longer held that office although he remained as a director. With publication of Volume I of the Arabian Horse Club stud books in 1913, Peter Bradley was president, a position he held until succeeded by W.R. Brown by 1918. Brown’s attitude towards his predecessor in the office was less than enthusiastic because he felt that Bradley had been an inactive president who had delegated the responsibilities of the office to his manager, Martin Towle. (10) During Bradley’s term of office, however, the essential functions of a registry had been maintained, while at the same time harsh feelings between factions of the fledgling American Arabian breeders had moderated so that they could, for the most part, be resolved during the presidency of W.R. Brown. To have kept the club going during the rocky first part of its existence was an important contribution to the development of the breed in this country. None of the other Arabian breeders of the time in America had the stature as a senior and major breeder which Peter Bradley held. He would not have been kept in his position if these had not been qualities which were felt to be important for the welfare of the Arabian horse.
Thanks to the breeders of Peter Bradley’s time, the Arabian Horse Club of America got off to a healthy start in 1908. Had this start been substantially delayed or had its registration function faltered, many of the early bloodlines which are a characterising feature of the Arabian in America would most likely have failed to survive. No doubt at some later time the Arabian horse would have been re-established in this country, but in a different form than we know today.
When Homer Davenport died in 1912, Arabian horse breeding in America lost a person who had provided the spark that made it a going concern, who had made a major contribution in importing and breeding several extraordinary bloodlines, and who had been instrumental in the establishment of a registry to account for our national production of Arabian horses. Appreciation of all these contributions by Homer Davenport is not in any way lessened by pointing out that the major part of them were carried out with the active support of Peter Bradley. Without this support, it is likely that few of these efforts would have been as successful as they were.
The operation of Hingham Stock Farm was little affected by the death of Davenport. The majority of the breeding stock from the 1906 importation was already there. Continuity of breeding plans which had been carried on under the name “Davenport Desert Arabian Stud” was preserved when the desertbred females in Davenport’s estate, in addition to certain others, were added to the Hingham inventory. After that, breeding simply went on pretty much as it had before.
Peter Bradley’s Arabian horse career spanned 30 years: the first foal of his breeding was Mannaky Jr, foaled 1895; his last foal was Carolstone, foaled 1925. Most of the foals for which the Hingham Stock Farm is credited as breeder were born during the years 1908 to 1922. Coming as it did at the very beginning of Arabian breeding in this country and involving bloodlines of foundation quality, Bradley’s influence on the development of the breed was great. In all, the total number of Hingham Stock Farm produce as shown in Volume V of the AHC stud books is 128, which, allowing for the difficulty in separating Bradley’s activity as a breeder from Davenport’s, is an approximately accurate figure for production under the Hingham name.
The Hingham breeding stock came primarily from the Davenport importation of 1906. These bloodlines were kept together at Hingham, where Davenport stallions were used exclusively, except for Narkhaleb, sire of one Hingham foal. One of the breeding problems — or opportunities, depending on how it was regarded — which the Davenport group of horses must have presented to Bradley was that it included a high proportion of stallions to mares. Fourteen of the 24 animals registered as from the importation were stallions. It was a practical impossibility for each of these to have a fair trial at stud. Furthermore, room had to be found in the breeding schedule for promising first-generation stallions of Hingham breeding.
As matters worked out, although some of the imported stallions were never used at Hingham, quite a few of them did have an opportunity, as did the young stallions Maleik, Letan, Fartak, and Harara, all of which were produce of the desert imports. Two stallions which were given special prominence were *Deyr and *Hamrah.
Raswan writes that *Deyr was bred by Ibn ar-Rashid of Deyr Ez-Zor (where the Blunts also bought horses) and was by a Kuhaylan-Ajuz Ibn Tamri of the Saba-Anazah out of an Abayyah-Sharrakiyah of Ibn Ajlan of the Al-Hanatish, a clan of the Fid’an-Anazah. (11) In current Arabian breeding, he is represented numerous times, especially through Harara and his son Antez, Amran, Tabab and Hanad. Zaher, in his statistical analysis of the genetic history of the Arabian breed in America, reports that *Deyr had a relationship of 4.5% to the breed in the period 1917-1936. (12) In all, *Deyr sired 17 foals, all bred at the Hingham Stock Farm. Well-known breeding programs in which there is influence from *Deyr are those of Alice Payne, Jane and Carl Asmis, Dr. W.L. Munson, Clarence and Gina Manion, H.V. Tormohlen, R.B. Field, Carleton Cummings (Skyline Arabian Horse Trust), Margaret Shuey, Leland Mekeel, Edna Draper, Gerald Donoghue, Frank McCoy, Daniel Gainey, and existing Davenport breeders. His primary existing sire line descends through his son Hanad and his grandson Antez.
Peter Bradley’s best-known stallion was *Hamrah, a bay Saqlawi-Jidran of Ibn Badan Al-Awaji of the Wuld Sulayman-Anazah out of *Urfah. His sire was a Hamdani-Simri of Ibn Subay’i of the Saba-Anazah. (13) In his catalogs of the importation horses, Davenport notes that the Bedouins he met considered *Hamrah’s dam *Urfah to be “the best mare they knew of in the northern desert.” (14) Davenport’s description of *Hamrah in his 1909-1910 catalog is probably more revealing of the horse’s appearance as a young stallion than any photograph that remains of him:
“This young horse is rapidly rounding into one of the best of the entire importation. He is a very beautiful golden bay with three white feet and a pretty star and strip in the face. He is a horse of immense power and the finest possible action under saddle in the gallop. He would impress you at once as being a racehorse and in an impromptu trial of a mile he ran the last quarter in 29 seconds as a three-year-old without a day’s preparation and in fact never having run before at top speed. Many visitors prefer him to any of the importation and while on exhibition before the President of the United States, Quartermaster General Ailshire preferred him even to any of the rest … His exhibit of flat clean bone is indeed a rare one and the peculiar oval of his loin is something unusual. (15)
Bradley seems to have recognized that he was on to a good thing with *Hamrah, and he made the most extensive and systematic use of him of any of his Arabian stallions. *Hamrah’s first Hingham foal was registered in 1909. Registrations are credited to *Hamrah for every year thereafter through 1921. In all, he sired 46 foals of Hingham Stock Farm breeding with an additional seven foals elsewhere. It was not until the career of Ribal in the 1930’s, when there were many more mares for breeding, that *Hamrah’s total number of foals was exceeded by an Arabian sire in America. According to Zaher, *Hamrah had the highest relationship to the breed in America of any stallion for the period 1907-1946, which for the last ten years of that study amounted to seven percent. The other great stallion of the day was *Abu Zeyd. This horse was imported by Davenport from England in 1910, but was not used by Bradley. *Abu Zeyd had about the same number of foals, but Zaher’s study show that he had much less impact on the breed (two percent for the last ten years of the study). (16) Like many of the other Bradley breeding animals, *Hamrah’s productive years came at a time when market outlets for Arabian foals had not yet been developed in this country. This is probably the reason why there are no recorded offspring of many of his foals. But he had a high percentage of daughters which became influential broodmares, including Sedjur, Moliah, Dehahah, Hasiker, Sankirah, Morfda, Amham, Adouba, Fasal, Kokhle and Poka. These mares were of central importance in their generation of American breeding, and they appear throughout the pedigrees of many current Arabians of domestic breeding.
There were definite patterns of breeding in the Hingham usage of stallions: after 1906, the one used were almost exclusively of the blood of the Davenport importation. *Hamrah, of course, was used every year. Beyond that, each year’s foal crop was divided among stallions so that no one stallion monopolized an entire foal crop. Different stallions were used over the years. In all, 12 different stallions were represented as sires in the foal crops from 1914 through 1925.
Some stallions appear to have been maintained at Hingham for long periods of time before being used. *Deyr’s first foal was born in 1910, four years after the importation. Letan was started in service at five years of age. *Houran was started at stud six years after importation. *Azra’s first foal was not born till 1921, 15 years after the importation. Except for Narkhaleb, Hingham produced its own replacement stallions.
The foundation mares of Hingham were mostly from the Davenport importation of 1906. In addition to these, there were Hamidie Society lines from *Pride, *Galfia, *Obeyran, *Mannaky and *Nejdme. Another non-Davenport element in the Hingham collection was Narkhaleb, of Huntington bloodlines, who was used once in 1918. [See note below.
Current genetic thought is that it is impossible for two chestnuts to produce a bay. It is well-established that both of Domow’s registerd parents were chestnut and that Domow herself was actually bay. The registration of Domow, therefore, must have been mistaken; either there was a switch of foals (which has been suggested), or one of her parents was other than has been described. Over the years, a great deal of time had been spent by various people trying to figure out what Domow’s breeding really was without a completely satisfactory answer ever turning up. That did not prevent Domow from being considered a very fine broodmare by the people who had first-hand knowledge of her, nor has it altered the fact that she frequently appears in the pedigrees of excellent Arabian horses.
Although the Hingham Stock Farm is chiefly known for Davenport breeding, the contribution of Bradley’s non-Davenport females to his overall record as a breeder was by no means inconsequential. According to the later volumes of the AHC stud books, which sometimes differ slightly from the earliest ones, and excluding Domow as of his breeding, Bradley produced 35 foals from such mares. It is primarily through these foals that the Hamidie Society bloodlines come into the pedigrees of presently living Arabian horses.
Few American breeders have systematically regenerated breeding stock from within their own herds. Peter Bradley was one of the few. As his original mares went out of production, they were replaced with mares of his own breeding. So long has passed since his period of activity as a breeder that it is a matter of conjecture as to how specific matings were planned. There is some evidence of strain breeding, in that certain key mares were bred primarily to stallions of their own or closely related strains. These would have included *Haffia (seven of nine foals), *Jedah (three of five), Amran (six of six), and Sankirah (three of four). However, other matings were more random as far as strain was concerned, and it may well be that all matings were simply scheduled on the basis of visual evaluation of horses and wisdom gained from past experience. The only instance of inbreeding, in Bradley’s Arabian production was Sankirah, who resulted from a mating between *Hamrah and his daughter Moliah. Sankirah was a prolific broodmare, producing a total of 14 registered foals, of which Hanad was the most famous. So it cannot be said that the mare’s inbred pedigree caused a loss of vital energy. There are some unfortunate photographs of her, as is the case with many of the early horses. Raswan references her as an example, in the *Wadduda (her granddam) line, of a foal of outstanding qualities and distinctive Arabian character. (17)
1. Davenport, Homer: Letter to Tom Davidson, July 9, 1906. Courtesy of E.J. Hathaway.
2. Davenport, Homer: My Quest of the Arabian Horse. B.W. Dodge & Co., New York, 1909, p. 7.
3. “Breeder’s Gazette” of Chicago report of the Tattersall’s auction of January 10, 1894, as given in Conn, George H.: The Arabian Horse in America, A.S. Barnes and Company, New York, 1957, p. 171.
4. Huot, Leland and Powers, Alfred: Homer Davenport of Silverton, West Shore Press, Bingen, Washington, 1973, p. 171
5. Davenport: Quest, p. 273
6. Davenport: Davidson letter.
7. Davenport: Quest, p. 14.
8. Ibid., p. 12.
9. Borden, Spencer: Letter to W.R. Brown, February 12, 1918.
10. Brown, W.R.: Letter to Col. Howard Stout Neilson, February 25, 1920.
11. Raswan, Carl: The Raswan Index, I-Tex Publishing Co., Inc., Ames, Iowa, 1969, entry #2000.
12. Zaher, Dr. Ameen: Arabian Horse Breeding and the Arabians of America, Cairo University Press, 1961, p. 67.
13. Raswan: Index, entry #3464.
14. Davenport, Homer: “Davenport Desert Arabian Stud,” catalog privately published, 1909-1910, p. 32.
15. Ibid., pp. 32-32
16. Zaher: Breeding, p. 70
17. Raswan: Index, entry #10829.