Scholar’s Corner: Halawa and the Arabian Horses of W.J.G. Bentley

R.J. Cadranell ©1990, 2021. Updated from an article in the CMK Record, VII/1.

(R.J. Cadranell and Jeanne Craver have investigated the story of Halawa, a 1929 grey mare registered as a daughter of the two bays Ziki and Hamama, and as bred by Raymond C. Force. Halawa is in some very good modern pedigrees through the blood-siblings Tehran, a bay colt by Farana, and Zohara, a chestnut filly by El Nahas. Herewith a Cadranell summary of the evidence. Please read this carefully; it is a closely reasoned treatment of data from a wide variety of sources, and we believe it establishes the true sire of Halawa, rather than leaving her paternity an open question. This serves to underline the value of such thorough and scholarly research. ~ Michael Bowling)

The short-lived Arabian horse breeding program of W.G.J. Bentley of San Fernando, California, lasting from only 1924 to 1928, is an adjunct to the story of F.E. Lewis II’s Diamond Bar Ranch. In 1918, Lewis had bought nine mares and two stallions from Peter B. Bradley’s Hingham Stock Farm in Massachusetts and brought them to his California ranch in Spadra, near Pomona. The stallions and seven of the mares traced exclusively to Homer Davenport’s 1906 importation from Arabia. One of the mares was bred entirely from horses the Hamidie Society had imported for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The last mare had a pedigree combining Davenport and Hamidie elements. Though at least one writer has criticized Lewis’s selection of foundation stock for its heavy emphasis on the stallion *Hamrah, it has turned out that one may successfully compound *Hamrah blood ad infinitum. Lewis’s foundation stock was in fact sufficiently diverse that a breeding program using only Diamond Bar bloodlines could, had anyone pursued it, still be in operation today and still be producing Arabians excellent by anyone’s standards.

HALAWA 733 at age 10 with colt TERHANI 1640 by FARANA; photo courtesy Nancy Krenzel whose mother owned HALAWA.
HALAWA 733 at age 10 with colt TERHANI 1640 by Farana; photo courtesy Nancy Krenzel whose mother owned HALAWA.

By 1925, however, the Lewis breeding program was running out of steam for other reasons. W.K. Kellogg purchased in December of that year a major portion of the Diamond Bar stock, including the only three mares bred for 1926 foals. When the Diamond Bar finished the dispersal of its breeding herd, it was left with six geldings permanently employed as ranch horses: Sinope, Hamek, Shako, Snidhi, Siam, and Simoon. The first supplement (1939) to volume IV of the stud book shows at least five of these horses as still in the ownership of Lewis at that time, and when decades later Pat Payne interviewed Lewis’s manager C.H. Hopkins, Hopkins recalled that when Lewis sold the Diamond Bar in 1943 a few Arab geldings went with it.

THE 1925 FOAL CROP

Few details about William George John Samuel Bentley are available. He was born in Ontario, Canada; age 50 at the time of the 1920 census; and age 60 at the time of the 1930 census. During the 1920s, he worked as a building contractor in the Los Angeles area.

The ties between Lewis and Bentley are no longer clear. SAMIT (*Kusof x *Haffia) was apparently Bentley’s first Arabian. According to the records of the Arabian Horse Club, SAMIT was transferred from Lewis to Bentley on May 1, 1924. On April 19, 1925, she produced the filly FADIL (by Letan). Information connected to FADIL’s registration states she was born at Bentley’s address of 834 North Brand Boulevard in San Fernando. FADIL’s foaling date indicates she was bred after Bentley acquired the title to her dam. On FADIL’s original documentation, Bentley is named as her breeder, and her entry in volume III (1927) of the Arabian Horse Club stud book repeats this information. This stud book lists Bentley as the owner of both SAMIT and FADIL. Although stud book volume IV (1937) also credits Bentley as breeder of FADIL, stud book volume V (1944) changes the breeder credit to Lewis.

THE 1926 FOAL CROP

By 1925, in addition to SAMIT, Bentley appears to have had the Lewis mares MOLIAH and HAMAMA in his possession, and possibly also KAPITI and MIRIZ. However, if any of these mares were ever transferred into Bentley’s name, no transfer certificates have survived. Because the 1927 stud book lists Lewis as the owner of MOLIAH, HAMAMA, KAPITI, and MIRIZ, and in light of evidence presented below, it seems likely such transfers were never made. Despite Bentley’s not having had title to HAMAMA and MOLIAH, the stud books from volume III forward list Bentley as the breeder of three 1926 foals, all by ZIKI: SAMZIK (out of Samit), ZIMOL (out of Moliah), and HAMZI (out of Hamama).

The registration applications of ZIMOL and SAMZIK indicate they were foaled at a ranch in Los Angeles. On both applications, Bentley stated that he owned ZIKI. On ZIMOL’s application, he stated that he owned MOLIAH. He likely stated that he owned HAMAMA on the HAMZI application, but I do not have a copy of it.

THE 1928 FOAL CROP

No Bentley or Lewis foals for 1927 are registered. In 1928, some major horse shuffling occurred. In a letter of July, 1928, preserved in the Kellogg Ranch Files, H.H. Reese wrote to Kellogg that the Diamond Bar had recently taken back a number of horses from Bentley. Bentley had made financial arrangements with the Diamond Bar and failed to honor his part of the bargain. It might have been as simple as time payments on horses, or it could have involved other properties and monies as well. All we know is that the Diamond Bar had a lien on Bentley’s Arabian herd and chose to repossess the horses to satisfy a debt. Reese added that the mares involved were to come to the Kellogg Ranch for breeding.

On July 15, 1928, MOLIAH, HAMAMA, KAPITI, and MIRIZ were transferred from the name of F.E. Lewis II to the name of Raymond C. Force of Piedmont, California. On the same day, SAMIT, SAMZIK, and ZIMOL were transferred from Bentley to Force. FADIL, who was at Force’s by 1929, likely went when the others did although no transfer certificate seems to have survived.

There were also three 1928 foals on the ground as of July 15: FARHAN (Dhareb x Miriz), LAZAZ (Ziki x Moliah), and GHURRA (Ziki x Kapiti). Hopkins completed their registration applications on October 23, 1928 and transferred them from Lewis to Force on the same day. It seems likely that these three foals had accompanied their dams to Force’s in July, when the oldest would have been just three months. The breeding credit for all three went to Lewis; one would think Bentley had been involved in breeding them. SAMIT’s 1928 filly HIRFA (by Dhareb) was foaled in the possession of Force on July 20. Hopkins credited Bentley as breeder of HIRFA, while noting that she was foaled the property of Force. The breeding of DHAREB to SAMIT and MIRIZ in 1927 shows that Bentley had, or had access to, the grey stallion DHAREB as well as the bay stallion ZIKI.

THE 1929 FOAL CROP

Breedings during the 1928 season for the five mares in question were recorded as follows, although only three of the five produced a registered 1929 foal: 

  • HAMAMA to ZIKI at the beginning of June, (before transfer to Force)
  • SAMIT to ANTEZ at Kellogg’s toward the end of July 
  • FADIL to *RASEYN at Kellogg’s in August
  • MIRIZ to MIZUEL at Kellogg’s in August
  • KAPITI to *NASIK at Kellogg’s in September
  • MOLIAH to *NASIK at Kellogg’s in October. 

The three resulting 1929 foals from these mares were: 

  • HALAWA 733 (out of Hamama), grey filly May 8
  • AGALA 731 (out of Samit), chestnut filly June 10
  • MAHBUBA 732 (out of Fadil), grey filly July 17. 

AGALA spent her life as a riding mare and never produced a registered foal, but HALAWA and MAHBUBA are important to the CMK [Crabbet-Maynesboro-Kellogg] breeding tradition.

These three 1929 fillies, HALAWA, AGALA, and MAHBUBA, are the first Arabians registered as bred by Raymond Force. The standard, but not universal, practice at that time was to credit the owner of the dam at time of covering as the breeder of the resulting foal. One would expect Lewis to have been listed as HALAWA’s breeder. A more serious problem with HALAWA’s registration is that ZIKI and HAMAMA were both bays while she herself was grey. According to the rules of coat color inheritance, a grey foal must have a grey parent.

ZIKI and HAMAMA were positively bay, with HAMAMA described as “dark bay.” Invoking a foal switch would not offer a solution; only one of the breedings listed above could have produced a grey foal, and MAHBUBA is well known to have been a grey.

Raymond Force filled out HALAWA’s registration application, which is dated December 20, 1929. He described HALAWA’s color as “Grey (Roan 12/7.29).” This was Force’s first foal crop, and beginning Arabian breeders are notorious for confusion concerning the eventual color of their grey foals. (The Blunts themselves originally registered the famous grey mare BOZRA, one of their early foals, as a brown.) HALAWA is known to have matured grey, and she produced grey foals to the chestnut ALLA AMARWARD.

With HALAWA’s registration application, Force included a statement with Hopkins’s signature on Diamond Bar Ranch stationery, reading: “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Arabian mare HAMAMA No. 418 was bred to ZIKI, No. 415 on the 5th day of June, 1928.” This breeding date corresponds to HALAWA’s foaling date but could easily have been prior to the time the horses returned to the Diamond Bar from Bentley. We know that Bentley also used the grey stallion DHAREB, and it seems likely that HAMAMA was in fact covered by DHAREB, a recording error having occurred as a result of confusion following the Diamond Bar’s repossession of the Bentley horses. The wording of the statement suggests that breeding took place away from the Diamond Bar, since such statements usually read “I bred” instead of “was bred.”

If the breeding occurred after the return of the horses to the Diamond Bar, the answer is again DHAREB, since by that time Lewis seems to have sold or gelded all of his other grey males, with the exception of AKIL, a three year old at the time and not yet in service. There is nothing to indicate that AKIL was involved with Bentley. There is no way at this distance in time to resolve the matter with certainty, but all indicators point to DHAREB as the sire of HALAWA.

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