Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fakir of Ava's Grave

photo courtesy of Dave Pape
The Fakir of Ava was really Isaiah Harris Hughes and was born in Essex England on December 25, 1810. He moved to America and took the name of a previous employer and became The Fakir of Ava. Hughes traveled across the US during the Civil War and did quite well. He developed a type of show called 'The Gift Show' where he would give out basically inexpensive door prizes to audience members. This scheme really helped his business and he was able to retire with a good deal of money.

He was also Harry Kellar's mentor. The story is that Hughes put an ad in the paper looking for an assistant. A young Harry Kellar saw the ad and applied for the job. Kellar was met at the door by Hughes dog and Hughes told him to come in. Harry got the job! The reason...Harry Kellar was the first person that applied for the job that the dog actually liked!

Harry Kellar stayed with the Fakir of Ava and worked as his assistant for a number of years. When The Fakir felt that Harry was ready to go out on his own as a magician, he gave his blessing and off Harry went.

The Fakir of Ava died on May 24th, 1891 and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo New York. Along with the Fakir of Ava, President Millard Filmore is also buried in Forest Lawn. Here is the New York Times Obituary for the Fakir of Ava.

The website for the cemetery is