GERONIMO, (FAMOUS) - Comanche County, Oklahoma | (FAMOUS) GERONIMO - Oklahoma Gravestone Photos

(Famous) GERONIMO

Beef Creek Cemetery
Comanche County,
Oklahoma

Most records give Geronimo’s birth as 1829. Noted Apache historian Dan L. Thrapp, among several later day historians, says that 1829 is too late by five or six years. Someone has even come up with the date of June 16. Geronimo gave a verbal autobiography to S. M. Barrett, an educator, and he published it as Geronimo’s Story of his Life. As Geronimo spoke, Juh’s son Daklugie translated the words into English and Barrett wrote them down. He certainly embellished his life and made his bravery, leadership, and war successes exceed his actual accomplishments. He was in his mid-eighties when he related his story to Barrett in 1905 and many of his dates were in error.
He was definitely born into the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe along the Gila River. The birth place could be either Arizona or New Mexico as it was right on the border between the two territories. His Apache name was Goyathlay (One Who Yawns) (many different spellings)). “Geronimo" was the name given to him during a battle with Mexican soldiers. Some believe that he was Chief of the Apaches, but there was no chief over the whole Apache tribe. There were chiefs for the different bands; Geronimo was never elected as chief of the Bedonkohe.
Late in 1850, Magnus Coloradas, probably the greatest Apache chief of record, led his Eastern Chiricahua band and the Bedonkohe band into an area near Janos, Sonora, Mexico under a peace treaty that was signed on June 24th of that year. The Mexicans were as bad at breaking treaties as the Americans. On Wednesday, March 5, 1851, Colonel José Maria Carrasco led 400 soldiers into two Apache rancherias killing twenty-one Apaches, (including Yrigollen, an important Chiricahua chief) and capturing sixty-one. Most were women and children, as the men were away at the time leaving only a small guard.
Geronimo’s own words from his autobiography tell the story:
“Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies, secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and children. Quickly we separated, concealing ourselves as best we could until nightfall, when we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous—a thicket by the river. Silently we stole in one by one: sentinels were placed, and, when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain. There were no lights in camp, so without being noticed I silently turned away and stood by the river. How long I stood there I do not know, but when I saw the warriors arranging for a council I took my place.”
It is not known whether Geronimo’s family was among the dead or the captured, or even some of both. Geronimo never saw the bodies or tried to recover them as that was forbidden in the Apache beliefs. This senseless action created such a deep and bitter hatred in Geronimo’s heart for Mexicans that it never went away. He could still recall it clearly in his old age.
According to National Geographic Volume 82, 1992, "... the governor of Sonora claimed in 1886 that in the last five months of Geronimo's wild career, his band of 16 warriors slaughtered some 500 to 600 Mexicans." That is probably a gross exaggeration.
While the rest of the Apache bands in Arizona were being relocated to several reservations within the territory, Geronimo continued his raiding and depredations throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico, and especially in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. By 1877, there were over 4,500 Apaches living on the reservations. On April 21, 1877, John P. Clum and the San Carlos Reservation Indian Police, with assistance from Clay Beauford, captured Geronimo and 100 of his men at Ojo Caliente in New Mexico. Included in the capture with Geronimo’s folks were 450 Chiricahua Apaches including their great leader,Victorio. It was the only time that Geronimo was ever captured and Clum did it without firing a shot. Over the next few years Geronimo would flee the reservation several times; always taking his family with him and as many warriors as he could get to follow. Normally, he would flee because something had really frightened him, like a rumor that he was going to be placed in jail, or that he was going to be killed by the Indian Police. The US Army would again chase him all over Arizona and Mexico until he would surrender and return to the reservation until he was ready to flee again.
On April 4, 1878, he fled the reservation with Juh, Ponce and a group of warriors. They headed for Mexico to steal horses and depredate against the Mexicans. In 1879 Geronimo and Juh surrendered and returned to the San Carlos Reservation.
Following the Battle of Cibicue incident, Geronimo and Juh again led their people into the Sierra Madre Mountains in late 1881. In 1882, Juh and Geronimo were to pull off the most daring raid in Apache annals. Masterminded by Juh, the pair took their renegades back to the San Carlos Reservation. This time it was not surrender on their mind; they captured Loco and the entire Warm Springs band of Apaches and forced them to join them on the warpath. General George Crook launched a massive US Army manhunt for the renegade Indians that resulted in Geronimo surrendering and returning to San Carlos in early 1884. Juh was now dead and Geronimo remained on the reservation until May of 1885 when he broke out with many other renegades and headed for the mountains of northern Mexico. He remained there for seventeen months while his warriors did a lot of raiding yet Geronimo mostly remained in camp.
March 29, 1886, Geronimo agreed to surrender one more time. As in other of his surrenders, he would not return to San Carlos with the army, but gave his word that he would round up his family and braves and bring them in. This arrangement had worked in the past and was agreed to this time. On the journey back to Arizona, Geronimo ran into a white bootlegger who was willing to provide him with liquor. Drunk and hung over, Geronimo seemed to forget his promise and returned to the mountains with a few of his friends.
General Crook was so disgusted that he requested a transfer and was replaced with another great Indian fighter, General Nelson A. Miles, albeit one a whole lot less liked and respected by his troops and by the Indians.
General Miles dispatched Lieutenant Charles Gatewood to find Geronimo in the mountains and convince him to surrender. Geronimo had great respect for Gatewood and after quite a search the men met and agreed to a surrender early in September, 1886.
On September 6, 1886, General Miles and Geronimo met in Arizona’s Skeleton Canyon and Geronimo surrendered for the last time. The renegades were taken to Holbrook, Arizona, where they were placed on a train and taken as Prisoners of War to St. Augustine, Florida. General Miles, in all his wisdom, declared all of the Apache scouts that had been responsible for the success of the US Army in fighting the renegade Apaches and tracking Geronimo, Prisoners of War also and put them on the same train as Geronimo. Our government told the Apaches they would be held for two years and then returned to Arizona. Several years later they were transferred from Florida to Alabama and then to Fort Sill. It was not until 1913 that their status of prisoner of war was removed and then they were told that they could be relocated to the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico and not to their old homeland. By then, most of the original prisoners had died.
Daklugie reported that Geronimo’s only regret was that he had trusted Miles and that he had no ill feelings toward Lieutenant Gatewood. Geronimo died of pneumonia on January 27, 1909. He is buried in the Beef Creek cemetery, aka Apache Prisoner of War Cemetery, on the post of Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Reprinted from Tom Todd's book Tombstone By Tombstone, Volume Two
tomtoddbooks.com

Contributed on 1/23/14 by tomtodd
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Record #: 30315

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Submitted: 1/23/14 • Approved: 1/24/14 • Last Updated: 1/24/14 • R30315-G0

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