HEERSMA BETZINEZ, ANNA - Comanche County, Oklahoma | ANNA HEERSMA BETZINEZ - Oklahoma Gravestone Photos


Beef Creek Cemetery
Comanche County,

March 2, 1874 - May 1, 1960

July 4, 1860 - November 1, 1960

Betzinez was a cousin of Geronimo, spent a few years on the warpath with him and appears to have never fired a shot at any person.
He was born into the Warm Springs band of Apaches in the early summer of 1860 to Nah-thle-tla and her second husband Tudeevia. Betzinez’s childhood name was Nah-delthy, which meant Going-to-Run. While Nah-delthy was still a child, Tudeevia was wounded by a troop of solders who mistook them for hostile Indians and attacked their camp early in the morning. Tudeevia was wounded but managed to escape and recover. He then became Nonithian (The Limper). When Nah-delthy was twelve years old his father was killed when two of his drunken half-brothers got into a fight and someone fired a shot that killed him. Nah-delthy’s mother was captured twice by Mexicans. The first time her children from the first marriage were taken and she never saw them again. She was carried off into slavery and was marched to Chihuahua, Mexico. After several months she was sold to a wealthy Mexican from Santa Fe. In Santa Fe she managed to escape and walked almost 250 miles back to her Warm Springs homeland. Not long after her marriage to Tudeevia, Nah-thle-tla was captured again by Mexicans. This time her captives sent her back to the tribe to tell them the Mexicans would like to seek peace and they became friends. Nah-thle-tla would live to be 112-years-old
Nah-delthy was still a small boy when the stupidity and inexperience of young Lieutenant George Bascom blamed Cochise for kidnaping a young boy by the name of Mickey Free. The boy had been kidnapped by the San Carlos band, but Bascom refused to listen to cooler heads and a war that lasted over ten years was set in motion. Mickey Free, half Irish and half Mexican grew up to be one of the more famous scouts and interpreters for the US Army.
Nah-delthy was sixteen years old and his family was with Geronimo when, in the Spring of 1877, Indian Agent John Clum of the San Carlos Reservation, captured Geronimo’s band and marched them 400 miles to San Carlos. Geronimo soon fled the reservation, but he was not accompanied by Nah-delthy’s family. In 1878, Nah-delthy’s mother changed his name to Batsinas who was an old Indian at San Carlos and a great friend of his mother. Shortly thereafter, Victorio and Loco, the main chiefs of the Warm Springs band decided to go back to their homeland in New Mexico. They were pursued by soldiers and Indian scouts and several families were captured. Batsinas and his family were able to escape and continue on to their old reservation where they lived in peace for two years. In 1879, the soldiers and scouts again appeared in Warm Springs to return the band to San Carlos. Victorio and about 40 warriors slipped away, went on the warpath and most never returned. Batsinas and his family were taken back to San Carlos.
In 1882, Geronimo and his band of renegades returned to San Carlos, not to remain, but to take the entire Warm Spring band as captives and take them on the warpath with the renegades. Batsinas was still considered too young to be a warrior and he had no weapons or experience. So, he was made an apprentice, which meant he was sometimes allowed to go on a raid with a warrior, but only to hold his horse and cook his meals.
By 1883, the renegades had been attacked several times by Mexican soldiers and occasionally by US troops. In March of 1883, Geronimo’s son Chatto and a group of renegades attacked the family of Judge H. C. McComas. They killed the judge and his wife and took their six-year-old son Charlie as captive. Batsinas was told later by Chief Chihuahua’s daughter that an Indian named Speedy brutally killed Charlie with rocks after Speedy’s mother died in an attack by General Crook. General Crook then persuaded the renegades to surrender and Batsinas and his family were returned to San Carlos.
In the spring of 1884, the Warm Springs band was moved to the Fort Apache reservation. These pine-covered mountains and upland meadows with the clear cold streams were much more pleasant than the hot desert of San Carlos. Batsinas had a plot of land right alongside Geronimo and they learned to farm. Geronimo did not take well to the agricultural life and the next year was on the warpath again with a few warriors. Batsinas and his family decided that it was best if they joined Geronimo who was also their family. But during the night Batsinas realized he was throwing away a great chance to become a real civilized man with a future. He talked his mother and sister into returning to the reservation and they did so safely.
Geronimo’s freedom was not to last all that long either. On September 6, 1886, he surrendered for the last time. His renegade activities were to have consequences far beyond his little band of outlaws. Not only was he made a prisoner of war with all of his band, but many of the loyal Indian scouts that helped to track him were also placed on the train that transported him to St. Augustine, Florida, where, according to the surrender terms, they were to be held for two years. Most of them would never see their homelands again and those that did return had to wait until 1913 and Geronimo had been dead for 4 years. Batsinas, with his mother and sister, was also placed on the train.
As a result of the train trip to Florida, one of the great feats in all human history occurred. A Warm Springs warrior by the name of Massai jumped from the train just before it arrived in St. Louis. Massai was never considered to be an outstanding fighter. He was just an average Apache. The details of his flight are largely unknown. He left the train armed only with a butcher knife, but after weeks of travel through some heavily populated country and a lot more country that was rugged and unpopulated, he made it back to the Black Mountains of New Mexico. He hid out in the mountains, stole a Mescalero Apache girl for companionship, had four children and came down out of the mountains only to steal some cattle or waylay a trader or traveler. He lived in the mountains for 25 years and then disappeared, probably killed. His wife related the story to Batsinas in 1911 when he visited the Mescalero reservation.
In Florida, the prisoners of war were housed in Fort Marion, the oldest fort in the United States. They were not exactly prisoners. The gates were shut at night, but they were free to roam and even go to town during the day. In April 1887, Batsinas was volunteered to go to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He didn’t want to go. He was almost 27-years-old and didn’t know a word of English. But that made no difference to Captain Richard Henry Pratt as the school superintendent had taken a liking to him and volunteered him. The two were to become lifelong close friends.
His first teacher taught him to write his name on the board. She changed the spelling to Betzinez. Of course she had to give him a first name and she chose Jason. For the rest of his life he was Jason Betzinez. English came really hard to him with a great deal of difficulty pronouncing words and even letters of the alphabet. He persevered and became proficient. By building his own house he learned the carpenter trade. During the summers he worked on a farm and developed the agricultural skills he first learned on the reservation. But the skill he really developed, and spent most of the rest of his life earning a living, was as a blacksmith.
After nine years he left Carlisle and went to Steelton, Pennsylvania, where he acquired a position with the Pennsylvania Steel Company in the blacksmith shop. After more than a year in the steel mill, where he often worked 18 hours a day, he realized his health was being impacted. His old friend Captain Pratt told him there was an opening in Darlington, Oklahoma, for a blacksmith in the Indian service. He applied and was accepted. When he arrived there he was tested for a more important position in Colony, Oklahoma.
In the meantime, the Apaches in Florida had been transferred to Alabama where they found the climate very bad for their health. Six years prior to Betzinez arriving in Colony, the Apaches were all in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which at this time was still known as Indian Territory. After 18 months at Colony where he was visiting with his mother on vacations, he was transferred to Darlington, Oklahoma. In January 1900, he resigned and moved to Fort Sill.
In the summer of 1900, Betzinez was permitted to enlist as a sergeant in the US Scouts and set up a blacksmith shop. He was drawing pay, rations, quarters and wearing the blue army uniform.
It was 1913 before the Apaches were released from their status as prisoners of war. Those that wished were allowed to move to the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico. Betzinez chose to remain in Oklahoma where he had a home and a thriving blacksmith business.
Betzinez says he was too shy and too busy to meet a woman to marry. But in October of 1907, he met a missionary named Anna Heersma from Chicago. They liked each other immediately, but for the six years she was in Oklahoma he never worked up the courage to tell her that he loved her. Because of some separation, during which they continued their communications, it was 12 years before they became man and wife in Lawton, Oklahoma’s Presbyterian Church on June 8, 1919. They had almost 41 years together before Anna died on May 1, 1960. Jason was 14 years her senior and he died seven months later, on November 1, 1960. They are buried together in the Beef Creek Cemetery on the post at Fort Sill. They are buried next to Geronimo.
Betzinez was just over 100 when he died and took his first airplane ride at 99 when he flew to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to meet with Wilbur Sturtevant Nye, the editor of his autobiography, I Fought With Geronimo from which this story came.

Taken from Tombstone by Tombstone, Volume Two

Contributed on 3/19/14 by tomtodd
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Record #: 31333

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Additional HEERSMA BETZINEZ Surnames in BEEF CREEK Cemetery

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Submitted: 3/19/14 • Approved: 3/19/14 • Last Updated: 4/13/18 • R31333-G31282-S3

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