“Geronimo!” That’s what we yelled as kids just as we lept off the roof of the porch, or off of the hayloft into the hay. Anything extremely brave required the “Geronimo” shout.
More recently, in 2011, Geronimo was the code word for the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Some people objected, but I’m thinking Geronimo would have been proud of those brave soldiers.
While working with the Carlisle School student records, I found a Robert Geronimo who was an Apache. This didn’t surprise me one bit, and I had to wonder if he was indeed related to the infamous Geronimo.
Indeed, this Robert Geronimo appears to be the son of Geronimo, according to several Rootsweb trees and other documentation. Robert was born in August 1889 and didn’t die until in October of 1966 on the Apache Mescaloro Indian Reservation in Otero, New Mexico. This is confirmed in the Social Security Death Index records.
I have only found documentation of Geronimo having one surviving child. He may have had more that are unrecorded, as he did have several wifes who did have children. The photograph below of his wife and child would have been taken after Geronimo’s 1886 surrender and could have been young Robert.
Geronimo himself was born in 1829 near Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Gila River in what was then Mexican territory. His grandfather, Mako had been the chief of the Bedonkohe Apache. His Native name, Goyathlay or Goyahkla means “one who yawns.”
This photograph was taken in 1898 of Geronimo by Frank Rinehart.
After an attack in 1858 by Mexican soldiers on undefended women while the men were in town trading that killed his mother, wife and all 3 of his children, he joined revenge attacks on the Mexicans. He became the war chief of the Chiricahua Apache and was notorious for urging raids on the Mexicans and later against the Americans occupying the Apache territory. Although legends of how disagree, it was during this time that the name Geronimo came to be. His daring exploits and numerous escapes from seemingly inescapable situations became legendary. Geronimo chronicles these in his autobiography, just before his death, titled “Geronimo: His Own Story.”
The pursuit of Geronimo in 1886 along with a few of his men by hundreds of soldiers is legendary. The 1886 photo below shows Geronimo, at right, with his warriors.
Eventually, Geronimo surrendered and became a prisoner of war for the rest of his life. He alleged that the terms of his surrender were ignored. On his deathbed, he confessed that he was sorry that he had surrendered.
Late in life, he became somewhat of a celebrity, appearing in fairs and such, including the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and in 1905 rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration parade, but was never allowed to return to his home land. He died in 1909 of pneumonia after falling off of a horse and laying all night in the cold before being discovered. He is buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
I particularly like this Edward Curtis portrait of Geronimo done in 1905, above, as opposed to the 1887 publicity photograph taken of Geronimo, below, following his surrender.
In 1992, National Geographic did an article on Geronimo. He has been the topic of many movies and books. You can see a list at wiki here:
You can see the narrative of the PBS special about Geronimo, “We Shall Remain” here: