“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:


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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86 Responses to Geronimo

  1. Robert May says:

    A great report that brings the stories and legends alive

  2. Richard D. Slaughter says:

    I believe it was a shame and in many ways still is – on how we have treated the Native American Indian.
    However, we will never know all the details. Here is a quote from Geronimo in regards to one of my ancestors.
    After Geronimo had been exiled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Nancy Slaughter Tubert visited him. He said to her that there were only two things that he would like to do before he died, be in Arizona at the time of his death, and to kill John Horton Slaughter.18
    17 Erwin interview with Nancy Slaughter Tubert, Charley’s daughter, Tombstone, 1950.
    18 Ibid.

  3. thomas lindley says:

    I met robert in 1961 coming home from San Diego navy boot camp. I was traveling by bus and we stopped in Ruidoso,new Mexico at a diner for supper. He was sitting at the counter selling a book about his father. We had a long conversation about his family and his being Geronimos youngest son. Told me he was in his seventies and there were about eighty members left. Said he didn’t know his father because he had died when he was young. Showed me a photo of him as a baby next to others and horses. I always treasured that meeting with him. Just thought I,d share this as I,m almost his age.

  4. Craig Jackson says:

    My grandfather knew Robert Geronimo. I had the honor of meeting him, and talked to him on a few occasions when I was very young. I remember him being very cordial to me and I always greatly looked forward to when we would visit. I still have a picture of him from the early 60’s.

  5. Timothy Nicely says:

    I’ve known a gal for 60 or so years, Her family tells an intriguing story. Since I haven’t been able to find any lengthy stories of Geronimo as a little kid, her story may be true. They claim that Geronimo’s father was Spanish or Mexican, who was married to an Apache woman who had several other children.

    When the woman died, a band of Apache showed up to claim the kids; there was a fight. Most died, except one girl & one small boy who hid plus a small baby boy who was taken. She hid with her brother and escaped, but the other brother was taken by the tribe members. (Perhaps the Chief adopted him.)

    I tend to believe this story as (allegedly) Geronimo had deep red hair and a light shade of eye color (blue?).

    Does anyone know if Geronimo’s DNA was ever taken or can be taken even now?

    • John Ortega Harding says:

      I have been told that I am a grandson of Geronimo and Chief Victorio , so I carry the DNA

      • Timothy Nicely says:

        Thank you for your response Mr. Harding. I look forward to speaking with you live if you don’t mind, after I have more info from my friend’s family. Would you mind revealing you age which would help this search? Thank you.

      • John Ortega Harding says:


      • mike says:

        I am told that my maternal grandfather’s grandmother (my great great grandmother) was Geronimo’s daughter. There is no real confirmation because of the lack of availability of DNA evidence until recently, so I would like to be able to confirm it scientifically. If anyone may be able to help please contact me at

      • Nakia says:

        Hello My name is Nakia and I recently was told that my super great grandfather was Geronimo. I would like to find out if this is true. I am still doing research on our family lineage and I am also planning on doing a DNA test as well… So I guess I will see

      • Sharon says:

        Hello I was just reading your comment.i realize that it’s been awhile but I was wondering if you had ever had the DNA registered with a place like Ancestry. I am seeking information about my family history and I know that I am Apache Indian and that there is a connection to the area that was connected to Geronimo. I would love to see if there were any connections to family members

    • Stevie says:

      I am Geronimo’s Great Great Great Great Granddaughter, and I have been learning a lot about my family from members who are still a live and I have NEVER once heard of us having Spanish heritage, actually quite opposite

      • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

        I am John Provencio Ortega Harding You are one of my Mimbres Warmsprings cousins Stevie. I would love to know you. The Mexicans always said that Mangus Coloradas, Victorio, and now Geronimo are Mexican, because these men were Great Warriors, these men hated Mexicans. They say so in in their own words, if they had Mexican fathers they must have hated them. The Warmsprings Apaches considered the Mexicans turn coats, because they sided with the Spanish. The Apaches, Yaquis, and Huichol were the resistance fighters against the Spanish for 300 years. This was Spiritual and that is Why Geronimo was the Last Native Medicine Man Standing Against This Demonic Tyranny. When you hear about the Apaches burning down a pueblo or town it is because the towns or Pueblos were completely corrupt and the Apaches didn’t want the rest of their country poisoned with European or foreign trash like we have today. Not talking about the people being trash but the way of life or death, or their philosophy of life was diametrically opposed to the Native ways. After that we fought the Mexican and US government for about 40 years. VIVA LOS APACHES

      • Patricia Lindsay says:

        While this is very interesting there are always exceptions to the rules. There is a piece of history in San Andres, Chihuahua, (a small village in Mexico) of a Mexican medicine man and a young Apache girl falling in love and eloping I guess. After having quite a few children and surviving several Apache’s attempts to settle the score, the husband’s luck ran out and was killed by an Apache arrow. The Apache woman was never accepted back into the tribe. She was left on her own to raise her children and manage a huge ranch which she did with such courage that her story became a legend. Her Apache
        name was known as Nana Nela which she later adapted to the Spanish christian name Manuela.Quite a formidable woman and the example that love conquers all, is quite blind and knows no barriers. Viva Apache Women and Viva love!

      • Melissa Sumpter says:

        My mother was told by her grandmother that Geronimo was her father or grandfather, I can’t remember which my mom said. Anyway I have a photo of my mom and she’s the spitting image of Geronimo, the photo above of him kneeling with a rifle. If I could post a picture I would.

  6. Kim says:

    I have a question.
    I’m talking to a lady who claims to be a descendant from Robert Geronimo.
    If you have any information about Robert Geronimo that would be great.
    Thank you

  7. Kim says:

    IRMGARD GABERT was she in 1947 pregnant from Robert Geronimo.
    If possible I would like some answers.

  8. Timothy Nicely says:

    If John Ortega Harding is 66 years old, then he was born somewhere around 1949. But even Geronimo had a number of children, although Robert is the only one officially acknowledged and as far as I know, photographed.

    Anyone who believes they carry the blood of Geronimo should consider a DNA test to eventually be matched with Mr. Hardings DNA, which at this time is the surest way to prove connections.

    • John Ortega Harding says:

      I descended from Chiefs Cochio Negro and Victorio through my mother and grand mothers (This is my Ortega line) from the Black Range of New Mexico , My cousin Ivan Padilla Chong is the third or forth great grandson of Chief Chihuahua . My family come right from the heart of the Warmsprings Apaches . Mangus Coloradas , Nana , Geronimo , These are my relatives .

      • also my grand mother was call (TANANA) I think we are from the same blood line

      • Z. says:

        I’m looking for a relative, Facundo Ortega, supposedly he was a Chiricahua man who was an adult in the 1920’s, (so I gather, since a child was born to his wife in 1926).
        I know little about him, though there is a picture of him with a number of other Apaches walking down on a road in Santa Fe, NM. His few vital records are a mess, as he didn’t write in English or Spanish, so I can’t seem to get much on him besides familial mention.
        I would appreciate any help you might have.
        Thank you and be well, all.

      • John Provencio Ortega Harding says:

        I have never heard of Facundo Ortega, if he is Apache and Chiricahua then he is definitely my family. I have a Fucundo Marujjo in the family that is Tiwa/Apache.


  10. Mryna Kastor says:

    Timmy, I see Victorio mentioned several times…apparently there is lots of truths in our combined stories…who knows….at any rate…what a wonderful collection of people who can give you their pasts…ps..I do think Mexicans were despised…they were rogues of the deserts..involving slave trade…if I were you, I woud present these as a Story..a Story of a true Warrior, Medicine man and Showman…

  11. JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

    I see That it Victoriana Diaz . Thank You Primo. I live in Hemet , Ca . Yes we must meet .

    • carlos herrera says:

      what is the name of your great grandfathers

      • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

        Juan Medina Provencio, Jose F C Medina, Santos Medina, Jose Mariano Medina, Antonio Maria Medina, All these grandfathers are Lipan / Mescalero / Yaqui from Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Spanish called them The Travieso Apaches. Basilio Maldonado Ortega, Francisco Ortega, these two are my Victorio line and that is as far as I go. I know they are Lower Mimbres, Nednhi / Chihenne Chiricahua. Maybe you can help here ?

      • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

        Carlos I left out Juan Francisco Provencio, Juan Maximo Provencio, Juan Ysidro Provencio is Nednhi Chiricahua married Josepha Benavides at Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico 1752

  12. JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

    Carlos I have a lot of Holguin in the family. I walk thru all the cemeteries where our people lived, and this will tell you a lot. We have Lucero, Tellez, Goydoy and I think it might be Gooday also, Chavez, Duran, Apodaca, Fuentes, Candalaria, Quiroz, Lopez, Garcia, Tapia, Medina, Padilla, Ramirez, Romero and more. Do any of these sound familiar ?

    • Sorry I was busy primo. Pero need to talk to my anty on the names and I will tell you later but if you come to the four corners in new mexico let me know if I go to CA I let you know I jot family in Atwater CA

  13. carlos herrera says:

    mmmm ok Janos Chihuahua is the town where the fist wife of my great,great, grandfather Geronimo and family was kill by the Mexican army is in the history

    • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

      Janos was at first an Apache Pueblo. So the Spaniards started feeding the Apache to keep them off the war path. They Called it, An Apache Peace Camp. Where ever the Apaches lived they would send and finance new converts from Mexico City to try to assimilate the Apaches in to Spaniards or Mexican culture. The Apache would not tolerate the ABUSE and that was repeated over and over where ever the Apaches Lived. This is the reason for the 300 year war that the Apaches, Yaquis, Hicholes waged against the Spanish.

    • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

      Janos and Corrolitos , Galena are Nednhi Chiricahua Apaches

    • Timothy Nicely says:

      Do you mean “the first wife” instead of the “fist wife”. If you do, what do you know of that “first wife”? I appreciate any knowledge you have about a first wife, if any. Thank you.

  14. carlos herrera says:

    Holguin, Acosta, Herrera, Lopez, Sanches and more

  15. JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

    Carlos I forgot the Herreras and the Luceros

  16. JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

    Timothy Nicely, she was Alope and I believe she was Mimbres, from my family.

    • yolanda Flanagan says:

      Alope was Nednai Chiricahua Apache. The Mexican soldiers killed her, her three sons, along with Geronimo’s mother. Mexican Soldiers were mestizos: Spanish and Mexican Indians. And, of course, there were Spaniards as well.

  17. carlos herrera says:

    timothy nicely, and john porvencio Ortega , yes it was Alope but she was kill and her kids too the same time geronimos family that’s wy he hated the “Mexican army”

  18. michelle provencio says:

    hi i am just learning of my blood..but one thing i know i am family to john provecio ortega harding. this is gabriel provencio daughter michelle provencio.

    • JohnProvencio Ortega Harding says:

      Da go te Mija, it is awesome to see you have an interest in your heritage. Creator is calling you through your blood. Very important because you carry the Chiricahua / Mescalero Birth rite because you are female. Only the female can pass this on to her offspring. Awesome. Go zhoo

      • michelle provencio says:

        wow id really like to get together and learn more..i also have have cheorkee blood from my grandfather on moms sid who was full blooded..

  19. michelle provencio says: so interested…i really think its time for me to look into where my blood i can keep my children blood going…i also have cheeroke blood from my grandfather who was full blooded..what do you think primo? i wanna have lunch with my tia margie n you …??

  20. carlos herrera says:

    Hi Michelle my name is Carlos Herrera the more the you investigate on your ancestors you will learn alot of the family

    • Daniel de los santos says:

      Hey Carlos,I know this is a very old post but imma try anyways. My great great grandmother was flavia holguin. I noticed you mentioned that last name a few times. I’m curious if holguin carry any Native American DNA?

  21. Vittorio says:

    Hi All! Just information for everyone. The Geronimo family on the Mescalero Reservation are direct descendants of Geronimo, Robert Geronimo, the one you mentioned it your article, had a son, also named Robert Geronimo, he passed away last October. He is survived by his brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. If you all are looking for DNA to match I would suggest that you try and reach out to the family on the Mescalero Reservation. Hope it helps.

  22. John Provencio Ortega Harding says:

    Roberta Hello, Family Tree has my DNA from my mothers side and I transferred a liposomal from Ancestry to Family Tree. This is concerning the Apaches Geronimo, Victorio, Mangus Coloradas, Delgadito, Nana, Chihuahua, Aguirre, Whoa, Cochise, these are my relatives.

  23. Richard Clark says:

    I have a picture of Bob Geronimo holding my son. It was taken in 1963 near the Apache Summit, which is just west of Ruidoso in the Mescalero reservation. I am willing to share it.

  24. Kyle says:

    I need help confirming my ancestry my grandfather was chief wisebear whose grandfather was geronimo his father was chief odcock Somakah and mother was Mary Whitehorse Somakah but I cannot find chief odcock’s info I was told that he was taken to meet geronimo in person before he died I found an old newspaper clipping to prove this but have not found anymore info if you know of anything plz email me

  25. Kyle says:

    Also do you know if Robert geronimo could be chief odcock

  26. Hello John Provencio Ortega Harding, I am a descendant of Provencio’s from the Mesilla Valley and would like to email you. You can reach me at

  27. Jim Wimberly says:

    Thought I would share this, but as I am a bit late to this thread I apologize if it is redundant. This picture shows Robert Geronimo, as well as my grandfather (on his right), when they went to Washington D.C. to testify on behalf of Albert B. Fall, who was charged in the Deartment of the Interior Teapot Dome scandal. We always had a picture of Geronimo (senior) hanging in our kitchen (when I was a kid), and I never knew why… I’m guessing from my grandfather’s relationship to Robert, maybe.
    Here’s the link:

    • John Provencio Ortega Harding says:

      The former sheriff of Dona Anna County in the picture, Phillipe Lucero was one of my close relatives. He would be a descendant of Chief Victorio just like me. Victorio was a Lucero/Ortega. Geronimo was an uncle of mine. I am Warmsprings Chihenne Mimbres Nednhi Chiricahua Coppermine Apache. Mangus Coloradas, Victorio, Nana, Chihuahua, Geronimo, Delgadito, Cochio Negro, Chief Aguirre, Chief Chafalote, Cochise are all my relatives, uncles, grandfathers and cousins. Viva Los Apaches !!!!

      • Jim Wimberly says:

        John – thanks for the reply. Hats off to you and the amazing Native American heritage you have descended from!

        As I mentioned above, as a kid (in El Paso) we always had Geronimo’s picture hanging in our kitchen. So, I vividly remember it, always. I plan on asking my older brother if he knows of any further detail re: my grandfather Preach Lewis and Robert Geronimo. I’ll shout out if he has anything to add.

        Very important that we remember who we descended from and honor that legacy in our path to the future. 😀

        All the best!


  28. Melissa Ruth Baker-Noren says:

    Hello, My name is Melissa. MY Birth Mother claims that we are related to Geronimo on her fathers side. How do I go about finding out if this is true of not??

  29. Melissa says:

    It’s been passed down from from my Great grandmother that she is one of Goyathlay “Geronimo” daughters. My mother resembles him very much.

  30. Daniel says:

    Geronimo’s descendants live in Mescalero. Out of his many children only two survived to adulthood; Lenna Geronimo (1886-1918) and Robert Geronimo (1889-1966). They’ve both married and had children. If you come from these two children then you are definitely a descendant. There was a book compiled at the request of the government on the whereabouts of the Ft. Sill Apaches that were prisoners of war. It gives a biography of everyone listed there. Its titled, “The Ft. Sill Apaches: Their Vital Statistics, Tribal Origins and Antecedents.” Geronimo’s descendants are recognized by both the Mescalero Apache and Ft. Sill Apache Tribes. Please remember that claiming to be a descendant is considered identity theft and fraud.

  31. Robin D. says:

    My good friend, Michael Gallesos is Geronimos great Grandson. His Grandfather was Paul, Does this ring a bell!! For anyone?

  32. Robin D. says:

    Correction.. Michael Gallegos

  33. Does anyone know of Felicita Ramos who lived in Mapami Durango Mexico? She told stories of her primo Geronimo.

  34. Lydia Solis says:

    Hello, Ms. Roberta Could you please message me? My father, looks just like Geronimo and I would like to get him DNA tested. I can pay for it. I would just like to see, where to compare it? I have been tested already and I’m half SW Native American. I would really like to know, before he or I pass. Thank you so much for your time.

  35. Joan Shadinger says:

    When I lived in Cortland, New York, I met a lady who was an Albino Indian who was supposedly Geronimo great ,(Not sure how many greats)Granddaughter and she went by Brandi, was pure white with black hair down to her knees,about 5’4. She was a beautiful singer and was married to a man named Mike! I was a sort of friend of hers and then I moved to Colorado!( I say sort of because Mike played in a band with my then husband at the time) Brandi was a special lady too! She is yhe one who told me about being a decendant of Geronimo!

  36. Arlene Hernandez says:

    My great grandmother’s name was Mercadia, supposedly she is a illegitimate child of Geronimo, how do I prove my heritage???

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