Wednesday, June 8, 2016

HGB Ep. 129 - The Life and Afterlife of Geronimo

Moment in Oddity - Bamahenge
by: Bob Sherfield

The last thing one expects to find while driving through rural Alabama is a full-scale replica of Stonehenge. If you should find yourself on US-98 heading out of Pensacola, Florida, take the time for a small diversion through the wooded countryside where you will find a clearing in the trees. In that clearing stands Bamahenge. The brainchild of Alabama billionaire George Barber, the structure is a full size replica of the original, measuring in at 21 feet tall and 104 feet wide. It is orientated to the summer solstice, with the sun rising over the centre of three lintels on the outer markers. Strangely, Bamahenge is constructed of fibreglass and reinforced with concrete and telegraph poles. The stones include four different designs of stone, but by cleverly flipping, rotating and repositioning each one, the illusion that they are all different has been created. Many who visit the site are surprised to find out that the structure isn’t made of stone. They rap their knuckles against the slabs only to find they aren’t made of rock. Why was it built here and why was it built are questions that only the creator of the structure can answer? One thing we do know, a fiberglass replica of Stonehenge, certainly is odd! 

Day in History - Hollywood Communists Report
by: Steven Pappas

On this day, June 8th, in 1949, the FBI released a report naming multiple Hollywood personalities as communists. Among the named personalities were Frederic March, Paul Mini, and Edward G Robinson. Following the second World War, America saw the rise of communism as a new threat and a hysteria set in that led into the cold war period of US history. Most of the accusations were tips from so called "reliable sources" stating the actors, actresses, and directors were involved in the Communist party. During this time, the government theorized that Hollywood was packed with communists who were using films and song to spread the "red agenda." Many senators, the most infamous of which would become Joseph McCarthy, believed that it fell to them to hunt out the communists in Hollywood and seek to stop their influence. These events would even go on to inspire playwright Arthur Miller to create one of his most famous works, The Crucible. After the allegations were leveled, Edward G Robinson was quoted as having said, "These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing, and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen.”

The Life and Afterlife of Geronimo

The Apache warrior Geronimo is a legend, but he was once just a man who had a family. The death of his loved ones at the hands of the Mexicans pushed Geronimo into becoming a fighter. The Anglos would constrict the Apache way of life and Geronimo would retaliate in ways that would embarrass the US government. He escaped capture time and again. Eventually, he would surrender and then he would become a celebrity in captivity as he was ushered to world fairs and western shows. Such an enduring spirit could not be snuffed out by death. Reports abound from many different locations that Geronimo's apparition has been seen and his spirit has been felt. Join us as we explore the life and afterlife of Geronimo!

The Apache native people are made up of six sub-groups pertaining to the region where they had lived. They came from the North and settled in the Plains and Southwest. The first mention of these peoples was in 1598. They were known as nomads following the trail of the buffalo, which was their main form of sustenance. They considered eating fish or bear taboo. The other main attribute of the Apache were their warlike nature. They were raiders of both the white man and other native tribes. This fighting spirit would later make it very difficult to keep the Apaches on their designated reservations. The name Apache would strike fear into the hearts of the Mexicans, Spaniards, Anglos and Pueblos. Legend maintained that an Apache warrior could run 50 miles without stopping.

The Apache lived in dwellings called wickiups or wigwams, built from branches and animal hides or brush. An opening was left at the top of the dome-like structure to allow smoke from the interior firepit to escape. The tribes were matriarchal and followed the mother's line. Strict codes of conduct were upheld within the group and men had to marry outside of their family group and their mother loyalties would be placed with their mother-in-law. Medicine men led religious ceremonies. Beliefs included many spirit beings. Mountain spirits were known as Gans and Usen was the Giver of Life. When the Spanish arrived, both conflicts and trading followed. When the US went to war with Mexico, the Apache allowed US soldiers to cross their land and they assisted in many ways. This peace lasted until the 1850s. Then came the Apache Wars, which were armed conflicts between the United States and bands of Apache tribes. One figure would become prominent during this time and that would be a man history would come to know as Geronimo.

Geronimo was born as Goyahkla, meaning "One Who Yawns" in 1829. He was born in the future state of New Mexico during a time of peace when the territory was under Mexican control. Apaches were not known to be farmers, but Geronimo's father was a farmer and he taught his son agriculture. Geronimo wrote of this time, "We broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field." Geronimo also became an accomplished hunter and ate the heart of his first kill as was the custom of his people. He also learned to raid as he became a teenager and by the time he was 17, he had led four successful raids. He married his first wife Alope at this time and they had three children together.

Geronimo joined a group of his band on a peaceful trading mission in Janos, Mexico. While he was away his family was ambushed by Mexicans. His mother Juana, his wife Alope and all three of his children were killed. Geronimo wrote of the incident, "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."

He burned their home and belongings and went into the wilderness to grieve. Anger and a need for revenge consumed Geronimo and who could blame him. He wrote, "I was never again contented in our quiet home. I had vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had wronged me, and whenever I...saw anything to remind me of former happy days my heart would ache for revenge upon Mexico." It was during one of his attacks on the Mexicans that he earned the name we all know him by and the call that many children cry as they jump into water or that US paratroopers called as they jumped from planes, Geronimo. The term is Spanish for Jerome and that was the name of a saint that the Mexicans looked to for protection. They called out for help from the saint as Geronimo bared down on them.

Geronimo came to be known as a man with no fear and he claimed that he had none because of a voice he heard in his head that told him, "No gun can ever kill you. I will take the bullets from the guns of the Mexicans, so they will have nothing but powder. And I will guide your arrows." Geronimo attacked the Mexicans for ten years. Mining for precious metals like silver and gold brought settlers to Arizona and they began to live on Apache land. This caused discourse and Apaches would raid and attack the settlements resulting in the US government sending soldiers to protect the settlers. And the Apache Wars ensued. Stage coaches and wagon trains were regularly ambushed by the Apaches. Geronimo's father-in-law was an Apache leader named Cochise. He was weary of war and decided to make peace. This meant that the Apache would willingly go to a reservation set up on prime Apache real estate.

After Cochise died, the US government reneged on the agreement. Geronimo was deeply angered by this and resented that his people were being moved from the choice land so that settlers could move into the area. He was not going to go to the reservation and he ran for the mountains of Mexico with a band of men in 1876. The government caught him in 1877 and sent him to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. He escaped that reservation in 1881. The last of the Indian wars took place over the next five years as Geronimo eluded authorities. Five thousand troops hunted him and 17 men and in that time, the legend of Geronimo grew through newspapers and word of mouth.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the surrender of Geronimo in their paper dated September 1, 1886:
"Geronimo now made overtures of peace to the Americans and made known his wish to surrender. He came in person to Captain Lawson's camp and said that he and his men were tired of the war and wanted to surrender, but he wanted to be assured that their lives would be spared. He had with with him twenty-one bucks, sixteen squaws and some children. He told Captain Lawson that he was anxious for peace and wanted to see General Miles so that he could surrender to him. He said that he never wanted to go on the warpath, but that certain persons at the San Carlos agency had made a plot to have him killed, and that he would not give up his life without a struggle."
Geronimo was the last of his people to surrender. When he surrendered, he possessed a Winchester Model 1876 lever-action rifle with a silver-washed barrel and receiver, a Colt Single Action Army revolver with a nickel finish and ivory stocks and a Sheffield Bowie knife with a dagger type blade and a stag handle made by George Wostenholm in an elaborate silver-studded holster and cartridge belt. He was moved around quite a bit. He went to a prison in Florida at Fort Pickens and then a prison camp in Alabama named Mount Vernon Barracks. Here he had his pregnant wife and their daughter with him and he made the decision for them to return to the reservation in New Mexico. He would never see them again. He was finally sent to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He spent 27 years as a prisoner of war. He was taken to the World Fair in St. Louis in 1904. He had figured out that he could make money from his celebrity, so he worked out a deal where he would get a portion of the money made on his photographs and autographs. He got ten cents for every picture and ten to twenty-five cents for his autograph. He would make around two dollars a day.

In 1905, Geronimo met with President Theodore Roosevelt. He hoped that he could convince the President to let his people return to the Southwest. He would plead with reporters who visited him to help him in getting his people back to their home. He would say, "We are vanishing from the earth. The Apaches and their homes each [were] created for the other by Usen [the Apache life-giver] himself. When they are taken away from these homes they sicken and die. How long will it be until it is said, there are no Apaches?" He lived in Oklahoma with his other wife and family. The Apache were polygamous. In all, Geronimo had nine wives. When this wife died, he took care of the family doing the domestic chores. Imagine this great warrior who was rumored to have made a blanket from scalps - this was not true - washing dishes and sweeping floors.

Geronimo died in 1909 after falling off his horse during a winter storm. He survived the night in the cold, but when he was found the next day, he was very ill. He passed away six days later. He told his nephew before he died, "I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive." Geronimo was buried under a tombstone decorated with an eagle. The life of Geronimo is a perfect symbol of the struggle between the US government and the subjugation of the Native American people. A great warrior was turned into a crushed man selling his fame for money. Could this be the reason why his spirit seems to have remained even after his death?

For forty days in 1886, Geronimo was held prisoner at Fort Sam Houston. It was not a lengthy stay, but there are those who believe they have seen the spirit of Geronimo on the base. Fort Pickens is haunted by several Native American spirits and this was yet another place touched by Geronimo. Fort Sill in Oklahoma is a very haunted location and in one of the buildings there is a Native American that haunts a closet. Could this be Geronimo? His spirit is seen and felt in many places at Fort Sill.

Mike wrote on the Ghosts of America website: "I visited the Apache Cemetery on Fort Sill in October 2014 while there for my step son's graduation from BCT. It was late in the afternoon about 1 hour before sunset when we arrived at the cemetery. As I went through the cemetery gates and walked along the gravel path leading to Geronimo grave site there were three or four extremely cold spots on a really warm evening. Each spot required walking about 6 or 8 feet to pass through it. My step son who was following me in military dress blues said he could feel them to. We arrived at the grave of Geronimo and looked around. When we were ready to leave I left a coin on his grave to show respect a as many before me had done. A total of 15 minutes elapsed and a we walked back out on the path the cold spots were gone." Another comment was left by Jim claiming he had felt the spirit of Geronimo several times at Fort Sill.

Jeff wrote, "I also have seen the ghostly figure of Geronimo and he has a very ferocious and enraged look on his face. He seems to have some kind of vile evil grudge against someone or something. I fear this ghost will remain in the Fort Sill area until someone can put him in a peace of sorts. This mans ghost is in a rage and I can't wait until I am sent some place else because it frightened me that much. Maybe some kind of sacred ritual will put him at ease but I know nothing about such things as that."

Many times, the apparition of Geronimo appears to be headless and there is a reason why. The secret society Skull and Bones, that is headquartered at Yale University, is rumored to have the skull of Geronimo on display in their house. There might be something to the rumor because Geronimo's kin sued the group in 2009 over the remains. The legend goes that members of the secret society that included Prescott Bush - George W. Bush's grandfather - dug into the grave of Geronimo at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. This was during World War I and they stole the man's skull and some of his bones. A letter written in 1918 seems to back up the claims, but there is no real proof that this actually happened. It could just be fodder for conspiracy theorists, but it also could be a reason why Geronimo's spirit is at unrest.

Many New Age groups consider Geronimo to be an Ascended Master. He was a medicine man while on Earth and many believed he could see the future. He also seemed to be bulletproof. Geronimo was a great warrior and an example of tenacity and perseverance. He also could be vicious and dangerous. His legend lives on in story, but could there be more than just legend? Could the spirit of Geronimo still walk the Earth? Does Geronimo haunt various locations? That is for you to decide!

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