Mondays for Me ~ Geronimo III

TucsonMy husband and I had been married about 7 years when he was offered a job in Phoenix working for a magazine. After a lot of thought, we decided it would be a good move for us. I had lived in Tucson, AZ most of my life, and I was excited about living in a bigger city. However, I knew I would miss a lot of things about home. The week before we were to move we decided to visit all of our favorite places in town. We had a busy week, but we also had a lot of fun.

On the day before the move, we decided to take a drive out to one of aguaro_National_Park_East_Entryour favorite places, the Saguaro National Park that was just west of Tucson. It isn’t your typical type of Park, instead of trees, it has thousands of 95-foot tall Saguaro cacti sprawled out over the mountains. Old Tucson Studios is located right in the center of it. Many famous movies and old television shows have been filmed there. My two favorite ones are “The 3 Amigos” and “The High Chaparral”. At the entrance to the park is a stone wall on each side of the two-lane road with a large sign stating all the rules. As we approached the entrance we noticed there was a new addition. There was a large tepee on the side of the road. The sign in front said ‘‘Stop and visit Geronimo III in his tepee. Grandson of historical Apache chief Geronimo I.’’. Out of curiosity we pulled off the road and went up to the door. Next to the chair by the front door were 2 signs that said ‘‘No smokin, no drinkin’’ and ‘‘Introducing the grandson of Chief Geronimo. This man is full of history, wisdom, and love for all mankind. Photographs $2 a pose.’’

3 generations of GeronimosBefore we knocked a voice boomed, “Come in”. When we entered the tepee it was like walking into the past. Apache rugs were everywhere. On the wall, as you enter his tepee, he had hung the things he valued most in life. A framed letter congratulating him on his centennial birthday, signed by Nancy and Ronald Reagan, and a picture of the presidential pair, also signed. And bigger than the mementos from the president and the first lady, much bigger, an ancient photograph of this man as a baby, riding beside his grandfather–Geronimo. The tall Apache entered the room wearing the traditional dress of the tribe. Before we could say anything to him, Geronimo III looked at George and asked “Why do you have a mustache?” All George could say was “What?” Geronimo then explained that he knew George had Apache blood in him and that it is a disgrace for an Apache to have facial hair. He then introduced himself as Geronimo the third, grandson of Geronimo, the great chief. He invited us to sit on some old chairs, and he told us a few stories about his Grandfather and tales of a few years spent learning at Geronimo’s side. We bought a few items from him and we left.

We can’t say for sure that this man was really the Great Grandson of USGeronimo, but it was an interesting experience. The next day we moved to the Phoenix area. About 2 weeks later my husband came up to me while I was doing dishes and said, “I’m going to shave my mustache.” I laughed and told him to go ahead. He had said the same thing to me almost every day since we met Geronimo III. Before I had finished with the dishes he came out of the bathroom, and he had shaved it off! I started screaming because he looked so different. He said he really thought about what the Apache had told him and he decided to do it. My husband George is Hispanic and both Yaqui and Apache Indian! He never mentioned that to the man. It has been 27 years since this happened and he still keeps clean-shaven.

Geronimo III died on February 2, 1995, at the age of 115.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Mondays for Me ~ Geronimo III

  1. My roommate and I were talking about Arizona this morning and I was telling her the story about the time when I was 13 and we went on vacation to Tuscon to my aunt and Uncles. While we were there my aunt told us about Chief Geronimo III and that she invited him to have lunch with us one day. She had to go pick him up and while we were all sitting there, he told us many stories one being the story of the promise he made to his grandfather of never living on the reservation. He faithfully kept that promise. He went on to say that he could not believe that we were allowing him to sit at the same table and eat a meal with us. I could not imagine why we wouldn’t. In my eyes, we were borrowers of his people’s land and they have been wronged in so many ways. He was invited to ride in the 4th of July parade that year and security had to be increased due to there being a threat on his life. His headdress was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, and he wore it proud. I feel so honored to have met this man and be one of the few that has sat and shared a meal with him and listened to his stories. It has stuck with me forever. He even said he wanted to marry me, due to my blonde hair, my father kindly replied, I am flattered but, at 13, my daughter is going home with us, and Chief Geronimo III respected that. When I heard of his passing it was very upsetting, but I have the memory and the story I will keep with me forever and every time I get the chance, I share it and I even have a picture with him. I hope you find it just as interesting. Thank you for sharing yours as well.

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