The Apache leader Geronimo was born on this day in Sonora, Mexico (1829). Geronimo is celebrated for his resistance to American and Mexican military encroachment into American Indian territory.
In 1851, while Geronimo was away from home, members of the Mexican militia raided his camp and slaughtered its inhabitants — Geronimo’s mother, wife, and three children among the dead. The event inspired an intense desire for revenge in Geronimo, who spent much of his life at war with Mexican and American soldiers.
He was captured several times, but became known for his ability to escape. One story poses that after Geronimo led his followers into a cave in Arizona, U.S. troops waited at the entrance for the group to emerge. They never did, presumably because Geronimo had found another exit. Today it is known as Geronimo’s Cave.
Eventually, however, Geronimo was caught and held as a prisoner of war. He was prevented from returning to his homeland for the rest of his life. Occasionally, he made public appearances, such as when he rode a Ferris wheel at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
He died as a prisoner of war in a military hospital in Oklahoma City, and he was buried with other Apache prisoners of war on the grounds.