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Wayback Wednesday: Geronimo surrenders

By September 4, 1886, Geronimo was already well established in American West folklore. He had been an Apache raider for decades and had battled both Mexican and U.S. forces at one point or another during his military career.

Geronimo had already surrendered several times before, only to resume his raiding activities. But when he gave his Winchester rifle to Gen. Nelson Miles in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, it would be the last time he took up arms against a foe.

The man who was believed to be able to see the future by some of his followers wasn't done though. Geronimo lived more than 20 years after he surrendered as a prisoner, first at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and later on at Fort Sill near Lawton.

As Geronimo grew older his celebrity also grew. He attended the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, riding a Ferris wheel and hawking photos of himself. He later dictated a history of his life that became a book, and attended Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inauguration.

But the winter of 1909 was not kind to him. While riding his horse one evening he fell off, and was so injured he couldn't move. He spent the night helpless and outside in the elements and developed pneumonia. He died at Fort Sill's hospital on Feb. 17, 1909, and was still, technically, a prisoner of war at the time he died.

He was buried at Fort Sill but  his legend would continue to grow well after his death. A well-told story involving members of Yale's Skull and Bones secret society  traveling to Fort Sill to steal his skull has been floating around for more than a century, but most historians believe the legend to be untrue.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›