By comparison, Apache South Cemetery is much smaller than Beef Creek Apache Cemetery. It’s also known as Bailtso Apache Cemetery. It’s very close to Beef Creek but there are only 14 recorded graves, and one of them is unmarked.
Apache South Cemetery is small but well taken care of.
The oldest burial at Apache South is Clarence Bailtso. Most of the folks buried here are related to him. Clarence was not a Native American chief or a warrior. Instead, he served in the U.S. Army as a scout. So his story is a bit different than the ones I’ve shared up to this point.
Sent to School
I could not locate a photo of Clarence, but he is thought to have been born in 1875. He was the son of Bashdelihi and Mohtsos. I believe that he was living on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona until April 1887 when he was sent to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. It was the flagship Indian boarding school in the United States from 1879 through 1918. The school took over the historic Carlisle Barracks, which was transferred to the Department of Interior from the War Department. Clarence was 12 at the time.
Established by Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, he wrote that he believed that Native Americans were equal to European-Americans, and that the school was meant to immerse students into mainstream Euro-American culture, believing they might be able to advance and thrive in the dominant society, and be leaders to their people. Pratt is also known for using the phrase “kill the Indian, save the man.”
So did Clarence’s parents voluntarily send him to Carlisle? It’s possible. From what I read, reservation life was understandably miserable for many Native American families. Parents hoping to give their children an education and a path to a better future were told that sending their children to such schools could help them to do that. But many children, especially those at Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama, were sent to Carlisle without their parents’ permission.
There’s plenty written about Carlisle that I won’t go into here but the school’s goal, in a militaristic environment, was to assimilate Native American children by (among other things) teaching them English and making them wear Anglo clothing. As Pratt’s phrase reflects, Carlisle’s aim was to literally remove their Native American culture from them.
Mount Vernon Barracks
I don’t know how Clarence fared at Carlisle but he was there for a little over five years. Immediately before leaving in August 1892, Clarence enlisted in Company I of the 12th Infantry and went to the Mount Vernon Barracks in South Alabama. Mount Vernon Barracks was where in 1886, the U.S. Army imprisoned nearly 400 Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache men, women, and children. I believe Clarence’s mother was probably there at the time. Conditions were reportedly very poor. Geronimo was held there at one point.
Clarence joined L Troop of the U.S. Army’s Seventh Cavalry and served as a scout. A number of the young Apache men did. From 1895 until 1899, the regiment served in New Mexico (Fort Bayard) and Oklahoma (Ft. Sill), then overseas in Cuba (Camp Columbia) from 1899 to 1902. The Apaches held at Mount Vernon, including Clarence, were moved to Fort Sill in October 1894.
Moved to Fort Sill
Thanks to author W. Michael Farmer, I learned that after the Apache soldiers moved to Fort Sill with their families, they were tasked with maintaining order in the Apache camps, and to keep illegal Anglo cattlemen and traders off the reservation. However, much of their time was spent learning various trade crafts. In May 1897, the Indian company at Fort Sill held its last drill. Twelve of the Apaches were able to re-enlist as scouts. Few of the others were able to find work near the post and were soon starving. The Army neither helped them to find work or leave Fort Sill.
Clarence married Helen Chinney, the daughter of Nah-Kay Godekonne. She was a Warm Springs Apache who had been at Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. Their first child, also named Helen, was born in 1894. She died in 1900. Their second child Martha’s grave marker has a date of Dec. 26, 1895. She may have died shortly after birth.
Helen and Clarence had a third child in 1903, a son. His name is unknown. But he has a plot and a stone at Apache South Cemetery that may look familiar to you. His plot is surrounded by the same fencing that I shared with you last week at Beef Creek Apache Cemetery for Grace Rose Sunday and for the Carter family at Old Elgin Cemetery.
As I did with Grace, I have questions about this plot. Who provided the stone and fencing? Was it missionary Mary McMillan, who provided both for Grace Rose Sunday? While Clarence died shortly before his son’s birth, his mother Helen was still alive and living at Fort Sill. The child was not in the orphanage. But he may have attended the school. His death on May 22, 1910 was close to the date of Grace’s death on April 25, 11. I suspect the person who supplied her stone/fence also supplied the stone and fence for this Bailtso child.
You know what I’m going to bring up next, right? Again, it bears the insignia from the Valley Forge Iron Fence Co. A company that supposedly went out of business in 1903.
Clarence Bailtso died on March 21, 1902 of tuberculosis. He would have been 26 or 27.
So what became of Clarence’s wife, Helen? Part of the answer is something I haven’t shared up to this point regarding the Native American POWs at Fort Sill. Through an act of Congress in 1913, the tribe was released as prisoners of war and given a choice of remaining in the Fort Sill area or moving to the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico. A total of 183 people moved to New Mexico and 81 (about 20 families) remained in Oklahoma and were given allotments. The land was purchased with money from the Kiowa and Comanche with the sale of the Apache cattle herd.
Helen Bailtso stayed at Fort Still for the rest of her life. She remarried two more times and had more children. But after she died on April 29, 1965, she was laid to rest with Clarence, her first three children, and her mother, who had died shortly after they came to Fort Sill from Alabama.
Son of Chief Chatto
As I scanned the named of the others buried at Apache South Cemetery, the name of Blake Chatto got my attention. He was born in 1894 not long after the Apache arrived at Fort Sill from Alabama. I have Farmer’s research to thank for what I learned about Blake and Chief Chatto.
Blake Chatto was the second child of Chiricahua Chief Chatto and his wife, Helen, whom he had met and married at Fort Marion, Fla. Chief Chatto has quite a history of his own worth reading about that I won’t get into here. Their first child, Maurice, was born after they were moved to Mount Vernon Barracks. Born in 1894 right after they arrived at Fort Sill, Blake died of tuberculosis in 1908. He would have been about 14.
Chief Chatto served as a scout while at Fort Sill, as Clarence had. When the Apaches at Fort Sill were freed in 1913, Chief Chatto chose to go to the Mescalero Reservation. He died from complications following a car accident on August 13, 1934. He is buried at Mescalero Indian Cemetery in Otero County, N.M.
Next time, I’ll finish up my Fort Sill visit at Apache North Cemetery.