My visit to Fort Sill’s cemeteries ends here at Apache North Cemetery. It also goes by the name Chief Chihuahua Apache North POW Cemetery. With 28 recorded burials, there are 26 marked graves here. It looks much like its sister cemeteries nearby, Beef Creek Apache Cemetery and Apache South Cemetery.
There is one Native American chief buried at Apache North and that is Chief Chihuahua. He was chief of the Chokonen local group of the Tsokanende Band of Chiricahua Apache. This group is different than the Warm Spring Apache that we’ve talked about up to this point. But Chief Chihuahua lived among and fought alongside Geronimo and other Native American warriors.
Birth of a Chief
Born around 1825, Chief Chihuahua was also known as Kla-esh or Tłá’í’ez, meaning “”To push something under something else with your foot”. Chief Chihuahua carried out several raids on Arizona settlers in the 1870s and 1880s. His brother Ulzana (ca. 1821–1909), also called Ol-Sanny, who led a famous raid through New Mexico and Arizona in 1885, was his war chief. I’ll talk more about him later.
Chief Chihuahua was a protege of Cochise, surrendering with Cochise in 1872 and going to live on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Once there, he became first sergeant of a company of Apache Scouts in 1880 under U.S. Army Lieutenant James A. Maney.
After Cochise’s death in 1874, Chief Chihuahua and Ol-Sanny didn’t recognize Cochise’s sons’ leadership. Chief Chihuahua later fled the reservation to lead a war party into Mexico, but surrendered to General George Crook in 1883. He left the reservation in San Carlos again with Geronimo and other chiefs in 1885, and led raids into Mexico, finally surrendering again to Crook in 1886.
On April 7, 1886, Chihuahua was shipped along with other Apaches to Fort Marion, Fla. In May 1888, he was transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks, Ala. While at Mount Vernon Barracks, Chief Chihuahua carried himself with such dignity and became so respected by his captors, the soldiers called him “Chesterfield”. In October 1894, the remaining Apaches were transferred to Fort Sill.
Thanks to Alicia Delgadillo, I found a little information about Ilth-Gozey. Her Apache name means “Twisted”. She was the daughter of Tzegojuni and a full sister of Tahdaste. I don’t know what year she married Chief Chihuahua. They had at least six children together. Four of them are buried at Apache North Cemetery with their father.
Their first child, Ramona, was born in 1875 and attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania like Clarence Bailtso, whom I talked about last week. It was there she met Asa Daklugie, whom she married in 1898. Asa was close with Geronimo and was with him when he died in 1909.
Chief Chihuahua’s Children
The date on Mable Chihuahua’s marker is May 17, 1895. This would have been about seven months after the Apaches were sent from Mount Vernon Barracks to Fort Sill. This probably means Mable died at birth.
Chief Chihuahua and Ilth-Goley’s son, Tom, was born on in 1885. He died in 1896. I don’t know what his cause of death was.
Chief Chihuahua died in 1901 at Fort Sill. He was close to 80 at the time.
Oseola Chihuahua, born in 1892 at Fort Sill, died in 1901.
Emily Chihuahua was born in 1889 and attended the Carlisle School. She married Paul Tee (“Teenah”), another Chirichua Apache. She died in 1907 and was probably 19 or 20. Their child, Edna Teenah Commanche, was born in 1906. She died at the age of 93 in 1999 and is buried at Mescalero Indian Cemetery in New Mexico. Paul died in 1907 and is buried with Emily at Apache North.
Eugene Chihuahua was born after Ramona in 1878. Chief Chihuahua was allowed to keep Eugene with him and he was not sent to Carlisle as Ramona was. His father wanted to train him up to be a leader of his people. According to Michael Farmer, Chief Chihuahua asked George Wratten to employ Eugene in his store and teach him how to read. Wratten, an interpreter, ran a trading post for the Chiricahuas at San Carlos before moving with them to Florida, and later Mount Vernon and Fort Sill.
Eugene learned to read from looking at the labels on cans and learned to do the arithmetic needed to run the store. Wratten also taught Eugene English. When he was older, Chief Chihuhua chose Viola Massai to be Eugene’s bride. She had been educated at Carlisle with his sister Ramona and was from a respected family.
Although the couple only knew each other four days, they married. They would have six children together and all would die young. The children are all buried at Apache North Cemetery.
In 1913, Viola and Eugene went to live on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico when the Chiricahuas were released as POWs. I’m not sure when Viola died. Her parents, Chino and Nah-Go-Tsi-Eh, are both buried at Apache North.
At Mescalero, Eugene became a powerful medicine man and joined the Dutch Reformed Church where he sang in the choir. He remained unmarried for several years until he returned to Oklahoma and married the Comanche widow of Hostosovit. He returned to Mescalero with his new wife and her three children. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce. He later remarried to Jennie Pena and they had a happy marriage. Eugene passed way at age 84 on Dec. 16, 1965 and is buried in the Mescalero Indiana Cemetery.
So what became of Ilth-Gozey? After Chief Chihuahua died in 1901, she remarried to Victor Biete. He was 20 years her junior. He died in 1911 and is buried over at Beef Creek Apache Cemetery. She is thought to have settled at Mescalero after the Apache were freed in 1913. I don’t know where she’s buried.
Chief Chihuahua’s Brother, Ol-Sanny
Also buried at Apache North is Ulzana, the brother of Chief Chihuahua. His name is Ol-Sanny on his grave marker so that is how I will refer to him here. Ol-Sanny made a name for himself when he led a raid in 1885 through Arizona and New Mexico with only 11 Mogollon warriors, riding 1,200 miles, killing 36 Pindah and Mexicans. Later, he would surrender with his brother to General George Crook in 1886 and went with the other Apaches to Fort Marion, Fla.
A revisionist Western film based very loosely on the 1885 raid called “Ulzana’s Raid” was released in 1972 starring Burt Lancaster, Richard Jaeckel, Bruce Davison, and Joaquin Martinez. Some think it was meant to be an allegory of the Vietnam War taking place at that time.
Ol-Sanny stayed with the Apaches through their moves from Fort Marion to Mount Vernon Barracks to Fort Sill. He remained there until his death in 1909. He was in his 80s.
Several of Ol-Sanny’s children with his wives, Nah-Zis-Eh and Nahn-Ish-Klah, are buried at Apache North. They all died young. His wives are also buried at Apache North.
Time to Go
I glanced at my watch and realized it was time to pick up Sarah, who was finishing up her bike ride. We were both hungry so we headed to the Meers Store and Restaurant. We’d eaten there back in 2000 and I was looking forward to going back for their legendary burgers. The line was long but thanks to another couple who didn’t mind eating with us, we were able to get a table faster as a foursome. They took the photo of us below.
My time at the Fort Sill cemeteries gave me a lot to think about. In researching for these posts, I can only conclude that this chapter of American history is something our children need to know more about. It is rarely, if ever, spoken about. It should be remembered and never repeated. Because what we did was wrong. So wrong.
I’ll be at Mount Scott Cemetery next time.