You won’t be surprised to learn that many people who visit Beef Creek Apache Cemetery come only to visit Geronimo’s grave and leave after snapping a few pictures. When I was first there in 1999, I did the same thing. But this time, I wanted to see who else was there.
Last week, I told you that Geronimo was not a tribal chief but a warrior and medicine man. There are actually two Native American chiefs buried at Beef Creek. One of them is Chief Loco.
“Stops His Horse”
In the shadow of the more storied Geronimo, Chief Loco is often overlooked. Born around 1823, his Native American name was Jlin-tay-i-tith, which means “Stops His Horse.” He was a Copper Mines Mimbreño Apache chief and his marker classifies him as a chief of the Warm Springs Apache. While he was not afraid to fight, he was also hopeful for peace with the whites who were disrupting his people’s way of life.
Some think he earned his nickname “Loco” because he was crazy enough to trust the white men. However, this view is not widely held. Bud Shapard, former chief of the bureau of research at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), noted that Chief Loco got his name from his actions during a battle against the Mexicans, where he supposedly braved gunfire in order to save an injured warrior.
After the deaths of Cuchillo Negro, chief of the Warm Springs Tchihende (1857), and Mangas Coloradas, chief of the Copper Mines Tchihende (1863), the Copper Mines Mimbreños and the Warm Springs Mimbreños, were forced to leave the Pinos Altos area, near Santa Rita del Cobre, and try to concentrate in the Ojo Caliente area. Both of the tribe’s bands after Delgadito’s death in 1864 had dual chiefs: the Copper Mines Tchihende were under Loco and the Warm Springs Tchihende were under Victorio.
The Mimbreños agreed to settle in a reservation at Ojo Caliente and later at Cañada Alamosa, but the Mimbreño reservation was abolished. Victorio’s and Loco’s people were sent to the Mescalero reservation at Tularosa. When the U.S. government intended to deport the Mimbreños to San Carlos in 1877, Victorio and Loco led their people back to Ojo Caliente. In 1878, the U.S. Ninth Cavalry was dispatched to bring them back to San Carlos. Victorio returned to the warpath, but Loco was arrested and could not join Victorio in his last war from 1879-1880. He remained on the San Carlos reservation.
In 1882, when a party of Apaches including Geronimo forced Loco to leave for Mexico, Loco instead waged guerilla warfare against the Chiricahuas. In 1886, Loco went to Washington, D.C. to negotiate. However, like Geronimo, he was made a prisoner of war and sent to Florida. He was later transferred to Fort Sill with his wives. Here Loco was made head of Loco’s Village. His son, John Loco, was enlisted as a scout, and they raised crops. Loco was the last living chief of the Warm Springs Apaches. He died in 1905 at age 82.
Loco was a strong believer in education and was the first chief to send his children to school while at San Carlos in 1884. Another of his sons was the first to attend the Indian school in Alabama in 1889. Son John Loco, who died in 1946, is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Caddo County, Okla.
Wives of Chief Loco
Three of Chief Loco’s wives are buried at Beef Creek Cemetery. The first is Chiz-Pah-Odlee, whose name is thought to mean “Burning Wood”. She was born around 1823 and her marker has a death date of 1895.
Another one of Chief Loco’s wives was Chish-Odl-Netln, who name means “Wood Carrier”. She was born in 1829 and is thought to have died in 1909. She was the sister of Chiz-Pah-Odlee.
One of Chief Loco’s later wives was Clee-Hn, born in 1843. I could find no photos of her.
She and Chief Loco had a son they named Fritz. Born in 1890, he died in 1908. I have no idea what his cause of death was.
The Short Life of Grace Rose Sunday
You can’t help noticing the grave site of Grace Sunday because it is the only one surrounded by a handsome iron fence. I was curious about her from the moment I saw it.
Grace was the daughter of Apache parents Ken-i-ee-nidlth and Tsedikizen (Waldo Sundayman). Grace was the great-granddaughter of Chief Loco. Ken-i-ee-nidlth gave birth to Grace in 1895 but died in 1898.
According to Alicia Delgadillo’s book “From Fort Marion to Fort Sill: A Documentary History of the Chiricahua Apace Prisoners of War”, Grace was raised in the Dutch Reformed Church Mission Orphanage at Fort Sill. She died of tuberculosis at 15 on April 25, 1911. Her granite marker and the fence around it were provided by missionary Mary McMillan.
Grace’s stone is inscribed with this verse from Matthew 19:14: “Suffer [the] little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” Mary must have been especially attached to Grace and wanted her to have a special burial site to remember her. Note that Grace has a footstone with her initials “GRS” behind her larger stone.
Only when I started writing about the Oklahoma Road Trip did I make the connection between this plot and the Carter plot at Old Elgin Cemetery that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The fencing for both plots was provided by the Valley Forge Iron Fence Co. of Knoxville, Tenn. Again, the question arises in my mind. How did a company that supposedly went out of business in 1903 provide a fence in an Oklahoma cemetery in 1911? It puzzles me. We will see their work yet again at Apache North Cemetery.
Last but not least, there’s Chief Nana. He’s also known as Kas-tziden (“Broken Foot”) or Haškɛnadɨltla (“Angry, He is Agitated”). His exact birth year is not known but the date of 1800 is on his grave marker.
Chief Nana’s name was Kas-tziden among the Mimbreno Apache in southern New Mexico. Some say he had the longest fighting career of any of the Apache warriors. He fought alongside Mangas Coloradas until Mangas was killed in 1863. He then aligned with Victorio in his raids through Texas and Mexico during the Indian Wars. When Victorio was killed in 1880, Nana formed his own war party with the Warm Springs Apaches.
Under his leadership, the Mimbreno and Warm Springs Apaches raided isolated settlers and U.S. Army supply trains. He was very good at eluding capture. In a surprise attack, Chief Nana was captured and sent to the San Carlos Reservation. He soon escaped and joined Geronimo in Mexico. He kept his band out of the hands of the Army for about a year but surrendered in March 1886. He was sent to Fort Marion, Fla., and in 1894, he was moved to Fort Sill where he died at the age of 96.
A thought has crossed my mind while writing these last two blog posts concerning Geronimo, Chief Loco, and Chief Nana. These men spent their last years as POWs at Fort Sill at the same time. Did they get along? Did they put aside their difference and “coexist” or did they just stick to their area? One site I looked at noted that one of Geronimo’s sisters was married to Chief Nana.
This is something I am sure somebody has written about but I simply haven’t come across those answers yet. Perhaps somebody reading this has and can share that.
Next time, I’ll be down the road at Apache South Cemetery.