November 28, 2012
Sent out a query to both Robert Utley and Paul Andrew Hutton yesterday about the Naiche boot mystery. And I also posted the photos yesterday on this blog to see if anyone knew the answer. To recap: here is a photo of Naiche and Geronimo at Fort Bowie, Arizona in 1886. It was taken after their surrender at Skeleton Canyon. They rode to Fort Bowie, near Apache Pass, to await their removal to Florida. While they waited Geronimo went into the sutler's store on the base and bought new boots:
The next photo we see of the two, six days later, Naiche is wearing new boots as well. In fact, the son of Cochise has on V-tops! Many Old West re-enactors deny that there were V-top boots in the old west but this clearly blows that long-held belief to smithereens.
It's clear that Naiche decided to get new boots as well, but after the first photo was taken. I thought they only stayed at Bowie for a short time, but according to Utley, "At Bowie, Naiche still had moccasins but at trainside he had boots. My guess is that Geronimo got the boots at Fort Bowie and, later, so did Naiche. Remember that they spent several days at Bowie awaiting Maus and the rest of the band, ample time for the purchases."
Utley and Hutton also raved about the link to the many Apache photos provided by Brian Burroughs, who also informs us that the train photo was taken at the Texas Nueces River, six days after they surrendered. They were headed for Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. We see numerous photos of the Apaches camped in tents at Fort Houston at this incredible link:
Naiche and The Captive Apaches
Both Hutton (who is writing a giant book on the Apaches even as you read this) and Utley (who has a new book on Geronimo coming out from Yale Press even as you read this) were mighty impressed with the photos. Says, the Old Bison, "The link does in fact leads to amazing Apache photos, for me especially those taken at Mount Vernon Barracks. Looking forward to next True West. Send me several copies."
So, it's probably safe to say, that after the first photo was taken (there's actually two photos, one of them standing and this one, we are running both in the article) Naiche got to looking at G-Man's boots and thinking, Man, those are fine boots, I want a pair for myself. Or, maybe the photographer said, "Hey G-Man, dig the new boots. Where'd you gett'em?" And Naiche goes, "Sheez, Ya-goosh, I want some of them bad boys myself." Or, words to that effect. The photo we really want is the two of them in the sutler store looking at the latest clothing styles just in from the east. Imagine Geronimo asking to try on a pair. Did he try on several? Did the clerk use a shoe horn? Did G-Man pay with cash? Did he try to haggle on the price?
"I can get these same boots in Fronteras for free. All I have to do is raid the town and kill the clerk. Tu sabe?"
—Geronimo, quote approximate