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Tour Through Time: Geronimo visited Carlisle on his way to Washington D.C. in March 1905

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It was the Carlisle Indian School students Geronimo addressed last during a gathering at the school’s chapel the evening of March 2, 1905.

The speech to students capped an eventful day for the legendary figure of the American West. Hours earlier, Geronimo rode on horseback in a downtown Carlisle parade as part of a procession of six American Indian chiefs representing five tribes. Local historian Richard Tritt wrote about Geronimo’s visit in a journal article published by the Cumberland County Historical Society.

In the article, Tritt wrote that the six chiefs led a contingent of about 300 Carlisle Indian School students dressed in cavalry uniforms and armed with carbines. Organized into six troops, the students were accompanied by a marching band of 46 musicians.

The Carlisle event was kind of a dress rehearsal for the inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt scheduled for March 4. For the occasion, the chiefs were decked out in war paint, feathers and blankets. They rode coach horses provided by a livery stable owned by William Bretz.

About 300 students accompanied Geronimo and the other chiefs on a special train that departed the Carlisle Indian School railroad siding around 5:30 a.m. March 4. Tritt wrote that it was snowing heavily in Carlisle, but the weather cleared as the train headed south arriving in Baltimore ahead of schedule.

“Geronimo especially was in good humor, and in response to a suggestion from Quanah Parker [a Comanche chief], the old warrior danced and sang, greatly to the amusement of the other chiefs and passengers,” Tritt wrote. The train arrived in Washington, D.C., around noon and Geronimo and the Carlisle Indian School contingent were moved into position to march in the inaugural parade around 2 p.m.

Geronimo returned to Carlisle on March 7 to tour the Lindner Shoe Factory with an entourage of other chiefs. The next day, on March 8, Geronimo left again for Washington before returning to Fort Sill.

Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, future ideas or tips to jcress@cumberlink.com.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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