Skull and Bones Geronimo


Apache Leader Geronimo

In 1918, 6 Skull and Bones members, including Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of Presidents George H W and George W Bush, dug up the remains of, literally the Skull and Bones Geronimo from his grave at Fort Sill while serving as Army volunteers during World War I. The Bonesmen allegedly stole Geronimo’s Skull, an elbow bone, femurs and some of his personal items including his horse bridle. A Skull and Bones logbook details that 1 Bonesman even had said that “six army captains robbing a grave wouldn’t look good in the papers” in reference to the grave robbery. The log book, which refers to Bonesmen as “Patriarchs,” reads:

“The ring of pick on stone and thud of earth on earth alone disturbs the peace of the prairie. An axe pried open the iron door of the tomb, and Pat(riarch) Bush entered and started to dig. We dug in turn, each on relief taking a turn on the road. We quickly closed the grave, shut the door, and sped home to Pat(riarch) Mallon’s room, where we cleaned the Bones. Pat(riarch) Mallon sat on the floor liberally applying carbolic acid. The Skull was fairly clean, having only some flesh inside and a little hair. I showered and hit the hay… a happy man…”

Geronimo’s Family Lawsuit against Skull and Bones

In 2009, on the 100th anniversary of Geronimo’s Death, Harlyn Geronimo, great-grandson of the legendary Apache leader, filed a federal lawsuit to have the remains returned to Geronimo’s family to ensure a proper burial. The Geronimo family was planning on returning Geronimo’s skull and bones to his birthplace in New Mexico. In order to ensure that the lawsuit was taken seriously, Harlyn Geronimo also named President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Army Secretary Pete Geren. Fort Sill officials say that there is no evidence to support the claim by the Geronimo family. This particular claim stems from a letter sent between Bonesmen F. Trubee Davidson and Winter Mead. The contents of the letter detailed that the Skull and Bones society was in possession of Geronimo’s skull, femurs, and his horse riding gear. Mead’s letter reads “The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb in Fort Sill by your clob and Knight Hauffuer, is now safe inside The Tomb together with it’s well work femurs, but and saddle horn.”

Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush

The Lawsuit is a followup to a 1986 conversation with Apache Chairman Raleigh Thompson. Thompson alleges that the Skull and Bones society along with the Bush family attempted to return the skull and silence the Apache nation. An unidentified Skull and Bones member, fearing retribution, provided a photo to Apache Leaders of Geronimo’s alleged remains in a glass case, a photo of the Skull and Bones society logbook, and a letter detailing the 1918 theft by Prescott Bush and 5 other Bonesmen. Skull and Bones members, including Jonathan Bush, the senior of George H. W. Bush, presented the Apache nation with the skull of a small boy in a series of 1986 meetings in New York and admitted to calling the skull Geronimo. The Apache nation concluded that the Skull and Bones Society switched the skulls and did not take the skull they were presented with. Thompson said “They admitted that they called this skull Geronimo. They gave us the skull, but the skull was so small that it looked like a young boy’s skull. Based on that, we didn’t want to take the skull. I think they switched the skull on us.”

The Lawsuit was eventually dismissed citing that the law used in the suit, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, only applies to grave robberies that took place after the act was signed into law in 1900.