The Apache Diaries: A Father-Son Journey

The Apache Diaries: A Father-Son Journey

The Apache Diaries: A Father-Son Journey

The Apache Diaries: A Father-Son Journey


The surrender of Geronimo in 1886 did not mark the end of Apache resistance to white encroachment. Over the next four decades, rumors persisted about a band of "wild" Apaches in the Sierra Madre. Who were these reclusive Apaches? In 1930 anthropologist Grenville Goodwin headed south to find out. Accompanying him were guides who had often encountered the Apaches, and as Goodwin searched out abandoned campsites, the Apaches almost certainly were aware of his every move.

Grenville Goodwin's journals chronicling his epic search have been edited and annotated by his son Neil, who was born three months before his father's tragic death at the age of thirty-three. Neil Goodwin uses the journals to engage in a dialogue with the father he never knew. Retracing his father's journeys, Neil juxtaposes his own journal entries with the older ones, creating a moment of conversation and common ground between father and son while solving some enduring mysteries.


Two hundred fifty miles north of Piños Altos, and a world apart, my father's life would soon be touched by these events, as would mine and my own son's. My father was beginning his life's work as an ethnographer among the Apaches, and it started with Lupe's people.


I never knew my father. A tumor killed him soon after I was born. Though I can recite an abundance of biographical fact, what died with him is lost to me forever.

I sometimes imagine that if I were to hear the sound of his voice just once, all the details I have collected would, like a backwards‐ running, slow-motion film of a shattering mirror, suddenly coalesce into a perfect whole—alive at last.

In an attempt to make his image whole I have undertaken this book. It is an exploration, and, like all explorations, and all journeys, I begin it without any certainty of where it will lead—all the more so because it is an exploration of two mysteries. One is my father. The other is a mystery that he once tried to solve himself: who are Lupe's people, the phantom Apaches of the Sierra Madre?

In 1927 a small band of these people, still locked in a centuries-old conflict with the Mexicans, ambushed the Fimbres family near Nácori Chico, Sonora. They killed Maria Fimbres, the wife, and kidnapped her three-year-old son, Gerardo. Her husband's pursuit of revenge was soon making headlines throughout the Southwest.

In 1930 my father entered the Sierra Madre to find out what he could about these Apaches before they were exterminated, and he recorded this compelling experience in a diary. There it waited, essentially lost, like an old treasure map, until, in 1962, I found it again, incomplete and enigmatic. It was a tale of murder and kidnapping and a lost people. I took up the hunt—my father's unfinished mission — and this is the story of completing the mission and of my encounter with the father I never knew.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.