3 Replies Latest reply on Oct 29, 2020 1:33 PM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking military records of and about George Wratten

    David Higgs Newbie

      I am searching for records about George M. Wratten (Wratton, Wrattan, Ratton) who served as chief of scouts and as a pack-train wrangler during General George Crook's military administration of Arizona from 1880-1886. Also looking for any quartermaster records for Arizona, especially relating to George Wrattan.

        • Re: Seeking military records of and about George Wratten
          Elliot Schneider Ranger



          Here is were he is buried and was a Interpreter for POW Apache Indians with the  QM Detachment at Ft. Bowie. Please copy and paste link into your web bowser.









          Ahnandia, a Chiricahua Apache and George M. Wratten, interpreter

          Ahnandia, a Chiricahua  Apache and George M. Wratten, interpreter


          Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor






          George Wratten, Interpreter for Geronimo, Friend of the Chiricahuas
          (George Wratten and Friend Ahnandia, ca 1886, Probably Fort Sam Houston, Photographer Unknown)

          This post continues a series of historical stories about Geronimo during his twenty-three years in captivity, and provides some of the historical background for a novel being written about those years.

          George Wratten is a name tightly woven and important in the history of the Geronimo wars and subsequent Chiricahua Apache captivity for twenty-seven years. Yet, he is not widely known in popular histories of those times. Mickey Free and Tom Horn are probably better known as interpreters and scouts, but were far less acceptable than George Wratten to Apaches in peace talks with the blue coats. Although not widely known, Wratten was probably one of the best Anglo friends the Chiricahuas had, especially during their captivity.

          Born in Sonoma, California, in 1865 George Wratten was a son of a judge in San Francisco. Poor health forced his father to move the family first to Florence, Arizona and later to establish a law practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When George was fourteen he began working as a clerk in the San Carlos Agency store. In the agency store he had to deal with many Apache bands and their dialects and their unique ways of speaking and phrasing their thoughts. Wratten, apparently with a gift for understanding and speaking Apache and its dialects and getting not only the words but the intent behind what was said correct. During his work in the agency store, he became close friends with a young warrior named Ahnandia who stopped another Apache, angered over his treatment by the agency store, from slashing Wratten. (When Geronimo surrendered in 1886, Ahnandia and Wratten were on different sides but remained friends for the rest of their lives).

          At fifteen, Wratten began work as a packer in General Crook’s mule trains. With this job he earned $50 a month, $10 a month more than a second lieutenant. At sixteen Wratten was chief of scouts at Fort Stanton. By twenty-one he had served, as a packer, superintendent of General Crook’s mule trains, and as a chief of scouts. His last service as chief of scouts began in November 1885 when eleven Apaches came up from Mexico looking for ammunition for their Winchesters and over a period of five weeks killed thirty-eight people, rustled about 250 cows and horses and ranged over more than 1,000 miles. The raid led Captain Wirt Davis to organize two additional companies of Apache scouts, A and B, each with about fifty men. Frank Bennett was chief of scouts for Company A, composed of Yumas, Tontos, and Mojaves. George Wratten was chief of scouts for Company B composed of San Carlos, White Mountain, and Coyotero Apaches. The companies served six months, but were discharged by General Miles who had taken over from General Crook in April 1886. Miles believed the scouts served no useful purpose in his attempt to capture Geronimo. After leaving the army’s employ in April, Wratten took a job as a part-time deputy sheriff and lived with his parents in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father hoped that George would settle down and practice law with him.

          General Crook had told the War Department that he could not use more than 3,000 soldiers in his attempt to force Geronimo and the other chiefs to surrender after their 1885 breakout. After Crook resigned General Nelson Miles took over. Miles asked for 5,000 soldiers and in the time before Geronimo surrendered was unable to kill or capture a single one of his warriors. How to save face? Miles took a two-pronged approach. First, he arranged to send the Chiricahuas living peaceably on the reservation to Florida. To the casual observer this meant he was ridding Arizona of their dreaded Apaches. Second, he offered two scouts (Martine and Kayitah), who had relatives riding with the Geronimo warriors, a large monetary award if they would accompany his peace emissary to find Geronimo in Mexico and talk him into surrendering. Miles then called Lieutenant Gatewood, who had many admirers among the Apaches for his integrity, to his headquarters at Whipple Barracks in Albuquerque.

          Miles wanted Gatewood to take Martine and Kayitah and an escort of twenty-five troopers, find Geronimo, and offer peace terms. Gatewood agreed to go, but left the twenty-five troopers behind. Before leaving Albuquerque, he met with Wratten who agreed to accompany him as his interpreter. Gatewood was conversant in Apache, but believed no mistakes would be made in interpreting what both sides said if Wratten did the interpreting. Wratten’s father strongly objected to George accepting another enlistment as chief of scouts, but the young man left with Gatewood. At Fort Apache, scouts Martine and Kayitah, Tex Whaley who served as courier, and Frank Huston who served as packer, joined Gatewood and Wratten.

          After five or six weeks in some of Mexico’s roughest country the party of Wratten and Gatewood found Geronimo’s warriors and with Martine, Kayitah, and Gatewood making the case for surrender and Wratten serving as interpreter were able to convince the Apaches they should surrender. When Geronimo surrendered his rifle to Miles and made a peace agreement, he requested that Wratten be allowed to accompany them to Florida, to which Wratten agreed. As a result his father and mother disowned him. His father died a few weeks later, but George was not informed of his death.

          The train carrying the Geronimo band to Florida unexpectedly stopped at San Antonio, and the Apaches were made to live in tents while President Cleveland decided what to do with them (General Miles wouldn’t give the President a straight answer on the terms of surrender. If the Apaches were captured they could be turned over to civilian authorities and hung, but if they had surrendered to prescribed terms, then they were prisoners of war). Wratten had his own tent among them and for some unknown reason had several rifles and ammunition with him. Not told why they were stopped, rumors began circulating that the army planned to execute them all. Even Wratten thought this might be the case and believing it uncalled for and unjust told Geronimo that if shooting started there were a few rifles and ammunition in his tent and the Apaches were to get them and defend themselves and he would help them. The army finally had to interview Geronimo and Chief Naiche separately to get the straight story of Geronimo’s surrender terms. George Wratten served as the interpreter at these interviews and also testified as a witness because he was there as the interpreter when Gatewood and Miles talked to the band about surrender. Soon after the interviews, President Cleveland decided the Apaches had to be treated as prisoners of war and sent them on to Florida. At Pensacola, the train stopped again. The warriors were taken off the train, separated from their families, and sent with George Wratten to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay. Their families were sent on to Fort Marion at San Augustine, 360 miles away.

          At this point, Wratten’s requested accompaniment service was complete and he was free to return to New Mexico. However, he stayed with the Apaches. Probably because he was the only one who could speak easily speak their language, he was placed in immediate charge of the Apaches and reported to Lieutenant Charles Parker and Captain J. E. Wilson. Wilson reported Wratten’s support was necessary and valuable saying that Wratten explained everything to the Apaches, takes charge of and issues rations and clothing, and supervised their work details. According to Wilson, “He [Wratten] is a most excellent and reliable man in everyway.”At Fort Pickens Wratten also spent much time teaching English to the Apaches. He taught Geronimo and Naiche how to write their autographs for sale. He showed Mangas how to make his mark and others how to draw Indian scenes on pieces of paper, all of which could be sold to the tourists allowed on the island. All this and George Wratten was not yet twenty-two years old.

          The warriors at Fort Pickens were reunited with their families about eight months after they arrived and a year later they all joined the rest of the Chiricahuas at Mount Vernon Barracks. Their move and reunification were not doubt helped by George Wratten who translated their words into English, and wrote and War Department and others to constantly remind them that General Miles had made promises that were not being kept. Wratten went with the band to Mount Vernon and again played a supervisory role for their work details. With help from a few professional carpenters, he taught them to build houses that were much more comfortable than the log cabins they had to build when they first arrived. While at Mount Vernon Barracks he married Nah-goy-yah-kizn (meaning “kids romping and kicking”), a young Apache woman who was an orphan and the niece of Lot Eyelash and Binday. She was later known as Annie White. Annie and George had two daughters, Amy, born in 1890 and Blossom, born in 1893, but Annie and George were divorced by late 1893. Annie eventually married Talbot Gooday and they had seven children.

          With his interpretive skills and knowledge of their ways and lives, George Wratten was instrumental in helping with the smooth transition of the Apaches from Mount Vernon Barracks to Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1894. In addition to providing interpreting services for the Chiricahua military supervisors, he provided the Chiricahuas with help in repairing mechanical machinery needed to make their farming and cattle operations functional. He also operated a store from which the Apaches could buy supplies and he hired Eugene Chihuahua as a teenager and taught him to read and write (son of Chief Chihuahua Eugene was one of a few children not forced to go to Carlisle School) by reading the labels on cans and to do arithmetic to add up store orders.

          George Wratten married again in 1899. His bride was Julie Cannon who he had met when the Apaches were at Mount Vernon. They had three sons and two daughters. They left Fort Sill to try and farm at Mount Vernon but floods and other natural disasters made him leave farming and return to Fort Sill where he continued as an interpreter for the army. Wratten died from a fatal back ailment 23 June 1912 and was forty-seven years old. He is buried in the Fort Sill cemetery with a brick red stone to mark his grave. Many Apaches considered him the best white friend they ever had and mourned him deeply when he passed away.




          Hope this helps,



          Elliot Schneider

          • Re: Seeking military records of and about George Wratten
            Alice Lane Navigator

            Hi David

            Welcome to History Hub


            Recording by George Wratten's son Albert






            Alice Lane

            Research Volunteer

            • Re: Seeking military records of and about George Wratten
              Jason Atkinson Ranger

              Dear Mr. Higgs,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

              We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Reports of Persons and Articles Hired, 1818 - 1905 in the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92) that may include information about him. These records are not available online.


              We also located Letters Received, 1805 - 1889 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94) which has been digitized in part and is partially available online through the Catalog. 1883 - File No. 1066 - Scott, H L image 47 references a George M. Wratten as an interpreter for Apache prisoners of war, as does 1883 - File No. 1066 - Olney, Richard - District of Columbia image 22,  1883 - File No. 1066 image 322, 1883 - File No. 1066 - Wotherspoon, W W - Alabama image 169, and 1883 - File No. 1066 - Davis, W P - Alabama starting on page 2. 1886 - File No. 6768 - Thompson, Wm A - Arizona refers to him as “George Wratton” on page 2. There may be additional documents relating to him in this series which are not coming up in keyword searches because of the difficulties involved in name indexing handwritten documents or because the documents are not yet online. 


              For more information about these and other 19th century military records, please contact the  National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov.


              Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


              In addition, we located National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017 that includes the file Alabama SP Mount Vernon Arsenal--Searcy Hospital Complex. This has been digitized and is available online. Page 16 references an interpreter named George Wrattan.


              Next, we located The Indian School Journal, 1904 - 1926 in the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75) that includes Indian School Journal: Volume 13, September [1912]. Page 26 includes an obituary for George Wratten.


              We also located the Compilation of Periodical Literature: Old Army Cluster which lists the article Wratten, Albert E. "George Wratten of the Apaches". Journal of Arizona History 27, no.1 (Spring 1986): 91-124.  The article used material from Record Group 92 and Record Group 94. You may wish to contact the Arizona Historical Society to inquire about the article. In addition, we searched WorldCat and located 3 results. We suggest that you review these sources and also that you search libraries and other repositories for additional information books, articles and monographs about him.  The bibliographies in published sources may suggest further avenues for research.


              We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


              [Some information provided by Cody White, Subject Matter Expert]