Mon, Feb. 24

VERDE HERITAGE 1957: Last Cord for the Mingus Mountain Hermit

"By Mrs. Roger Holt."

"An elderly woodcutter was found dead in his lonely mountain hut by a state road maintenance worker Sunday evening."

"Geronomo Pena, 78, had died, apparently from natural causes, about 2 weeks before his body was found by Duke Cannell, a friend of several years standing, who had brought the hermit some fresh eggs and other supplies."

"A native of Mexico, Pena had been a miner in his youth. He was deafened by an underground blast and was forced to give up mining. He came to Jerome in 1905 and shortly afterward built his hut high on Mingus Mountain."

"For 40 years he earned a frugal living cutting juniper, sawing it into stove-lengths and packing it down the mountain by burro train for sale to the townspeople of Jerome."

"Despite his age, he was possessed of great physical strength. According to Cannell, he had repeatedly refused to accept old-age assistance of any kind, saying that his own hands and arms were all the help he needed."

"Local residents who had been in contact with Pena say that he had been in poor health the past year."

"His windowless hut was located deep in the forest, about 6 miles from Mingus Mountain Inn, at the end of a road so rough and narrow that his body had to be brought out by Jeep."

"There are no known survivors. Funeral services were held at the Cottonwood Cemetery yesterday afternoon."

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, February 28, 1957; page 1.)

According to the Certificate of Death, Geronimo Pena was born in Mexico about 1877. He was a woodcutter living for about 40 years on Mingus Mountain. He died as a result of a heart problem, perhaps on February 6, 1957. He is buried in a plot in the Azteca section of the cemetery.

Geronimo's hut, a rustic cabin, is sometimes visited by people hiking in the area. Logs stood on end form the cabin walls. Pieces of metal on the roof rattle when the wind blows. Personal items and crude furniture are still in the hut.

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