Olivia Oatman

January 19, 2023

Born on September 7, 1837, Olivia Ann Oatman was one of seven children. Her parents were Mormon,

In 1850, the family joined a wagon train of fellow believers, heading to California where they believed the true gathering place of the Mormons was. The leader of the group was James C. Brewster, who had broken away from Brigham Young.

Upon reaching New Mexico, the group broke into two, half heading north through Santa Fe and the rest going south through Tucson (Arizona). The Oatman’s were in the group that went south. The locals were warned about the unforgiving road and that the natives could be hostile. Most of the group decided to stay, but the Oatman’s decided to travel on, wanting to meet up with Brewster.

(internet image)

Just four days in, the family encountered a group of Native Americans, thought to be part of the Western Yavapai tribe. The Indians tried bargaining or trading with the family, but when any deals were rejected, the Indians slaughtered the parents and four of the children.

Olive and her sister were captured and taken to their village which was around 60 miles away, where they were enslaved. After a year with the tribe, they were taken to an inter-village trade, where they were sold to the Mohave tribe for two horses.

The Mohave treated them much better than the former group, being taken in by the leader and his wife. They were given plots of land and traditional Mohave clothing. The girls were also tattooed on their chins and arms. The Mohave believed that anyone without the tattoos would not be allowed to enter the land of the dead or be recognized by Mohave ancestors.

Olive’s sister died between 1855 and 1856, due to starvation when drought hit. Olive grew accustomed to Mohave way of life and took the name Oach. When white railroad surveyors entered the Mohave lands to trade and socialize with the tribe, she hid from them.

When Olive was 19, the military learned that there was a white girl living with the tribe. They demanded she be turned over, or provide a reasonable explanation as to why she was with them. Initially, Olive was hidden, the tribe denying any claims there was a white girl living with them. They even denied that Olive was white, when asked by outsiders.

Eventually, they let her leave. She was taken to the fort and given proper “western” clothing. It was at this time that she learned her brother has also survived the attack.

When she was 28, she met and married John B. Fairchild, a cattle rancher and moved to Sherman, Texas. They adopted a baby girl named Mamie. They lived in Texas until her death in 1903. She died of a heart attack in 1903, at the age of 65.

source: allthatsinteresting.com

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