How did Olive reconcile the murder of her parents, survive a year of slavery, mourn the death of her sister, and yet manage to rebuild a life with her adopted family?
Could Olive remain with her adoptive family?
What if Fort Yuma authorities gave Olive the option to live within both worlds?
Where was “home” for Olive? Was it the world she no longer knew or was it the place where she felt a sense of belonging?
Olive was taken into custody by Fort Yuma authorities; just a few miles away from Oatman, the town formally named after her. After being transported to Fort Yuma, Olive became an instant celebrity. Newspapers around the country deemed her a hero, while the general public perceived her as a victim. The Los Angeles Star described Olive as the “pretty girl” who’d been “disfigured by tattooed lines on her chin.”
As a young woman, Olive married a rancher, who later became a wealthy banker. The couple adopted a child and lived a comfortable life in Sherman, Texas.
A friend once described Olive as a “grieving, unsatisfied woman” who longed to return to the Mohave. By her mid-forties, Olive found herself battling debilitating headaches and depression. It seemed Olive suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder; which resulted in a three month stay at a medical spa in Canada.
Throughout the 1880’s, the “tattooed captive” became a popular circus theme. Imagine having your experience inspire traveling side show attractions? Would the modern day equivalent be late night comedians making jokes out of someone else’s tragedy?
Olive Oatman died of a heart attack in 1903.Three years later the town of Oatman was founded; named after the woman who was adopted by the Mohave.
Today, Oatman is considered a ghost town that refuses to die, yet there is no mention of Olive Oatman’s life or will to live. Instead, you will find store front signs that appear misogynistic in nature, and not reflective of Olive’s legacy.