The Oatman Massacre: A Tale of Desert Captivity and Survival

The Oatman Massacre: A Tale of Desert Captivity and Survival

by Brian McGinty
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The Oatman Massacre: A Tale of Desert Captivity and Survival by Brian McGinty

The Oatman massacre is among the most famous and dramatic captivity stories in the history of the Southwest. In this riveting account, Brian McGinty explores the background, development, and aftermath of the tragedy.

Roys Oatman, a dissident Mormon, led his family of nine and a few other families from their homes in Illinois on a journey west, believing a prophecy that they would find the fertile “Land of Bashan” at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers. On February 18, 1851, a band of southwestern Indians attacked the family on a cliff overlooking the Gila River in present-day Arizona. All but three members of the family were killed. The attackers took thirteen-year-old Olive and eight-year-old Mary Ann captive and left their wounded fourteen-year-old brother Lorenzo for dead.

Although Mary Ann did not survive, Olive lived to be rescued and reunited with her brother at Fort Yuma.

On Olive’s return to white society in 1857, Royal B. Stratton published a book that sensationalized the story, and Olive herself went on lecture tours, telling of her experiences and thrilling audiences with her Mohave chin tattoos.

Ridding the legendary tale of its anti-Indian bias and questioning the historic notion that the Oatmans’ attackers were Apaches, McGinty explores the extent to which Mary Ann and Olive may have adapted to life among the Mohaves and charts Olive’s eight years of touring and talking about her ordeal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806183152
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date: 12/03/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 190,916
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Brian McGinty is an attorney and historian who specializes in American history, wine, and law. He is the author of nine books, including Strong Wine: The Life and Legend of Agoston Haraszthy.

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The Oatman Massacre: A Tale of Desert Captivity and Survival 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
mysteries281 More than 1 year ago
This should be required reading in High Schools - definetly real American history, and very interesting - never boring.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Olive Oatman was a tortured soul. From what we now know about the trauma and ptsd suffered by children kidnapped and held captive for years, I don't believe for one minute they preferred their captors world, but merely did what was needed to survive. Sure, she made a few friends, but she was a captive slave. It's time for readers of this type of history to start to acknowledge this and treat the captives, especially the young girls, not the indians, as the victims they were. Her behavior to me pointed more towards the shame and guilt as a victim, not a willing participant in her captivity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago