OATMAN

NAME: Oatman
COUNTY:
Mohave
ROADS:
2WD
LEGAL INFO:
T19N, R21W
CLIMATE: Warm winter, hot summer
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Winter, fall, spring
COMMENTS: On the highway outside of Kingman. Current residences. REMAINS: Many original buildings.

Named after a woman who was captured and later released by the Mohave Indians, Oatman is still alive today. Strike after strike kept Oatman alive, the biggest seems to be the 1915 strike of $14 million. The town had its own paper, the Oatman Miner. The population of Oatman went from a few hundred to over 3500 within a year which lead to long waits at the restaurants. In 1921, a fire burned much of Oatman, but the town was rebuilt. Mining was somewhat sporadic through the next forty years, and Oatman still survives today. - GT

Information about Oatman (Vivian): John Oatman (Olive Oatman's Mohave son), lives in Vivian area. Year after his mother died, he had enough influence to change the name of the town in 1908 from Vivian to Oatman, as honor for his mother Olive Oatman, a white girl who lived with a local Mohave Indian family in five years. Oatman was originally named Vivian, after Vi-vian Mining Company. Ben Tad-dock (or Pad-dock depends who and how say that) found gold in 1902 when he was walking along the trail. Tad-dock sold his loot the following year to one judge, and the judge sold the loot to in 1905 to Vivian Mining Com-pany who started mining on that place. In 1906 Vivian was a big tent town, flourished as a miner community and in 3 years the mine produced more then 3 mill. $ in gold. When the Tom Reed goldmi-ne was discovered in 1908, Vivian became the second boom. In this year the town was renamed to Oatman and the name become official the next year when the post office changed the name to Oatman, in honour to Olive Oatman, a white girl who lived with a local Mohave Indian family for 5 years. Everything started back in 1851 when Royse Oatman, his wife and 7 children was attacked on their way to California from a group of a rebellion Apaches. They kill all, except the girls Olive (on that time 13-14 years old) and Mary Ann (7 years) who were kidnapped, and 16-17 years old Lorenzo who was throw over the hill side and left there, because they believed hi was dead. He was badly wounded, but he survived. When Lorenzo was 20 years old, hi hear the stories about one white girl who lived together with the Indians along Colorado River. He travelled to California to organize a search group and when he was there, he hear that his sister was returned to Fort Yuma. Mary Ann was dead of sickness, Olive was founded by the peacefully Mohave Indians, who has bayed her from the rebellious Apaches. She had the traditional Mohave tattoos and that means that she was married. When one another Indian come to the village and asked for her, and because he had many things with him for trade, she left the tribe and walked 200 mil to Yuma, where she was consistent with her brother. After that Olive lived in Oregon and California for a short period. She married John B. Fairchild in 1865 and died in 1903 in Sherman, Texas. John Oatman, who was Olive's Mohave son, lived in Vivian area. Year after his mothers dead, he had enough of influence to change the town name from Vivian to Oatman. Following Tom Reed found another place with gold, witch started another boom in 1913 when the United Eastern Mine opened. Oatmans population exploded to 10.000 people. Progress continued until 1930 and Tom Reed closed the mines in 1942 (when the Congress declared that gold was not more in demand as a important product) after he had produced 13.000.000 $ in gold. After mines closed, the town lived from the travellers under the depressions period, as a last stop before they crossed a long and dangerous Mohave dessert. Oatman, once a town with 10.000 citizens was in 1950 reduced to 60, when the town was passed by the new US 66. To day lives about 500 people in Oatman, from selling a souvenirs to the tourist. Bobby Zlatevski Bobby Krause Zlatevski

Regarding Oatman, AZ, the page on your web site presents as factual a great deal of material that is seriously doubted by historians who have done research on the Oatman captivity.

First, the claim that Olive Oatman's tattoos were to symbolize that she was married is not supported in any other research. I realize it is quite necessary to support the spurrious claim of "John Oatman" to be Olive's son, but the tattoos marked Olive as a slave, rather than spouse. The official Ft. Mohave web site notes that tattooing was a cosmetic and religious practice, and among women and girls there was no indication of marital status, but only status as property of the Mohave.

According to a source on American tattooing, "Chin designs with the Mohaves were chosen by the tattooists and were based on the shape of the face. Narrow faced people usually wore designs of narrow lines or dots to accentuate the length of the face. Patterns for broad faces tended to have wider lines and cover more of the chin, making the face look even broader. The upper lip was not tattooed. Forehead designs were chosen by the wearer and there were different patterns for men and women. They would be placed in the middle of the forehead just above the eyebrows and generally consisted of simple lines, dots and circles. There were a few variations for the tattoo locations. Warriors may have had circles tattooed on their chests, with line radiating tower the shoulder, and important men sometimes would have "T" shaped designs tattooed on both sides of the face just below the cheekbone."

It should also be noted that Olive always reported that she AND HER SISTER were tattooed soon after being sold from the Apache to the Mohave. Mary Ann was about 8 or 9 years old at the time.

Olive Oatman was on the lecture circuit, where she would have been expected to delicately hint at marriage or sexual indiscretion, as this would have titilated her audiences into a collective swoon. But she stated to the contrary, that "To the honor of these savages, let it be said that they never offered the least unchaste abuse of me." (This is quoted in Royal Stratton's _Captivity of the Oatman Girls_ and in Rev. S.J. Pettid's compilation of the lecture notes of Olive Oatman)

Robert Benjamin Smith has written an excellent study of the Oatman girls, abridged in _Wild West_ Aug., 2001, in which he acknowledges the romance attached to the story told by "John Oatman", but that "there is no evidence whatsoever that Olive Oatman ever had any children at all."

The page also presents a story of the Maohave releasing Olive to walk to Ft. Yuma. This is apparently also a complete creation of "John Oatman". The journey took eight days, and there is no possibility that Olive could have made such a journey, particularly since she had no clue as to her location or that of Ft. Yuma. The true story concerns her brother Lorenzo's dedication to his sisters. For five years he pursued clues and tried to interest soldiers and politicians into finding his sisters. He was finally contacted by a Quechan named Francisco, who ransomed Olive for a horse, 4 blankets and some beads. She reached Ft. Yuma, California, on Feb. 28, 1856, 5 years and 10 days after her capture. (Smith)

The following is what is on the sign as you enter Oatman from the east.

OATMAN, ARIZONA ELEVATION 2700 FEET

Oatman was founded about 1906. By 1931 the area's mines had produced 1.8 million ounces of gold. By the mid 1930's, the boom was over and in 1942 the last remaining mines were closed as nonessential to the war effort. 

Burros first came to Oatman with early day prospectors. The animals were also used inside the mines for hauling rock and ore. Outside the mines, burros were used for hauling water and supplies. As the mines closed and people moved away, the burros were released into the surrounding hills.

The burros you meet today in Oatman, while descendants of domestic work animals are themselves wild-- they will bite and kick. Please keep a safe distance from them. Wild burros are protected by federal law from capture, injury or harassment. Help protect these living symbols of the old west.

Submitted by Russell Beere

Oatman Courtesy Dane Coolidge Collection


Oatman Street Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Hotel Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski

Oatman Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski


Oatman Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski


Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele

Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele


Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele


Burro getting food from window Courtesy Dolores Steele

Oatman Courtesy Dolores Steele

Oatman Courtesy Bobby Krause Zlatevski


Oatman Mine
Courtesy Al


Oatman Mine
Courtesy Al


Old Pepsi Refrigerator
Courtesy Al


Sign at Oatman
Courtesy Al


Sign at Oatman
Courtesy Al


Oatman sign about the burros
Courtesy Russel Beere

 

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