The Girl with the Facial Tattoo

Olive-2At the age of 14, Olive Oatman (1837 – 1903) was part of a wagon train from Utah to California that was attacked by a band of Apaches or Yavapais. Her parents and four of her siblings were killed, her brother Lorenzo was left for dead but survived, and she and her sister Mary Ann were abducted and later traded to the Mohave as slaves.

The Mohave tattooed both Olive’s and her sister’s chins, a fairly standard practice amongst the Mohave. In 1855 Mary Ann died and soon afterwards Olive was discovered and reunited with her brother at Fort Yuma. In 1857 the book Life Among the Indians was written about her experience and soon Olive was promoting the book on lecture tours. In 1865 Olive married and she immediately stopped her lectures and book sales. I was just alerted to a more detailed version of the story here.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
This entry was posted in Beauty & Cosmetics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Girl with the Facial Tattoo

  1. Melanie says:

    Have you seen Hell on Wheels? The character Eva appears to be based on the same experience.

    • Jonathan says:

      There was a ad for that series on TV just a few days ago and I thought I caught a glimpse of a woman with a similar facial tattoo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.