At 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.
Edison’s 1877 model of the electric pen
Edison inadvertently invented the device that would become the modern tattooing machine. In 1875 he invented an electric writing instrument consisting of a steel needle driven up and down the barrel of a pen. The device punched tiny holes into a stencil that could be used to print many copies of the same document. He received the patent for his Autographic Printing Pen on August 8 1876, but the device was cumbersome and not popular. Improvements were made to the invention in 1877 and sales somewhat improved. In 1891, Samuel O’Reilly modified Edison’s pen idea by introducing an ink filled needle to create an electric tattooing pen. Many improvements were made to the tattoo machine over the years, mostly with the intent to make the machine lighter and allow for better effects, such as shading, by being able to adjust the depth, power and speed of the needle.