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Captivity of the Oatman Girls
Francisco goes over the River, and spends the Night Persuades some of the Sub-Chiefs to apply again for Permission to let Olive go free His Threats The Chiefs return with him Secret Council Another General Council Danger of a Fight among themselves Francisco has a Letter from the Whites Olive present Francisco gains Permission to give her the Letter Its Contents Much alarmed Speeches of the Indians Advice to kill their Captive Determine to release her Daughter of the Chief goes with them Their Journey At Fort Yuma.
FOR a long time Olive had been apprised of the fact that intercourse had been kept up between the Mohaves and the whites, as articles had been brought in, from time to time, that she knew must have been obtained from white settlements, either by plunder or purchase. These were brought in by small parties, one of whom would frequently be absent several days or weeks at a time.
She saw in these the evidences that she was within reach still, of the race to which she belonged ; and often would gaze with interest and curiosity upon some old tattered garment that had been brought in, until the remembrances and associations it would awaken would bring tears and sighs to end the bitter meditations upon that brighter and happier people, now no longer hers. She ventured to ask questions concerning these trips, and the place where they found the whites ; but all her anxious queries were met by threats and taunts, or a long, gibberish dissertation upon the perfidy of the whites, India-rubber stories upon the long distance of the whites away, or a restatement of their malignant hate toward them, and of their purpose to use the knowledge they might gain by these professed friendly visits to their ultimate overthrow, by treachery and deceit. They even professed to disbelieve the statements that had so long deceived them concerning the numerical strength of the whites, and to believe that the few of them yet remaining could and would be overcome and extinguished by the combined power of the Indian tribes, that at no distant day would be directed against them.
The chiefs daughter, however, ventured to tell Olive, under injunction of secrecy, that some of their number knew well and had frequently traversed the road leading to white settlements ; but that it was an immense distance, and that none but Indians could find it ; besides that it was guarded by vigilant spies against the incoming of any but their own race.
It should be kept in mind that as yet Olive had been forbidden a word with Francisco. We left the narrative of Olive, in another chapter, involved in the heated and angry debates of a long and tedious council. Upon that wild council she had been waiting in dreadful suspense, not a little mingled with terrible forebodings of her own personal safety. This convention came to a conclusion with a positive and peremptory refusal to liberate the captive ; and a resolution to send Francisco away, under injunction not again, under penalty of torture, to revisit their camp. Francisco, on the same night, departed to the other side of the river ; the chiefs and sub-chiefs dispersed, and Olive was left to her own melancholy musings over the probable result.
She now began to regret that anything had been said or done about her rescue. She was in darkness as to the effect that all this new excitement upon her stay among them might have, after it should become a matter of sober deliberation by the Mohaves alone. She saw and heard enough, directly and indirectly, to know that they were set upon not letting her go free. She began to fear for her life, especially as she saw the marked changes in the conduct of the Indians toward her. The wife of the chief seemed to feel kind still toward her; but yet she plainly evinced that the doings of the last few days had compelled her to disguise her real feelings. The chief was changed from a pleasant don't-care spectator of Olive's situation, to a sullen, haughty, overbearing tyrant and oppressor.
Olive was now shut up to a newly enkindled hate, which sought opportunities to fume its wrath against her. She now regarded all efforts for her rescue as having reached a final and abrupt close. But still she could not be ignorant, concealed and reserved as they were in all their mutual consultations, of the fact that some dreadful fear for themselves was galling and tormenting them. Expressions that she well understood, and conveying their dread of the whites, and fear that they might execute the -threats brought by Francisco, constantly escaped them, and came to the ears of the agitated subject and victim of their new rage.
Francisco spent the night upon which the council closed across the river. He there plied every argument and stratagem that his cunning mind could devise to persuade the principal men on that side of the Colorado to recede from the resolution they had that day reached. He employed the whole night in setting before them troubles that these rash resolutions would bring upon them, and to convince them that it was for their sakes alone that he desired to bear the captive to the fort with him.
He had resolved in his own mind not to leave without her, as she afterward learned ; and, on the failure of all other means, to risk his life in a bold attempt to steal her away under darkness of night. But in the morning he made preparations for leaving, (he really intended to go back to the village,) when the magnates and councilmen, among whom he had tarried for the night, came to him, and prevailed upon him to go back with them, promising him that they had now determined to do all in their power to persuade the chief and tribe to yield to his demand, and to let the captive go ; fearing for the result to themselves of the contrary determination already reached.
About noon of the next day Olive saw Francisco, with a large number of Mohaves, come into the village. It was not without much fear and alarm that she saw this, though such had been the intense anxiety about her situation, and the possibility of escape that the last few days had enkindled, she felt willing to have a final conclusion now formed, whether it should be her death or release.
To live much longer there, she now thought she plainly saw would be impossible ; as she could only expect to be sold or barbarously dispatched, after all that had passed upon the question of her release. Besides this she felt that with the knowledge she had now gained of the nearness and feeling of the whites, it would be worse than death to be doomed to the miseries of her captivity, almost in sight of the privileges of her native land. And hence, though the reappearance of Francisco was an occasion for new tumult, and her own agitation intense, she felt , comforted in the prospect it opened of ending the period of her present living death.
"When Francisco returned I was out gathering ottileka, (a small ground-nut of the size of the hazelnut,) and had utterly abandoned the hope of being released, as the council had broken up with an utter refusal to let me go. Had I known all that had transpired I should have felt much worse than as it was. I learned from Francisco since, that the Indians had resolved (those who were friendly to my going) that for fear that the whites would come to rescue me, they would kill me as soon as it was decided I should not go.
"I had not as yet seen the letter that Francisco brought to me. I plainly saw a change in the conduct of the Indians to me since the close of the recent agitation. "What it foretold I could not even conjecture. But I saw enough before swinging my basket that morning upon my back to go out digging ottileka, to convince me that the wrath of many of them was aroused. I straggled to suppress any emotion I felt, while my anxious heart was beating over possible dreaded results of this kind attempt to rescue me, which I thought I saw were to be of a very different character from those intended."
The returning company came immediately to the house of the chief. At first the chief refused to receive them. After a short secret council with some members of his cabinet, he yielded ; the other chiefs were called, and with Francisco they were again packed in council. The criers were again hurried forth, and the tribe was again convened.
At this council Olive was permitted to remain. The speaking was conducted with a great deal of confusion, which the chief found it difficult to prevent ; speakers were frequently interrupted, and at times there was a wild, uproarious tumult, and a heated temper and heated speech were the order of the day. Says Olive :
" It did seem during that night, at several stages of the debate, that there was no way of preventing a general fight among them. Speeches were made, which, judging from their gestures and motions, as well as from what I could understand in their heat and rapidity, were full of the most impassioned eloquence.
"I found that they had told Francisco that I was not an American, that I was from a race of people much like the Indians, living away to the setting sun. They had painted my face, and feet, and hands of a dun, dingy color, unlike that of any race I ever saw. This they told me they did to deceive Francisco ; and that I must not talk to him in American. They told me to talk to him in another language, and to tell him that I was not an American. They then waited to hear the result, expecting to hear my gibberish nonsense, and to witness the convincing effect upon Francisco. But I spoke to him in broken English, and told him the truth, and also what they had enjoined me to do. He started from his seat in a perfect rage, vowing that he would be imposed upon no longer. He then broke forth upon them with one of the most vehement addresses I ever heard. I felt and still feel an anxiety to know the full contents of that speech. Part of it he gave me on the way to the fort. It was full of eloquence, and was an exhibition of talent rarely found among his race.
" The Mohave warriors threatened to take my life for disobeying their orders. They were doubly chagrined that their scheme had failed, and also that their dishonest pretensions of my unwillingness to go with him, and of my not being an American, had been found out. Some of them persisted still in the falsehood, saying that I had learned some American from living among them, but that I had told them that I was not of that race. All this transpired after Francisco's return, and during his second and last effort for my rescue. " I narrowly looked at Francisco, and soon found he was one whom I had seen there before, and who had tarried with the chief about three months previously. I saw he held a letter in his hand and asked to let me see it. Toward morning it was handed me, and Francisco told me it was from the Americans. I took it, and after a little made out the writing on the outside.
' FRANCISCO, A YUMA INDIAN, GOING TO THE MOHAVES.'
"I opened it with much agitation. All was quiet as the grave around me. I examined it for a long time ere I could get the sense, having seen no writing for five years. It was as follows :
" ' FRANCISCO, Yuma Indian, bearer of this, goes to the Mohave Nation to obtain a white woman there, named OLIVIA. It is desirable she should come to this post, or send her reasons why she does not wish to come. MARTIN BURKE.
Lieut. Col., Commanding.
EEAD-QUARTERS, FORT YUMA, GAL.,
27 January, 1856.'
" They now began to importune and threaten me to give, them the contents of the letter. I waited and meditated for some time. I did not know whether it was best to give it to them just as it was. Up to this time I had striven to manifest no anxiety about the matter. They had questioned and teased with every art, from little children up to men, to know my feelings, though they should have known them well by this time. I dared not in the excitement express a wish. Francisco had told them that the whites knew where I was, and that they were about arming a sufficient number to surround the whole Indian nations, and that they thus intended to destroy them all unless they gave up the last captive among them. He told them that the men at the fort would kill himself and all they could find of them with the Yumas, if he should not bring her back. He said it was out of mercy to his own tribe, and to them that he had come.
"They were still pressing me to read them the letter. I then told them what was in it, and also that the Americans would send a large army and destroy the Yumas and Mohaves, with all the Indians they could find, unless I should return with Francisco. I never expect to address so attentive an audience again as I did then.
" I found that they had been representing to Francisco that I did not wish to go to the whites. As soon as they thought they had the contents of the letter, there was the breaking out of scores of voices at once, and our chief found it a troublesome meeting to preside over. Some advised that I should be killed, and that Francisco should report that I was dead. Others that they at once refuse to let me go, and that the whites could not hurt them. Others were in favor of letting me go at once. And it was not until daylight that one could judge which counsel would prevail.
" In all this Francisco seemed bold, calm, and determined. He would answer their questions and objections with the tact and cunning of a pure Indian.
" It would be impossible to describe my own feelings on reading that letter, and during the remainder of the pow-wow. I saw now a reality in all that was said and done. There was the handwriting of one of my own people, and the whole showed plainly that my situation was known, and that there was a purpose to secure my return. I sought to keep my emotions to myself, for fear of the effect it might have upon my doom, to express a wish or desire."
During this time the captive girl could only remain in the profoundest and most painful silence, though the one of all the agitated crowd most interested in the matter and result of the debate. Daylight came slowly up the east, finding the assembly still discussing the life and death question (for such it really was) that had called them together.
Some time after sunrise, and after Francisco and the captive had been bid retire, the chief called them again in, and told them, with much reluctance, that the decision had been to let the captive go.
"At this," says Olive, "and while yet in their presence, I found I could no longer control my feelings, and I burst into tears, no longer able to deny myself the pleasure of thus expressing the weight of feeling that struggled for relief and utterance within me.
" I found that it had been pleaded against my being given up, that Francisco was suspected of simply coming to get me away from the Mohaves that I might be retained by the Yumas. The chief accused him of this, and said he believed it. This excited the anger of Francisco, and he boldly told them what he thought of them, and told them to go with their captive ; that they would sorrow for it in the end. When it was determined that I might go, the chief said that his daughter should go and see that I was carried to the whites. We ate our breakfast, supplied ourselves with mushed musquite, and started. Three Yuma Indians had come with Francisco, to accompany him to and from the Mohaves; his brother and two cousins.
" I now began to think of really leaving my Indian home. Involuntarily my eye strayed over that valley. I gazed on every familiar object. The mountains that stood about our valley home, like sentinels tall and bold, their every shape, color, and height, as familiar as the door-yard about the dwelling in which I had been reared.
" Again my emotions were distrusted, and I could hardly believe that what was passing was reality. Is it true,' I asked, ' that they have concluded to let me escape ? I fear they will change their mind. Can it be that I am to look upon the white face again ?' I then felt like hastening as for my life, ere they could revoke their decision. Their looks, their motions, their flashing eyes reminded me that I was not out of danger. Some of them came to me and sillily laughed, as much as to say: 'O, you feel very finely now, don't you ?' Others stood and gazed upon me with a steady, serious look, as if taking more interest in my welfare than ever before. More than this I seemed to read in their singular appearance ; they seemed to stand in wonder as to where I could be going. Some of them seemed to feel a true joy that I was made so happy, and they would speak to me to that effect.
" One little incident took place on the morning of my departure, that clearly reflects the littleness and meanness that inheres in the general character of the Indian. I had several small strings of beads ; most of them had been given me for singing to them when requested, when they had visitors from other tribes. I purposed at once that I would take these beads, together with some small pieces of blankets that I had obtained at different times, and was wearing upon my person at this time, to the whites as remembrancers of the past ; but when I was about ready to start, the son of the chief came and took all my beads, with every woolen shred he could find about me, and quietly told me that I could not take them with me. This, though a comparatively trifling matter, afflicted me. I found that I prized those beads beyond their real value ; especially one string that had been worn by Mary. I had hoped to retain them while I might live. I then gathered up a few small ground-nuts, which I had dug with my own hands, and concealed them ; and some of them I still keep."
That same kind daughter of the chief who had so often in suppressed and shy utterances spoken the word of condolence, and the wish to see Olive sent to her native land, and had given every possible evidence of a true and unaffected desire for her welfare, she was not sorry to learn was to attend her upon the long and tedious trip by which her reunion with the whites was hoped to be reached.
But there was one spot in that valley of captivity that possessed a mournful attraction for the emancipated captive. Near the wigwam where she had spent many hours in loneliness, and Indian converse with her captors, was a mound that marked the final resting-place of her last deceased sister. Gladly would she, if it had been in her- power, have gathered the few moldering remains of that loved and cherished form, and borne them away to a resting-place on some shaded retreat in the soil of her own countrymen. But this privilege was denied her, and that too while she knew that immediately upon her exit they would probably carry their already made threats of burning them into execution. And who would have left such a place, so enshrined in the heart as that must have been, without a struggle, though her way from it lay toward the home of the white man ? That grave upon which she had so often knelt, and upon which she had so often shed the bitter tear, the only place around which affection lingered, must now be abandoned ; not to remain a place for the undisturbed repose of her sister's remains, but to disgorge its precious trust in obedience to the rude, barbarous superstition that had waved its custom at the time of her death. No wonder that she says : " I went to the grave of Mary Ann, and took a last look of the little mound marking the resting-place of my sister who had come with me to that lonely exile ; and now I felt what it was to know she could not go with me from it."
There had been in the employ of government at Fort Yuma, since 1853, a Mr. Grinell, known, from his occupation, by the name of Carpentero. He was a man of a large heart, and of many excellent qualities. He was a man who never aimed to put on an exterior to his conduct that could give any deceptive impression of heart and character. Indeed he often presented a roughness and uncouthness which, how ever repulsive to the stranger, was found nevertheless, on an acquaintance, to cover a noble nature of large and generous impulses. A man of diligence and fidelity, he merited and won the confidence of all who knew him. He possessed a heart that could enter into sympathy with the subjects of suffering wherever he found them. Soon after coming to Fort Yuma, he had learned of the fate of the Oatman family, and of the certainty of the captivity of two of the girls. "With all the eagerness and solicitude that could be expected of a kinsman, he inquired diligently into the particulars, and also the reliability of the current statements concerning these unfortunate captives. Nor did these cease in a moment or a day. He kept up a vigilant outsight, searching to glean, if possible, something by which to reach definite knowledge of them.
He was friendly to the Yumas, numbers of whom were constantly about the fort. Of them he inquired frequently and closely. Among those with whom he was most familiar, and who was in most favor among the officers at the fort, was Francisco. Carpentero had about given up the hope of accomplishing what he desired, when one night Francisco crept by some means through the guard, and found his way into the tent of his friend, long after he had retired.
Grinell awoke, and in alarm drew his pistol and demanded who was there. Francisco spoke, and his voice was known. Grinell asked him what he could be there for at that hour of the night. With an air of indifference he said he had only come in to talk a little. After a long silence and some suspicious movements, he broke out and said : " Carpentero, what is this you say so much about two Americanos among the Indians ?"
" Said," replied Grinell ; " I said that there are two girls among the Mohaves or Apaches, and you know it, and we know that you know it." Grinell then took up a copy of the Los Angeles Stew, and told Francisco to listen, and he would read him what the Americans were saying and thinking about it. He then reads, giving the interpretation in Mexican, (which language Francisco could speak fluently,) an article that had been gotten up and published at the instance of Lorenzo, containing the report brought in by Mr. Rowlit, calling for help. The article also stated that a large number of men were ready to undertake to rescue the captives at once, if means could be furnished.
But the quick and eager mind of Carpentero did not suffer the article to stop with what he could find in the Star ; keeping his eye still upon the paper, he continued to read, that if the captives were not delivered in so many days, there would be five millions of men thrown around the mountains inhabited by the Indians, and that they would annihilate the last one of them, if they did not give up all the white captives.
Many other things did that Star tell at that time, of a like import, but the which had got into the paper (if there at all) without editor, type, or ink.
Francisco listened with mouth, and ears, and eyes. After a short silence, he said, (in Mexican,) " I know where there is one white girl among the Mohaves ; there were two, but one is dead."
At this the generous heart of Carpentero began to swell, and the object of his anxious, disinterested sympathy for the first time began to present itself as a bright reality.
" "When did you find out she was there ?" said Carpentero.
F. " I have just found it out to-night."
C. "Did you not know it before?"
F. " Well, not long ; me just come in, you know. Me know now she is there among the Mohaves."
Carpentero was not yet fully satisfied that all was right. There had been, and still was, apprehension of some trouble at the fort, from the Yuma's; and Carpentero did not know but that some murderous scheme was concocted, and all this was a ruse to be guile and deceive them.
Carpentero then told Francisco to stay in his tent for the night. Francisco then told Carpentero that if Commander Burke would give him authority, he would go and bring the girl into the fort. That night Carpentero slept awake. Early in the morning they went to the commander. For some time Commander Burke was disposed to regard it as something originated by the cunning of Francisco, and did not believe he would bring the girl in. Said Francisco: "You give me four blankets and some beads, and I will bring her in just twenty days, when the sun be right over here," pointing to about forty-five degrees above the western horizon.
Carpentero begged the captain to place all that it would cost for the outfit to his own account, and let him go. The captain consented, a letter was written, and the Yuma, with a brother and two others, started. This was about the eighth of February, 1856.
Several days passed, and the men about the fort thought they had Carpentero in a place where it would do to remind him of "his trusty Francisco" And thus they did, asking him if he " did not think his blankets and beads had sold cheap ?" if he " had not better send another Indian after the blankets?" etc., with other questions indicating their own distrust of the whole movement.
On the twentieth day, about noon, three Yuma Indians, living some distance from the fort, came to the fort and asked permission to see " a man by the name of Carpentero." They were shown his tent, and went in and made themselves known, saying, " Carpentero, Francisco is coming."
"Has he the girl with him?" quickly asked the agitated Carpentero, bounding to his feet.
They laughed sillily, saying, " Francisco will come here when the sun be right over there," pointing in the direction marked by Francisco.
"With eager eyes Carpentero stood gazing for some time, when three Indians and two females, dressed in closely woven bark skirts, came down to the ferry on the opposite side of the river. At that he bounded toward them, crying at the top of his voice, " They have come ; the captive girl is here /" All about the fort were soon apprised that it was even so, and soon they were either running to meet and welcome the captive, or were gazing with eagerness to know if this strange report could be true.
Olive, with her characteristic modesty, was unwilling to appear in her bark attire and her poor shabby dress among the whites, eager as she was to catch again a glimpse of their countenances, one of whom she had not seen for years. As soon as this was made known, a noble-hearted .woman, the wife of one of the officers and the lady to whose kind hospitalities she was afterward indebted for every kind ness that could minister to her comfort the few weeks she tarried there, sent her a dress and clothing of the best she had.
Amid long enthusiastic cheering and the booming of cannon, Miss Olive was presented to the commander of the fort by Francisco. Every one seemed to partake of the joy and enthusiasm that prevailed. Those who had been the most skeptical of the intentions of Francisco, were glad to find their distrust rebuked in so agreeable a manner. The Yumas gathered in large numbers, and seemed to partake in the general rejoicing, joining their heavy shrill voices in the shout, and fairly making the earth tremble beneath the thunder of their cheering.
Francisco told the captain he had been compelled to give more for the captive than what he had obtained of him; that he had promised the Mohave chief a horse, and that his daughter was now present to see that this promise was fulfilled. Also, that a son of the chief would be in within a few days to receive the horse. A good horse was given him, and each of the kind officers at the fort testified their gratitude to him, as well as their hearty sympathy with the long separated brother and sister, by donating freely and liberally of their money to make up a horse for Francisco ; and he was told there, in the presence of the rest of his tribe, that he had not only performed an act for which the gratitude of the whites would follow him, but one that might probably save his tribe and the Mohaves much trouble and many lives.
From this Francisco was promoted and became a " Tie " of his tribe, and with characteristic pride and haughtiness of bearing, showed the capabilities of the Indian to appreciate honors and preferment, by looking with disdain and contempt upon his peers, and treating them thus in the presence of the whites.
Miss Olive was taken in by a very excellent family residing at the fort at the time, and every kindness and tender regard bestowed upon her that her generous host and hostess could make minister to her contentment and comfort. She had come over three hundred and fifty miles during the last ten days ; frequently (as many as ten times) she and her guides were compelled to swim the swollen streams, running and rushing to the top of their banks with ice-water. The kind daughter of the chief, with an affection that had increased with every month and year of their association, showed more concern and eagerness for the wellbeing of " Olivia " than her own. She would carry, through the long and toil some day, the roll of blankets that they shared together during the night, and seemed very much concerned and anxious lest something might yet prevent her safe arrival at the place of destination.
Olive was soon apprised of the place of residence of her brother, whom she had so long regarded as dead, and also of his untiring efforts, during the last few years, for the rescue of his sister.
" It was some time," she says, " before I could realize that he was yet alive. The last time I saw him he was dragged in his own blood to the rocks upon the brow of that precipice ; I thought I knew him to be dead." And it was not until all the circumstances of his escape were detailed to her that she could fully credit his rescue and preservation. Lorenzo and his trading companion, Mr. Low, were about ten days in reaching the fort ; each step and hour of that long and dangerous journey his mind was haunted by the fear that the rescued girl might not be his sister. But he had not been long at the fort ere his trembling heart was made glad by the attestation of his own eyes to the reality. He saw that it was his own sister (the same, though now grown and much changed) who, with Mary Ann, had poured their bitter cries upon his bewildered senses five years before, as they were hurried away by the unheeding Apaches, leaving him for dead with the rest of the family.
Language was not made to give utterance to the feelings that rise, and swell, and throb through the human bosom upon such a meeting as this. For five years they had not looked in each other's eyes ; the last image of that brother pressed upon the eye and memory of his affectionate sister, was one that could only make any reference to it in her mind one of painful, torturing horror. She had seen him when (as she supposed) life had departed, dragged in the most inhuman manner to one side ; one of a whole family who had been butchered before her eyes. The last remembrance of that sister is her brother was of her waiting and heart-rending sighs over the massacre of the rest of her family, and her consignment to a barbarous captivity or torturing death. She was grown to womanhood ; she was changed, but despite the written traces of her outdoor life and barbarous treatment left upon her appearance and person, he could read the assuring evidences of her family identity. They met, they wept, they embraced each other in the tenderest manner ; heart throbbed to heart, and pulse beat to pulse ; but for nearly one hour not one word could either speak !
The past ! the checkered past ! with its bright and its dark, its sorrow and its joy, rested upon that hour of speechless joy. The season of bright childhood, their mutual toils and anxieties of nearly one year, while traveling over that gloomy way ; that horrid night of massacre, with its wailing and praying, mingled with fiendish whooping and yelling, remembered in connection with its rude separation ; the five years of tears, loneliness, and captivity among savages, through which she had grown up to woman hood ; the same period of his captivity to the dominion of a harassing anxiety and solicitude, through which he had grown up to manhood, all pressed upon the time of that meeting, to choke utterance, and stir the soul with emotions that could only pour themselves out in tears and sighs.
A large company of Americans, Indians, and Mexicans, were present and witnessed the meeting of Lorenzo and his sister. Some of them are now in the city of San Francisco, to testify that not an unmoved heart nor a dry eye witnessed it. Even the rude and untutored Indian, raised his brawny hand to wipe away the unbidden tear that stole upon his cheek as he stood speechless and wonder-struck ! When the feelings became controllable, and words came to their relief, they dwelt and discoursed for hours upon the gloomy and pain-written past. In a few days they were safe at the Monte*, and were there met by a cousin from Kogue River Valley, Oregon, who had heard of the rescue of Olive, and had come to take her to his own home.
At the Monte they were visited during a stay of two weeks, in waiting for the steamer, by large numbers of people, who bestowed upon the rescued captive all possible manifestations of interest in her welfare, and hearty rejoicing at her escape from the night of prison-life and suffering so long endured.
She was taken to Jackson County, Oregon, where she has been since, and is still residing there.
Since writing the above Miss Oatman, with her brother, have spent about six months at school in Santa Clara Valley, California. On the fifth day of March, 1858, they left San Francisco, in company with the writer and his family, on the steamship Golden Age, for New- York, where they arrived on the 26th of the same month.
How strange the life of these savages. Of their past history how little is known; and there is an utter destitution of any reliable data upon which to conjecture even concerning it. By some they are considered the descendants of a people who were refined and enlightened. That a period of civilization, and of some progress in the arts, preceded the discovery of this continent by Columbus, there can be but little doubt. The evidences of this are to be seen in the relics of buried cities and towns, that have been found deep under ground in numerous places.
But whether the people of whom we have these traces extended to the Pacific slope, and to the south west, we know not. This much we do know : there are large tracts of country now occupied by large and numerous tribes of the red race, living in all the filth and degradation of an unmitigated heathenism, and without any settled system of laws or social regulations.
If they have any system of government, it is that of an absolute monarchy. The chief of each tribe is the sole head and sovereign in all matters that the wellbeing of the same, even to the life and death of its members.
They are human, but live like brutes. They seem totally destitute of all those noble and generous traits of life which distinguish and honor civilized people. In indolence and supineness they seem content to pass their days, without ambition, save of war and conquest ; they live the mere creatures of passion, blind and callous to all those ennobling aims and purposes that are the true and pleasing inspiration of rational existence. In their social state, the more they are studied the more do they become an object of disgust and loathing.
They manifest but little affection for one another, only when death has separated them, and then they show the deep inhumanity and abject heathenism to which they have sunk by the horrid rites that prevail in the disposing of their infirm kindred and their dead. They burn the one and the other with equal impunity and satisfaction.
The marriage relation among them is not honored, scarcely observed. The least affront justifies the husband in casting off his chosen wife, and even in x taking her life. Rapine and lust prey upon them at home ; and war is fast wasting them abroad. They regard the whites as enemies from all antiquity, and any real injury they can do them is considered a virtue, while the taking of their lives (especially of males) is an act which is sure to crown the name of the perpetrator with eternal honors.
"With all their boasting and professed contempt for the whites, and with all their bright traditions and prophecies, according to which their day of triumph and power is near at hand, yet they are not without premonitions of a sad and fatal destiny. They are generally dejected and cast down ; the tone of their every-day life, as well as sometimes actual sayings, indicating a pressing fear and harassing fore boding.
Some of the females would, after hours of conversation with Olive, upon the character, customs, and prosperity of the whites, plainly, but with injunctions of secrecy, tell her that they lived in constant fear ; and it was not infrequent that some disaffected member of the tribe would threaten to leave his mountain home and go to live with the whites. It is not to be understood that this was the prevailing state of feeling among them.
Most of them are sunk in an ignorance that forbids any aspiration or ambition to reach or fire their natures ; an ignorance that knows no higher mode of life than theirs, and that looks with jealousy upon every nation and people, save the burrowing tribes that skulk and crawl among these mountains and ravines.
But fate seems descending upon them, if not in "sudden," yet in certain night. They are waning. Remnants of them will no doubt long survive ; but the masses of them seem fated to a speedy decay. Since this narrative was first written, a very severe battle, lasting several weeks, has taken place between the allied Mohaves and Yumas on the one side, and the Cochopas on the other. The former lost over three hundred warriors ; the latter but few, less than threescore. Among the slain was the noble Francisco. It is rumored at Fort Yuma, that during the engagement the allied tribes were informed by their oracles that their ill-success was owing to Francisco ; that he must be slain for his friendship to the whites ; then victory would crown their struggles ; and that, in obedience to this superstition, he was slain by the hands of his own tribe.
Had Olive been among them during this unsuccessful war, her life would have been offered up on the return of the defeated warriors ; and no doubt there were then many among them who attributed their defeat to the conciliation on their part by which she was surrendered to her own people. Such is the Indian of the South and Southwest.
"We have tried to give the reader a correct, though brief history of the singular and strange fate of that unfortunate family. If there is one who shall be disposed to regard the reality as overdrawn, we have only to say that every fact has been dictated by word of mouth from the surviving members of that once happy family, who have, by a mysterious Providence, after suffering a prolonged and unrelieved woe of five years, been rescued and again restored to the blessings of a civilized and sympathizing society.
Most of the preceding pages have been written in the first person. This method was adopted for the sake of brevity, as also to give, as near as language may do it, a faithful record of the feelings and spirit with which the distresses and cruel treatment of the few years over which these pages run, was met, braved, endured, and triumphed over. The record of the five years of captivity entered upon by a timid, inexperienced girl of fourteen years, and during which, associated with naught but savage life, she grew up to womanhood, presents one of heroism, self-possession, and patience, that might do honor to one of maturity and years. Much of that dreadful period is unwritten, and will remain forever unwritten.
We have confidence that every reader will share with us the feelings of gratitude to Almighty God for the blessings of civilization, and a superior social life, with which we cease to pen this record of the degradation, the barbarity, the superstition, the squalidness, that curse the uncounted thousands who people the caverns and wilds that divide the Eastern from the Western inheritance of our mother republic.
But the unpierced heathenism that thus stretches its wing of night upon these swarming mountains and vales, is not long to have a dominion so wild, nor possess victims so numerous. Its territory is already begirt with the light of a higher life ; and now the foot-fall of the pioneering, brave Anglo- Saxon is heard upon the' heel of the savage, and breaks the silence along his winding trail. Already the song and shout of civilization wakes echoes long and prophetic upon those mountain rocks, that have for centuries hemmed in an un visited savageness.
Until his death Francisco, by whose vigilance the place of Olive's captivity and suffering was ascertained, and who dared to bargain for her release and restoration ere he had changed a word with her captors about it, was hunted by his own and other tribes for guiding the white man to the hiding-places of those whose ignorance will not suffer them to let go their filth and superstition, and who regard the whole transaction as the opening of the door to the greedy, aggressive, white race. The cry of gold, like that which formed and matured a state upon this far-off coast in a few years, is heard along ravines that have been so long exclusively theirs, and companies of gold hunters, led on by faint but unerring " prospects," are confidently seeking rich leads of the precious ore near their long isolated wigwams.
The march of American civilization, if unhampered by the weakness and corruption of its own happy subjects, will yet, and soon, break upon the barbarity of these numerous tribes, and either elevate them to the unappreciated blessings of a superior state, or wipe them into oblivion, and give their long-undeveloped territory to another.
Perhaps when the intricate and complicated events that mark and pave the way to this state of things, shall be pondered by the curious and retrospective eye of those who shall rejoice in its possession, these comparatively insignificant ones spread out for the reader upon these pages, will be found to form a part. May Heaven guide the anxious-freighted future to the greatest good of the abject heathen, and save those into whose hands are committed such openings and privileges for beneficent doing, from the perversion of their blessings and mission.
"Honor to whom honor is due." "With all the degradation in which these untamed hordes are steeped, there are strange as it may seem some traits and phases in their conduct which, on comparison with those of some who call themselves civilized, ought to crimson their cheeks with a blush. While feuds have been kindled, and lives have been lost innocent lives by the intrusion 'of the white man upon the domestic relations of Indian families ; while decency and chastity have been out raged, and the Indian female, in some instances, stolen from her spouse and husband that she really loved ; let it be written, written if possible so as to be read when an inscrutable but unerring Providence shall exact "to the uttermost farthing" for every deed of cruelty and lust perpetrated by a superior race upon an inferior one ; written to stand out before those whose duty and position it shall be, within a few years, in the American Council of State, to deliberate and legislate upon the best method to dispose of these fast waning tribes ; that one of our own race, in tender years, committed wholly to their power, passed a five-years' captivity among these savages without falling under those "baser propensities which rave, and rage, and consume, with the fury and fatality of a pestilence, among themselves.
It is true that their uncultivated and untempered traditional superstitions allow them to mark in the white man an enemy that has preyed upon their rights from antiquity, and to exact of him, when thrown into their power, cruelties that kindle just horror in the breast of the refined and the civilized. It is true that the more intelligent, and the large majority, deplore the poor representation of our people that has been given to these wild men by certain " lewd fellows of the baser sort," who are undistinguished by them from our race as a whole. But they are set down to our account in a more infallible record than any of mere human writ ; and delicate and terrible is the responsibility with which they have clothed the action of the American race amid the startling and important exigencies that must roll upon its pathway for the next few years.
Who that looks at the superstition, the mangled, fragmentary, and distorted traditions that form the only tribunal of appeal for the little wreck of moral sense they have left them superstitions that hold them as with the grasp of omnipotence; who that looks upon the self-consuming workings of the corruptions that breed in the hotbed of ignorance, can be so hardened that his heart has no sigh to heave, no groan to utter over a social, moral, and political desolation that ought to appeal to our commiseration rather than put a torch to our slumbering vengeance.
It is true that this coast and the Eastern states have now their scores of lonely wanderers, mournful and sorrow-stricken mourners, over whose sky has been cast a mantle of gloom that will stretch to their tombs for the loss of those of their kindred who sleep in the dust, or bleach upon the sand-plots trodden by these roaming heathen ; kindred who have in their innocence fallen by cruelty. But there is a voice coming up from these scattered, unmonumented resting-places of their dead ; and it pleads, pleads with the potency and unerringness of those pleadings from "under the ground" of ancient date, and of the fact and effect of which we have a guiding record.
Who that casts his eye over the vast territory that lies between the Columbia River and Acapulco, with the Rocky Range for its eastern bulwark, a territory abounding with rich verdure-clad vales and pasturage hill-sides, and looks to the time, not distant, when over it all shall be spread the wing of the eagle, when the music of civilization, of the arts, of the sciences, of the mechanism, of the religion of our favored race, shall roll along its winding rivers and over its beautiful slopes, but has one prayer to offer to the God of his fathers, that the same wisdom craved and received by them to plant his civil light-house on a wilderness shore, may still guide us on to a glorious, a happy, and a useful destiny.
The following lines were written by some person, unknown to the author, residing in Maysville, California. They were first published in a daily paper, soon after the first edition was issued. They are here inserted as expressing, not what one merely, but what many felt who read this narrative in that state, and who have become personally acquainted with Miss Oatman. Many have been the assurances of sympathy and affection that, by letter and in per son, have been in kindred and equally fervent strains poured upon the ear and heart of the once suffering subject of this narrative.
STANZAS TO OLIVE OATMAN.
Fair Olive ! thy historian's pen declines
Portraying what thy feelings once have been,
Because the language of the world confines
Expression, giving only half we mean ;
No reaching from what we have felt or seen :
And it is well. How useless 'tis to gild
Refined gold, or paint the lily's sheen!
But we can weep when all the heart is fill'd
And feel in thought, beyond where pen or words are skill'd.
In moonlight we can fancy that one grave,
Resting amid the mountains bleak and bare,
Although no willow's swinging pendants wave
Above the little captive sleeping there ?
With thee beside her wrapp'd in voiceless prayer ;
"We guess thy anguish, feel thy heart's deep woe,
And list for moans upon the midnight air,
As tears of sympathy in silence flow
For her whose unmark'd head is lying calm and low.
For in the bosom of the wilderness
Imagination paints a fearful wild
"With two young children bow'd in deep distress,
A simple maiden and a little child,
Begirt with savages in circles fill'd,
Who round them shout in triumph o'er the deed
That laid their kindred on the desert piled
An undistinguished mass, in death to bleed,
And left them without hope in their despairing need.
In captive chains whole races have been led,
But never yet upon one heart did fall
Misfortune's hand so heavy. Thy young head
Has born a nation's griefs, its woes, and all
The serried sorrows which earth's histories call
The hand of God. Then, Olive, bend thy knee,
Morning and night, until the funeral pall
Hides thy fair face to Him who watches thee,
Whose power once made thee bond, whose power once set thee free.
Marysville, April 27, 1857.
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