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. 14Both Hildebrandt and Woodward depicted themselves as motherlesschildren; their tattoos represented just one of the primitive thingsthat could happen to a girl in the Wild West without the civilizinginfluence of a mother  things that had happened to Oatman.The tattooed captive became a common circus theme through-out the 1880s and  90s.Other attractions used similar fictions tocast themselves as victims of  redskins, rather than self-made freakswho, after the invention of the tattoo machine in 1891, could get afull body suit in a matter of weeks.Their stories turned, provoca-tively, on the notion that people of color could transform whites intopeople of color  ethnically and decoratively, as a means of exploita-tion and degradation.The opening of the transcontinental railroadin 1869 allowed circuses to crisscross the country, and many now didso with tattooed ladies who appeared with or without broadsidestrumpeting their sensational histories, whose skin shows were titil-lating for more than just the artworks their skimpy outfits exposed.Olive s fading tattoo had now been overlaid with associations nolady hoped to abide.Perhaps the only thing worse than becoming an unwilling mem-ber of a subculture of circus freaks was being reported to have diedin an insane asylum  a rumor (planted by the writer E.J.Conklinin his 1878 Arizona travelogue Picturesque Arizona) that trailed Olivefor a lifetime  and beyond.The prominent historian Hubert HoweBancroft perpetuated it in books published in 1882 and 1889 and itwas even revived in the preface to a 1935 edition of The Captivity ofthe Oatman Girls, decades after Oatman s death.15 Friends of theFairchilds in Sherman were aghast at first hearing it and Fairchild190 Olive Fairchild, Texan tried his best to correct it.Olive s reaction to it was never recorded.The rumor carried a morbid irony: in 1875, forty-eight-year-old Strat-ton had indeed died in an asylum, having been institutionalized fortwo years, during which time, said his obituary,  he gradually sankaway, his death being attributed to a paralysis of the brain. 16 Try asshe had, Olive had not completely broken her ties with her ghost-writer; Stratton had appropriated her tragedy in life then impartedhis own to her in death.Unlike Olive, Lorenzo had maintained his affection for Strattonthrough the years and named his son, Royal Fairchild Oatman, afterhim in 1883, eight years after Stratton s death. Roy was the couple sonly surviving child of four; their third boy had been thrown froma wagon and killed over a decade earlier.From their childhoods asorphans to their adulthoods as mourning parents, the two seemeddoomed to a life of serial tragedy, but around this time they foundtheir financial and geographical footing.Having abandoned farm-ing, Lorenzo and Edna moved to Montana, where they ran a board-ing house, then moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska, to buy and run aseries of hotels, including the Royal Hotel, whose restaurant was afavorite haunt of Willa Cather.Lorenzo s correspondence with Ol-ive was still spotty.In 1889 she said she hadn t heard from him inover two years, and tisked,  I don t know why he does so, unless hethinks it s cute to be odd.He used to want to be like old LorenzoDow [an eccentric minister for whom he was named].But I thinkfor such oddities, the day is past.Edna writes when she can, poorwoman.She has always worked too hard.Mamie and I both writeto her occasionally.In the fall of 1888, Harrison Oatman and his seventeen-year-olddaughter, Lucina, came visiting.Now a successful and well-knownreal-estate broker, Harry and his family had moved to Portland.Histrip east, which started at Coney Island and ended in Texas, was writ-ten up in the Morning Oregonian.He told the paper he approved ofTexas s strong democratic tendencies, but concluded there was noplace like Oregon.Harvey had resurfaced in Arizona during the  60s,Olive Fairchild, Texan 191 threatening to rebury the Oatmans and provide a new marker for thegraves, but soon disappeared; he never stayed in one place  or onemarriage  for long, and the family ultimately lost track of him.Though Olive s health troubles persisted throughout the 1880s,she managed to function not only as a wife and mother but also do-ing what she called  my work in charity.Mamie attended the newlyfounded St.Joseph s Academy, and Olive threw a lawn party for herevery summer.When her daughter turned sixteen, Olive wrote withpride to Sarah Abbott,  Mamie is doing nicely in school and is doinggood work in her music.I think, looking with a mamma s eye, sheplays beautifully.We gave her a birthday last Friday.Just to think sheis 16 years old and will soon think she is grown, I presume. 17 Olivesounded busy  often her letter-writing was interrupted by visitors.But soon after, in a letter to Sarah, written in perfect penmanship,Mamie wrote that she and her mother had hoped to go to Detroitthat summer after six years without a visit, noting,  Mama has notbeen feeling very well but I think she has been too busy visiting.They made the trip after all, spending months with the Fairchildfamily in Detroit instead of returning to Illinois, where Asa Abbotthad died that spring.When Mamie finished school in the early  90s,she continued to live at home, assisting her mother, who was nowhaving heart trouble.Though the book was long out of print, the Oatman story was stillmaking the rounds.In 1893, the Arizona Republican reprised it, thistime assigning Lorenzo as well as Olive tattoos and claiming that a half-breed working at a meat market in Phoenix was rumored tobe one of Olive s three lost sons.18 Five years later the same paper rananother mangled version of the story, in which Olive and Lorenzowere the captives, and Lorenzo was said to have become a Method-ist minister who had lectured on the topic over the past ten years.The source of the account was a man who claimed to have been thefirst to discover the Oatman bodies after the massacre.In the 1890s,Lorenzo was asked to recount the details of the drama and wrote it192 Olive Fairchild, Texan fig.29.Sarah and Asa Abbott, Olive s maternalaunt and uncle.Courtesy of Edward Abbott.out on hotel stationery for posterity, himself botching or forgettingsome of the facts, which had grown hazy with age.The Oatman story wasn t the last of the women s captivity narra-tives.Sarah Wakefield s 1864 Six Weeks in the Sioux Teepees: A Narra-tive of Indian Captivity, was an interesting follow-up to The Captivityof the Oatman Girls because Wakefield said about the Sioux  force-fully, unapologetically, and without the interference of a male ed-itor  what Oatman only implied about the Mohaves: that theytreated her well, that Chaska, her Sioux protector during the six-week Dakota War of 1862, should be rewarded  in heaven and thatshe had no regret for defending him afterward, even though she wasderided for it. I should have done the same, she wrote,  for theblackest negro that Africa ever produced; I loved not the man, buthis kindly acts. 19Olive Fairchild, Texan 193 Wakefield s story also confirms the social attitudes that likely pre-vented Oatman from expressing her powerful feelings for the Mo-haves after four formative years among them: having claimed thatshe came to  love and respect the Indians  as if they were whites,and after defending Chaska, who had protected her and her childrenduring her captivity, Wakefield was vilified as an  Indian lover, andChaska, who had surrendered, was hanged.20In 1866 Cynthia Parker s eponymous story of her Comanche  cap-tivity was written by James T.DeShields [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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