Hell on Wheels
When I saw the first episode of AMC 's Hell On Wheels, I was immediately enthralled by the show and its leading character, Cullen Bohannan. Mr. Bohannan is an Ex- Southern Army Captain that, after the Civil War, is tasked to complete the building of the Union Rail Road out West. In this show, there is another character, named Eva Tool, that also has a strong impact on the show. She is a white woman that had been enslaved by Indians after her family had been killed. In the show, Eva was now free of the Indians, but they had left a permanent mark on her in the form of facial tattoos. Eva is both courageous and yet very compassionate. Well, it turns out that Eva's character on Hell on Wheels is Fictional for the most part, but Eva's look is based on the real Olive Ann Oatman.
Olive Ann Oatman was born in La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois on September 7, 1837 to a Mormon Family (Latter Day Saints). Olive was one of seven children born to Roys and Mary Ann Oatman. The Oatmans had converted from Methodist to Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and were followers of Joseph Smith, but when he was killed in 1844, they broke away from the new Mormon Leadership. Instead, the Oatmans followed a Mormon sect led by James Colin Brewster. Brewster believed he was receiving revelations from God, and that the chosen place for the Mormons was in the area at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers.
In August of 1850, the Oatman family left Missouri following the rest of the breakaway Mormon Sect led by James Brewster down into the Southwest. The journey was long and difficult. The group of about 90 made it to Santa Fe but there they would split. Brewster and his group headed West via a Northern route but Roys Oatman wanted to take a Southern route to the Western area. The Oatman family arrived to the Gila River by themselves despite warnings of danger. No other members dared to follow them. On February 18, 1851, the Oatman family were approached by some indians (most likely Yavapais, or Tolkepayas) for food. During this time, there had been a drought and many of the indians were starving. When the indians were refused more food, they killed most of the Oatman family. Lorenzo Oatman, 15 year old son of the Oatman's was left for dead but survived. 8 year old Mary Ann and 13 year old Olive Oatman were kidnapped by the Indians, who left no other survivors.
The Oatman sisters would spend the next 5 years living in the Desert with the Indians. The original kidnappers traded the sisters to the Mohave tribe. The Mohave Indians adopted them into their way of life. The sisters learned to speak the language and the customs of the Mohave Indians. They were given the traditional facial and arm tattoos customary to the women of the tribe. Mary Ann, however, would die in 1855 during a long drought suffered by the Mohaves.
In 1865, Olive Oatman married John Brant Fairchild, a New York cattleman and rancher in Rochester, New York. Olive would no longer give lectures and instead would focus on family life. John and Olive eventually moved to Sherman, Texas in 1872, where they adopted a baby girl. There Olive lived the remainder of her life until her death March 21, 1903.
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