Thursday, October 19, 2023

Olive Oatman for YouTube

 October 19, 2023

   Taped a new YouTube video today. I had to make a confession at the beginning.

   Some of the things I am about to tell you are going to be very hard to believe. I hope you can hang in there with me until we get to the end. I must say I had a hard time believing much of this research myself. That said, this is a tragic tale with some mighty big questions, which I state in the video and then we open with this image.

Olive and Lorenzo
shortly after her return to "society"

A Bold And Crazy Prophesy
   In 1848, a young, Latter-Day-Saints excommunicated prophet made a bold prediction that would change the life of a beautiful young girl named Olive Oatman.

   James Collins Brewster, 24, had visions of a promised land—The Land of Bashan—and his passionate message gathered adherents wherever he spoke: "Fear not, for I am with you. I will bring your people from the east and gather you into the west. The wilderness and the wasteland shall fall away and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and the glory of Bashan shall be given to it."
   And where was this so-called Land of Bashan located? At the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, today known as Yuma, Arizona. Never mind that the area rarely gets more than 3.5 inches of rain a year, is mostly sand dunes and harsh desert with daytime temperatures reaching triple digits every day for months on end. Oh, and never mind that James Collins Brewster had never been to Yuma Crossing and spoke of the banks of the river being lined with pine trees.

The Oatmans Take Off
   On August 10, 1850, 93 Brewsterites, including the Roys Oatman family of 9, took off from Independence Missouri in 43 wagons headed for the Land of Bishan.

Enter Dr. Bugs
  As the Oatmans were deciding whether to venture on from Maricopa Wells, two riders came in from the west. One of them was a 25-year-old entomologist, looking for beetles. This son of a wealthy east-coast industrialist, he was a graduate of New York's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He related to Royce Oatman the fact that he—the doctor—and his hired guide, Sonorian Juan, had traversed the entire trail from Camp Yuma to the villages and they hadn't even seen any Indians, much less signs of Indians. This is where it gets tragic because Joyce Oatman probably pushed on based on this report.

The Strange Case of Dr. Bugs
   Dr. LeConte (his father styled it as Le Conte, but the son preferred it mooshed together) had traveled by sea to San Francisco in 1849, where he explored the rich areas around San Francisco, collecting specimens of beetles everywhere (at some point he sent home to his father, 10,000 beetles preserved in alcohol). Then, from the Bay area, the good doctor traveled down to San Diego, by stagecoach, where he explored a dry lake bed east of San Diego, then, along with another physician, the two explored the Colorado River between the Yuma Crossing and the Gulf of California.

And The Zinger is?

   I believe Olive had two children because the respected historian Sharlot Hall told a researcher, privately, in 1904, that Olive did in fact have two children with a Mojave husband and one of them sometimes visits Fort Yuma. And, I do believe Susan Thompson, even though she got the time spent with Olive after her release wrong. Her quote is devastating. She said Olive was a "grieving, unsatisfied woman, who somehow shook one's belief in civilization." I don't think that is a sentiment or a statement you can make up. It strikes me as painfully honest and true.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Sheds A Tear"

   So, of course she didn't want to be rescued. She was leaving behind her family. And, in the end, she lost two mothers. A double tragedy.

   Oh, and what about the prophet Brewster's crazy claim about the Land of Bashan?

Ironies of Ironies
    Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and the newly minted Bureau of Reclamation in 1902, The Yuma Project diverted Colorado River water to irrigate more than 58,000 acres along the river, all the way to the Mexican border. 

Daily Whip Out: "Bashan Reclaimed"

   The water turned the harsh desert into a lush tableland supporting 275 farms and 90,000 residents. Farming year round, today these farms produce $196 million in crops every year. The Yuma Chamber of Commerce claims that 90% of all wintertime leafy vegetables in the United States come from this area—an area once prophesized as the Land of Bashan.

Let's end this with a quote from Brewster:

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall fall away and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose."



  1. Anonymous9:00 PM

    I’m totally fascinated with Olive now!!

  2. Gerald Priest2:01 PM

    Very interesting read indeed. Very happy for the people of Yuma. As the 'A' Team would say: "I love it when a plan comes together"


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