Two of the lovely workers
© AAP-SG – Own work, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Two of the lovely workers
© AAP-SG – Own work, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, the Little Rock School Board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.
The NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. Called the “Little Rock Nine”, they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals(b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.
Clara Adams (born Clara Grabau; 1884 – 1971), known as the “first flighter” and the “maiden of maiden flights,” was an aviator who set a variety of flying records. She helped popularize air travel and is known for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger aboard the Graf Zeppelin.
Amelia Mary Earhart, born July 24, 1897; disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. In 1935, Earhart became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to aeronautical engineering and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.
The girl with the tattooed face, Olive Oatman, became something of a legend, but she started out as an ordinary girl.
Olive Oatman and her younger sister, Mary Ann, were kidnapped by Indians in 1851. They eventually ended up living with a tribe of the Mojave, where they were both tattooed with distinctive blue markings on their chins.
Mary Ann died during a famine (along with many of the Mojave). Olive survived, though, and eventually returned to live among her own people again. There she told her remarkable story that started when her parents, Royce and Mary Oatman, packed up their seven kids in 1850 and left their Illinois farm for Missouri, where they joined a wagon train headed to California. Olive was 14 and Mary Ann was 7.
When some of the travelers splintered off, the Oatmans found themselves traveling without the safety of the group. They continued on and were spending a night on the banks of the swollen Gila River, in what is now Arizona, when they were attacked by Indians. (Olive later identified them as Apaches, but some think they may have been a branch of the Yavapai.)
Royce and Mary Oatman were killed, along with four of their seven children. At the end of it all, only Olive, Mary Ann, and their brother Lorenzo, age 15, were still alive.
Lorenzo had been clubbed and left for dead, but he eventually came to and found his way to a settlement, where his wounds were treated. Then he retraced his steps and found and buried his family’s bodies. In 1954, a marker was erected at their burial site by the Arizona society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It reads, “In memory of the Oatman Family, Six members of this pioneer family massacred by Indians in March 1851.”
Lorenzo found no trace of Olive and Mary Ann, but he kept looking.
The girls had been taken by the Indians who killed their parents, and according to Olive, they were mistreated as slaves for about a year. Then they were traded to a group of Mojave, who treated the girls better. The Mojave chief and his wife may even have adopted the girls.
While living with the Mojave, Olive and her sister got the distinctive tattoo markings on their chins. Westerners who study the tribe say this is a fairly common tattoo among the Mojave that is done ritualistically to ensure a good afterlife. Olive said it was done to mark them as slaves.
It was probably the drought and famine of 1855 that took Mary Ann’s life. She was 12 that year, and Olive was 19. Around that time, the white communities in the region began to hear about a white woman living among the Mojave. One sent a messenger asking for Olive’s return, and intense negotiations took place. Olive was eventually sent to Fort Yuma, where she learned that her brother Lorenzo had been searching for her and Mary Ann.
Ancestry tells us where she went from there: In the 1860 U.S. Census, you see Olive living in the household of the Stratton family. In fact, the head of household, a pastor named Royal B. Stratton, wrote a book about Olive’s (and Mary Ann’s) experiences. Royalties from the biography he titled “Life Among the Indians,” which was a bestseller, paid for Olive’s and Lorenzo’s education at the University of the Pacific. Olive lectured and spoke on her “life among the Indians” extensively to promote the book.
In 1865, Olive married cattleman John B. Fairchild, listed in census records as a money broker and later a banker. In 1870, when Olive was 32 and John was 40, he owned real estate worth $2,500 and had a personal estate valued at $10,000, which was off the charts compared to others in their neighborhood (it’s amazing what you can learn from the census). In 1880, their daughter, Mary, was seven. In the 1900 census, still in Texas, their daughter is 26, and a 30-year-old cook lives with them, as well a 4-year-old boy with a different last name, perhaps the cook’s son.
Olive suffered from depression and once spent three months in a “medical spa.” She died from a heart attack in 1903, and her husband passed away in 1907; both are buried in Sherman, Texas. The town of Oatman, Arizona, was named for her family. So they — along with Olive’s amazing story — live on.