Oatman Family Massacre
of 1851

Oatman Family Massacre Site

Marker is near Sentinel, Arizona, in Maricopa County. Marker can be reached from Oatman Road, 8.8 miles north of Agua Caliente Road, on Oatman Road. Follow rock cairns (piles of stacked rocks) northwest 1.5 miles to the site.
33.003430, -113.162497

Oatman Road is an unmaintained, primitive dirt road, passable only with high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles.

Take exit 102 off interstate 8. Follow that road to the Painted Rock Petroglyph site and drive past that to north northwest. If you come to fork in road keep heading west. You will pass farmland and a house. Eventually (about 14 miles total) you will see on your left a small “cold stone house” that was used for food storage before electricity. Keep on that road west until it dead ends. Go left and cross the Gila riverbed after about 1.5 miles. At the base of a mesa look for two of the same telephone poles with a dirt track between. Turn right.

Historic Significance:
Royce and Mary Oatman and four of their seven children were killed by Native Americans in March 1851 on the shores of the Gila River, 80 to 90 miles east of Yuma. Olive Oatman (age 14) was taken captive along with her sister, Mary Anne (age 7), by the Indians who had killed their family. Their brother, Lorenzo (age 15), was beaten and presumed dead. Although he was badly injured, he was alive and managed to make it to a settlement. The girls were traded by their captors to the Mojave Indians from whom Olive was eventually returned. The leader’s wife and daughter held a deep affection for the girls who were given traditional tattoos. Mary Anne died of starvation after a harsh drought season, but Olive was eventually returned. Olive Oatman lived to the age of 65 and is buried in Sherman, Texas.


Arizona State Society, DAR

A studio photographic portrait identified as Olive Oatman, a young woman wearing a mid-nineteenth century dress. She has vertical lines tattooed on her chin.
Portrait of Olive Oatman. Photograph by Benjamin F. Powelson. ca. 1863. Held by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Image is in the public domain.
A snapshot of a plaque that reads, “In memory of the Oatman family / Six members of this pioneer family massacred by Indians in March 1851 / Erected by the Arizona Society Daughters of the American Revolution 1954.”
Plaque, March 2019.
A snapshot of a marker with plaque. A wire fence appears to surround the area.
Oatman Family memorial marker, March 2019.
A snapshot of the same marker showing it situated in what may be a burial site in a desert scene.
Marker, March 2019.


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Unless otherwise noted, images are courtesy of Arizona State Society, DAR, Daughters.


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