Ransom’s Mark: A Story Based on the Life of the Pioneer Olive Oatman

Written by Wendy Lawton
Review by Lila Asher (age 8) Sue Asher

This moving story recounts the captivity narrative of Olive Oatman, a thirteen-year-old pioneer who struck out with her family to reach California in the summer of 1850. The Oatmans suffer one disaster after another until the wagon train disbands and her family struggles on alone through dangerous Indian territory. The tension builds until the inevitable Indian attack occurs and Olive finds herself and her younger sister Mary Ann to be the only survivors. The renegades take the two girls hostage, leaving their massacred family behind. This makes it a somewhat heavy read for those at the lower end of the 8-12 year-old target age range.

The heart of the story centers on Olive’s faith, understandably tested by the many trials she must endure. She and her sister long to be ransomed, but when their deliverance comes it is not white friends who rescue them but Topeka, daughter of a Mohave chief. Although it is a solemn and sad tale – her troubles do not end when she goes to live with the Mohaves — it is ultimately uplifting. Olive learns to see God’s faithfulness in the ways each new crisis provided another example of her ransom.



Olive Ann Oatman thought escaping from Indians would be easy when she ransomed herself for her little sister in a game of wild Indians. But she found out the hard way that it was easier said than done. With no family, trail, or house to go back to when captured by the Yavapai Indians, Olive worked hard to take care of her little sister Mary Ann. Life as a Yavapai slave was hard work and Mary Ann was getting very frail. Eventually they were rescued by the Mohave Indians. There they found out that their older brother Lorenzo might be alive! Is the rumor true or will Olive be a Mohave forever?