The Oatman Party was near Arizona’s Painted Rock Petroglyph Site when they were Massacred in 1851. Could that have been a Factor in the Attack?

Oatman Ask The Marshall True West Magazine

The Oatman party was near Arizona’s Painted Rock Petroglyph site when they were massacred in 1851. Could that have been a factor in the attack?

Al Maurine
Tucson, Arizona

Slim and none! The Oatman’s were traveling alone on the Gila Trail and that’s what probably doomed them. The Yavapai band saw them as a target of opportunity. Royce Oatman believed he could keep his family alive by being kind and generous, but to the warriors he was weak and undeserving of respect. The prehistoric site nearby wouldn’t have had any significance to them.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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