Olive Oatman Story, Military on the Mojave Road packs El Garces

March 10, 2019

The historic El Garces Train Depot in Needles was filled to capacity on Feb. 23 to hear the Olive Oatman Story and the Military on the Mojave Road presentations.

Debbie Miller-Marschke did a full costume presentation of Olive Oatman, covering her life from the time the family left Illinois on a wagon train, to the massacre that took almost her entire family’s lives near Yuma, her captivity by the Apache and Mojave tribes, her life among the Mojave in the Mohave Valley and Needles area, her return to Ft. Yuma, and finally her later life.

Debbie spoke for close to an hour, with no notes, all the while showcasing the fabulous reproduction dress she made herself. The illusion was complete with the blue chin tattoo. The audience was absolutely captivated.

An interesting aside: Olive was returned to Fort Yuma on Feb. 22, 1856; 163 years and one day before this event.

In the second half of the event, Steve Marschke told the audience about what military life would have been like for the soldiers that protected the Mojave Road. Steve was wearing a full military wool uniform complete with rifle, backpack, canteen and cartridge carrier. He demonstrated all the equipment and passed out samples of “hardtack” for the audience to try.

At intermission, door prizes were given out, and the audience was provided with hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

After the event Steve and Debbie answered questions and posed for photographs.

Needles Regional Museum would like to thank their volunteers for providing the food, door prizes and help at the event.

We would also like to thank the city of Needles for making the El Garces available to the public to use; and Jan Jernigan who, on her own time and sometimes her own dime, takes care of all the details to help make functions at the El Garces succeed.

Many thanks to our own volunteer Mike Thornton, who willingly stepped up to take a group on a non-scheduled tour of the El Garces on behalf of the city.

We would especially like to thank Debbie and Steve Marschke for taking time out of their busy schedules to travel over six hundred miles round-trip to Needles to provide their wonderful presentations.