Murieta or Murrieta, Joaquín

Murieta or Murrieta, Joaquín

(?–?1853) bandit; birthplace unknown. There were almost certainly several individuals known by this name. A California state law (1850) prohibited Californians of Mexican descent from mining for gold. In retribution, Mexicans attacked several settlements and mining camps, and the leaders of the raids were always said to be Joaquín Murieta. In 1853, a Californian posse killed two Mexicans and displayed the decapitated head of one of them to claim a $1000 reward for the death of Murieta. Murieta's story was popularized by a book by the Cherokee half-breed, Yellow Bird John (also known as Rollin Ridge) in 1854.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.