JOAQUIN MURRIETA CARRILLO (sometimes spelled MURIETA or MURIETTA)
(1829 – July 25, 1853), also called the MEXICAN ROBIN HOOD or the
ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO , was a famous figure in
California during the
California Gold Rush of the 1850s. Depending on the point of view, he
was considered as either an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot.
Johnston McCulley supposedly received his inspiration for his
fictional character Don Diego de la Vega better known as
the 1854 book entitled The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta:
California Bandit by
John Rollin Ridge . John heard
about a Mexican miner who had turned to banditry and was intrigued by
* 1 Controversy over his life
* 2 Early life and education
* 3 Migration to
* 4 The Real
* 4.1 Representations in media
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Further reading
* 8 External links
CONTROVERSY OVER HIS LIFE
Controversy surrounds the figure of Joaquin Murrieta: who he was,
what he did, and many of his life's events. This is summarized by the
words of historian
Susan Lee Johnson :
"So many tales have grown up around Murrieta that it is hard to
disentangle the fabulous from the factual. There seems to be a
Anglos drove him from a rich mining claim, and that, in
rapid succession, his wife was raped, his half-brother lynched , and
Murrieta himself horse-whipped. He may have worked as a monte dealer
for a time; then, according to whichever version one accepts, he
became either a horse trader and occasional horse thief, or a bandit."
John Rollin Ridge , grandson of the
Major Ridge ,
wrote a dime novel about Murrieta; the fictional biography contributed
to his legend, especially as it was translated into various European
languages. A portion of Ridge's novel was reprinted in 1858 in the
California Police Gazette. This story was picked up and subsequently
translated into French . The French version was translated into
Spanish by Roberto Hyenne, who took Ridge's original story and changed
every "Mexican" reference to "Chilean" for either nationalistic
reasons or to better fit the Chilean market.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Most biographical sources hold that Murrieta was born in
in the northwestern state of
Mexico . However, "evidence
suggests . . . was not one man, but three, or five, whose exploits
were recorded as one."
MIGRATION TO CALIFORNIA
Murrieta reportedly went to
California in 1849 to seek his fortune in
California Gold Rush . He encountered racism in the extreme
competition of the rough mining camps. While mining for gold, he and
his wife supposedly were attacked by American miners jealous of his
success. They allegedly beat him and raped his wife. However, the
source for these events is not considered reliable, as it was a dime
The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta , written by John
Rollin Ridge and published in 1854.
The historian Frank Latta, in his twentieth-century book, Joaquín
Murrieta and His Horse Gangs (1980), wrote that Murrieta was from
Hermosillo in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, and that he had a
paramilitary band made up of relatives and friends. Latta documented
that they regularly engaged in illegal horse trade with Mexico, and
had helped Murrieta kill at least six of the Americans who had
attacked him and his wife.
He and his band attacked settlers and wagon trains in California.
They also stole horses, driving them from Contra Costa County to the
Central Valley via the remote
La Vareda del Monte trail through the
Diablo Range . The gang is believed to have killed up to 28 Chinese
and 13 Anglo-Americans. By 1853, the
California state legislature
considered Murrieta enough of a criminal to list him as one of the
Five Joaquins " on a bill passed in May 1853. The
legislature authorized hiring for three months a company of 20
California Rangers , veterans of the
Mexican-American War , to hunt
down "Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Carrillo, Joaquin Muriata , Joaquin
Ocomorenia, and Joaquin Valenzuela," and their banded associates. On
May 11, 1853, the governor
John Bigler signed an act to create the
California State Rangers ," to be led by Captain Harry Love (a former
Texas Ranger and Mexican War veteran).
The state paid the
California Rangers $150 a month, and promised them
a $1,000 governor's reward if they captured the wanted men. On July
25, 1853, a group of Rangers encountered a band of armed Mexican men
Arroyo de Cantua on the edge of the
Diablo Range near Coalinga,
California . In the confrontation, three of the
Mexicans were killed.
They claimed one was Murrieta, and another Manuel Garcia, also known
as Three-Fingered Jack, one of his most notorious associates. Two
others were captured. A plaque (
California Historical Landmark #344)
near Coalinga at the intersection of State Routes 33 and 198 now marks
the approximate site of the incident. A poster advertising the
display of the supposed head of Murrieta in Stockton, CA. 1853
As proof of the outlaws' deaths, the Rangers cut off Three-Fingered
Jack's hand, and the alleged Murrieta's head, and preserved them in a
jar of alcohol to bring to the authorities for their reward.
Officials displayed the jar in Mariposa County , Stockton , and San
Francisco . The Rangers took the display throughout California;
spectators could pay $1 to see the relics. Seventeen people, including
a Catholic priest, signed affidavits identifying the head as
Murrieta's, alias Carrillo.
Love and his Rangers received the $1,000 reward money. In August
1853, an anonymous Los Angeles-based man wrote to the San Francisco
California Daily that Love and his Rangers murdered some innocent
Mexican mustang catcher, and bribed people to swear out affidavits.
Later that fall,
California newspapers carried letters by a few men
claiming that Capt. Love had failed to display Murrieta's head at the
mining camps, but this was not true. On May 28, 1854, the California
State Legislature voted to reward the Rangers with another $5,000 for
their defeat of Murrieta and his band.
But, 25 years later, the myths began to form. In 1879, O. P. Stidger
was reported to have heard Murrieta's sister say that the displayed
head was not her brother's. At around the same time, numerous
sightings were reported of Murrieta as an old man. These were never
confirmed. His preserved head was destroyed during the 1906 San
Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. His head is displayed
prominently in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego, so there
are doubts to whether his preserved head, in fact, still exists.
THE REAL ZORRO
Murrieta's nephew, known as
Procopio , became one of California's
most notorious bandits of the 1860s and 1870s; he purportedly wanted
to exceed the reputation of his uncle. Murrieta was possibly partly
the inspiration for the fictional character of
Zorro , the lead
character in the five-part serial story, "The Curse of Capistrano,"
Johnston McCulley , and published in 1919 in a pulp fiction
magazine. For some activists, Murrieta had come to symbolize the
resistance against Anglo-American economic and cultural domination in
California. The "Association of Descendants of Joaquin Murrieta" says
that Murrieta was not a "gringo eater," but "He wanted to retrieve the
Mexico that was lost at that time in the Treaty of Guadalupe
REPRESENTATIONS IN MEDIA
Joaquin Murrieta has been a widely used romantic figure in novels,
stories, and films, and on TV.
* Fulgor y Muerte de Joaquín Murieta, (tr. The Splendor and Death
of Joaquin Murieta by Ben Belitt) - a play by the Chilean Nobel
Pablo Neruda , published in English in paperback in 1972.
* L'Homme aux Mains de Cuir (The Man with the Leather Hands) by
French writer Robert Gaillard, published in 1963
Daughter of Fortune , a 1999 novel by
Isabel Allende , includes
the mythical figure of Murrieta.
* Звезда и смерть Хоакина Мурьеты (Zvezda
i smert’ Khoakina Mur’ety — The Star and Death of Joaquin
Murieta), 1976, opera by
Alexei Rybnikov and Pavel Grushko , is based
Pablo Neruda 's play.
The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta (1854) by John Rollin
Ridge, published one year after Murieta's supposed death. Parts of
this were translated into French and Spanish, adding to his legend in
* Burns, Walter Noble (1932). The Robin Hood of El Dorado. New York:
* Bandit\'s Moon, (1998) by
Sid Fleischman , an award-winning
* L.A. Outlaws, a 2008 novel by
T. Jefferson Parker , and another of
PARKER\'S 'Charlie Hood' series of novels, feature Murietta as an
ancestor of some of the main characters.
* "The History and "Eagle in the Rocks" (1960) with Ricardo
Montalban playing Murrieta.
Zorro (1957 TV series) , United States Disney TV series,
1957–195, The series featured the brothers Carlos (
Kent Taylor ) and
Paul Picerni ) Murrieta
* The Last Rebel a 1958 Mexican film with
Carlos Thompson as
* The Firebrand a 1962 film with
Valentin de Vargas as Murrieta.
* Murieta , a 1965 Spanish Western directed by
George Sherman with
Jeffrey Hunter as Murrieta.
The Big Valley
The Big Valley , United States ABC TV Series, 1967, episode
"Joaquin" with Fabrizio Mioni as Juan Molina, suspected to be Joaquin
* Desperate Mission , United States Television Movie, 1969, with
Ricardo Montalban as
* The Mask of
Zorro (1998) film features a youthful Murrieta and his
death at the hands of Captain Harrison Love (A Fictionalized version
of Murrieta's real killer Harry Love). His fictional brother Alejandro
Antonio Banderas ) assumes the role of Zorro, and kills Love in
revenge. Victor Rivers played Joaquin and
Matt Letscher played Capt.
* Murrieta is referenced in
CSI S05E12 "Snakes" by a suspect
claiming to be his descendant and therefore protected by him.
* Behind The Mask of
Zorro (2005) a History Channel documentary
about Murrieta and how he inspired the character of
Faces of Death II , 1981 fake documentary film about death.
Murrieta's head in the jar was believed to have survived the
earthquake, and was sold to different collectors; its current "owner"
has it on display, and explains the legend.
* "Así Como Hoy Matan Negros," recorded by
Víctor Jara and
Inti-illimani , based on
Pablo Neruda and
Sergio Ortega 's
collaboration Fulgor y Muerte de Joaquín Murieta.
Cueca de Joaquín Murieta" recorded by both
Víctor Jara and
Quilapayún , in the style of Chile's national dance, the cueca - the
song is featured on the album X Vietnam
* "Premonición de la Muerte de Joaquin Murieta" (Premonition of the
death of Joaquin Murieta), a tribute to Murrieta, performed by
Quilapayún - the song is featured on the album Quilapayun Chante
* "The Ballad of Joaquin Murrieta", performed by the Sons of the San
Joaquin on the album
Way Out Yonder .
* "The Bandit Joaquin" recorded by Dave Stamey
* "Murrietta's Head" written and recorded by
Dave Alvin on the album
* "Joaquin Murietta" by Spectra Paris
* "Corrido de Joaquin Murrieta" by
Los Alegres de Terán
* "Stella Ireland and Lady Luck" by American folk
singer/songwriter/guitarist Debby McClatchy
* "Adios Querrida" recorded by Wayne Austin on the album "By the Old
* "Del Gato" recorded by Gene Clark and Carla Olson, from the album
So Rebellious a Lover, 1987, written by Gene Clark/Rick Clark
* "La Leyenda de Joaquin Murieta" ballet by Jose Luis Dominguez
(Chilean composer/conductor). Released by
Naxos Records in 2016.
* ^ Burns, Walter Noble, The Robin Hood of
El Dorado Coward-McCann,
Inc., New York, 1932.
* ^ A B C D E F *"Review: Roaring Camp: The Social World of the
California Gold Rush", American Scholar, 1 January 2000, p. 142 Vol.
69 No. 1 ISSN 0003-0937.
* ^ "The Real Zorro, Unmasked". Desert Magazine.
* ^ "El Bandito Joaquin Murrieta". Desert Magazine.
* ^ Roddy, W. Lee (1970). Wanted! Black Bart and Other California
Outlaws. Ceres, California.
* ^ A B C Ron Erskine (5 Mar 2004). "
Joaquin Murrieta slept here".
Morgan Hill Times. Retrieved 24 Oct 2016.
* ^ Peter Mancall; Benjamin Heber-Johnson. Making of the American
West: People and Perspectives. p. 270.
* ^ "
California State Rangers".
California State Military Museum.
1940. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
* ^ Democratic State Journal, Oct. 17, 1853, Calaveras
Correspondence from W. C. P. of Mokelumne Hill; San Joaquin
Republican, Oct. 20, 1853, correspondence from Sonora, Tuolumne Co.
* ^ WPA, "
California State Rangers: History", 1940, California
State Military Museum, accessed 7 August 2011
* ^ See The Pioneer, Sat., Nov. 29, 1879. Also see History of
Nevada County (Oakland : Thompson rprt Berkeley: Howell-North Books,
* ^ Bacon, David (December 15, 2001). "Interview with Antonio
Rivera Murrieta". Retrieved 2010-06-16.
* ^ http://booknode.com/l_homme_aux_mains_de_cuir_0339972
* ^ Amazon eBook ASIN: B00ATYKW3C
Joaquin Murrieta on
* ^ ""
California Outlaws", The Adventures of Kit Carson, August 11,
Internet Movie Data Base
Internet Movie Data Base . Retrieved May 15, 2014.
* ^ Dooley, Gerry (2005). The
Zorro Television Companion: A
Critical Appreciation. McFarland & Company. p. 121. ISBN 9780786420582
* ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0524365/
* ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066987/
Joaquin Murrieta on
Joaquin Murrieta on
Joaquin Murrieta on
The Big Valley
The Big Valley Season 3 Episode 1. First aired September 11, 1967
* Paz, Ireneo (1904). Vida y Aventuras del Mas Celebre Bandido
Sonorense, Joaquin Murrieta: Sus Grandes Proezas En
Spanish) (English translation by Francis P. Belle, Regan Pub. Corp.,
Chicago, 1925. Republished with introduction and additional
translation by Luis Leal as Life and Adventures of the Celebrated
Bandit Joaquin Murrieta: His Exploits in the State of California, Arte
Publico Press, 1999. ed.).
* Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp: The Social World of the
California Gold Rush, New York: Norton, 2000.
* John Boessenecker, Gold Dust and Gunsmoke: Tales of Gold Rush
Outlaws, Gunfighters, Lawmen, and Vigilantes, Wiley, 1999.
* Joaquín Murrieta, Picacho