From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Rheubin [Murrell]

(died: 1851) 

Rheubin, from Bowling Green, KY, was a slave owned by Samuel Murrell, one of the largest slaveholders in Warren County, KY. In 1849, Rheubin accompanied Murrell's son, George McKinley Murrell, to California in search of the gold that had been discovered in 1848. Rheubin was one of the earliest bondsmen from Kentucky to make the trek west in search of riches. He would remain a slave once he and Murrell reached their destination. After a year and a half of hard labor and no gold, Rheubin asked to return to his family in Kentucky. But young George Murrell was not ready to leave; instead, he hired Rheubin out as a cook. By 1851, Rheubin was dead. Murrell knew nothing about the circumstances surrounding his sudden death, but he surmised that Rheubin had succumbed to the cholera epidemic that was spreading in the nearby towns and camps where Rheubin had been sent to work. George Murrell returned to Kentucky in 1854; he did not strike it rich in California and, though he wrote his family about his good intentions, never recovered Rheubin's body. For more see A. S. Broussard, "Slavery in California revisited, the fate of a Kentucky slave in Gold Rush California," Pacific Historian, vol. 29, issue 1 (1985), pp. 17-21.

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NKAA Source: The Pacific historian (periodical)

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“Rheubin [Murrell],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:25