Bass Reeves: US Marshall and the Lone Ranger?

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas. During the Civil War, he beat up his slave master to get out of slavery, and fled into Indian Territory. There he lived with the Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee Indians learning their languages, until he was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

Bass Reeves, Black History, lawman

As a free man, Reeves moved back to Arkansas and farmed. He met his wife Jennie, and eventually had 11 children.

Reeves and his family farmed peacefully until 1875, when a judge appointed James Fagan as US Marshal, Fagan needed deputy marshals and had heard of Reeves. He had decided to recruit him as deputy. Reeves was the first Black US Marshal to serve west of the Mississippi River. He was assigned to the western district of Arkansas, which also covered Indian Territory, where he was well familiar. He served there till 1893, when he was assigned to Paris, Texas. He served there for a short while, then was assigned to Muskogee Federal Court in Indian Territory.

Bass Reeves, Black History, lawman

Reeves worked for 32 years as a peacekeeper, he brought in some of the most dangerous criminals of that time, and he was never wounded. Though, he had his hat and belt shot off more than once. Reeves was a great marksman, and developed amazing detective skills over his career. He brought in over 3,000 felons, and only killed 14 outlaws, in self defense.

Bass Reeves, Black History, lawman

After Oklahoma became a state, Reeves served as an officer of the Muskogee Police Department for two years. After which he became ill and retired. He was 68 years old.

In 1910, Reeves health took a turn for the worst, and he died of a kidney disease.

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