Bass Reeves (1838 - 1910)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scaramouche, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Scaramouche

    Scaramouche Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Sep 15, 2015

    Marshal Reeves was one of the most feared deputy U.S. marshals in Indian Territory during his remarkable 32 years of service, Bass Reeves was born a slave and died a hero.

    In 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment passed he moved to a farm with his wife, near Van Buren, Arkansas. There they created a productive farm and raised 11 children.

    Bass Reeves, the first black federal lawman commissioned west of the Mississippi, had fled Texas as a fugitive slave during the Civil War. He settled in Indian Territory and in 1875 was hired to ride for Judge Issac C. Parker, when the "Hanging Judge" first took the bench in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

    Reeves was fluent in Creek and several other Indian languages, having lived with that tribe as well as the Seminole and Cherokee peoples, and was a master of disguise, a talent he often employed when pursuing criminals. He also was ambidextrous and could shoot a pistol with great accuracy using either hand.

    At the time when unconcealed racism was widespread, the physically imposing Reeves won the respect of his fellow deputies and even some of the outlaws he tracked down and brought to justice. He reportedly apprehended the largest number of fugitives of any of Parker's lawmen, pursuing such infamous outlaws as Ned Christie and Belle Starr, who turned herself in after learning that Reeves had a warrant for her arrest.

    Reeves sported fourteen notches on his six gun, but despite having many close calls of his own, he was never wounded, during various shoot outs he had his gun belt, shirt buttons and/or his hat shot off on several occasions. He was, however, wrongly charged with murder in the accidental shooting of his camp cook, but won acquittal. In 1902, the aging lawman arrested his own son for the murder of the boy's own wife, and the young man was sent to the federal prison in Leaveworth, Kansas. In Reeves's book, no one was above the law.

    He passed away in 1910 from Bright's Disease. Throughout his long career he was credited with arresting more than 3,000 felons. He shot and killed 14 outlaws in self defense. His funeral was attended by several hundred Indians, black and white folk. His life was noted for his iron clad devotion to duty, his unflinching courage and the honest faith he had in the righteousness of the law. Some western historians consider him the best lawman of the frontier.

    The US 62 bridge over the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Fort Gibson, OK is named after him. In Fort Smith, AR there is a bronze statute of him in Pendergraft Park.

  2. 41 Charlie

    41 Charlie Get off my lawn...

    Feb 4, 2014
    Great write up, mouche! Much thanks!!
    ZoidMeister and Scaramouche like this.

  3. wcanterbury

    wcanterbury NRA Life Member, GOA Member Supporting Addict

    Sep 25, 2015
  4. Raylan Givens

    Raylan Givens Never Forget Supporting Addict

    Aug 18, 2015
    Into the territories, into the history of the West.
    ZoidMeister and Scaramouche like this.
  5. Bro. Pappaw

    Bro. Pappaw Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Mar 18, 2016
  6. FWoo45

    FWoo45 The whole world is about three drinks behind. Supporting Addict

    Jan 13, 2017
    Love it. Thanks for the write up. Great man in a great time.
    ZoidMeister and Scaramouche like this.
  7. Rpowell911

    Rpowell911 Active Member

    Feb 24, 2017
    I can't even fathom how difficult his job was, especially in his day and time.

    Truly a "principled" man by anyone's definition, and an honor to his profession.
    ZoidMeister and 41 Charlie like this.

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