10 Facts about Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves

U.S. Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves
"The First African American US Deputy Marshall West of the Mississippi River"

U.S. Deputy Marshall by Bobb Vann

U.S. Deputy Marshall
by Bobb Vann

1. Bass Reeves is the first African American to serve as Deputy U.S. Marshall west of the Mississipi River. He was appointed by James F. Fagan primarlily due to his ability to speak several Native American languages and his familiarity with Native American territories.

2.U.S. Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves was born in July of 1838 in Paris, Texas and passed in January of 1910, in Muskogee, Oklahoma of Bright’s Disease. Due to his extensive career and accomplishments he is considered to be one of the most outstanding fronteir heroes in United States History. He is interred in the old Union Agency Cemetery in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

3. Bass Reeves served for 32 years as Deputy U.S. Marshall in Native American Territory (Oklahoma). He had a reputation for being fearless and despite killing fourteen outlaws and arresting over 3,000 felons he was never shot. However, he did have his hat shot off his head several times.

4. Deputy Marshall Reeves was ambidextrous and known to be deadly, quick and accurate with a pistol. He was also a skilled rifleman though he was very humble when it came to describing his skills with his rifle. He often stated that he was only “fair” with one, however, he was repeatedly banned from participating in Turkey shoots because of his skill.

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves

5. Bass Reeves married Nellie Jennie of Texas and had ten children, five boys and five girls. One of his sons eventually was charged with the murder of his wife. Marshall Reeves was disturbed and shaken by the incident but demanded to accept the responsiblity of bringing his son to justice. His son was eventually tracked and captured, tried and convicted. He served his time in Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas before being released and living the rest of his life as a responsible and model citizen.

6. Bass was an imposing figure at 6’2″ and 200lbs. He was known to be courteous and mannerly and to always be immaculately dressed with boots polished to a gleaming shine. He usually rode a large red stallion with a white blazed face.

7. Bass Reeves acheived freedom by fleeing after beating up George Reeves, his “master”, after a card game dispute. He fled into Native American territory where he lived with Cherokees and Seminoles until the Emancipation Proclamation “officially” freed him in 1863.

8. Bass could not read or write. He would typically have someone read him a stack of warrants of arrest and memorized them before setting out on the hunt with his posse.

9. During the course of his career Deputy Reeves was even charged with murder himself for allegedly shooting a posse cook. He was eventually acquitted of the charge by Judge Isaac C. Parker.

10. In 1907, when Oklahoma became a state, Bass Reeves joined the Muskogee Police Department and served as officer up until 1909 when he retired due to health complications.

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    Right and wrong, truth and justice has nothing to do with the color of skin, it’s the heart and soul of the person or people.

  • Michael Black

    What an amazing and inspirational man. Regardless of your background or ethnicity you have to admire and respect this man’s courage and accomplishments. I will be the first to say that he was 10 times the man I will ever be! As a white male I wish they would teach our children more about men and women like this. Maybe then the old and disgusting ideas of racism will finally be put where they belong, in the history books.

    • richard martin

      to Michael Black: I am a black man I’ve got this to say; I love you man!

    • Freddie williams Jr trucking l

      Mr.Michael Black,to you sir,I wish,good health,true happiness,and all the,prosperity you seek in all your endeavors.in this state that our country is in,you are a true testament of how,all people of any race are not bad! I salute you,applaud you,and have gained a,trust that,there is hope,for us as a society. I as a black male wish you and yours well and your statement was well received as a,human being,not just a black man,also,a man who,see no one as a race,just as a human being!

  • 1Ken2

    I have written four novels with Bass as the protagonist – The Nations, Haunted Falls, Hell Hole, Across the Red and Bass and the Lady in progress. While fiction, I endeavor to capture the essence of the man. I’ve become friends on Face Book with a great nephew of his who has supplied me with a great deal of information about the man from the family…his granny mostly. Much of what I was told is not in any of the bios that I know of. It’s a real pity that history has not recognized such a great man, but maybe that’s about to change with the HBO mini that Morgan Freeman is going to do. All I have to say is, it’s about damn time. Bass Reeves was a true American hero. – Ken Farmer

  • maybell

    wow what a good looking man. A man I never heard of. Hidden history.

  • mytraintrax

    The true character of a man is not measured by his stature but by the quality of his deeds, Bass Reeves was one of those truly one in a million people, one who should be an inspiration to all of us, in every regard an exemplary human being with the strength of character much needed in a leader of people, unfortunately in the world in which we live in today, man of such quality are few and very far between, sadly this is very detrimental to these once great United States.

    This great country was built out of the courage and perseverance of these great pioneers of law and justice, and they with the aid of some giants of industry created a country that no man need be ashamed of ever, unfortunately these great men are now even fewer and further between as the leadership is now so morally bankrupt and corrupt with their own power, while our youth have lost all inspiration and have no sense of morality or responsibility for their actions, we are today standing and watching this great country burn to the ground while fools are praising our success.

    We stand at the precipice of our own destruction and it is going to take a great leader, one he cares not about his political popularity, one that together with all men of all colors of this great nation, to reclaim and rebuild what once was this great nation.

  • Mike Ramey

    Bass Reeves will be featured on Aug 9th, 2015 as part of a series that examined some of the heroes and villains of the west. I believe it will be on AHC. Last week, they featured Bat Masterson. It is a GREAT series, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. The title: Bass Reeves: The Real Lone Ranger…I believe.

  • Jesse Maiolo

    Watching it now…one hell of brave AND RIGHTEOUS guy! Never heard of him until the show “GUNSLINGERS” came on. I should have half of his bravery and righteousness!

  • wesley Smith

    This man is a true role model we need to teach about all American heroes . This mans accomplishments are unequaled. I am a white male and think its a discrace this great country left him out of our history.