On May 26, 2012 over 1,000 people traveled to Ross Pendercraft Park in Fort Smith, Arkansas for the unveiling of the Bass Reeves Monument. The monument entitled “Into the Territory” features Bass Reeves on horseback, holding a rifle and headed west into the Indian Territory and Western frontier to apprehend Outlaws with his trusted hound dog that he used to track criminals. This majestic work of art is the only equestrian statue in the state of Arkansas. Harold T. Holden was commissioned to sculpt the monument. The residents of Fort Smith selected Reeves to honor with a monument because he was a lesser known and unsung lawman deserving of the recognition. Other reasons for his selection include his personal integrity and code of ethics at a time when his experience of citizenship was less than even second class citizens.
Bass Reeves was a feared lawman and one of the first Black Deputy U.S. Marshals. He arrested over 3,000 outlaws and felons west of the Mississippi River. He law enforcement career consisted of 32 years as a U.S. Marshall and two years as a Muskogee, Oklahoma Police Officer. He was known for his superior detective skills, excellent marksmanship with a firearm, the ability to shoot with either his right or left hand, his imposing size and amazing fighting ability. Many of the outlaws he arrested spoke about his spirituality and how the “Reverend” would talk them about sin and turning their life around while he transported them back to Fort Smith, Arkansas to stand trial. (For more information about Bass Reeves please refer to our blog post: 10 Facts About Bass Reeves)
The old Federal Courthouse is also in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This is where US Marshall Bass Reeves brought the outlaws and criminals he captured to stand trial. Judge Isaac Parker, known as the “Hanging Judge”, was in charge of the courtroom were most of these outlaws stood trial. Reeves’ statue sits close to the highway and greets those entering the city from the west as they cross the Arkansas River Bridge. Its location is near the site of a future 50 million dollar U.S. Marshall Museum.
Sculpted by Harold T. Holden, the Bass Reeves Legacy Monument measures over 25 feet tall.The material used to build the base of the monument is cobblestone. This cobblestone is special because it came from Garrison Avenue, a popular downtown street in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The monument took five years to create and had a total cost of 300,000 dollars. All of the money raised came from two raffles and private donations. Once built at the Crucible Foundry in Norman, Oklahoma the statue traveled 200 miles on a flatbed trailer with a police escort to its current location in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Harold T. Holden, a Oklahoma native, is a “Western” artist known for his attention to detail and sculptures of horses. He graduated from the Texas Academy of Art and started his professional career as an artist after serving in the military during the Vietnam War. He has over 35 years of experience, sculpted over 19 monuments in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and the Bass Reeves Legacy Commission selected him to create this monument in 2008. Holden completed the monument in 2012 despite receiving a lung transplant in 2010 that slowed his progress. Holden stated that he felt a strong sense of pride when he completed the monument and hopes that it bring some long deserved recognition to this historic and accomplished U.S. Marshall, Bass Reeves.
US Marshall Bass Reeves
By: Harold T. Holden
(Limited Edition Bronzetone Sculpture)
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Bass Reeves Legacy Monument Unveiled
The Making of the Bass Reeves Monument
Bass Reeves Statue Placed on Garrison Ave
Bass Reeves Artist Overcomes Health Difficulties to Complete Statue
Born a Slave, He Died a Lawman: Honoring Bass Reeves, the Greatest U.S. Marshal in United States History
The Art of Harold T. Holden
Into The Territories – Honoring Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves