Bass Reeves, the first Black U.S. Deputy Marshal of the Old West and one of the most over the top badasses in history!
A true story:
A lone rider came to a leisurely halt along the side of the dusty trail. Standing in his path were three of the deadliest outlaws in the Indian Territory – the notorious Brunter brothers. These infamous murderers and thieves were the sort of cop-killing fugitive bastards who would just as soon have immolated you with a blowtorch as urinated on your burning corpse. The men, all looking like they'd just stepped off the set of the movie Tombstone, pointed a multi-flavored assortment of shotguns and revolvers at the interloper, gesturing for him to dismount from his horse. The rider complied.
Bass Reeves calmly took three steps towards the Brunter brothers, his grim face registering neither fear nor respect for these punk-ass bitches. He was an intimidating, serious-looking man, standing over six feet tall and solidly built. His clothes and equipment were nondescript, covered with the dust from several thousand miles of hard riding, hard fighting, and hard drinking. His beaten-up black hat and long black coat sported a variety of bullet holes and blood stains. The brass star proudly displayed on his lapel was tarnished with age.
"What the hell are you doing out here, lawman?" the elder Brunter brother demanded.
Bass spit. "Well, I've come to arrest you," he said in the sort of nonchalant, matter-of-fact way that an evil mechanic tells you that you need a new transmission. "Got the warrant right here." He reached into his coat pocket, produced a worn, folded up piece of paper, and casually handed it to the elder brother.
The Brunters all looked at each other in disbelief. They couldn't believe the stupidity of the man standing before them to have admitted this fact as plainly as he had. Sure, they respected the fact he possessed what obviously must have been solid brass balls, but they were still definitely going to have to kill his ass.
The eldest brother unfolded the warrant, and jokingly showed his brothers the lengthy list of serious charges leveled against them. The moment their collective eyes looked down towards the page, Reeves' right hand twitched ever so slightly. Then, in a flash, he closed his fingers around the handle of the .45-caliber Colt Peacemaker strapped to his thigh, drew his weapon and fired two shots from the hip in rapid succession. Both bullets hit home, sending two Brunters spinning into a dance of death. The eldest brother pointed his gun at the lawman's head, but before he could fire it Bass Reeves was on him. Reeves grabbed the man's revolver with one hand, redirected the weapon so it was pointing up into the air, and then proceeded to pistol-whip the dude unconscious with his free hand. In the span of about twenty seconds, the toughest U.S. Marshal West of the Mississippi had just taken out three of the Indian Territory's deadliest criminals."
Since the beginning Bass was known as a tough man, starting out as a young illiterate, slave of Confederate Colonel George Reeves. Who would've reckon that this former slave would become one of the greatest lawmen of the Old West and become the influence of The Lone Ranger and Django Unchained.
But, the whole slave and slave master buddy relationship ended quite quickly; one day Bass and Colonel Reeves were playing a friendly game of cards when all of a sudden things escalated quickly between both individuals and the result was having the Colonel get socked in the jaw by Bass.
Yup, that's right readers! Bass didn't take crap from his master and if I was Bass I would've got the hell out of Dodge! And he did just that (great minds think alike). Bass ran North, crossing the Red River into Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma). "The law of the White Man had no sway there."
Bass lived with the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, there he learned to speak multiple languages of the 'Five Civilized Tribes.'
After the Thirteenth Amendment was created, Bass parted ways with his Seminole family and bought a home in Arkansas, married and had ten children (making babies like rabbits)! For a short time, he became a farmer and horse breeder. Side note - did you know the Old West was very diverse and many Cowboys were actually Black and Native American? The term "Cowboy" has been around for years since England but since I live in America we are famous for being ignorant and taking certain words and turning them into negatives. The Cowboy name was used as a negative term towards the black community "Cow(boy)." Later, the name became "cool" then Hollywood made the Old West very one dimensional when it wasn't. Still till this day, some of the best rodeo riders are Black and Native American, don't let ignorance clog up your mind, learn something new.
Anyways, let us continue! Bass has a family and he's doing pretty well for himself as a successful rancher.
In 1875, "Hanging Judge" Isaac C. Parker was made the Federal Judge of Indian Territory. One of his first acts was to make James Fagan a U.S. Marshal and order him to hire 200 deputies! Fagan along with men and women knew of Reeves astonishing skills from master tracking, language proficiency, knowledge of the terrain and his expertise with shooting guns. There have been numerous reports of Bass being so good at shooting with the rifle that he was forbidden to compete in competitions within the Indian Territory.
His weapons of choice were his two revolvers that he could shoot equally and effortlessly in both hands along with his Winchester rifle, this easily gave him a spot on the force as the first black Deputy Marshal West of the Mississippi.
"He was authorized to arrest both black and white lawbreakers. Reeves was well aware of the historic precedent, and took his responsibilities seriously."
And that he did, Bass a very serious man who always wore a cold grim look on his face when it was time for work and boy did he need it!
Back in the 1870's the Indian Territories was a sick disgusting, hellish place to live, full of bandits, murderers, gangs, escaped convicts, fugitives... basically, all sorts of low life criminals!
There was over SEVENTY- FIVE THOUSAND MILES of lawless terrain!
Reeves was known as a "lone - wolf" always going out on deep undercover missions in unknown territory.
He was only 38 years old at the time, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed 180 to 190 pounds and rode a large white horse (grey horse). He cut an imposing figure as he patrolled 75,000 square miles of indian Territory (some newspapers say more than that).
He quickly gained a reputation as a tough and fearless lawman who managed to bring in outlaws thought to be invincible
In 1882, Reeves arrested Belle Starr "Bandit Queen Of Dallas" for horse theft. Some accounts say that she turned herself in when she heard that the legendary Bass Reeves was looking for her, nobody wanted trouble with big'ole lawman Reeves.
Stated from an article in Arkansas-
Bass Reeves arrested over three thousand fugitives – including one trip to Comanche country when he single-handedly captured and brought in seventeen prisoners
Bass Reeves also took out the notorious bank robber and murderer Bob Dozier. Dozier was known for escaping from several lawman, he was no match from a bullet to the brain from Reeves.
Bass Reeves will forever be one of the greatest Lawman the Old West has ever..scratch that, the WORLD has ever seen.
He was notorious for using various disguises to capture his victims from wearing a black mask or dressing up as a woman. Sometimes he would play as a innocent helpless slave by hunching himself over on his horse to look smaller and vulnerable.
Reeves couldn't read so he would memorize certain symbols to catch the criminals and he never missed his man! Reeves over his thirty years as a lawman was never injured, only time he was hit was in the brim of his hat and a bullet hitting his belt buckle.
Some missions Reeves would have one his Seminole or Cherokee friends tag a long with him but there's so much tot his man and it's almost impossible to cover the whole story because he's still new to many people.
Bass Reeves was such a determined man of the law during the year of 1902 he tracked down and arrested his son for the murder of his daughter in law.
Stated by various articles about him, police still talk about this -
Oklahoma became a state in 1907, and Reeves' commission as marshal ended. He was 68 years old by then, but took on another position with the Muskogee Police Department, which he kept until his health began to fail. Reeves died of Bright's disease in 1910. In his 32 years as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Reeves had seen bullets fly through his clothing and hat, but was never injured by an outlaw. His record of 3,000 arrests dwarfs the arrest records of better known Old West lawmen such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Wild Bill Hickok.
In 2011, the bridge that connects Muskogee and Fort Gibson in Oklahoma was named the Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge.
In 2012, Bass Reeves Monument unveiled, the statue took 5 years to be created and it cost $300,000! All paid through donations! Statue was built in Norman, Okla. and i believe there's another one in Fort Smith, Arkansas.