Lessons in Black History – BASS REEVES

Bass Reeves – Born a slave in 1838, Bass Reeves escaped to freedom in the early 1860s. Fleeing north to the Indian Territories (Oklahoma), he lived for a time with different Native American tribes, becoming fluent in various languages. In 1875, U.S. marshal James Fagan recruited Reeves as a deputy U.S. marshal, in part because of his knowledge of Indian tribes and languages, but also because of his skill with a gun. Reeves quickly became a legendary deputy marshal, known not only for his abilities with a gun, but also as keen detective and a master of disguise. During his career he arrested over 3000 criminals, including some of the more notorious outlaws of the day, and killed 14 in the line of duty. In his time, Reeves was a well-known lawman whose exploits became the stuff of legend. But his career faded from memory over the years, overshadowed by men like Wyatt Earp. Reeves retired from the marshals in 1907, and passed away three years later. Some people have speculated that Reeves was the real-life inspiration for the Lone Ranger, though no proof of that has actually turned up, making the assertion nothing more than speculation.

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