Bass Reeves The First Black Deputy And A True Lone Ranger

Grace Higgins | October 25th, 2019

A master of disguise who hunted down bandits of the Old West, Bass Reeves is credited with scooping up over 3000 felons as his time as a deputy. There are not many cowboys who can lay claim to the title of being a true lone ranger, Bass Reeves is one that could. The first black deputy caught more than his fair share of criminals during his career.

A legendary lawman of the Wild West, a true adventurer whose tales can be turned into films after films. A real-life African-American cowboy who many historians believe now truly inspired the story of the Lone Ranger. Born in 1838, as a slave, in the Arkansas household of William S. Reeves, he was forced to fight for the Confederacy during the civil war. However, Bass Reeves was able to escape to the Indian Territory, known today as Oklahoma, that was a region ruled by five Native American tribes.

It was made of tribes that had all been forced out of their homelands due to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, made up of Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. Now the community was ruled via a system of tribal courts, it only extended to members of the tribes. This meant anyone else from escaped slaves to petty criminals, only had to watch out for federal lawman, as long as they stayed in the boundaries of the region.

It was here that Bass Reeves started his formidable reputation, learning how to speak the Native American languages and studying the lay of the land perfectly. And once slavery was abolished he returned to Arkansas a free man where he lived for 10 years. Then the U.S Marshals recruited him to return into the Indian Territory and catch the criminals that plagued the land.

With his skilled shooting skills learned in the war and his expert knowledge of the land, Bass was the perfect man for the job and became the first black deputy west of the Mississippi. It is estimated he caught over 3,000 people and killed 14 outlaws in self-defense – all done with sustaining only a single gun wound.

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