Bass Reeves was not only a Western Icon he embodied the American Spirit despite what lesser men would have considered impossible odds.
There are so many stories yet to be told about the West and even some that have been told seem to scream at us “Tell my story better!” One of those stories is the life and times of iconic lawman Bass Reeves.
The story of Bass Reeves is the stuff legends are made of! Imagine it’s the 1800’s, you are a former slave, the Civil War is still fresh in the collective psyche of the country and a Federal Judge pins a badge on you and sends you, by yourself, into hostile Indian Territory to bring in outlaws. I’m not making this s**t up! This was the life of U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves.
Born in July of 1838, into slavery, Bass later emerges as one of the most prolific lawmen of the West. He was credited with the arrest of over 3,000 felons and killed fourteen men in the line of duty. Most of us would be scarred for life if we faced just one “life or death” scenario, Bass must have been involved in hundreds, if not thousands of just such scenarios!
Although he clearly was in the thick of things when it came to arresting violent men he was never wounded, not once! Very Wyatt Earpish of you Bass, or was it the other way around? He did have a couple near misses though, in two separate shoot outs he had his hat shot off and his belt shot off, doesn’t get much closer than that.
Once he had to arrest one of his own sons for murder which he did and delivered him to the judge where he was found guilty and served time in Leavenworth, no doubt his most difficult collar of his career.
Bass served as a Deputy Marshal for 32 years and his last two years as a city constable before falling ill. He eventually died at the ripe old age of 71 on January 12, 1910. Just his adventures alone could fill volumes of Western Books. The courage and ability to navigate the times he lived in make him a truly iconic western figure and why he is still remembered and respected to this day.