Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bass Reeves

I’ve always been intrigued by the life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Deputy Marshal. From Wikipedia:
Although he arrested some of the most dangerous criminals of the time, Reeves was never shot (despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions). He had to arrest his own son for murder. Reeves worked a total of thirty-two years as a federal peace officer. During his career he worked the Indian Territory, pre-state Oklahoma. At statehood, Reeves became a member of the Muskogee, Oklahoma, police department at the age of 68. Bass Reeves became a legend in the Indian Territory and was one of Judge Isaac C. Parker, of Fort Smith, Arkansas' federal court, most valued deputies. Reeves was an expert with rifle and pistol. During his long career he developed superior detective skills. Before he retired from federal service in 1907, Reeves had arrested over 3,000 felons. Reeves admitted having to shoot and kill fourteen outlaws in defending his life while making arrests. Many scholars consider Reeves to be one of the most outstanding frontier heroes in United States history.
I’ve read quite a few online articles and have run into some conflicting information. If anyone knows where to find the best bio on Reeves, I'd be interested in checking it out.

Reeves links: Legends of America | Handbook of Texas


Barbara Martin said...

There were many individuals who were instrumental in keeping the west parts of the United States and Canada in lawfulness. I found this to be a particularly interesting post.


I have read some of your posts. I liked the same and would like to revisit your website.

If you like short stories and paintings, then a visit to my blogs would be an interesting one for you.

Naval Langa

Another Interesting Blog

Joshua said...

thats a man right there.

Paul D Brazill said...

What a man!

David Cranmer said...

Barbara, This guy was the real deal. It's amazing we know more about Jesse James who operated on the wrong side of the law then this officer who braved some amazingly threating conditions in the Indian Territory.

But Naval my man, what did you think of Bass Reeves? I'll make a deal with you. Buy an issue of Out of the Gutter where my short story is featured and then I will check out your blog--again.

Josh, Without a doubt.

Paul, Maybe I will write a short with Bass as the hero. An idea just popped into the noggin'.

Jacob Weaver said...

Bass sounds like a bad ass. I can't believe his story hasn't been turned into a movie. He could have at least turned up on an episode of Deadwood to crack some skulls.

You should write a short that just tells the tale of how he had his buckle blown off.

Crystal Phares said...

I think you should write a short on him as well, but I think you should include both the hat and the buckle. I know you said they were seperate incidents, but you could include them both.

I work at a museum that uses a lot of western history, and if you would like, I can think of a couple of places that may have information on Mr. Reeves.

David Cranmer said...

Jacob, I see where there was a film called, Black Marshall: The Bass Reeves Story. It appears to have been made by a indie filmmaker and is available at Wal-Mart.

Crystal, I have a few stories ahead of it but I've been thinking about Bass Reeves for a number of years and I think I will give it a try. Yes, I would be interested in any info on Reeves you may be able to find. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Never heard of this guy and you're right that his life story would make one enthralling film.

-Don Ward

Clare2e said...

David- I love your advice to Naval and that amazing gent and intrepid lawman Bass Reeves!

I, too, am absolutely shocked not to have heard more about him before now, especially since I'm from Texas, and we're not exactly shy about looping our own lassos, if you know what I mean. Genuine hero, man of action and honor. Share more as your Reeves-hunt develops!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've seen stuff about him in the Fort Smith museaum. Cool. An amazing guy.

aburton said...

Great Blog. My name is Art T. Burton. I wrote the biography on Reeves that is published by the University of Nebraska Press, Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves. The book was a finalist for best biography with the Western Writers of America in 2007. Most of the factual information on the internet comes from my research. I have also written quite a few articles on Reeves that have appeared in a few magazines and journals. Interestingly the state magazine of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Today, has refused to acknowledge Reeves incredible career in law enforcement. I was able to have Reeves inducted the Great Westerner's Hall at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 1993. He was the first black inducted into that particular Hall at the Museum. Fort Smith, Arkansas in the the process of fund raising for a statue of Reeves, which will be the first equestrian statue in Arkansas once it is finished. I continue to research and write about Reeves. Last year I found a new photo of Reeves, it was in the holdings of the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, now the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum. I have talked about Reeves on a couple of programs for the History Channel. If anyone would like to work on a Reeves project, print or film, they can contact me at

I have done more research on Reeves than anyone that I have had the opportunity to meet. But I am always willing to share and trade information concerning this great American hero.

David Cranmer said...

Don, Mr. Burton's comments that follow are informative and I think can point you in the right direction.

Clare, I was hoping that my comment to Naval didn’t come across too harsh, but I just can’t imagine leaving a message on somebody’s post without being sincerely interested in what they have written. More info on Reeves follows with Mr. Burton's comment…

Charles, I see where the Fort Smith website states it’s the future home of U.S. Marshals Museum. I’d like to check it out sometime when I have a long weekend.

Art, Thanks for stopping by and adding so much insight into a man I’ve admired for a number of years. For a short period of time, I was a Special Deputy Marshal at the Department of Justice (glorified security guard in my case). I immersed myself in the history of the Marshals and of course Bass Reeves is a significant part of that story. I will go online today and look for your book to purchase. I’ll also update my post with the cover of your bio. I really appreciate you taking the time to provide some very useful information.

mike vendetti said...


I just completed narrating an audio book by Barry Brierley based on the life of Bass Reeves from his manuscript. The book has as yet to be published. Barry has also written a screen play. Here is a link to the audio book.

Lisa Marie Kull said...

A movie is in production on this great mans story. For information visit

Unknown said...

Here is a new movie just out about Bass Reeves: