His life and amazing story helped create The Lone Ranger. His name is Bass Reeves and he was one of the most feared and respected lawmen in the Indian Territory. His incredible story makes him a true legend.


He was born a slave in 1838 and later became the very first black deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi. He's credited with over 3,000 arrests and 14 deaths while serving as a deputy Marshal.

Bass Reeves worked with the infamous Judge Issac C. Parker, AKA the "Hanging Judge" to clean up the territory and bring outlaws to justice. His abilities and record are beyond impressive, they're legendary!

Watch the video below to learn more about this legendary lawman of the wild west

While fighting in the Civil War Reeves managed to escape his captors and fled to the Indian Territory. He lived among the SeminoleCherokee, and Creek Indians learning their language, customs, and tracking skills.


During this time he also became very proficient with firearms, mainly the pistol but he was a marksman with any gun he decided to carry and use. All of which would serve him in the future as a deputy U.S. Marshal.

Eventually, Bass Reeves was freed by the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. No longer a slave or fugitive he returned to Arkansas where he bought land and became a successful farmer and rancher.

Bass Reeves was one of the most feared & respected Deputy U.S. Marshals

The Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma Library (Public Domain)
The Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma Library (Public Domain)

It was around this time Bass Reeves was hired on occasion to help track down outlaws and his reputation as a tracker and crack shot became known. His skill and knowledge of the Indian Territory were unmatched.


When the Federal Western District Court moved to Fort Smith, AR. in 1875 Judge Parker appointed U.S. Marshal James F. Fagan and 200 deputies to clean up the territory. The new Marshal sought out Reeves.

Already well-known and respected he became a deputy U.S. Marshal and one of Judge Parker's most trusted and effective lawmen. Reeves tracked down and brought back to justice countless outlaws and fugitives.

Hit play on the video below to learn how Bass Reeves is considered the real Lone Ranger

He's the real deal and the real Lone Ranger. You may be wondering how and why he's credited with inspiring the iconic character. Reeves was a gentleman, who believed in justice and that all life was precious.


He rode a white horse and was known to ride with an Indian companion and tracker. He also used clever disguises and tactics to apprehend bad guys. Reeves was more than a crack shot with a pistol or rifle.

He carried silver dollars and used them for not only purchases but to assist others and as a sort of calling card. He lived by a strict code of honor and respect, just like the Lone Ranger, years before he was created.

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Gallery Credit: Don "Critter" Brown

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Gallery Credit: Kelso

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Gallery Credit: Don "Critter" Brown

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Gallery Credit: Don "Critter" Brown

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