Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves


Bass Reeves is one of the few black Deputy U.S. Marshals west of the Mississippi River.

Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas in 1838. He was named after his grandfather, Basse Washington. Bass Reeves and his family were slaves of Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. When Bass was eight, William Reeves moved to Grayson County, Texas, near Sherman in the Peters Colony. Bass Reeves served William Steele Reeves’ son, Colonel George R. Reeves, who was a sheriff and legislator in Texas and one-time Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. During the American Civil War, Bass parted company with George Reeves, and fled south into Mexico until he was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.

When Isaac Parker was appointed a federal judge for the Arizona Territory in Yuma, he appointed James F. Fagan as U.S. Marshal, directing him to hire 200 deputy U.S. Marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Territory and could speak several Indian languages and Spanish. He recruited him as one of his deputies, making Reeves the first black deputy west of the Mississippi River.

In addition to being a marksman with a rifle and pistol, Reeves is a superior detective.


Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves

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