As a freedman, Reeves moved to Arkansas and farmed near Van Buren. He married Nellie Jennie from Texas, with whom he had 11 children.
Reeves and his family farmed until 1875, when Isaac Parker was appointed federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker 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 Indian Territory and could speak several Indian languages. He recruited him as a deputy; Reeves was the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River. Reeves was initially assigned as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which had responsibility also for the Indian Territory. He served there until 1893. That year he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas, for a short while. In 1897, he was transferred again, serving at the Muskogee Federal Court in the Indian Territory.
Reeves worked for 32 years as a federal peace officer in the Indian Territory, and became one of Judge Parker's most valued deputies. Reeves brought in some of the most dangerous criminals of the time, but was never wounded, despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. Once, he had to arrest his own son for murder.
In addition to being a marksman with a rifle and pistol, Reeves developed superior detective skills during his long career. When he retired in 1907, Reeves claimed to have arrested over 3,000 felons. He is said to have shot and killed 14 outlaws to defend his own life.
One of his sons, Bennie Reeves, was charged with the murder of his wife. Deputy Marshal Reeves was disturbed and shaken by the incident, but allegedly demanded the responsibility of bringing Bennie to justice. Bennie was eventually tracked and captured, tried, and convicted. He served his time in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas before being released, and reportedly lived the rest of his life as a responsible and model citizen.
Reeves was himself once charged with murdering a posse cook. At his trial before Judge Parker, Reeves was represented by former United States Attorney W.H.H. Clayton, who was a colleague and friend. Reeves was acquitted.
Illustrator and historian Joel Christian Gill published a graphic novel in 2014 called Tales of the Talented Tenth, Volume 1, which featured Reeves' life.
Authors Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke have written five novels inspired by the exploits of Reeves: The Nations, Haunted Falls (winner of the Laramie Award for best action Western, 2013), Hell Hole, Across the Red, and Bass and the Lady.
Reeves "guest-stars" in the ninth volume of the Atomic Robo comic book series, "Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle". The story, which takes place in 1884, features Robo, Reeves, and Doc Holliday teaming up to fight a mad scientist.
"Bass Reeves - The Real Lone Ranger" is also the title and subject of Gunslingers (2015). Reeves is portrayed by Joseph Callender.
Popular speculation that Reeves was an inspiration for the fictional Lone Ranger may have originated from the 2006 Reeves biography. Burton wrote, "Bass Reeves is the closest real person to resemble the Lone Ranger". Burton also documents that Reeve's career as a law man was widely known and celebrated in his time. Burton cites many similarities between Reeves and the Lone Ranger (wearing disguises, having a Native American partner, riding a white and grey horse, giving out silver keepsakes, possessing legendary markmanship and horsemanship etc.) 
Reeves figures prominently in an episode of How It's Made, in which a Bass Reeves limited-edition collectors' figurine is shown in various stages of the production process.
In "The Murder of Jesse James", a fictional episode of the television series Timeless (season one, episode 12), Bass Reeves is portrayed by Colman Domingo.
Bass Reeves is a character in the miniature wargame Wild West Exodus.
Bass Reeves is a playable character in the board game Western Legends.
^"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNC9-L6Z : Retrieved 1 April 2016), Bas Reeves, Arkansas, United States; citing p. 10, family 75, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,550.
^"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNWS-SJ2 : Retrieved 1 April 2016), Bass Reeves, Van Buren, Crawford, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district ED 50, sheet 582A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0042; FHL microfilm 1,254,042.
^"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MST9-JVX : Retrieved 1 April 2016), Bass Reeves, Muscogee (part of M K & T Railway) Muscogee, Creek Nation, Indian Territory, United States; citing sheet 20B, family 468, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,853.
^ abcBurton, Art T. (2008). Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves. Lincoln, Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 9780803205413.
^ abcdefghBurton, Art T. (May–June 1999). "The Legacy of Bass Reeves: Deputy United States Marshal". The Crisis. 106 (3): 38–42. ISSN0011-1422.
^ abcBurton, Art T. (2008). Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves. Lincoln, Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press. pp. 21–23. ISBN 9780803205413.
This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.