Bass Reeves - Deputy US Marshall
By Nolan Michaelson

Explanation On Why This Person is Famous

Bass Reeves is famous for being one of the greatest Deputy US Marshals to walk the face of the earth. He was stationed in the Indian Territory near present-day Oklahoma. He brought in over 3,000 outlaws and only had to shoot fourteen people. He is known for being the only US Marshal to stay as a Marshal all through Judge Isaac C. Parker’s career. His memory will live on forever.

One of the reasons Bass is famous for being a Marshal was his sneakiness. Bass would wear disguises when he went out to catch outlaws. One time he acted like an outlaw himself when he was tracking two brothers. Sometimes he would sloppily ride his horse, because everyone would know it was Bass by the way he rode a horse normally.

Another reason is that Bass would put the fear of God into the outlaws. As a religious man, Bass would try to talk to outlaws about the Bible while bringing them back to prison. Outlaws would be scared and sometimes turn themselves in when they heard that God was watching.

In conclusion, Bass Reeves is famous for being a great Deputy US Marshal. He has accomplished many things and will be remembered for years to come.



The book Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal begins with a story about Bass Reeves hunting down an outlaw. This catches the reader’s attention and has the reader want to keep reading the book. A quick jump into action will catch the reader by surprise and want to read the rest of the book. The book then describes what Bass is doing and tells about Bass’ job. After that, the book talks about Bass’ physical appearance. Finally, we enter the early life of Bass Reeves.

Bass was born into slavery in the 1840’s in Texas. While he worked. Bass would sing songs about rifles and pistols and knives. His owner, Colonel George Reeves, took him hunting and entered him in shooting contests. George liked Bass so much that he took him when he went to fight in the Civil War. One night, Bass and the colonel were playing cards and got in an argument. Bass then struck his owner. Because Bass was a slave, this meant that Bass would surely die. So Bass ran away into Indian Territory.

The escaped slave lived in the Indian tribes and learned the language. He also worked on his marksmanship while he was there. But he was still a runaway slave, and that meant that he needed to stay hidden. Finally, after the Civil War ended, Bass settled down. He bought a some land in Arkansas and married a woman named Jennie. Together Jennie and Bass had eleven kids. Unfortunately, the wide open area of the Indian Territory caused many outlaws to hide there.

In 1875, Judge Isaac C. Parker arrived in the Indian Territory to bring justice and law. The judge thousands of men as deputy marshals to bring in outlaws. Bass was one of those men. Bass couldn’t read, so he had Judge Parker read the arrest warrants to him. He memorized each outlaw’s reason of arrest and made an image of the person in his head. Bass could have thirty warrants at a time and still bring in every single outlaw on his list.

As a marshal, Bass only fired his weapon as a last resort, and always tried to find another way without firearms. Sometimes Bass would bring in outlaws in disguise so he would catch them by surprise. Sometimes he would pretend to be a farmer, and others an outlaw. He planned his captures cleverly and carefully.

One day he had an arrest warrant for his own son. He showed loyalty to the duty and brought him in. It was a painful act, but he did what he had to do.

In 1907, Oklahoma gained statehood and the Indian Territory was no more. Bass was then hired to the police force in Muskogee, Oklahoma. During his service of two years, not one crime occurred in his area. Suddenly Bass was feeling ill. Two months later Bass died of Bright’s disease on January 12, 1910.

Bass Reeves is a true American hero whose memory will live on for centuries to come.

Photo of the Person / Primary Source

Early Life

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Paris, Texas in the year 1838. As a child, Bass liked guns. He would sing songs about them when he worked. He always handled them with respect.

It is unknown who Bass’ parents were, but we do know who his slave owner was. It was Colonel George Reeves. The Colonel and Bass had a special relationship. George would always take Bass hunting or enter him in shooting contests. Bass was a very good shot.

One night, everything changed for Bass. There are many accounts on what happened exactly, but the main theory is that Bass and George got in an argument, and Bass hit him. It meant certain death for a slave to strike his owner, so Bass ran off. He then found himself in Indian Territory.

Indians were fond of Bass, and they taught him the ways and let him live with the tribes. Eventually, slavery was abolished, and Bass was free to settle down. He chose to do so just outside of Indian Territory, where he would raise a family and live a good life.


Bass was born in Paris, Texas

Primary Source

This is a picture of the document that swore Bass Reeves into becoming a US Marshal. This is an important document that allowed Bass to become one of the greatest marshals of all time. Without signing this document, Bass would have never brought in 3,000 outlaws. In the long run, this is the document that had Bass become a marshal. This document may be the most important Bass related artifact, and maybe one of the only ones. Bass is such an obscure character that he doesn’t have many primary sources. This is so important in finding out about the life of Bass Reeves

Secondary Source


Bass Reeves was successful for many things. One of them was being a black Deputy US Marshal. This is at a point in time when blacks were not treated fairly. He was still able to make people fear him as a marshal. He got the job done extremely well. He alone brought in over 3000 outlaws in his career. Although Bass was quite successful, he was faced with many challenges as well. He spent most of his childhood as a runaway slave hiding in Indian Territory. He had to lay low, as everyone wanted to bring him in for the reward money. After slavery was abolished, he was able to settle down just outside Indian Territory. In conclusion, Bass had a successful, yet challenging life.

Three Interesting Facts

INTERESTING FACT NUMBER I: He was a runaway slave before becoming a marshal.

INTERESTING FACT NUMBER II: Bass was handpicked by Judge Isaac C. Parker to become one of the 2000 deputy US marshals to patrol the Indian Territory

INTERESTING FACT NUMBER III: Bass was ambidextrous


"Give me the writ." ~Bass Reeves

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