One of the people who keeps appearing in my research about crime in Indian Territory is U. S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves. And although he wasn’t a resident of Caddo, he was certainly well-known, and feared, by everyone in the territory. One outlaw even surrendered to authorities because he dreamed that Bass Reeves was after him! He arrested at least 3,000 criminals, including his own son, during his illustrious career. Here are a few items about him and of course you can read more when my book is finished. Still researching….
The Indian Chieftain
February 4, 1886
Bass Reeves, a notorious and unprincipled ex-deputy marshal is now in jail at Fort Smith, charged with murder. Reeves, who is a negro, killed his camp cook of the same race in the Chickasaw Nation in April, 1884. He reported the killing at the time to have been done in self defense. (This is the only negative reference I have seen concerning Deputy Reeve’s character or conduct. All other reports are that he was an upstanding and moral man who arrested his own son for murder. And Reeves was acquitted of killing his cook.)
Dallas Morning News
September 22, 1890
Jim Barnard was arrested at this place today by Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves on a Fort Smith warrant, charging him with horse stealing. It is claimed by Barnard’s friends that he is not the right man. (Although Reeves could not read or write, he had someone else read the warrants to him and he memorized them. This is the only account I’ve found so far that claims he arrested the wrong man.)
The Free Press (Ralston, Okla.)
November 29, 1901
Bass Reeves, a negro deputy United States Marshal of the Muskogee court claims he has been a deputy marshal for 27 years. (He was appointed in 1875 and is believed to be the first African American deputy to serve in the Territory.)
Dallas Morning News
May 18, 1905
Wounded in Running Fight
Negro Shot in Shoulder by Deputy Marshal
Muskogee, I. T., May 17- In a running fight on the Verdigris River about seventeen miles northwest of Muskogee, about noon, Bass Reeves, a United States Deputy Marshal, wounded Pompey Drew, a negro, in the shoulder.
About a dozen shots were exchanged, Drew using a rifle and Reeves a six-shooter, but only one shot took effect and this wound was evidently not a serious one, as Drew escaped into the underbrush and was never arrested.
Drew was wanted on a charge of selling whisky and when the deputy went to his house and rapped on the door he stepped aside just in time to save his life, as Drew fired on him through the door with his Winchester. After shooting at Reeves and probably believing he had struck him, Drew went to the back door and was pursued to the woods by the deputy.
Reeves is crippled from a wound received in a fight with bootleggers several years ago, which accounts for Drew’s escape. (I have read other accounts that say that although Reeves shot and killed 14 outlaws, he was never injured.)
The Daily Oklahoman
January 13, 1910
Bass Reeves Dead
Muskogee, Okla., Jan. 12- Bass Reeves, the oldest deputy marshal of the old Indian Territory days died here tonight of consumption. Reeves served during the days of Judge Parker at Fort Smith when men were hung every week. He was in the governmental service in Indian Territory for 30 years and is said to have at least 20 notches on his gun.