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Born a Slave, He Later Became America's First Black Deputy U.S. Marshal


Bass Reeves was born in July 1838 and spent his early life as a slave. However, he later became America's first Black deputy U.S. Marshal working mostly in territories throughout both Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Fluent in Creek and other southern Native languages, physically powerful, skilled with firearms, and a master of disguise, Reeves was exceptionally adept at apprehending fugitives and outlaws, and his exploits were legendary.

According to Black Gun, Silver Star, he is described as one of the most outstanding peace officers in the late 19th-century America — and perhaps the greatest lawman of the Wild West era.

He is also described by historians as one of “eight notable Oklahomans” and the “most feared U.S. marshal in the Indian country.”

During his 32-year career, he was credited with arresting more than 3,000 felons. He also reportedly shot and killed 14 people in self-defense.