Historic Black Lawman, Bass Reeves – the Real Lone Ranger

Blacks have a much longer history in law enforcement than many realize. In fact, one of the most revered lawmen in U.S. history, was a Black man named Bass Reeves, who the legend of “The Lone Ranger” was based upon.

Reeves was a Deputy U.S. Marshall who became famous for his ability to successfully hunt down outlaws while riding a white horse and giving away his trademark silver coins, all while being accompanied by his Native American lawman.

Reeves was born into slavery in 1838. However, his “master” brought Reeves with him to serve as a personal servant while fighting with the Confederate Army, during the Civil War. During the chaos of war, Reeves managed to escape to freedom, after beating his “master” within an inch of his life, or killing him. Various sources differ here. But what is agreed upon is that Reeves fled to the then Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma and lived harmoniously among the Seminole and Creek Nations. After the Civil War, Reeves married and fathered ten children, while becoming the first Black to hold the position Deputy U.S. Marshall.