Bass Reeves, a slave born in Arkansas and reared in Texas, rose to become one of the best known and effective deputy U.S. marshals to ride out of Fort Smith for Judge Isaac C. Parker. Recognized as one of the first African Americans commissioned as a federal lawman on the western frontier, Reeves was a master of disguise, expert with firearms, and over a thirty year career, arrested thousands of felons, including his son and minister. Newspapers reported that he killed over twenty men in the line of duty.
After leaving Fort Smith, Reeves served the federal courts of Paris, Texas and Muskogee in the Indian Territory. Following Oklahoma statehood in 1907, he worked for the Muskogee Police Department until 1909. Reeves died in 1910 at the age of 71 in Muskogee. This statue is a dedication to Bass Reeves and all federal lawmen who bravely served our nation with valor, fortitude, and unwavering integrity.
Art T. Burton/Michael Groomer