Eastern District of Oklahoma – The U.S. Marshals Office of
the Eastern District of Oklahoma has continually worked to ensure the legacy of
Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves. On November 30, 2010, the state of Oklahoma
proclaimed that day to be “Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame Day” and
additionally that Bass Reeves be inducted. On December 5, 2010, Deputy U.S.
Marshal Bass Reeves was officially inducted into the Oklahoma Law Enforcement
Hall of Fame. U.S. Marshal John Loyd attended the ceremony and accepted a medal
commemorating Bass Reeves’ induction on that historic day.
In November, 2011, the state legislature of Oklahoma passed an act officially
declaring the bridge that crosses the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Ft.
Gibson, Oklahoma as the “Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge”. On November 09, 2011,
federal, state and local officials along with Bass Reeves descendants attended a
dedication ceremony to officially name the bridge in Reeves honor. Oklahoma
State Senator Kim David presented U.S. Marshal John Loyd a ceremonial replica of
the bridge sign to be displayed in the offices of the Eastern District of
Reeves became the first African American, Deputy U.S. Marshal appointed west of
the Mississippi river and one of the greatest peace officers in the history of
the Old West.
Bass was born to slave parents in 1838. During the civil war, Bass escaped to
Indian Territory, where he lived among the Seminole and Creek tribes, learning
their languages. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Bass left Indian Territory
and settled near Van Buren, Arkansas, where he became a farmer and rancher.
Sometimes, he worked as a guide for the Deputy U.S. Marshals serving in the
area. He married Nellie Jennie and raised ten children, five boys and five
Isaac C. Parker, who became known as the Hanging Judge, was appointed judge for
the Western District of Arkansas on May 10, 1875. Bass Reeves was appointed as a
Deputy U.S. Marshal by U.S. Marshal James F. Fagan shortly thereafter. Bass
served as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in Indian Territory for 32 years and was the
only one to serve from Parker's appointment until Oklahoma's statehood. He
became one of the most successful lawmen in American history, arresting more
than 3,000 fugitives. Bass’ work as a Deputy U.S. Marshal ended in 1907 when
Oklahoma was granted statehood. Bass worked for the Muskogee Police Department
for two years until he was diagnosed with Bright's disease. He died on January
Pictured below are Senator Kim David and U. S. Marshal John Loyd, displaying the
aforementioned medal, certificate and ceremonial replica of the memorial sign.
Additional information about the U.S.
Marshals Service can be found at
America’s Oldest Federal Law Enforcement Agency