Bass Reeves

Here’s an illustration of Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves riding out of Fort Smith, Arkansas with a warrant in hand. Bass Reeves was the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi. He is thought to be the real-life inspiration for The Lone Ranger. He did not have an Indian sidekick named Tonto (which is offensive on a couple of levels) but he did have friends among the indigenous tribes living in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. The story is that he fled to Oklahoma Territory after he learned about his emancipation from slavery after the Civil War. There he learned several native languages and how to shoot and track. Those skills and contacts, along with his own ingenuity, later helped him track down the outlaws he was charged with capturing as a Deputy US Marshal. Upon his retirement, he had over 3,000 arrests of felons on his record and had killed 14 outlaws, an impressive tally which inspired many stories.

I used some artistic license to give him a white horse, like The Lone Ranger, and the traditional white hat of the western hero. The Fort Smith courthouse is drawn how it looked sometime in the 1870s. I used several reference photos for both the courthouse and Bass Reeves himself.

The font I used on the bottom is named Nashville and designed by Disturbed Type. I like the eroded look to it. I hand drew the letters for his name using the font Tagwood by Intellecta Design as a guide.

4 thoughts on “Bass Reeves

    • Karen B. Jones says:

      Thank you! There are some very interesting stories that go along with him. They contain a lot of probably-not-quite-truthful embellishment, but they’re entertaining.

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