This is episode five from season two of American Songster Radio.
Bass Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 in the "Texarkana" region of the South. Legend has it that when he became a young man, the plantation master challenged him to a game of poker, with his freedom as collateral. Reeves discovered that the master had been cheating and confronted him, knocking him unconscious. Reeves was forced to flee the planation and, during the time he spent as an outlaw, befriended and lived amongst the Cherokee Nation, learned their language, and became an expert at mapping out the Indian Territory.
In 1875, he was recruited by the "Hanging Judge" Isaac C. Parker to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal, the first African-American west of the Mississippi to hold that position. He was known as an expert rider, marksman, and master of homemade disguises. Bass Reeves scoured the Indian Territory for rustlers, rogues, and bootleggers, bringing hundreds of criminals to justice. Bass later settled down in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma, with his wife and family. He served as a police constable until his death in 1910, around the age of 70.
The facts and folklore around Bass Reeves are extraordinary, and his legacy remains as the likely inspiration for the fictional character, the Lone Ranger. In this episode, Dom discusses the significance of Bass Reeves and the fictions his life inspired. He also shares a live version of his song about Bass Reeves, "He’s a Lone Ranger."