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Bass Reeves



Born:    July 1838

Birthplace:    Crawford County, Arkansas

Died:     January 12, 1910

Place of Death:  Muskogee, Oklahoma

Zodiac Sign:  Cancer

Bass Reeves (July 1838 – January 12, 1910) was a former slave turned American law enforcement official, historically noted as the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. He worked mostly in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory.[a] During his long career, he had on his record more than 3,000 arrests of dangerous fugitives, and shot and killed 14 of them in self-defense.

Reeves and his family farmed until 1875 when Isaac Parker was appointed federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James F. Fagan as U.S. marshal, directing him to hire 200 deputy U.S. marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Territory and could speak several Native languages.[5] He recruited him as a deputy; Reeves was the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River.[2][5] Reeves was assigned as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which had responsibility also for the Native reservation Territory.[9] He served there until 1893. That year he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas, for a short while. In 1897, he was transferred again, serving at the Muskogee Federal Court in the Native Territory.

Reeves worked for 32 years as a federal peace officer in the Indian Territory and became one of Judge Parker's most valued deputies. Reeves brought in some of the most dangerous fugitives of the time; he was never wounded despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions.


In addition to being a marksman with a rifle and revolver, Reeves developed superior detective skills during his long career. When he retired in 1907, Reeves had on his record over 3,000 arrests of felons.[2][5] He killed 14 outlaws to defend his life.[5] Reeves had to arrest his own son for murder;[2] Benjamin "Bennie" Reeves was charged with the murder of his own wife. Despite being disturbed and deeply shaken by the incident, Reeves nonetheless insisted on the responsibility of bringing Bennie to justice. Bennie was subsequently captured, tried, and convicted. He served 11 years at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas before his sentence was commuted; he reportedly lived the rest of his life as a model citizen.


When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Reeves, then 68, became an officer of the Muskogee Police Department.[2] He served for two years before he became ill and retired.

In 1985, Hemphill reprised her role as Shirley Wilson in the syndicated revival of What's Happening!! titled What's Happening Now!! Like its predecessor, What's Happening Now!! aired for three seasons. After the show's cancellation, Hemphill returned to stand-up comedy and also made occasional appearances in films and television.

In December 1999, Hemphill died of kidney failure at her West Covina, California, home at the age of 52. Source.

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