February is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the contributions of people of color to the rich tapestry that is the history of the United States. It’s unfortunate that it has taken the establishment of a special month to highlight the role so prominently played at the time of the historical events, but that was later erased from the history books, or at best, downplayed. One of the figures of our historical past who has yet to receive the full acknowledgement due him is Bass Reeves. Reeves was a former slave who spent the years of the Civil War in Indian Territory in Oklahoma. After the war, he returned to his native Arkansas and became a farmer, and sometimes scout for the deputy U.S. marshals traveling into Indian territory in search of fugitives. Even though he could neither read nor write English, Reeves was an expert tracker who spoke six Native American languages, was handy with his fists, and was so proficient with firearms (fired with either hand) he was banned from entering Turkey Shoots in his community. When Isaac Parker was made federal judge for western Arkansas and the Indian Territory by President Grant, he decided to hire black deputy marshals because they would be able to operate easier in Indian territory than white men would. Reeves was one of the men hired, and his exploits for the next 30 years was the stuff of legend. Despite this, popular media and American history has mostly forgotten him, There have been a couple of minor movies and a few books, but few people know that he’s thought to be the model for the popular ‘Lone Ranger’ character of radio, TV and comic books.
Black History Month is a good time to do some reading that helps to set the historical record straight. A few years ago, when I came across information about Reeves while doing research for my Buffalo Soldier series (stories about the black Ninth Cavalry soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers by their Native American adversaries), I was fascinated, and decided to do a fictionalized account of his activities. That book, Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, has been one of my more popular books, with consistent month-to-month sales since it was published in 2014, in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Though fiction, it’s historically accurate, and while I’m a bit biased, I also think it’s an entertaining story.
Paperback and Kindle versions of the book are available at the following link which is the Amazon store on my other blog:
Once there, go to the bottom of the store and click on ‘Page 8.’ The two versions of the book are at the bottom of the page. By clicking on the one you want, you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to purchase the book directly from Amazon.
Some of my other books relating to minorities and their contributions to American history: