The Indian Territories spanned 7500 sq miles of brush country that made up much of what is now Oklahoma. It was a haven for anyone trying to evade the law, and no other place at any time was as deadly to U.S. Marsalls. There the bandits and bad guys outnumbered lawmen 300 to 1. But that one lone lawman none of them wanted to come across was Bass Reeves.
At over 6 feet tall and riding a white stallion, straight-shooting Reeves sported a brush-mustache and was always immaculately dressed. After being deputized a U.S. Marshall Bass worked under the jurisdiction of newly appointed Judge Isaac Parker. Famously known as “the hanging judge” Parker had once sentenced 6 men to hang at the same time. Parker's district was the Indian Territories, called “Hell On the Border,” where Bass had hidden after escaping and running from slavery during the Civil War. Bass knew the land, he knew the tribes and even had help from a kemosabe sidekick, a Creek Native who helped him catch criminals – mostly bootleggers, horse-thieves and killers on the run. He'd leave the judge's office with his pockets full of warrants and return months later herding in every one of the fugitives on his list. Bass was so feared by badmen that on one occasion a wanted man turned himself in voluntarily, after having nightmares when he heard that Bass Reeves was on his trail. In his career Bass brought in over 3,000 dangerous outlaws including his own son, who was on charges of murder.
While no direct proof exists that Bass inspired the legend of the Lone Ranger, he certainly fits the profile, and he always got his man. If there ever was an iconic protagonist pure and daring frontier American lawman, Bass Reeves was exactly that.