Art Burton is a fascinating guy. His books about Bass Reeves are excellent. He’ll be on the UA-Fort Smith campus next month, as part of American Heritage Week.
Bass Reeves is a tough research project. A former slave, Reeves was never taught to read or write. So, he left behind no written papers. Most of the documentation about Bass’ legendary success as a U.S. Deputy Marshal working in Judge Isaac C. Parker’s jurisdiction is through sometimes sensationalistic newspaper accounts or federal court records.
Burton has a theory about Bass — he used to ride with a Native American sidekick and handed out silver dollars to children during his travels. Burton wonders if perhaps the TV series, “The Lone Ranger” was based off Reeves, an African-American.
Interesting perspective, huh?