Wednesday, February 14, 2018

45 days into the year 2018.......

So far there have been 18 school shootings and in total 12 other mass shootings and we are only 45 days into the year.  I am very grateful my kids were/are homeschooled.  It just makes no sense.  Praying for all the families involved.

School shootings
Mass shootings.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

In honor of Black History Month......

My favorite black history maker is George Washington Carver.  I have several blog posts just about him.  His entire life fascinates me, everything he did was amazing.

This year I was looking for a unique black history maker who contributed greatly but is lesser known, and I hit the jackpot.  Mr. Bass Reeves first black lawman (cowboy) west of the Mississippi.

Bass was born a slave in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas.  His owner was William Steele Reeves (Arkansas legislator).  In 1846, William Reeves relocated his household to Texas.  William Reeves' son, George, was named colonel in the Confederate army when the Civil War broke out and George took Bass with him to war.  Bass found an opportunity to escape and took off west and ended up in Indian Territory making him a fugitive but luckily, all slaves were freed in 1865 so he did not have to run too long.

Bass lived with the Creek and Seminole Indians.  He learned their languages and customs and how to live off the land.  Eventually Bass set up a home in Van Buren, Arkansas and was officially the first black to ever settle the land.  He married Ms. Nellie Jennie and together they raised ten children in an eight room house which Bass built himself.

Isaac C. Parker was appointed federal judge of Indian Territory in 1875.  Prior to this, the government
had no jurisdiction over Indian Territory which became a hiding ground for outlaws during the civil war.

Parker sent U.S. Marshal James F. Fagan along with 200 deputies to round up these outlaws.  Fagan had heard stories of Bass and how he too was once a fugitive and had great knowledge of the land and offered him a job as a U.S. Deputy Marshal.

His orders were to bring back the outlaws-dead or alive.  Bass was quite intimidating standing six feet, two inches tall, wearing a black hat, riding a large white stallion, and packing two Colt 45s.  He is said to have brought in over 3,000 felons.

It is said that Bass tried to follow the letter of the law and bring in the outlaws alive and well.  He took his job very seriously.  In fact, his own son, Benny Reeves, was charged with murdering his wife.  None of the other deputies wanted to bring in Bass' son out of fear of what Bass would do to them but as difficult as it was, Bass went and arrested his own son.  He always wanted to do what was right.  His son ended up spending 22 years in Leavenworth prison.

In 1907, law enforcement was the responsibility of the state police and 70-year-old Bass joined the Muskogee Oklahoma Police Department as a patrolman.

Bass Died January 12, 1910 from complications of Bright's Disease (a type of kidney disease).  I found an interesting statement which stated no one really knows where he is buried.  He was originally buried at Old Agency Cemetery but because it was not kept up, his family had him moved.  Many believe he is buried at Booker T. Washington Cemetery on North Highway 69, Muskogee but no one is sure about this fact.  A mystery in life, a mystery in death.

In May 2012, a bronze status of Reeves on a horse was dedicated in Fort Smith's Pendergraft Park.  The statue was paid for all by donation to the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative and ultimately ended up costing a whopping $300,000 and stands 7 meters high, that is massive!  Over 1,000 people attended the unveiling ceremony of the statue.

Another interesting fact I learned is that one in four cowboys were actually African-American.  I had never heard that before.  My grandfather always watched John Wayne and then there was Clint Eastwood, James Stuart, Sam Elliot, and The Lone Ranger.

Speaking of The Lone Ranger, even though the character was played by a white man, it is strongly believed that The Lone Ranger was actually inspired by Bass Reeves.  For example, Bass' calling card was to give out silver dollars, The Lone Ranger gave out silver bullets.  And then there is the black mask The Lone Ranger wears.  It is believed since black people in that time wore an invisible mask in a world that largely ignored them, Reeves also wore that invisible mask, and that is a symbolic link between the two.

We will probably never know if The Lone Ranger was actually Bass Reeves but historians have concluded he is the closest real life person to possess the characteristics of the character, The Lone Ranger.  Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Bass Reeves was a great man, a part of the fabric of our country.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Thanks for horsing around with me. You really never know what you will get when you read my blog so thanks for stopping by.