Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Story of Bass Reeves, the First Black Lawman

It is with great pleasure that Western Magazine Digest presents a series of articles on Bass Reeves and The Lone Ranger. The first of several, entitled, ‘Bass Reeves and The Lone Ranger: Debunking the Myth, P1,’ by Martin Grams Jr., Historical Writer, provides background on the popular notion that Reeves served as the model by which The Lone Ranger came about. We’ll feature Part 2 on the 28th as well.

Bass Reeves, named after his grandfather, Bass Washington, was born into slavery in July of 1838, the same month that the Iowa Territory was organized from the Wisconsin Territory (which lasted until 1846). His place in history was that of the first black lawman in the United States. Operating mostly in Arkansas and Oklahoma Territory, he killed only 14 people (in self defense) and he arrested more than 3,000 criminals.

The reason why Bass Reeves is worth noting on WMD centers on two things. First, there are those, such as Martin Grams, the writer of two stories in the Reeves series on WMD, that believe the allegation of a forgotten Reeves with reference to The Lone Ranger is misguided and simply wrong; and two, the story of Reeves’ rise from slave to lawman is nothing less than stunning.

In this story, published on July 20, 2019, we’ll provide background information on the man, Bass Reeves, as well as two videos. Once you’ve digested this information, we believe you will have an even deeper understanding of the man and why a handful of authors believe that Reeves was the template from which The Lone Ranger was born.

Printed Resources:
  1. Bass Reeves (Wikipedia):
  2. Was the Real Lone Ranger a Black Man? (HISTORY):
  3. Bass Reeves: The Bullet-Dodging Black Lone Ranger History Almost Forgot (Briana Jones):
Video Documentaries:

This first video documentary, entitled "The Real Lone Ranger Bass Reeves The Writer's Block 10-27-2016," provides the argument for the notion that Bass Reeves inspired the creation of The Lone Ranger.

Frankly, whether Reeves did or did not is of no consequence to me. It's the man, Bass Reeves, that we need to celebrate. And if he did inspire the creation of The Lone Ranger, that's fine with me, too. But the issue here is finding the "Truth" that supports the assumption that Reeves did inspire the making of The Lone Ranger, and even the foremost proponent of this story has had to admit, there is no absolute proof to support it.

Allow me to play devil's advocate here by saying something that no one wants to talk about. From my own research and that of others, even those who believe that Reeves was the inspiration of The Lone Ranger, there is NOTHING in writing that links the Reeves' story with those who created The Lone Ranger. The Martin Grams paper entitled Bass Reeves and The Lone Ranger: Debunking the Myth, offers a great deal of logic and evidence against it.

The main promoter of the Reeves' story had to admit that there is really nothing that links the two together. However, with that said, the Reeves' story is important because of all that this man had to overcome. The color of a man does not determine his greatness, but rather the man. Reeves was a powerful man with a powerful story, whether he inspired The Lone Ranger or not.

Here's another video produced in the United Kingdom that promotes the notion that the Bass Reeves story inspired the men who created The Lone Ranger in 1933.

Be sure to read Bass Reeves and The Lone Ranger: Debunking the Myth, authored by Martin Grams: click here.

   Please post a comment below!   


  1. Reeves comparison to the ranger is fake history that steals from the real lawman. Authors need to stop endlessly repeating it.

  2. Greetings, slowtrap!

    If you're referring to the inference that The Lone Ranger was inspired by the lawman Reeves, I have to agree that the facts would indicate otherwise. The correspondences between the creator of the Ranger never one time mentioned a Bass Reeves. I penned this article to allow the Reeves story to stand on its own. Reeves had his downside, I'm sure, but he was an example of human determination and success in his chosen career.


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