Crime History: Former slave becomes legendary Old West lawman

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe,Crime History

On this day, May 10, in 1875, former slave Bass Reeves was sworn in as a deputy U.S. Marshal in Fort Smith, Ark., becoming one of the most feared and fearless lawmen in the Old West.

Reeves was hired by "the Hanging Judge," Isaac Parker, to help bring justice to the vast Indian Territory, a haven for outlaws. Reeves was an expert with pistol and rifle, spoke several Indian languages and was familiar with the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.

In 32 years, Reeves arrested more than 3,000 fugitives, including his own son on a murder charge. Sometimes he used disguises to track criminals.

Notorius outlaw Belle Starr surrendered when she learned that Reeves had the warrant for her arrest.

He was involved in numerous shoot-outs, and killed 14 outlaws.

-- Scott McCabe

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