Bass Reeves was born in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas. He and his family were slaves of Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. Bass took the surname of his owner, like other slaves of the time. Made to work alongside his parents, Bass started out as a water boy until he was old enough to become a field hand.
The water boy later becomes a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Bass Reeves arrested 3,000 felons, killed 14 men, and was never shot himself. Among those he captured was Bob Dozier, a murderer and cattle and horse thief who eluded Reeves for several years before being tracked down and killed after refusing to surrender. He also hunted famed outlaw Tom Story for five years between 1884 and 1889, finally killing him in a gunfight.