One of the first of the deputies hired by Judge Parker's court was former slave from Texas, Bass Reeves. Bass was known as an expert with pistol and rifle, stood about 6 feet 2 inches, weighed 180 pounds, and was said to have superhuman strength. Being a former slave, Bass was illiterate. He would memorize his warrants and writs. In the thirty–two years of serving the people of the Oklahoma Territory it is said he never arrested the wrong person due to the fact he couldn't read.
Bass had a reputation throughout the territory for his ability to catch outlaws that other deputies couldn't. He was known to work in disguise in order to get information and affect the arrest of fugitives he wanted to capture. Bass is said to have arrested more than 3,000 people and killed 14 outlaws, all without sustaining a single gun wound. Bass escaped numerous assassination attempts on his life, he was the most feared deputy U.S. marshal to work the Indian Territory.
At the age of 67, Bass Reeves retired from federal service at Oklahoma statehood in 1907. As an African-American, Bass was unable to continue in his position as deputy marshal under the new state laws. He was hired as a city policeman in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he served for about two years until his death in 1910, at age 71, from Bright’s disease.