On May 16, the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative’s four years of fundraising came to life when a statue of Reeves was brought to Fort Smith.
The monument, which is called “Into the Territory,” will have a 10 day celebration from May 17-27. The statue shows Reeves on a horse carrying a rifle. Reeves was a deputy U.S. Marshal from 1875 to 1910. He was African American and according to a CityWire.com report he was also illiterate.
But that didn’t stop him. He caught more outlaws in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma than anybody else. How did he do this? He memorized all the info on the warrants they gave him on known outlaws he had to arrest.
The statue is the largest “equestrian statue,” CityWire calls it, in Arkansas. The Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative raised $300,000 to accomplish the project. Western artist and sculptor Harold T. Holden is the person who made the statue.
From May 13 to May 18, the Fort Smith National Historic site had markers to honor the lawmen who got killed on duty when working for the federal court in the Western District of Arkansas between 1872 and 1896.
A lot of other celebrations around town are still going on through May 27.
It’s great that Fort Smith has the distinction of the largest equestrian statue in the state. It’s also great that we make strides to honor great men, no matter their background, race or religion. The late 1800s seem like a long time ago to us, but it was very real to Reeves and his partners – and probably a lot more dangerous than today.
Hopefully some of you can get to some of the celebrations before they end on Saturday. Turn out and show support for the community and some of the great men who used to move across the area on horseback.
Pride in Fort Smith. It’s always a good thing.