Bass Reeves, a former slave who escaped to pre-statehood Oklahoma to live among the Indian Nations and became the state’s most well-known lawman, will be the subject of a TV series developed by Morgan Freeman and others.

Freeman’s production company has optioned a book based on Reeves, whom Freeman had hoped to play when he first heard about his story in the 1990s, according to a report by Hollywood industry website Deadline.

“Back then we couldn’t quite crack the story (but) Bass Reeves’ story speaks to what we are going through now in this country,” said Lori McCreary, Freeman’s production partner.

Reeves was born into slavery in Arkansas and forced to follow his owner fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

He escaped and is believed to have lived among the Creek and Seminole tribes, where he was treated as a free man and learned tribal languages.

In 1875, Reeves became a deputy U.S. marshal — the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi.

In his 32-year career, he arrested more than 3,000 felons in the dangerous “Old West” and Oklahoma-Arkansas region.


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He was one of renowned federal Judge Isaac Parker’s most trusted officers, and after statehood in 1907 he worked for the police department in Muskogee, where he died in 1910.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479

michael.smith@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @michaelsmithTW