The real-life Django: The legendary African-American Wild West marshal who arrested 3,000 outlaws and killed 14 men
Bass Reeves, one of the first African Americans to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River, could have been an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s fictional character Django.
Reeves, who was born a slave, arrested 3,000 felons, killed 14 men and was never shot throughout his 32-year career as a federal lawman.
The fearless solider was born into slavery in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, and eventually broke from his owner, George Reeves, to live among the Creek and Seminole Indians.
Real-life Django: Bass Reeves, born a slave, later became a Deputy U.S. Marshal and arrested 3,000 felons and killed 14 men
Appointment: Reeves became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38, after 'Hanging Judge' Isaac C. Parker was made the federal judge of Indian Territory
During his time with them, he learned their customs and languages and became an adept territorial scout.
Reeves later procured his own land in Van Buren, Arkansas, where he married his wife, Nellie Jennie, built an eight-room house with his bare hands, and raised ten children as the first black settler in the region. He became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38, after ‘Hanging Judge’ Isaac C. Parker was made the federal judge of Indian Territory. Under President Ulysses S. Grant, Parker appointed Confederate Army General James Fagan a U.S. Marshal and ordered him to hire 200 deputies.
Fagan knew of the former slave, his ability to negotiate Indian Territory and his ability to speak their languages, and so Reeves was named the first black Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi.
In that role he was authorized to arrest both black and white outlaws.
Legendary soldier: Reeves was authorized to arrest both black and white outlaws
Over the years Reeves gained a reputation for persistence, fearlessness. incredible marksmanship and the ability to outsmart lawbreakers, according to historical records.
In 1882, Reeves arrested outlaw Belle Starr for horse theft. According to some accounts, Starr turned herself in when she heard that the legendary Reeves was looking for her.
In 1889, after Reeves was assigned to Paris, Texas, he went after the Tom Story gang for their infamous horse theft operation.
Reeves reportedly waited along the route that Tom Story used, and surprised the gang leader with an arrest warrant.
Story panicked and drew his gun, but Reeves shot him dead before Story could fire.
The rest of the Tom Story gang disbanded and were never heard from again.
Fictional Reeves? Actor Jamie Foxx, right, plays Django, a character very similar to Reeves, in Quentin Tarantino's new movie 'Django Unchained'
Reeves later killed two of the murderous Brunter brothers and arrested the third.
In 1887, the black Deputy Marshall was arrested himself and charged with murdering his posse cook, William Leach.
Brought to trial before Judge Parker, Reeves testified that he shot Leach by accident while cleaning his gun, and was acquitted.
Reeves later became became an officer of the Muskogee, Oklahoma, police department at the age of 68. He died of Bright's disease on January 12, 1910, at the age of 72.
'Bass Reeves', a fictionalized film of the lawman’s life and military career was produced and released by Ponderous Productions of San Antonio, Texas, in 2010.
Actor Morgan Freeman has spent more than five years attempting to get the story of Reeves to the big screen, according to the film news site IndieWire.com.
Open land: As a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Reeves patrolled 75,000 square miles of Indian Territory
32-year career: Reeves retired from Federal service in 1907
Army exercise: Soldiers from Company C of the 3rd U.S. Infantry carry their rifles as they spread out near Fort Meade
Happy band: Mining engineers with their wives and a couple of tame deer get together for an impromptu campside musical concert
Living side-by-side: A school for Indians at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. There is a small Oglala tipi camp in front the large government school buildings
As the railroads went further west, so the settlers followed. Grabill's image Horse Shoe Curve in the shadow of the Buckhorn Mountains
Most famous photo of the Wild West: 132-year-old shot of Billy the Kid up for sale... for $400,000
One single authentic photograph - that historians can agree on - remains. Now, it's set to be offered to the public for the first time ever.
The photo was taken outside a saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, when Billy the Kid, born William Henry McCarty and later known as outlaw William Bonney, was barely out of his teens.
It was famously featured a book by Pat Garrett, the sheriff who gunned Billy down on July 14, 1881 -130 years ago next month.
The photo will be up for auction at Brian Lebel's Old West Show & Auction at the Merchandise Mart in Denver, Colorado on June 25 and 26.
Auctioneers estimate it will bring in between $300,000 and $400,000, though some say it could fetch as much as $1million.
'This is it,' he said. 'The only one.'
THE KID: HOW HE WENT FROM OUTLAW TO FOLK HERO
Billy the Kid has been described as a vicious and ruthless killer - an outlaw who died at the age of 21 having raised havoc in the New Mexico Territory. It was said he took the lives of 21 men, one for each year of his life, the first when he was just 12. The more likely figure was nine, but this and many more accusations of callous acts are merely examples used to create the myth of Billy the Kid. In truth the Kid, born Henry McCarty but later known as outlaw William Bonney, was not the cold-blooded killer he has been portrayed as but a young man who lived in a violent world where knowing how to use a gun was the difference between life and death. He was a master of his craft and enjoyed showing off his gun-twirling abilities to his friends, taking a revolver in each hand and spinning them in opposite directions. But in his quieter moments he would meticulously clean his firearms. He was also good-natured and generous, but his reckless 'they’ll-never-catch-me' attitude would eventually lead to his his downfall. Relatively unknown during his own lifetime, he was catapulted into legend the year after his death in 1881 when his killer, Sheriff Pat Garrett, published a sensationalised biography The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid.
After this, Billy the Kid grew into a symbolic figure of the American Old West. On the run from his enemies and the law, the Kid had made a living by stealing horses and cattle, until his arrest in December of 1880. Five months later, after being sentence to death for the killing of Sheriff Brady during the Lincoln County gang war, the Kid broke out of jail by killing his two guards. But he decided not the leave the territory after his escape when he had more than enough time to do so, allowing Garrett to catch up with him at the home of Pete Maxwell in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881. How the West was REALLY won: Early settlers on the coach to Deadwood and in pow-wows with the natives revealed in 19th century photographs
The Wild West as it really was rather than how Hollywood has imagined it is revealed in this extraordinary collection of pictures.
THE LEGEND OF DEADWOOD
In 2004 a three-series TV Show based on the early days of Deadwood was aired in the U.S.
Season two represents life a year after the first season and marked the arrival of the telegraph and showed the town progressing in early 1877 with new conveniences including a bank.
As miners flocked to the town and its population quickly grew to 5,000, the wagon trains brought in not only supplies but gamblers, prostitutes and gunfighters.
Long before the arrival of the white man, the land was home to the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Pawnee, Crow and Sioux (or Lakota) Indians.
The battle took place between soldiers under the command for General Custer and the combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people
It is thought, however, that the Indians may have captured some of the American army's animals.
Little is known about Grabill’s life before or after his work in the Midwest.
Legendry: Deadwood has long captivated the imagination of writers. In 1953 Doris Day starred in the Wild West themed film musical, Calamity Jane (left). Then, 51 years later Ian McShane played Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem Saloon, a popular brothel in the centre of the town
Unforgiven: Legendary gun slinger Billy the Kid denied a pardon 130 years after death
THE KID: HOW HE WENT FROM OUTLAW TO FOLK HERO
The persecution of the native population of America in the 19th century (and subsequently) is a dark stain on a country that touts itself as the ‘land of the free’.
Already pushed inland by the arrival of colonial Europeans, the fate of the tribes who occupied the fertile soil of what is now the Deep South took a terrible turn in 1838. The Indian Removal Act, pushed through by then-president Andrew Jackson, started a decade-long process that saw the ejection of Native Americans from the lands east of the Mississippi (the modern states of Tennessee and Georgia especially), and their transfer to less coveted terrain further west (in particular modern Oklahoma).
To the thousands of indian warriors howling their murderous war cries, it was just like hunting buffalo.
So it was that Custer's famous Last stand turned from a battle into a bloody rout. In retreat, the troopers were being herded to a fording point across the river that was to become the scene of even worse slaughter as they floundered through the fast-flowing current.
There was a 15ft drop down the bank to the river. The slap of the horses' bellies as they hit the water reminded one indian warrior, Brave Bear, of 'cannon going off'.
'The indians were shooting the soldiers as they came up out of the water,' Brave Bear later recalled. 'I could see lots of blood in the water.'
The traditional story has the dashing, golden-haired, buckskin-wearing Custer bravely making his Last Stand, holding out with awesomely courageous men who refused to back down against impossible odds.
At 6ft 7 inches tall, the imposing sight of the Sioux warrior on the battlefield would have been enough to instil the enemy with fear.
Now, 120 years later the mystery may yet be solved, with the start of excavations on the site that experts hope might just uncover the once impressive warrior's final resting place.
The horseman, a member of the Oglala Lakota Warriors, had been recruited by the American army scout, who formed a travelling company of 97 Native Americans, 180 bronco horses and 18 buffalo.
Many of the Sioux were veterans of the Battle of Little Big Horn - where General George A Custer had his last stand. Salford was a long way from the Old West, but all the better for some of the Sioux, who found themselves on the run from the US cavalry because they had been involved in the demise of Custer and his Seventh Cavalry.