In a twist right out of a scene of a mystery movie, documents have been found to reveal the whereabouts of Bass Reeves gravesite.
One of the most famous and prolific lawman of his lifetime, Muskogee’s Reeves, the inspiration for the Lone Ranger, virtually disappeared from the pages of history along with the location of where he was buried in Muskogee.
Reeves culminated his thirty-two years career as a policeman in Muskogee. Retiring because of poor health brought on by Bright’s disease, Reeves died in January of 1910 at the age of 71. His funeral was held at his home in Muskogee and was attended by almost a thousand people. Local newspapers wrote eloquent obituaries about the “Negro Marshal”, but none made mention of where he was interred.
As his fame has recently been resurrected, the great mystery of where he was buried and why no one knew deepened. Old West history buffs, historians, Wild-West novelists, members of historical societies, law enforcement groups and treasure hunters have spent the better part of the last decade trying to uncover the resting place of the man known as “the invincible lawman”. Some believed his burial site was hidden to keep grave-robbers and vandals away. Some of his great cousins claimed that no one knew the location, but his closest family members and that information would remain forever hidden.
Most speculated that he was buried in Muskogee county or city limits as his funeral was during a wet and cold January and the likelihood that a funeral wagon being pulled by a team of horses along a slick and muddy path with followers on horseback, foot, or similar wagons wouldn’t have gone too far from where his funeral took place. That assessment seems largely correct in light of recently discovered county death certificate records.
Those records and the next step to reveal to the world that location will be part of the discussion that will follow the conference’s opening movie tonight, Directed by John Ford, at Muskogee’s Historic Roxy Theater at 7 p.m.