Bringing Bass home

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 83 views 

The likeness of Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves on horseback is being cast in bronze at a Norman, Okla., foundry and is expected to be brought to Fort Smith with a police escort on May 16.

Craftsmen at the Crucible Foundry and Gallery were said to have poured the bronze for the Bass Reeves Legacy Monument over three hours Tuesday morning (May 1). The base will be poured on Wednesday.

“Into the Territory,” created by Western artist and sculptor William T. Holden, depicts Reeves on horseback, holding a  rifle to his hip, with his trusty dog trotting alongside him. The monument will larger than the life-size Reeves, standing some 25 feet from its base.

On May 15, the monument will be loaded onto a truck and brought to Fort Smith the next day. Just loading and securing it is expected to take about six hours, said Ed Nugent, a farmer in Muldrow who is organizing a police escort of the statue to its resting place in Ross Pendergraft Park in downtown Fort Smith.

Nugent has been contacting police departments, sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies along the route from Norman to Fort Smith, enlisting them for an honor guard “to bring Bass home.” So far, he has commitments from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office and the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office to go the whole way.

The trip is expected to take more than three hours, and he would like to have 10 to 15 vehicles in the convoy.

“We want these agencies to join us for the trip from Norman to Fort Smith, or at least through their jurisdiction,” Nugent said.

They would gather behind the casino in Roland if necessary to time their arrival just right, Nugent said.

Reeves began his career as a deputy U.S. Marshal during the term of U.S. District Judge Isaac Parker. Reeves was a marshal between 1875 and 1910. Even though he was an African-American and illiterate, he brought in more outlaws from eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas than anyone else. He was able to memorize the warrants for every suspect he was to arrest and bring to trial.

"He was a man of integrity," Nugent said about Bass. "He exemplified all the best that there was about the U.S. Marshal's Service. Todqay's he's a 21st-century role model."