THE LONE RANGER WAS A BLACK MAN

That caught your attention, didn't it?  Well, that statement can be both right and wrong at the same time.  The Lone Ranger was a legendary figure who was made up from two different people: one black and one white.  The show first aired as a weekly radio show, originating out of WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan in 1933.  Twenty years later, some of the radio shows were adapted and filmed as 30-minute TV shows, running from 1949 to 1957.

Let's look at the white man first.  Actually, he had little to do with the show other than to be the source of the name of the show.  His name was John R. Hughes, and he was an outstanding Texas Ranger.  He is known for his many arrests and daring adventures.  Zane Grey wrote a book based on his life in 1915, titled: The Lone Star Ranger.  That is how the show got its name.  Some of the senarios also were taken from cases that he solved.  But that is the extent of involvement of John R. Hughes: the name - "The Lone Ranger."

Now, let's take a look at the real hero; the real Lone Ranger.  His name was Bass Reeves.  He had been a slave, freed by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.  Shortly thereafter he came to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he was sworn in as the first black U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River.

The series began with six Texas Rangers tracking the Butch Cavendish Gang.  The Rangers were ambushed by the gang at a canyon named Bryant's Gap, where all of the Rangers were killed, except for one who was barely alive.  The leader of the Texas Rangers was Daniel Reid, the older brother of the Ranger who was barely alive.  He was found by a wandering Indian named Tonto, and nursed back to health.  Tonto recognized the man as having saved his life when he was just a small boy.  Together, they decided to go on a crusade to rid the west of lawlessness.  The Lone Ranger's first name is never revealed in any of the episodes; although in some of the later shows, his nephew, Dan Reid, does spend some summers riding with the Lone Ranger and Tonto before returning to college.  The newphew is the son of his slain older brother, Daniel.

In one of his most well-known cases, he walked up to a house where he had tracked two men he had been trailing.  It was their mother's home.  He disguised himself as a criminal who was fleeing a posse.  He arrived at the woman's door dirty and disheveled, wearing a floppy hat with three bullet holes in it.  His shoes were old and worn, and he complained of aching feet and of being very hungry.  The mother invited him to stay for the night, and he bunked in a room with the two boys he was chasing.  After they went to sleep, he handcuffed them and waited for morning before marching them 28-miles back to his camp.

He also tracked down the nororious outlaw, Bob Dozier, for months.  He finally pinned him down in the Cherokee Hills, where Dozier refused to give up, and was killed in a gun battle with Reeves in December of 1878.

You have likely heard the name "Belle Starr."  She operated brothals in Fort Smith and Siloam Spring, Arkansas.  She was also known as "the Bandit Queen of Dallas."  No one had been able to bring her in.  But Bass Reeves caught her, and her gang which had been involved in horse wrestling and stage coach robberies.

Reeves also arrested in own son in 1902, for murdering his own wife.  He served his time at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  After being released, he lived the rest of his life as a model citizen.

Reeves is recorded as having brought in more than 3,000 outlaws and killing 14 in his 32-year career as a U.S. Marshall.

And, by the way, Reeves was not the only former slave to head westward after the Civil War.  Thousands of African-American, former slaves headed for the west in search of freedom and work.  Within twenty years of the end of the Civil War, it is estimated that one-forth of all of the cowboys in the west were former slaves. How come we don't see them in the Westerns - the Cowboy and Indian movies?

Believe it or not: African Americans had as much to do with the settlement and the development of the west as did the white settlers that came their in their Conestoga Wagon caravans.
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