‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ True Story: Was Sherill Lynn A Real-Life Person?

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Lawmen: Bass Reeves is based upon the books of Sidney Thompson and follows the real-life of a man who was born at a time when it was considered a sin to be a Black man. It was the horrifying 1800s, when slavery had not been abolished, and a black man was treated worse than a commodity. The series draws inspiration from real-life events, though there have been a few places where creative liberty has been taken by the directors, and some fictionalized characters have also been introduced to represent a specific ideology of some community or group. All in all, the crux of the real-life story of Bass Reeves has been kept intact, and through their narrative, Christina Alexandra Voros and Damian Marcano want to tell the fabled story of a man victimized by slavery and one who broke his shackles and became one of the first black deputy US Marshals.

Spoiler Alert


Did Bass And George Have A Fight In Real Life?

George Reeves’ character is based on a real person of the same name who at one time headed the 11th Texas Cavalry, as shown in the series. George had some conflicts with his superiors, because of which he left the army and decided to enter politics, though we don’t know exactly what those conflicts were. It is said that losing so many of his men deeply affected George, and somewhere, it had a role to play in the decision that he made, though in his resignation letter, he mentioned that he thought that he would be able to serve his country better from some other front rather than being on the battlefield and fighting the war. It could have been that George, in reality, was triggered by the carelessness of his superiors, and he felt that they were being treated as fodder in the war. George was Bass’ master, and it is true that they both had an argument over a game of cards. History tells us that there was an altercation of sorts between them, after which Bass escaped to the Indian states. We do not know whether everything went down in the same manner to the last detail as it is shown in Lawmen: Bass Reeves, but in broad strokes, that was how things panned out. George’s life ended rather tragically when a dog bit him while he was trying to save a little boy, and he died due to rabies.


Did Bass Stay With Sara And Curtis?

It is shown in the series that after escaping from Texas, Bass went to the Indian territory where the Seminole tribe was settled. He met a woman named Sara Jumper and started living with her and her son, Curtis. As a matter of fact, it is true that Bass did go and stay with the Seminole tribe, where he learned their language, which came in handy during his tenure as the deputy US marshal. The character of Sara Jumper is not based on one specific person, and it symbolically represents the entire community of indigenous tribes who must have helped Bass in times of need and from whom Bass learned a great deal of things. It is true that Bass only learned survival skills from them, as depicted in a scene where Curtis teaches him how to hunt, but he also got to know how it felt to move freely without being chained to one’s master.


Was Sherill Lynn A Real-Life Person?

Sherill Lynch arrives at the scene in Lawmen: Bass Reeves in the second episode, and he is shown to be a man who, at times, could be fair and just in his approach but seemingly has a lot of prejudice against the native Americans, to the extent that it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he despises them. The character of Sheriff Lynn, played by Dennis Quaid, is also not based on any one specific person, but it cumulatively represents the ideologies, sensibilities, approaches, and other behavioral traits of lawmen during the 1800s. We saw that Sherill Lynn was the one who made a gracious offer to Bass to join as the deputy US marshal. In reality, it was James Fagan, the US marshal at the time, who appointed Bass as the deputy marshal since he knew that the latter spoke the native language and they needed people who could communicate with the tribes and facilitate maintaining law and order in the state.


Did Judge Parker Actually Favor Bass?

Real-life Judge Parker and Bass Reeves had a good working relationship, and there were a lot of times when the former went out of his way to make sure that he didn’t have any problems. There were accusations made that Bass had killed one person, and his case was being presided over by Judge Parker. It is said that Parker acquitted Reeves because he had a brilliant track record, and he said that he had not shot the man intentionally. In the series, it is shown that Judge Parker was moved by the earnestness of Reeves, and he wanted him as the deputy US marshal because he knew that with his skill set, he would be a great asset.


How did Bass Reeves die?

Bass had a successful stint in the federal law enforcement agency, and he was considered to be a righteous man. The people got proof of his sincerity when he had to take his own son into custody as he was accused of committing murder. Bass could have tried to find some loophole in the law and used his influence to quash all charges against his son, but he didn’t do so, and he didn’t get in the way of the due process of law. Reeves retired at the age of 70, and after that, he fell severely ill, and doctors told him that he was suffering from Bright’s disease.


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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