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Bass Reeves Night Court

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Tue July 25 2006, 06:29 AM
Dennis
Bass Reeves Night Court
Following is a press release issued on Bass Reeves Night Courts to be conducted in Ft Smith, next month featuring Oklahombres member Art Burton and his new book " Black Gun, Silver Star".

For Immediate Release
7/11/06
Contact:
Jennifer Goodson or Diane Cheshier
jgoodson@fspl.lib.ar.us or dcheshier@fspl.lib.ar.us
Fort Smith Public Library 479/783-0229
www.fspl.lib.ar.us

Historic Site to Sponsor Three Bass Reeves Night Courts
August 11 – 13, 2006, at 7 P.M.

Fort Smith National Historic Site will present three evenings of living history August 11-13 as part of a series of weekend events highlighting the life of Bass Reeves. Reeves, one of the first (if not the first) African-Americans to be sworn in as a U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the most well known and popular of the deputy marshals to serve during the 19th century.

Park staff and volunteers will conduct a mock trial based on a murder case heard by Judge Isaac Parker in 1887. Reeves himself was brought to trial in Judge Parker's court. Accused of murdering his cook in 1884 he was indicted in 1886 and stood trial in 1887. He hired some of the most expensive lawyers in Fort Smith to defend him. While Reeves was considered wealthy at the time, his trial placed a great financial burden on him and his family. Newspaper accounts and court records describe the case and trial. Using this material, park staff and volunteers will assume the roles of lawyers, witnesses, defendant, judge, and other court personnel. Some members of the audience will participate in the jury. After hearing the evidence presented, they will reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty. At the conclusion of the program, the historical verdict will be revealed and discussed.

Three separate Bass Reeves trial night courts will be presented. The night courts on August 12 and August 13 are fundraisers for the Bass Reeves Statue Project, an effort to bring a statue honoring Bass Reeves to the grounds of the park.

Friday, August 11: This trail is a rehearsal for the August 12 event. Attendance is limited to 36 people. Entry fee is $4 for adults. For reservations or more information, call the Fort Smith National Historic Site at 479-783-3961.

Saturday, August 12: This trial is a fundraiser for the Bass Reeves Statue Project, and will be professionally filmed for use in a DVD on Bass Reeves to be marketed later to raise funds for the Bass Reeves Statue Project. The actors and jury members will be costumed in this historically accurate trial. Tickets are $75 each and include an autographed copy of Bass Reeves scholar Art Burton's new book on Reeves, Black Gun, Silver Star. Tickets are also available for $50 without the book. In addition, 12 tickets available at $100 each will enable male participants to be costumed and participate in the trial as jurors and also include a signed copy of Burton's book. The majority of the ticket price is tax deductible. For reservations or more information, call Jennifer Goodson or Diane Cheshier at the Fort Smith Public Library at 479-783-0229.

Sunday, August 13: This final presentation of the Bass Reeves trial is also a fundraiser for the Bass Reeves Statue Project. All tickets are $10. A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible. For reservations or more information, call Jennifer Goodson or Diane Cheshier at the Fort Smith Public Library at 479-783-0229.

All three night courts will begin at 7 p.m. in the courtroom at the park's Visitor's Center. Refreshments will be served in the jail following the court. Space is very limited in the courtroom, so interested participants are encouraged to make reservations early. The programs are open to adults and children age 13 and up. Co-sponsors for these events include the Westerners, The Fort Smith Public Library, City of Fort Smith, and UA Fort Smith History Department.
Tue July 25 2006, 06:34 AM
Dennis
Also Art will have a book signing.

For Immediate Release
7/11/06
Contact:
Jennifer Goodson or Diane Cheshier
jgoodson@fspl.lib.ar.us or dcheshier@fspl.lib.ar.us
Fort Smith Public Library 479/783-0229
www.fspl.lib.ar.us

Author visit and book signing featuring Art Burton
To be held at the Fort Smith Public Library
3201 Rogers Avenue
Sunday, August 13th at 2 PM

The life and times of U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves will be highlighted in a free program at the Fort Smith Public Library's Main Library on August 13 at 2 p.m. The program will be presented by Reeves scholar Art Burton, whose book on Bass Reeves, Black Gun, Silver Star, was published in June.

Born a slave, Bass Reeves is considered to be one of the first, if not the first, African-Americans to be sworn in as a U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi. He was one of the most well-known and popular of the deputy marshals to serve during the 19th century. While he was not the only black deputy marshal to serve the Fort Smith court, he was perhaps the most respected. Using his skills in firearms, knowledge of several Indian dialects, and numerous disguises, he arrested many criminals in Indian Territory and brought them to Fort Smith to stand trial. One contemporary news account of his career said "Bass has a place in the front rank of those who cleansed out the old Indian Territory of outlaws and desperadoes."

Burton will discuss Reeves' life and career. Light refreshments will be served. Copies of Black Gun, Silver Star will be available for purchase and signing at the program. Co-sponsors for this program include Fort Smith National Historic Site, The Westerners, City of Fort Smith, and UA Fort Smith History Department. The Fort Smith Public Library is located at 3201 Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith. For more information, contact Jennifer Goodson or Diane Cheshier at the Main Library, 479-783-0229.