When Belle Starr, the infamous “Bandit Queen” was shot and killed in 1889, her son Eddie Reed was 18 years old. He had grown up surrounded by outlaws in a hard life that had made him tough and bitter. 

Before his mother’s death, Eddie was already in trouble with the law himself. He had partnered with a Creek citizen named Mose Perryman, and they had stolen a horse. Then Mose turned on Reed and shot him in the face.

The young man recovered, but was tried in the Fort Smith federal court in July of 1889 and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He served only a portion of this sentence, however, before receiving a pardon.

Reed returned to Indian Territory and settled in Wagoner where he married a Cherokee teacher named Jennie Cochran. Because he was good with a gun, he found employment as a guard with the Katy Railroad, working to protect the trains from outlaws such as the Cook Gang. Eventually, Reed was made a U.S. deputy marshal serving the very court that had sentenced him six years earlier.

Ed Reed proved to be a competent lawman, hardened enough to not be afraid to use a gun. He primarily worked in the Cherokee Nation, trying to do what most lawmen did at that time – fighting the flow of illegal alcohol.

In the fall of 1895, two brothers, Dick and Zeke Crittenden, rode into Wagoner. They were liquored up and spoiling for a fight. They began to take shots at anything that moved on the downtown streets. They wounded a local restaurant owner, but even so, the town sheriff made no effort to arrest the two.

Someone rode to get Marshal Reed. He arrived in town in the late afternoon and ordered the Crittendens to drop their weapons. Instead of complying, the two men turned their guns on Reed. He avoided at least four shots from these miscreants and then shot both of them.

On Dec. 14, 1896, Reed rode into Claremore to investigate two men running an illegal saloon and gambling parlor operating out of a back room of their legitimate cigar store. Reed gained admission to the back room, and heated words and perhaps lead were exchanged. The marshal left, but promised to return for the business owners, J.N. Clark and Joe Gibbs.

Unfortunately, these whiskey peddlers were waiting for Reed and both fired at him when he entered the building. Ed managed to stagger out but fell as he crossed the street. He was rushed to a doctor’s office, but succumbed to his wounds.

His wife and his sister Rosie Lee Reed (also known as Pearl) came to Claremore to claim his body. He was buried in the cemetery of his wife’s family south of Claremore, a courageous lawman who seems to have tried to leave a different legacy than his mother.

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