|There is nothing which breeds mystery faster
than a gunfighter
of few words. Dave Mather was just such a man and came to be known as
Dave". He could often be seen about the saloons of Denver, always
belted up with twin Colts bulging under his coat, stopping here and
to gaze at the players at a faro table, watching others playing
and never seen engaged in gambling himself.
Dave was a smallish man with square but frail shoulders, dark eyes and dark mustache. He could often be seen sunning himself along the board walk in front of the Sheriff's office. Dave had a badge pinned to his chest, for he was indeed a deputy in Dodge City.
Dave had come from a family of seafaring lawmen up in Massachusetts and his ancestors had been rugged sailormen of the Seven Seas. So Dave was made of whipcord stuff. Many claimed he was a descendant of Cotton Mather.
The real gunslingers of Dodge watched Dave out of the tail of their eye, because around him was a halo of mystery which they could not plumb. One night Marshal Tom Carson walked into a whale of a lot of trouble with a gang of desperadoes known as the Henry bunch of gunslingers and needed help. Dave was there with him when the marshal was shot both in the legs and arms and lay crippled on the dance floor. He died from loss of blood shortly afterwards, but before he expired, Dave assured him he would kill every last one of the Henry outfit. He got to his feet and roared after them down the flimsy staircase, out of the dancehall into the street where, with a gun in each hand, he cut down seven men and left them lying dead from the board walk on up to the Long Branch. Nobody had ever seen such a gun battle before. It was difficult to believe that this quiet little man could have done such damage. Dave said nothing more about it, and a few days later resumed his seat in front of the sheriff's office.
Dave had become known as a killer lawman, when a preacher came to town and pitched his tent and was holding a sawdust revival. Dave drifted into the meet ing one night, a little liquored up, and sat down to listen. The skypilot directed his religion at Dave, saying he would gladly die to save this man who had sent seven men to Hell. Dave resented the remark, rose to his feet with a gun in either hand. The tent became vacant in a few seconds as people scattered, and one blast from Dave's gun sent the parson under the canvas out into the night. The next morning the tent had been struck and a few kids were searching the sawdust circle looking for lost coins.
Dave decided to open a saloon but Marshal T. C. Nixon of Dodge was playing a high-handed game of politics and tried to stop him. Mather and Nixon quarelled in the street, in which Mather got shot or grazed in the shoulder. He said nothing but told the marshal he'd better get out of Dodge. That night they met again on the street and a gunfight ensued in which Dave out drew him and killed him on the spot. As he had witnesses, it was merely a case of self-defense.
He left Dodge in the late 1880s and journeyed horse back to San Francisco, thence on up by boat into Canada and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, proving his prowess by showing what he could do with a pair of six guns and a horse. Dave was at heart an Englishman anyhow. He was still seen in the royal blue and red as late as 1920. Although unsung, Dave Mather was one of our great gunfighters of the Old West.