Name: David Allen MATHER
Given Name: David Allen
Change Date: 16 SEP 2014
Birth: 10 AUG 1851 in Saybrook, Middlesex Co., CT
Death: AFT 1920 in , , , Canada
1860 Census; Westbrook, Middlesex Co., CT - taken June 14
household 326 -- 44
Josiah WRIGHT; age 76; farmer, $4000, $1200
Miranda WRIGHT, age 66 [Josiah & Miranda married within the year]
David E. Mather; age 8
Jonathan WRIGHT; age 24; farm laborer
Mary J. WRIGHT; age 24 [Jonathan & Mary married within the year]
Geo WINTERS, age 21, farm laborer, Baden Germany
copied 23 Nov 2010: http://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=mikemather63 &id=I1863
The New England Mathers with special emphasis on the families who married into our family
Entries: 125519 Updated: 2010-11-21 19:53:41 UTC (Sun) Contact: Mike
?Name: David Allen Mather Deputy Marshal
?Suffix: Deputy Marshal
?Birth: 10 Aug 1851 in Saybrook, Middlesex Co., Connecticut
?Death: AFT 1920 in , Canada
!David Allen Mather, more often known to the citizens of Dodge City,
Kansas as Mysterious Dave Mather, gunfighter and sometime lawman, shot
and killed Tom Nixon on July 21, 1884. Old Tom was acting as a deputy
city marshal. A few days before the fatal gunplay, he had had hard words
with Mather, who, according to Bob Wright, "had more dead men to his credit
at that time than any other man in the West." Sheriff Pat Sughrue, despite
his slurring reference to Mysterious Dave before the election, had sworn
the secretive gunslinger in as his deputy. Nixon and Mather were both
wearing badges. When they came face to face outside the Opera House Saloon,
partially owned by Mather, there was a roar of gunfire, and Old Tom lay
sprawled in a bloody heap on the board sidewalk.
Sughrue had the unpleasant task of arresting his own deputy for the
killing. Mather submitted peaceably and was held in the county jail on a
charge of premeditated murder until he was released on bail. Among the
prominent citizens of Dodge who furnished bond were a quartet of Bat's
(Masterson's) political and personal enemies: Larry Deger, Fred Singer,
Mike Sutton, and Nick Klaine.
Bat was among the witnesses called to testify at Mather's preliminary
examination on July 31. Like most testimony given by first hand observers
to a sudden and dramatic happening, the various accounts were conflicting
and confused, but the consensus seemed to be that Mather confronted Nixon,
declared that he was going to kill him, drew, and fired immediately. Nixon,
most witnesses agreed, made no move for his weapon. He probably never had a
chance against the lightning draw of the redoubtable Dave. Although Bat did
not see the actual shooting, he was an early arrival at the scene of thetragedy
and, presumably, his experience in such smokey matters was considered
Mysterious Dave was bound over for trial, which was held in Kinsley, Edwards
County, the following December. The jury was out only twenty-seven minutes
before bringing in a verdict of not guilty, and Mather returned once more to
the gamblers' circuit. The western code that made a man wearing a gun fair
game for anyone had been upheld again.
Bat Masterson was called to testify at the Kinsley trial, and he took umbrage
at some of the remarks made by Sam Vandivert, assistant prosecuting attorney,
so he fired off one of his vituperative epistles on January 2 to get the new
year of 1885 rolling right. According to Bat's letter, published in the
"Kinsley Graphic," Vandivert had characterized some of the Dodge City visitors
as "pimps and prostitutes." The attorney's remarks were not to be taken too
seriously, however, said Bat, since he was but recently arrived from Missouri,
"that sweet and verdant land that gave birth to the Fords and Liddells" (a
reference to Bob and Charlie Ford and Dick Liddell, members of the James'gang)
and the comments were "utterances of a coarse, vulger, and untutored mind."
Although Vandivert was probably considered a good lawyer in Missouri, continued
Bat, "it doesn't require much material to gain a distinction there....This
frequent allusion to pimps and prostitutes would lead the ordinary person to
believe that he possessed a greater knowledge of this class than he did of law,
for he scarcely ever referred to the latter." Bat closed by advising the
"insipid deciple of Blackstone...to pay more attention to law, and less to
blackguardism" and wished the citizens of Kinsley a Happy New Year.
Even a partial list of the knights of the green cloth who headquartered in
Dodge City that season (1878) reads like a who's who of the western sporting
fraternity. In action at the tables that year were Ben and Billy Thompson,
Cockeyed Frank Loving, Mysterious Dave Mather, Wyatt Earp and his brothers
Virgil and Morgan, Shotgun Collins, John Joshua Webb, Tom Lane, Rowdy Joe
Lowe, George Goodell, Johnny Allen, Dick Clark, Johnson Gallagher, Charlie
Ronan, Kinch Riley, Colonel Charlie Norton, Joe Mason, Lon Hyatt, Charlie
Bassett, W.H. Bennett, Lou and Sam Blonger, Luke Short, Bill Harris, Harry
Bell, and John H.("Doc") Holliday.
Bat Masterson dearly loved a good practical joke, and many of the pranks in
which he participated at Dodge were talked of for years in the West. A number
of the men who, with Bat, had helped to establish Dodge's reputation as a
gunman's town contributed to her fame as a community of jokesters. Wyatt Earp,
Luke Short, Jack Bridges, Mysterious Dave Mather, and others in the sporting
brotherhood were Bat's accomplices. Greenhorns, of course, were common targets
for the westerners' rough sense of humor. Eddie Foy, the vaudeville clown,
was roped and dragged off the sidewalk. A gang of grim-faced men set him
astride a pony and led it under a tree, where a rope was tightened around his
neck and he was asked if he had any final words. Foy replied that anything
he had to say he could say better at the bar of the Long Branch Saloon. "The
whole affair ended in a laugh and a drink all around," the comedian recalled.
Dave Mather had a brother, Joshua Wright Mather, who also traveled to Kansas
from their birthplace in Saybrook, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. His whereabouts
is unknown thusfar.
- some notes taken from "Bat Masterson-
The Man and The Legend," by Robert K. DeArment
While "Mysterious Dave" Mather was a lawman in Dodge City, he fired a shot in
a saloon that created more than the usual commotion. Mather was one of those
frontier gunman who divided his career between being an outlaw part time, and
a peace officer part time. One afternoon he was playing a game of seven-up
with a gambler of low principles in the Long Branch Saloon. Apparently the
two men fell into argument and when the gambler drew his weapon, Mysterious
Dave drew his, and both fired at the same instant. The gambler was dead;
Mather's head was grazed quite bloodily.
According to John Callison, who was present and later wrote about the incident,
the bullet went through the gambler, struck the stove, went through it and
killed one of James Kelley's dogs, a bitch named Flora, in the rear of the
saloon. Kelley was a restaurant owner and occasionally the Mayor of Dodge City.
"Such little things as that happened so often in Dodge," Callison recalled,
"that nothing was said about it until someone found the dead dog in the other
end of the saloon. Kelley had only a hundred dogs that he kept to chase jack
rabbits, antelope, and coyotes. Certain men sometimes called him "Dog Kelley"
...Someone slipped out and told Kelley that Mysterious Dave had killed one of
his favorite dogs. Without stopping to ask any questions as to how it happened,
he grabbed up his old sawed-off shotgun and started to hunt up the man that
had the nerve to do such a thing. When Kelley reached the Long Branch Saloon,
Mysterious Dave had gone out to get his head fixed up. The men in
the saloon told Kelley it was an accident, and was done without malice
aforethought. Kelley would not listen to anything. He even said Mysterious
Dave had no business shooting his gun off without first looking to see if
there were any dogs of his in the saloon. He went up and looked at the corpse,
swore a few swears, and said he would bury that dog with military honors next
day, and if there was a man in the town who did not attend the funeral he
would hunt him up with that old sawed-off shotgun."
Although no inquest was held on the dead gambler (he was buried without
ceremony in Boot Hill cemetery), Kelley insisted on a jury to weigh the
evidence in the death of his bitch Flora. Several witnesses swore that the
dog had no business in the saloon, that she should have been out chasing
jackrabbits or at least had one eye on Mysterious Dave whose gun sometimes
went off unexpectantly. "Other witnesses swore that Dave's gun hung fire, and
if the dog had been on her guard she would have jumped out the window. The jury
brought in a verdict that the dog...and that the shooting was done in
self-defense and was perfectly justified, as the dog had no business going to
sleep in a booze house in Dodge City."
-some notes taken from "Wonderous Times on the Frontier,"
by Dee Alexander Brown, August House, Inc., Little Rock
An evangelist calling himself Brother Johnson arrived and used all his
magnetic power to end sin in the city of Dodge. His crowds were so large
that he persuaded Kate Lowe to allow him to use the Green Front Saloon as a
meeting place, and every night it was filled to capacity as he pulled live
snakes out of a whiskey bottle to prove the evil of such drink. Not
satisfied with such success, however, Brother Johnson conceived the idea of
converting Dave Mather, also known as Mysterious Dave, who at the time was
city marshal and a known killer of several men. Soon Brother Johnson was out
early every morning to exhort Mysterious Dave to come to the revival.
Eventually, either because he wanted to placate the revivalist or he felt
the tug of Christianity, Mysterious Dave agreed to come one evening. Inasmuch
as Dave Mather was known to keep his word, the crowd that night was especially
large, the most openly Christian members of the community in visible
When Mysterious Dave arrived, he was escorted to the seat of honor in front
of the podium. Brother Johnson preached directly at Dave, his sermon filled
with quotations from the scriptures about the horrors of hell and the beauties
of heaven and how the angels in heaven would rejoice at the conversion of
such a man as Dave Mather. Brother Johnson concluded that he knew he would go
straight to heaven if he could convert such a sinner as Mysterious Dave and
that he would be ready to die if he could accomplish that. When he finished,
several male members of the faithful jumped to their feet to agree that they
also would be willing to die and go straight to heaven rejoicing together.
During all this Mysterious Dave sat with his head bowed. Later he declared
that never in his life had he sweated so much, for he knew that every eye in
the house was on him. He swore that he would rather have had to fight a
dozen angry men armed with six-guns than that crowd of Christians. At last,
however, he rose to his feet and said that he had been touched, that he was
filled with religion, that he knew that if he died he would go straight to
heaven. Pulling his gun, he said he was afraid that if he continued to live
he might backslide and miss eternal bliss, as might the preacher and many of
the congregation. Therefore he proposed to kill them right then, along with
himself, in order that all might enter eternal glory. "I will send you first,"
he said to the preacher as he fired just above the minister's head. Then he
turned and fired several shots above the heads of the faithful. All of them
fell to the floor, trembling with fear, whereupon Mysterious Dave shot out the
lights and walked toward the door, remarking, "You are all a set of liars and
frauds, you don't want to go to heaven with me at all." The evangelist soon
left the town, while the "faithful" in the congregation, after everyone
laughed at them for awhile, soon backslid and returned to their sinful ways.
-some notes from "Dodge City, The Most Western Town
of All," by Odie B. Faulk, Oxford University Press,
New York 1877
From the "Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters" this account of David Mather
is given (with some inaccuracies):
(b. 1845, Connecticut, Horse thief, buffalo hunter, train and stagecoach
robber, law officer, prospector, farmer, gambler, hotel employee. (David
Allen Mather was actually born in 1851) Mysterious Dave was rumored to have
been a descentant of Cotton Mather (he was actually his 1st cousin, 6 times
removed). His sobriquet accurately describes the true extent of knowledge
about his background and final years. It is known that by 1873 this native
of (Saybrook) Connecticut was involved with rustlers in Sharp County,
Arkansas. A year later he was hunting buffalo, but after suffering a stomach
slash in a Dodge City knife fight he went to New Mexico, where he consorted
with horse thieves and stage robbers. While in Mobeetie, near Fort Elliot in
the Texas Panhandle, Mather reputedly killed a man following a quarrel.
In 1879 Mather and several other shady characters were arrested with the
notorious outlaw Dutch Henry Born. Mather was soon released, but within months
he was again arrested for complicity in a train robbery in the vicinity of Las
Vegas, New Mexico. After trial he was acquitted, and almost immediately he
secured an appointment as a constable in Las Vegas. For a few months he was
quite active as a peace officer, but in the spring of 1880 he traveled with
three other prospectors to the gold fields of Gunnison, Colorado.
By November Mather was back in Las Vegas. He helped some friends break from
the city jail and then went to Texas. He was first in San Antonio, then went
to Dallas and finally to Fort Worth, where he was arrested for stealing a
gold ring and chain from a Negro woman.
In 1883 Mather moved to Dodge City and was appointed deputy city marshal
and deputy sheriff of Ford County. There were complaints that Mysterious Dave
was a bully and was too cooperative with criminals, and when he ran for city
constable in February, 1884, he was defeated.
A few months later an old feud with Deputy Marshal Tom Nixon erupted into
bloodshed. In June, Nixon wounded Mather in the streets of Dodge, and three
days afterward Mysterious Dave shot Nixon to death. Mather eventually won
acquittal and briefly turned to farming, but in May, 1885, he became involved
in another fatal gunfight in Ashland, Kansas. While awaiting trial, Mather
jumped bail and turned up as city marshal in New Kiowa, Kansas. In 1887
he rode into Long Pine, Nebraska, where he had occasionally worked at the
depot hotel. But after a year Dave mysteriously and permanantly faded into
Gunfights: November 20, 1879, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Several soldiers were
indulging in a raucous night on the town. Constable Mather and other peace
officers arrived on the scene, loaded the soldiers in a hack, and headed for
jail. Suddenly one of the troopers jumped out of the vehicle and bolted away.
Mather ordered him to halt, then ran in persuit. The constable fired five or
six pistol shots and struck the soldier in the thumb. The soldier then
January 25, 1880, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Joseph Costillo, a young railroad
employee, had arrived in Las Vegas the previous day in charge of a repair
crew. A little after 10:00 P.M. on the twenty-fifth, two of his workers
drunkenly began to quarrel. Castillo tried to intervene, but a crowd quickly
gathered, and Castillo and one of his men brandished pistols to keep the
townspeople at bay.
At this point constable Mather arrived and ordered the railroad men to put up
their weapons. In reply Castillo leveled his six-gun at Mather and threatened
to shoot him if he took another step. Mather whipped out his own revolver and
without hesitation shot Castillo. The slug penetrated Castillo's left side,
tore through his lung and stomach, and ranged down into his liver. He was
carried to Hoodoo Brown's office, and a doctor was summoned, but he died at
six o'clock the following morning.
July 18, 1884, Dodge City, Kansas. Mysterious Dave held a grudge against Tom
Nixon, an old buffalo hunter who had recently replaced Mather as assistant
city marshal of Dodge. At about 9:00 P.M. Nixon and Mather began quarreling
outside the Opera House, where Mysterious Dave ran a saloon. Mather stood at
the top of the stairs, while his antagonist was on the ground. Suddenly Nixon
pulled a six-gun and fired a shot which plowed into the woodwork, spraying
Mather with splinters. Sheriff Pat Sughrue appeared promptly and disarmed
Nixon, who claimed that Mather had waved a weapon at him. Mysterious Dave
swore that he was unarmed, and Nixon was forced to produce eight hundred
July 21, 1884, Dodge City, Kansas. About 10:00 P.M. Nixon was standing on
the Opera House corner amidst numerous passersby. Mather came to the foot of
the stairs of the building and drew a Colt .42 revolver. "Tom," he whispered.
"Oh. Tom." His gun still holstered, Nixon turned to face Mather. Without
further warning Mysterious Dave fired. "Oh," gasped Nixon, "I'm killed," and
he collapsed face down. Mather then began to walk toward his fallen adversary,
methodically pumping three more slugs into his body. (After passing through
Nixon, one of the bullets seriously wounded a cowboy bystander.) Nixon died
on the spot, and Mysterious Dave surrendered his gun to Sheriff Sughrue.
May 10, 1885, Ashland, Kansas. On a Sunday evening about 8:30, Mather was
visiting Ashland's crowded Junction Saloon, where his brother Josiah (Joshua
Wright Mather) was tending bar. Dave began playing Seven-Up at fifty cents a
game with a twenty-three-year-old grocer named David Barnes. Barnes won the
first game, Mather the second, and Barnes the third, whereupon Mysterious Dave
threw the cards at Barnes and picked up all the money on the table. Barnes
protested, :I want my money," and was backed up by his brother John, who
stepped forward and declared, "That man has some friends and he can't be
robbed in such a manner."
Mysterious Dave shoved John and snarled, "What have you got to do with this?"
As Barnes staggered back, he went for his pistol. Sheriff Pat Sughrue, an
onlooker, shouted,"Here, that won't do," then pinned John's arms and finally
managed to get his gun.
In the meantime, David Barnes had pulled a six-gun and fired a shot which
creased Mysterious Dave's skull and tore a hole in his hat. From behind the
bar Josiah (Joshua) Mather produced a weapon and began firing, and, according
to certain witnesses, so did Mysterious Dave. David Barnes was hit and went
down, and Josiah (Joshua) Mather squeezed off three more slugs at the fallen
When the shooting stopped, it was discovered that bystanders John Wall and
C. C. Camp had suffered leg wounds from stray bullets. Sughrue arrested the
Mather brothers, who posted a three-thousand-dollar bond, and then promptly
jumped bail and left the area.
Sources: Rickards, "Mysterious Dave Mather";
Miller and Snell, "Great Gunfighters of the
Kansas Cowtowns," 31, 242-244, 297-298, 301,
320-343; Vestal, "Dodge City," 212-220;
Schoenberger, "Gunfighters," 36, 38, 99.
Mysterious Dave and his brother Joshua's
family tree is available in the book,
"Lineage of Reverend Richard Mather," by
Horace E. Mather, Hartford, Connecticut,
1890, pp. 391.
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.
Mysterious Dave Mather
Mysterious Dave Mather
Born: August 10, 1851 Connecticut, USA
Occupation: Cattle Rustler Lawman Buffalo Hunter Hired Gun
Years active: 1870s - 1885
Notable opponents: Tom Nixon William "Big" Randall James West John Dorsey Tom Henry
Dave Allen Mather (August 10, 1851, date of death unknown, most probably May 1886, but nothing confirmed), known as Mysterious Dave, or sometimes as New York Dave, was an American lawman and gunfighter in the American Old West. The date and circumstances of his death are not known with any certain facts. However the most plausible account is that he was shot to death in Dallas, Texas in 1886, and left on the tracks of a railroad. The body found matched his description, and the bondsman holding a $3,000 bond on him was released of the obligation that same year on the pretense that the client had died.
Not a great deal is known of Mather's life. The gaps in his life and his taciturn manner may have been what earned him the sobriquet "Mysterious Dave". It is known that he was a lawman in Dodge City, Kansas, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, and was a frequent associate of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.
1 Early life
2 Great Plains
3 Las Vegas
4 Variety Hall Shootout
5 Dodge City Gang ends
6 Dodge City
7 After Dodge City
10 Popular culture
Dave was the son of Ulysses and Lydia Mather (nee Wright) of Connecticut. His father was a sea captain who
was descended from the famous Mathers of New England who had included Richard Mather, Increase Mather, and Cotton Mather. Dave seems to have fancied himself a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, but this was in error. Cotton Mather had no male children live to adulthood. Accordingly, Americans born in that era with the surname Mather are most likely decended from Timothy Mather, a farmer, brother of Increase Mather and uncle
to Cotton Mather
Dave was the first of three sons born to the Mathers. His brother, Josiah "Sy" Mather was born October 11, 1854. Another brother, George Conway Mather, was born in 1855 and died in 1856. By the time that Dave was 16, both of his parents had died), and Dave and his brother, Josiah headed west, settling first in Dodge City, Kansas.
Ulysseus Mather abandoned his family following the death of his son and the loss of his ship. He died in 1864 at port in Shanghai, after being stabbed by the ship's Chinese cook. Lydia Mather remarried to a man named George H. Randle sometime in the late 1850s. When she died in 1868, Dave and Sy ran away to sea. This lasted less than a year before the boys opted for a life on dry land and jumped ship in New Orleans.
Mather's life through most of the 1870s is poorly documented. He seems to have operated as a cattle rustler and outlaw in Arkansas along with Dave Rudabaugh and Milton J. Yarberry. A warrant was issued for the three after
a prominent rancher was murdered and his home robbed. They fled to Decatur, Texas, in 1873.
Sy reported that he and Dave tried to work as buffalo hunters on the Llano Estacado around 1874. The venture
did not last long, but it is possible that Mather may have met future associates such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Bill Tilghman, who also tried their hand at hunting.
Dave was a resident of Dodge City, Kansas, in the early 1870s, where he befriended Dr. Thomas L. McCarty. When Dave was badly wounded in a knife fight, McCarty was able to save his life. In 1878, Mather and Wyatt Earp are said to have come into Mobeetie, Texas, with a scheme to sell phony gold bricks. The two claimed that the bricks were from a lost mine dating back to the days of the conquistadores. Before they could get far with their scam they were run out of town by a lawman named Jim McIntire. Like so many of the stories about Mather, the authenticity of this one is dubious.
What is more historically certain is that Mysterious Dave was one of the Kansas gunslingers assembled by Bat Masterson for the Railroad Wars of 1879-80. The Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad was competing with the Denver and Rio Grande for the rights to build a track through two disputed areas. Other gunfighters working with Mather for the Santa Fe line included Dave Rudabaugh, John Joshua Webb, Doc Holliday, and Ben Thompson.
The "war" ended with the Santa Fe established in Raton Pass and the Denver and Rio Grande gaining control of the Royal Gorge. In 1879, Mather joined John Joshua Webb, Dave Rudabaugh, and several others in the nearby city of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The group was collectively known as the "Dodge City Gang" and was led by Hoodoo Brown.
The gang monopolized the gambling and prostitution in Las Vegas while they acquired political power as well. Hoodoo Brown became justice of the peace, and Dave Mather was named deputy U.S. Marshal for the area by Governor Lew Wallace. Members of the gang, including Mather, were also alleged to have been responsible for several stagecoach robberies. Mather's career during this time seems to have been a mix of law-enforcement and alleged law-breaking, a pattern common to the famous lawmen of the Old West.
Variety Hall Shootout
On January 22, 1880, Las Vegas Marshal Joe Carson was shot and killed by four cowboys in the Close and Patterson's Variety Hall during a shootout. Whether or not Mather was actually deputized has never been confirmed. The account told most often has him going in with Carson, with some accounts listing him as Carson's deputy, while others simply say they were together that day. Cowboys T.J. House, James West, John Dorsey, and William Randall had been going around town that day, in and out of saloons, generally making trouble. A "no guns in town limits" rule was in effect, and Marshal Carson demanded that the cowboys relinquish their weapons, to which they refused. A shootout between Carson and the cowboys started, with the marshall falling dead. Dave Mather drew his gun and returned fire. When the gunfire died down Mather was still standing. William "Big" Randall was mortally wounded, and James West was too badly injured to escape. The other two men, John Dorsey and an also wounded T.J. House, managed to make their way to the stable and escape.
House and Dorsey were captured two weeks later, and brought to the Las Vegas jail to await trial. An angry mob broke into the jail and pulled House, Dorsey and West from their cell, and lynched them. The gunfight, which became known as the Variety Hall Shootout, was the first substantiated account to which Mather's name could
be attached, and it launched him into western fame as a gunman.
Dodge City Gang ends
By March 1880, public sentiment had turned against the Dodge City Gang; they broke up to head their separate ways. He seems to have spent time in various places in New Mexico and Texas before settling in Dallas, Texas, in December. During this period he often used the alias Dave Matthews.
In Dallas, Mather had his only recorded romance of any length. He was involved with an African American woman named Georgia Morgan who worked as the madame of a brothel called the "Long Branch". The romance lasted until January 1881 when Dave abandoned his lover, taking some items of property belonging to her. She pursued him with a butcher knife but was arrested before she could do anything.
In May 1883, Mysterious Dave returned to Kansas and became assistant town marshal during the so-called Dodge City War, a dispute between saloon owners who were friends of the mayor of Dodge City and Luke Short, owner of the Long Branch Saloon. Several gunfighters including Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp gathered to support their friend Short. The show of force was enough to cause Short's enemies to back down, and violence was avoided. Mather also served during this time as a Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Patrick F. Sughrue. On September 29, 1883, Mather led a posse in pursuit of train robbery suspects, capturing two the same day in which the posse left town.
While in Dodge City, Mather became owner of the Opera House Saloon, became active in politics as a Democrat, and may even have gotten married, but that is unconfirmed. Though the evidence is marginal, he may have been married to a woman named Josephine. Mather became involved in a feud with a rival saloon owner named Tom Nixon. Tom was the owner of the Lady Gay Saloon and was a friend of the mayor. An ordinance had been passed that restricted all saloons in town, except the Lady Gay. Dave's resentment grew when he was replaced as deputy by Tom Nixon.
On July 18, 1884, Mysterious Dave and Tom Nixon had an altercation in front of the Opera House Saloon. Nixon drew a pistol and fired once, missing Mather. Nixon posted a bond for assault with intent to kill in the sum of $800, but Mather himself elected not to file a complaint. The Dodge City Democrat published an article on the shooting which states plainly that by all indications, the situation was "by all appearances not yet at an end". The article could not have been more accurate. Three days later, Mysterious Dave walked up to Nixon and shot and killed Nixon. He then surrendered himself to authorities and was exonerated of murder. The common consensus at the time was that because of Nixon's previous attempt on Mather's life, Mather was acting in self defense.
On May 10, 1885, Mather was arrested again. This time he and his brother Josiah (called Sy) were accused of killing a gambler named Dave Jones over a game of cards, inside the Junction Saloon. The gunfight also resulted in Dave Mather being wounded by a bullet that grazed his head, and it has been reported that his brother was killed, but in fact he did not die until 1933. There was a preliminary hearing on the shooting, during which it was revealed that Dave Mather never fired a shot, and that Dave Jones had fired on Dave Mather, grazing him, only to be shot dead by Josiah Mather. The shooting and the aftermath was well publicized at the time, due mostly to the notoriety of Dave Mather. The results of that hearing were posted in the Dodge City Democrat on May 22nd, 1885. There were several witness statements included in that article.
The brothers made bail and left town, though the details of how are unclear. One account says that Marshal Bill Tilghman ran Dave out of town after an armed standoff, another says he slipped away disguised as a woman. Neither are believed to be true, and it is most likely he simply left town, and for all practical purposes disappeared from historical record. 
After Dodge City
There are only a few reliable reports of Mather's life following his departure from Dodge. Mather's friends said that he had to stay away from town because of a vengeful mob that wanted to kill him, but they did not disclose his whereabouts. However, one newspaper of the day reports his appointment as a Deputy Marshal in New Kiowa, Kansas, in Barber County, where he remained for nearly a year. He had skipped out of Dodge City under a $3,000 bail, which he never paid. Short of the report that he worked in New Kiowa, there were no more reports of his whereabouts, short of one sketchy report, the most probable, of a man matching his description being found dead in Texas.
There are several accounts of Mysterious Dave's final fate:
He lived in New Mexico as a bank-robber named Mysterious Dave Taylor.
He traveled to Vancouver where he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and served with them until at least 1922.
He spent his last years as a US Customs officer in Blaine, Washington.
He lived out his final days in Lone Pine, Nebraska.
Certainly the most outrageous claim about Mysterious Dave's end came in the February 9, 1988, issue of the Weekly World News. The tabloid claims that Dave was a part of a posse on the Arizona-Mexico border when he was abducted by an unidentified flying object.
None of these accounts has been supported by any public records. Neither the Mounted Police nor the U.S. Customs Service, nor the vital records of any of the communities he supposedly lived in, can furnish any evidence of Dave Mather's presence. However, the most plausible report as to what happened to Mather comes out of Dallas, Texas, in May 1886, when it was reported that an unidentified body of a man matching Mather's description, with a long mustache, was found dead on the Central Texas Railroad from a bullet to the head. Although publically there is nothing saying that dead man was Mather, that same year the bondsman company who posted his bail in Dodge City were released from their obligation under the pretense that their client had died. His brother Josiah, when asked, said that the family did not know what had happened to Dave Mather, but they wished they did know.
There are several legends that are told about Mysterious Dave which cannot be firmly placed at any specific point in his career. Whether they are accurate stories, distortions of actual events, or fabrications is difficult to determine.
Drinking In Dodge - Dave Mather would periodically retrieve his pistol from the bartender and fire at a bell on the street outside. If he missed the bell he would conclude that he was getting drunk and go home. One night, the bartender replaced the bullets in Dave's gun with blanks. When his shot missed Dave headed home. On the way he saw a coyote crossing the street and fired several shots at it. Dave was terrified when the animal seemed impervious to bullets and the incident left him feeling nervous for days.
The Henry Bunch - Dodge City Marshal Tom Carson was gunned down in the Long Branch Saloon by seven outlaws from the "Henry Gang." The marshal staggered outside and collapsed on the street. As he lay dying, his deputy, Dave Mather mysteriously appeared from nowhere. Dave swore to the dying lawman that he would avenge him, then entered the saloon and gunned down all seven of the outlaws. (This story is a distorted account of a real gunfight in Las Vagas, New Mexico, on January 22.)
Mysterious Dave and the Sky Pilot - Once in Dodge City a traveling preacher came into town and was holding a Revival meeting. One evening Mather walked into the revival, drunk. The pastor recognized Mather and began to harrangue him to repent of his sinful ways. Finally Dave stood up and announced that he had seen the light. Drawing his pistols he announced that, being assured of Heaven, he was ready to die. He invited anyone who was certain of their salvation </wiki/Salvation> to die with him and began to shoot out the lights. When the preacher and the crowd fled, Dave pronounced them all hypocrites and went home.
Louis L'Amour once said there were three types of lawmen in the Old West:
the Bat Mastersons, who were concerned with your rights and would give you a chance to surrender
the Wild Bills, who would "post you" out of town, putting your name on a list on a tree in public warning you to be out of town by sundown, and after that, would shoot on sight.
the Mysterious Dave type. He simply killed his enemies on sight. No warnings, no postings, no talk, just shooting. While he did not garner the publicity of other famous gunmen/lawmen of the day, he is regarded as one of the most dangerous.
Bosh and Moonshine, a musical play by Mike Craver performed by the Boot Hill Repertory Company featured Mysterious Dave as a character.
"Fools Gold", by Matthew Baugh is a short story featuring Dave Mather and Wyatt Earp. It appears in Hell's Hangmen a collection of horror-western stories compiled by Ron Shiflet.
The main character of "Mysterious Dan's Legacy" by Matthew Baugh is also patterned on Dave Mather. The story appears in the Arkham Tales.
^ "Lineage of Rev. Richard Mather" by Horace E. Mather, published in 1890 at Hartford, CT
^ a b c d Mather Family Genealogy
Colin Rickards, Mysterious Dave Mather
Jack DeMattos, Mysterious Gunfighter: the Story of Dave Mather
Most Probable Death of Mysterious Dave Mather
Mysterious Dave Mather
History of Dave Mather, including newspaper articles
?Change Date: 25 Oct 2010 at 19:34:06
?FILE: My Pictures\Mather Genealogy Family Pictures\David Allen Mather.jpg
Father: Ulysses Mather b: 3 Apr 1823 in Saybrook, Middlesex Co., Connecticut
Mother: Lydia E. Wright b: 1830 in , Middlesex Co., Connecticut
Father: Ulysses MATHER b: 3 APR 1823 in Saybrook, Middlesex Co., CT
Mother: Lydia E. WRIGHT b: 19 MAY 1830 in Killingworth, Middlesex Co., CT