Dear readers, tonight with us is an ex Pinkerton Agent turned detective and gun for hire. He’s here to tell us about the 1870’s Wild West, and of how a gunslinger used to open plains and prairies can deal with the criminal underworld of a crowded metropolis.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up on the prairies of Nevada. It’s a dry, dusty sort of place. My family moved to Virginia City where my father got a job in the mines during the Comstock silver strike. As soon as I was old enough to hold a rifle, I honed my tracking and shooting skills killing varmints around Virginia City. People in those days didn’t care about the pest control, so whatever I bagged went into the pot.
My father was killed in a mine accident. He’d gotten us into debt, and mother and I still needed to eat and a place to rent, so I took a job as a wagon guard for the silver shipments. People who’d fallen on tough times or slid face first into the bottle were everywhere in a mining town. I got more practice with my gun than I care to admit before I left that town behind.
What made you leave Virginia City?
Mother caught the fever and after she died, I had to leave town to avoid payin’ off the rest of my father’s debt and caught the first train out of town. I ended up in Springfield, Illinois and since I needed to keep body and soul together, I lied about my age and I enlisted in the Army.
I looked as green as grass but shooting skills were in demand due to the start of the Civil War. So when I told them I was 18 they believed me. I ended up 6th Illinois Cavalry under General Nathaniel Banks. I saw combat, I saw ‘the elephant’ as we then called it. Dreadful, just dreadful. I don’t want to talk about what I saw during the war right now.
All right, then. So what brought you to the current place in your life?
After the Civil war I joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. First job I really liked, so I spent several years becoming the best agent there could be. Until my last assignment, where I was assigned to track two young women heading along the Oregon Trail to San Francisco.
Turned out that Samantha Williams and Charlotte Hart were two tough young ladies, gave me a hell of time finding them. Hell of a job – I had to bring Samantha back to an abusive father. Idiot only wanted to marry her off like a damned cow.
Wild Bill Hickok was travelin’ with the two. He told me flat out what a lousy job I had. And when a legend of the West tells you that you’re in the wrong, you plain just listen. A year or two later, I quit Pinkerton and decided to head to San Francisco, where I am now.Continue reading “Mathew Slade (of Gaslight Gunslinger, by Sugar Lee Ryder)”