Following ‘Dangerous Dan’

Nonprofit looks to bring hidden history to light


When “Dangerous Dan” Tucker appeared in Southern New Mexico, he played many roles including deputy sheriff, town marshal, deputy United States marshal, train agent and livestock inspector.

He was appointed as deputy sheriff of Silver City by Sheriff Harvey Whitehill in 1876 and became the first Marshall of Silver City in 1878, the same year as the Territorial Charter. Tucker was not one to back down and earned his title of “Dangerous Dan” with his deadly methods of keeping order.

In Silver City a non-profit group, Hidden History of Silver City’s Old West, has taken on the job of making sure Tucker and other mostly unknown characters are remembered.

Two of the organizers, Ben Fredricksen and Gayle Trenberth, said they would like to see more western history come to light in Grant County.

Fredricksen found a book at the Silver City Museum, “Dangerous Dan Tucker: New Mexico’s Deadly Lawman,” by Bob Alexander and became fascinated.

“I just read the book and it impressed me so much, I pursued it,” he said. “This guy has a big connection with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.  He didn’t fool around, he took care of business and nowadays we wouldn’t like the way he did it.”

Trenberth said the group has located some of the old building sites Tucker earned his reputation at like the Centennial Saloon which was where today’s Manzanita Ridge store is.

“He had a shootout in that saloon,” she said. “There are just interesting stories and it put us on a path.”

It was stories of Tucker that put the non-profit on its path of discovery, she said.

They started with a “Dangerous Dan” Tucker display which can be found Info at the Ice Cream Emporium, 312 N. Bullard St. Silver City. Now, Trenberth said, they are envisioning more hidden history spaces in local businesses.

“We could do women of the of the old west, the indigenous cultures, the migrants, the Jewish settlers or the Chinese,” she said. “If we got about five locations we could tie into the walking tour here, visitors can browse the shop and make it more of an interactive tour.

“You don’t realize what has happened here in silver city,” Fredricksen said. “There was a lady in Deadwood, South Dakota who won 6,000 bucks here in Silver City. Six thousand bucks at that time was like $300,000 dollars in today’s money and that’s a big deal. She took her winnings to Deadwood and bought a whore house.”

Trenberth said it’s exciting to feel like they are able to give something back to the city and work to open up an area that hasn’t been opened.

“We’ve been here eight years now and we see stuff that used to be here,” Fredricksen said. “Like the narrow-gauge railroad from the Hearst mine. There was a lot of different things that are kind of lost.”

He said people make a big deal over Billy the Kid who was a bad guy, its time to recognize a good guy too with Tucker.

By his own account Tucker said he was "obliged to kill eight men" in Grant County alone. Overall, Tucker was involved in some dozen shooting scrapes and was shot four times.

In Silver City he manages to stop the discharging of firearms on the city streets. He also killed a thief while trying to escape and was engaged in a gunfight with three horse thieves in a Silver City saloon, killing two of them and wounding a third.

Tucker was subsequently sent to various areas to “clean up” the towns including Shakespeare and Deming. Find more about him at dangerousdantucker.com, the nonprofit’s website.

“Dangerous Dan” Tucker, Southern New Mexico, Hidden History of Silver City’s Old West