The Origins of the Secret Service – by Kristy McCaffrey

Counterfeiting was a serious issue at the end of the Civil War. Nearly one-third of all currency in circulation was fake. In 1865 the Secret Service was established to deal with this issue, acting as a bureau in the Treasury Department to stabilize America’s financial system. They were the first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency in the United States.


During this time, America’s monetary system was very disorganized. Individual banks could legally generate their own currency, but with so much variation in circulation it was easy to counterfeit money.

The first agency chief was William Wood, who was widely known for his heroism in the Civil War. During his first year in charge, he was successful in closing more than 200 counterfeiting plants.

In addition to investigating paper money forgeries, the agency also monitored groups committing fraud, which included the Ku Klux Klan, mail robbers, smugglers, and bootleggers. The United States Marshals Service didn’t have the manpower to investigate all crimes under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service also handled bank robberies, illegal gambling, and murders.

President Abraham Lincoln established the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, the same day he was assassinated, after which Congress considered adding presidential protection to the duties of the Secret Service. But it would be another 36 years before the Secret Service was officially put in charge of protecting the president. In 1894, they began informally protecting President Grover Cleveland. In 1901, the agency took over full-time protection of the president after the assassination of President William McKinley. In 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was created and took over intelligence responsibilities from the Secret Service.

In my new release, THE STARLING, Pinkerton Detective Henry Maguire is investigating a possible counterfeiting scheme in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Partnering with new agent Kate Ryan and posing as a married couple, they uncover more than Henry planned when information regarding his deceased father, Hugh Maguire, a Secret Service agent, comes to light.

Colorado 1899

Kate Ryan has always had a streak of justice in her. When she decides to apply to the Pinkerton Detective Agency, nothing will stand in her way. Initially hired in a clerical position, she quickly works her way up to field agent with the help of her mentor, Louise Foster. When Louise is injured, Kate gets her first assignment and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Henry Maguire has been undercover in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Employed as a ghostwriter to pen the man’s memoir, Henry is also searching for clues to a lucrative counterfeiting scheme. When Henry’s “wife” shows up, he’s taken aback by the attractive woman who isn’t Louise. Now he must work with a female agent he doesn’t know and doesn’t necessarily trust. And because he has another reason for coming into Wingate’s world, Kate Ryan is unavoidably in his way.

Kate Ryan is the daughter of Matt and Molly from THE WREN, and THE STARLING is the first of five novels featuring the second generation of Ryans in the Wings of the West series.

The Starling is now available in eBook and paperback. Find buy links and read Chapter One here: https://kmccaffrey.com/the-starling/

 

GIVEAWAY

I’m giving away an eBook from my backlist—winner’s choice. To be entered, leave a comment and let me know what great show(s) you’ve been watching lately (any good western series?). I’m always looking for new stuff to view.

See all my books here: https://kmccaffrey.com/books/

Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary adventure stories packed with smoldering romance and spine-tingling suspense, as well as award-winning historical western romances brimming with grit and emotion. Her work is filled with compelling heroes, determined heroines, and her trademark mysticism. She likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas. An Arizona native, she resides in the desert north of Phoenix with her husband and their rescue Bulldog, Jeb. Sign up for Kristy’s newsletter at http://kmccaffrey.com/subscribe/
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Laura Ashwood Adds Fact to Fiction

Hi, I’m Laura Ashwood and I’m honored to be guest blogging here today. I write sweet historical western romance, contemporary small town romance and women’s fiction. Something for everyone, LOL. Today though, I’d like to talk about one of my historical western romances.

One of my favorite things about being an author is having a reason to research and a place to use that information. But that doesn’t come without its own challenges either. Too little research will upset readers familiar with a time period, and too much research can take readers out of your story. It’s a delicate balance.

So, where does one start? When I write a story, I generally have a location in mind. It might be a specific location or it might be as general as simply knowing what state I want it to be set in. Once I know that, I’ll spend some time looking at the location. The topography, the average weather – if it’s a historical book, I’ll look at the averages and topography from the year I am setting the story.

Courting Danger is a historical western suspense that starts in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1873. I knew my character, Clarissa, came from a wealthy family, that she was an only child, and that her parents (her mother in particular) wanted her to marry “up” to help further cement their place in society. Very common practices during that time period.  Clarissa didn’t want to have anything to do with it though. My research told me that the suffragette movement was strong at that time and she was a well-read young lady. She wanted to make her own way.

During that time frame, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was in its prime – solving crimes across the nation and had even started taking on female agents. The first official female Pinkerton agent was Kate Warne. So I did come research about Kate and some of the cases she worked on. So, I had Clarissa find an advertisement from the Pinkerton Agency in the newspaper – looking for female agents. She immediately replied and was chosen to work a case in St. Louis, Missouri. This case was modeled after one of Kate Warne’s cases. I used several of the details of the actual case, but added my own twists to make it original.

So because a great deal of the story was set in St. Louis, I wanted to incorporate as much “fact” into it as I could. The first thing I looked for was a City Directory. Think of it as a phone book before there were phones. The City Directory gave me names of stores, hotels, even characters. The names of the nurse, the undertaker, and the Chief of Police in my story were taken from this directory as the actual undertaker, nurse and Chief of Police in St. Louis in 1873.

The hotel Clarissa stays in while she’s in St. Louis, The Planter’s House Hotel, was an actual hotel in 1873. Because it actually existed in 1873, I was able to find photographs of it and that helped me describe it as though I was actually there, including the famed Turkish Lounge.

St. Louis is famous for its Eads Bridge and Gateway Arch, but through my research, I discovered that the construction on the Eads Bridge wasn’t completed until 1874 and the Arch wasn’t constructed until the 1960s. So, when Clarissa saw the bridge at one point in her adventure, I made sure to mention it was under construction. I also consulted a city map of St. Louis when determining what to name my streets and neighborhoods my characters visited. They were all authentic to that time.

How important is all of this? Will my readers know this? The answer to both of those questions is probably no. Those details will not make or break my story. But they’re Easter Eggs I’ve sprinkled throughout and they make the story come alive for me because I know Clarissa is seeing the actual things she’d see if she were alive and in St. Louis in 1873. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

If you’d like to read about Clarissa’s adventure as a Pinkerton Detective in training, you can find it on Amazon, both in paperback and ebook. (buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09TJTSVFZ?tag=pettpist-20)  It’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

I’d also love to give away three copies (ebook only) of Courting Danger – Just answer the question “how much does historical accuracy and detail mean to you when reading a book?” in the comments below. Three random winners will be announced on Sunday.

Laura is giving away 3 e-book copies of Courting Danger

Courting Danger

She thought the biggest danger would be to her reputation. She didn’t realize it would be to her life and her heart.

Clarissa Ferguson craves a life of adventure. The last thing she wants is to become a socialite and marry a curmudgeon to appease her mother. When she sees an advertisement for female Pinkerton Agents, she leaves on the next available train to Denver Colorado. What she doesn’t expect is the handsome man she meets on the train to be her new trainer.

Noah Harding, recovering from the loss of his wife and family, vows never to marry again. Throwing himself into his work as a Pinkerton agent, he has finally found a sense of purpose. He prides himself on being able to read people, until he observes a peculiar woman on a train headed west. He soon discovers she’s his new trainee, and he must temporarily wed her while they solve a murder, or he’ll jeopardize his career.

Will Noah be able to stay focused on the case with Clarissa distracting him? When the case forces them to pretend to be something they aren’t, what happens when their feelings become real?

* * * *

ABOUT LAURA……

Laura and her husband live in northeast Minnesota. She works a full time day job, and in her spare time, she likes to read, cook and spend time with her husband. She is a devoted grandmother and chihuahua lover.

In her novels, Laura brings to life characters and relationships that will warm your heart and fill you with hope. Her stories often have themes involving redemption, forgiveness, and family.

Laura’s website: https://www.lauraashwood.com 

 

The Pinkerton & the Outlaw–E.E. Burke

In my upcoming historical romance, Lawless Hearts, a female Pinkerton detective and an Irish-Cherokee outlaw work together to find a missing agent and become entangled in a net of corruption, crime and murder. It’s a tale of daring deception, pulse-pounding suspense and sizzling romance, in a Western setting that is as authentic as it is wild.

The entire series is rooted in historical events that follow the expansion of the railroad across the American West, and it features numerous secondary characters from the pages of history. For my heroine, I took inspiration from the history of the Pinkerton Agency and the country’s first female detective.

A woman who made history

In 1856, a young 20-something woman named Kate Warne answered an advertisement for detectives posted by Allan Pinkerton to fill his fledgling agency. According to Pinkerton’s records, she convinced its progressive founder that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” Her arguments and determination impressed Pinkerton and he hired her over the objection of his brother Robert, who was also a partner in the business. Thus Warne became the first female private detective in the United States.

Warne was an excellent private investigator and acted undercover, infiltrating social gatherings and events. During the Civil War, she was instrumental in saving Lincoln from the first assassination attempt. She wore disguises and changed her accent at will and became a huge asset for the agency. Later, Pinkerton hired other females and appointed Warne as Supervisor of Female Detectives. She mentored and trained other young women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood that persisted throughout the 19th and into the 20th century.

Two opposites who defy historical norms

 

In Lawless Hearts, Brigit Stevens is modeled after the young female detectives mentored by Kate Warne. These were women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood. They defied cultural norms and broke down societal structures. In that sense, they were truly “lawless” in their pursuit of justice.

Jasper Byrne isn’t just an outlaw whose heart is reawakened. His conscience is under intense reconstruction, as well. After spending most of his life attempting to be someone he isn’t—a bad guy—he takes Brigit up on her offer to join her on the right side of the law. Although he doesn’t perceive himself as a hero. In fact, he’s confused when Brigit treats him like one. But her determination to reform him inspires Jasper to resist the flow of culture and history and end up like so many others in his situation—at the end of a rope.

Unfortunately, there are some who have the law on their side and are using it for nefarious purposes, and they have Brigit and Jasper in the crosshairs.

Here’s a blurb:

Lawless Hearts

Book 5 in the series Steam! Romance and Rails

The deal she offers him could be a path to freedom or a detour straight to hell.

Jasper Byrne has been an outlaw more than half his life. He’d do things differently, if he had the chance, but it is too late to change—or so he thinks. In chains, on his way to court where he expects to be convicted, he is hijacked from under the nose of a U.S. Marshal by a woman who pretends to be a reporter.

Brigit Stevens has worked as an undercover Pinkerton agent for ten years, guarding her heart while putting high-ranking rascals behind bars. But when a fellow detective goes missing during a railroad investigation, she has to turn to a train robber for help. She offers him a deal if he’ll guide her to an outlaw hideout where even lawmen don’t dare to go.

Jasper admires the beautiful detective’s pluck and her clever disguises, but she doesn’t seem to understand he’s a scoundrel. As for Brigit, she is more even more surprised when the dangerously sexy outlaw steals her heart before she can find the lock.

Can an outlaw and a Pinkerton form more than a temporary partnership? Does love have the power to rewrite the future and create second chances?

A high-powered Western romance that transports readers back to the wild American frontier where lawless hearts reigned. Don’t miss the last, most exciting, episode in the series Steam! Romance and Rails.

Lawless Hearts will be released this summer, but it’s available as a preorder now. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the series, you can get started with Her Bodyguard for free if you sign up now for my newsletter.

As a special offer, I’ll also give away a copy of Fugitive Hearts, which sets the stage for Lawless Hearts.

What would be a woman’s strengths in working for the Pinkerton’s that a man wouldn’t have? I can think of several.

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.

Find out more about her and her books at her website: http://www.eeburke.com

We Never Sleep–The Pinkerton Detective Agency

“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair  … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”

-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.

          Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leaves her luxurious life to settle on the Plains where she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

Motto: We Never Sleep

Formation and Prominence

          The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

          But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.  

          How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.

Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.

The Civil War

          The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.

          One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.

          The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.

Wild West Bounty Hunters

          The Reno Gang

          The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?

           A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.

          Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

          Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.

          Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure

          The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.

          One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.

           If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.

          The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.

          Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.         

Larger than the United States Army

          In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.

The Agency Exists Today 

It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.

 

*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.

The Heiress Comes to Town

by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.

 Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:

Janet Syas Nitsick

Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.

Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.

Click here to check out Janet’s website, blog or Facebook page.

Kate Warne – First Female Pinkerton

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

I recently read an article about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. Some of the names I was familiar with, some not, but I learned new tidbits about even the ones I’d already heard of.  So I thought I’d share what I learned with you. But to do these stories justice, I’m going to spread them over a series of articles rather than try to squeeze them all into one post.

The first one, speaking chronologically, is also the one I was most familiar with, Kate Warne.

In 1856 Kate walked into the Pinkerton National Detective Agency office seeking a position. To Allan Pinkerton’s surprise, she was not looking for a clerical position, but that of a field agent. It took quite a bit of convincing, but the 23 year old widow was more than up to the task. She calmly described the many potential benefits a female detective could offer, such as an ability to manipulate targets into believing she was on their side and confiding in her in a way that men could never manage.

Despite his initial skepticism, Pinkerton never had reason to regret his decision to hire the indomitable Kate. She proved her worth on the first major case she worked on. She was assigned to the investigation of possible embezzlement of funds at the Adams Express Co. The primary suspect was a Mr. Maroney. Kate immediately befriended Mrs. Maroney. She gained the woman’s confidence so much that not only did she learn the information she need to prove Mr. Maroney’s guilt but she managed to find and recover almost 80 percent of the money that had been stolen.

Within four years of hiring her, Pinkerton was convinced that there would be immeasurable value to him to have more female operatives in his organization. So in 1960 he opened a Female Detective Bureau and put Kate in charge.

Of course this didn’t put an end to Kate’s field work. At one point Pinkerton assigned five agents, Kate among them, to investigate secessionist threats against the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Based on their field reports Pinkerton became convinced that there was an assassination plot against then President-elect Lincoln to take place during his trip to Washington DC for his inauguration. It was Kate who confirmed that not only did this plot exist, but she learned the specific time and location where it was to take place. She also played a key role in the secret alternate travel arrangements that foiled the assassins’ plans.

The start of the Civil War saw Kate’s role change from that of investigator to that of spy while she continued to serve as Superintendent of Female Detectives. Using over a dozen assumed names and her spot-on southern belle impersonation she worked both down south and in the north, successfully gathering needed intelligence.

After the end of the war, Kate continued on her course as a valuable senior member of the Pinkerton team. There is no telling how far she would have gone, but alas, while the ‘bad guys’ could not best her, her health did. In January of 1868, still in her mid 30s, Kate contracted a lung infection and died.

In his book The Spy of the Rebellion, Pinkerton wrote of Kate Warne  “Of rather a commanding person, with clear-cut, expressive features, and with an ease of manner that was quite captivating at times, she was calculated to make a favorable impression at once. She was a brilliant conversationalist when so disposed, and could be quite vivacious, but she also understood that rarer quality… the art of being silent.”

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing adventures of this brave and adventurous woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

Why Pinkertons? By Debra E. Marvin

The Pinkerton Detective Agency is a fascinating part of our history.  Are you envisioning a clever, handsome man in a well-cut suit and matching black Stetson? (like James Garner in Maverick? Okay, so I’m showing my age!) A fascinating mix of cowboy and secret agent? Is it the idea that “they never sleep” until they’ve  “gotten their man”?

The Pinkerton Detective Agency came about when Scottish immigrant Allen Pinkerton, working in a

small business in a Chicago suburb, turned in some information on illegal activity he’d been watching in his neighborhood. In a matter of years he’d become a trusted private detective and gathered the notice of the government well before the time of the CIA or FBI.  Before Abraham Lincoln took office, Pinkertons were at work behind the scenes to ensure his safety, and went on to work for the Union Army. Post war, their offices expanded across the country due to high demand by business owners, politicians and law enforcement agencies.

Pinkertons were hired as detectives (public inquiry) or operatives (undercover) and sometimes on a temporary basis.  At one time, those employed by the agency numbered more than those enlisted in the armed services.

While we romanticize their lives, it was both dangerous and isolating. An undercover operative might live under a false identity for years just to infiltrate an organization.  And, as a ‘for-hire’ agency, Pinkertons often became enemies of the working class because of their association with big business and big government, including their reputation as union-busters.

Allen Pinkerton was an unusual self-made man driven by the idea that justice was above all part of a healthy democracy, even if justice meant living a lie… a means to an end.  We have to assume he enjoyed intrigue and danger, as did most of his agents and operatives. They weren’t paid well, and living conditions were often difficult. After all, to infiltrate the Molly McGuires, Operative James McParland worked in the coal mines and took part in what amounted to brutal gang warfare, just to keep his cover over a three-year period.

Women were also agents—the original and most famous was Kate Warne—often acting as spies during the Civil War. Oooh! I smell a story!

Needless to say, the Pinkertons, or at least their legend, continues to fuel fictional stories…like mine.

A DANGEROUS DECEPTION

Jerome, Arizona Territory, 1899
When Andromeda Barr left her colorful past behind in pursuit of a normal—albeit solo—life, she didn’t exactly settle for the mundane. Performing is in her blood, and right now she has to believe she’s lying for all the right reasons—justice for the excluded, the overlooked of society—a debt she owes to the two unusual people who raised her.

Pinkerton Agent Connell O’Brien is on the trail of a wanted murderer holed up in ‘the wickedest town in the west.’ Hiding his identity is part of the job, but when he meets the surprising Miss Barrington, he begins to wonder how many secrets are too many.

Two close calls with disaster seem to suggest it’s time they both stop running from the guilt of the past and let mercy catch up, but will these two solo acts join forces before the danger of discovery becomes a matter of life or death?

Buy Debra’s book here on Amazon

I’ll be giving away one digital ebook of A Dangerous Deception and one paperback to two random commenters.  (Please note if you are interested and if you can accept a kindle version!)

And, at this time, my newsletter promotion is still open. New Subscribers will be entered in a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. 

Readers, what Pinkerton story have you enjoyed, or what do you expect in a story when you hear there’s a Pinkerton character? What makes them compelling?    

 

 

 

Those Gutsy Women of the Old West

Never underestimate a woman doing a man’s job!

My passion is writing about the old west and the fabulous women who helped settle it.  Western movies helped establish the male hero, but depicting women mainly as bonnet saints, soiled doves and schoolmarms did them a terrible disservice.

The westward migration freed women in ways never before imagined. Women abandoned Victorian traditions, rigid manners and confining clothes and that’s not all; they brought churches, schools and newspapers to frontier towns and helped build communities.

Female barber wielding “man’s most sacred implement.”

Women today may still be banging against glass ceilings, but those brave souls of yesteryear had to break down doors. One newspaper reporter complained that “Women dared to lay hands on man’s most sacred implements—the razor and strop—and shave him to the very face.”

Ah, yes, women were barbers, doctors, firefighters and saloon keepers. Women even disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. With little more than their faith to guide them, they owned cattle ranches and gold mines and fought for women’s rights.

In 1860 Julia Shannon of San Francisco took the family portrait to new heights when she shockingly advertised herself as a daguerreotypist and midwife.  Cameras were bulky, chemicals dangerous and photo labs blew up with alarming regularity. It was a hard profession for a man let alone a woman.

Forty years before women were allowed to join a police department, Kate Warne worked for the Pinkerton National Detective agency as an undercover agent from 1856 to her death in 1868. Not only did she run the female detective division, she saved president-elect Abraham Lincoln from a planned assassination by wrapping him in a blanket and pretending he was her invalid brother.    Her story is the inspiration behind my Undercover Ladies series in which the heroines were—you guessed it—Pinkerton detectives working undercover.

It took strong and courageous women to bury children along the trail; barter with Indians and make homes out of sticks and mud. It’s estimated that about twelve percent of homesteaders in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and Utah were single women.  And yep, women even took part in the Oklahoma land runs.

An article in the San Francisco Examiner published in 1896 says it all: “People have stopped wondering what women will do next, for keeping up with what she is doing now takes all the public energies.”

These are the heroines for whom we like to cheer.  It must have been a shock to the male ego to have to deal with such strong and unconventional women—and that’s at the very heart of my stories. The gun may have won the west, but praise the Lord for the gusty and courageous women who tamed it.

Can you name a gutsy woman–either past or present?

 

Speaking of heroines of the Old West,

let’s not forget gusty Sheriff Amanda Lockwood,

who almost always gets  her man.

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The Pinkertons

I love TV westerns. From the good old days with Bonanza to more recent times with Longmire, I truly enjoy getting lost in a good western tale of cowboy heroes with grit and honor. Several months ago I discovered a new offering on Netflix that immediately piqued my interest. I love a good crime drama as much as I love my westerns, and here was a show that combined them both – The Pinkertons.

This beauty of a show was actually made in Canada even though it follows the cases of Pinkerton Detectives in Kansas City, Missouri following the end of the Civil War. My favorite thing about this show is that it is officially licensed with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and its episodes as based on actual cases taken from the Pinkerton Detective Agency archives from the 1860s.

While Allan Pinkerton, founder of the agency does occasionally make an appearance on the show, the two main characters are Will Pinkerton (Allan’s son and Pinkerton agent) and Kate Warne (a Pinkerton and the first female detective in US history).

Kate Warne was a widow by the age of 23 and joined the Pinkerton Agency in 1856.

Pinkerton, in his book, The Spy of the Rebellion: Being a True History of the Spy System of the United States Army During the Late Rebellion… described her as:

[a] commanding person, with clear cut, expressive features…a slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features, although not what could be called handsome [beautiful], were decidedly of an intellectual cast… her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctly [sic] to select her as a confidante.

Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in response to an advertisement in a local newspaper. When she walked into Pinkerton’s Chicago office, according to Pinkerton company records, he further described her acquaintance:

“[he] was surprised to learn Kate was not looking for clerical work, but was actually answering an advertisement for detectives he had placed in a Chicago newspaper. At the time, such a concept was almost unheard of. Pinkerton said ” It is not the custom to employ women detectives!” Kate argued her point of view eloquently – pointing out that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” A Woman would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. Men become braggarts when they are around women who encourage them to boast. Kate also noted, Women have an eye for detail and are excellent observers.”

Warne’s arguments swayed Pinkerton, who employed Warne as the first female detective. Pinkerton soon had a chance to put Warne to the test. (source)

There is only one season available of this show, but it contains 22 episodes. I’m about halfway through them right now and savoring each one.

Click cover to order.

 

As it turns out, I have Pinkerton detectives in my most recent book, Heart on the Line. And in my story, the Pinkertons themselves are the mystery. Fraudulent identities and corrupt agents make it unclear who can be trusted. Yet in the end, I think Allan Pinkerton would be pleased with how things turned out.

 

Do you like stories about Pinkertons?

What historically set shows do you enjoy watching?

(I’m always on the lookout for something new to add to my queue.)