Legend of the Lady Detective

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KathleenYbarbo.jpgBestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of over forty novels with more than one million copies of her books in print in the United States and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she was recently nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well as a Reader’s Choice Award by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen Y’Barbo has four grown children, seven bonus children, and her very own hero in combat boots. Find out more about Kathleen at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

Sadie's SecretWhen I set out to write a heroine equal to the task of catching the charming villain Will Tucker in Sadie’s Secrets, there was no doubt Sadie Callum, the well-bred Louisiana-born daughter of sugar cane planter, would be a Pinkerton agent. After all, what other nineteenth century organization allowed women not only to populate their ranks well before they could vote, but also made great use of their unique talents?

Early on, Alan Pinkerton respected the ability of a woman to go where a man might not be allowed. Thus, he made sure that he always had a few well-trained ladies in his employ for those difficult cases where a feminine touch was needed.

Pinkerton agents—both male and female–were well trained and well paid. Their expertise in surveillance was beyond comparison. Allan Pinkerton was an early proponent of using female agents, determining that often it was the lady who was least suspected of being a detective.

One famous lady Pinkerton was the widow, Kate Warne, thought to be the clean-shaven person standing behind Mr. Pinkerton in the photograph from the Library of Congress archives. Kate Warne, a woman who it is claimed walked into the Pinkerton offices seeking a secretarial job only to leave as a detective, is one of the more memorable Pinkertons, and definitely the first female agent.

Among Mrs. Warne’s many accomplishments was the detection of a plot against President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Not only did she learn of the plot, but she also saved the president’s life by helping to smuggle him into Washington DC for his inauguration disguised as her invalid brother. Later, during the Civil War, it has been alleged that Mrs. Warne was quite adept at fitting in on both sides of the lines and brought back valuable intelligence to the Pinkerton offices. Quite the accomplishment considering women were not yet accepted as valuable members of any other crime fighting organization.

And although Sadie Callum is only a fictional detective, I believe Alan Pinkerton would heartily approve of her methods of bringing Will Tucker to justice once and for all.

 

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Comments

  1. Great post, Kathleen. I love the story of the lady detective sneaking President Lincoln into town. Thanks for sharing.

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