Woman power - Amazing woman
Friday, February 12, 2021
In 1856, twenty-three-year-old widow Kate Warne walked into the office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, announcing that she had seen the company’s ad and wanted to apply for the job.
“Sorry,” Alan Pinkerton told her, “but we don’t have any clerical staff openings. We’re looking to hire a new detective.” “I’m here to apply for the detective position,” she replied.
Taken aback, Pinkerton explained to Kate that women aren’t suited to be detectives, and then Kate forcefully and eloquently made her case.
1. Women have access to places male detectives can’t go
2. Women can befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspects and gain information from them.
3. Finally, she observed, men tend to become braggards around women who encourage boasting, and women have keen eyes for detail.
Pinkerton hired her. Shortly after she proved her value by befriending the wife of a suspect in a major embezzlement case. Warne not only gained the information necessary to arrest and convict the thief, but she discovered where the embezzled funds were hidden and recovered nearly all of them by posing as a Fortune Teller.
Pinkerton was so impressed that he created a Women’s Detective Bureau within his agency and made Kate Warne the leader of it.
In February 1861 the president of the Wilmington and Baltimore railroad hired Pinkerton to investigate rumors of threats against the railroad. Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to the case. Taking the persona of “Mrs. Cherry,” a Southern woman visiting Baltimore, she managed to infiltrate the secessionist movement there and learn the specific details of the scheme—a plan to kill the president-elect as he passed through Baltimore on the way to Washington. Kate Warne had uncovered had enabled the “Baltimore Plot” to be thwarted.
During the Civil War, Warne and the female detectives under her supervision conducted numerous risky espionage missions, with Warne’s charm and her skill at impersonating a Confederate sympathizer giving her access to valuable intelligence.
Kate Warne, America’s first female detective, died of pneumonia at age 34, on January 28, 1868, one hundred fifty-three years ago, “She never let me down,” Pinkerton said of one of his most trusted and valuable agents. She was buried in the Pinkerton family plot in Chicago.