Mystery Monday: Pinkerton’s Lady Detectives
Kate Warne was Allan Pinkerton’s first female detective, but neither was she the last or only woman he hired. Here is a bit about three of his lady “private eyes.”
Hattie Lewis Lawton: a widow, she was described by Allan as “delicate and driven.” She often went undercover assuming numerous identities. One of her most dangerous assignments occurred during the Civil War. Posing as the wife of fellow operative Timothy Webster, they traveled to Richmond, VA where they pretended to be Rebel sympathizers from Maryland. Prior to this Timothy infiltrated the underground Sons of Liberty organization. Over the course of several months, the pair collected and conveyed information to the home office about troop movements, battle plans, and other intelligence.
Vinnie Ream: After the plan to assassinate President Lincoln in Baltimore was unearthed, Allan Pinkerton was placed in charge of the president’s protection. Rumors of plans abounded, and he investigated every report. He felt that some of the threats originated from within Lincoln’s cabinet, so in an effort to get inside the closed circle without suspicion, he hired Vinnie to sculpt a bust of the president. During her time of creating the sculpture, senators and congressmen wandered in and out of her work area to watch her work, giving her the opportunity to overhear conversations that she passed along to Pinkerton.
Elizabeth Baker: According to Pinkerton, a “genteel woman agent” who was “more than suitable” for her assignment. He had her contact two sets of friends she’d known from her days of living in Richmond and inform them of her intent to visit. She was invited to say with Captain Atwater of the Confederate Navy and his wife. There, Elizabeth met influential socialites, Confederate officers, and politically ambitious Southerners. During the many parties held at the Atwater’s home, she was able to collect vast amounts of information about the Confederate’s plans. Perhaps her most important opportunity was the time she was invited to watch a submarine demonstration. Afterwards, she successfully made her way to Washington where she reported everything she’d seen and included a sketch of the sub.
Although women were not admitted to any police force until 1891 or widely accepted as detectives until 1903, Kate Warne and her “Lady Pinkertons” paved the way for future female officers and investigators.
May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.
Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is a tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.
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