One of my favorite shows to binge-watch here lately is Drunk History. Yes, its funny to see these inebriated comedians tell historical stories, but the reason I like it is it makes me research these stories to find out more about the people who are highlighted. The other night, I watched an episode about the Pinkerton Detective Agency. One of the detectives was a woman named Kate Warne.
Kate Warne was born in 1833. Little is known about her life prior to working with the Pinkerton Agency. In 1856, Kate was left a widow at the age of 23 and saw an ad in a local Chicago newspaper for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. When she showed up at the agency and asked to speak to Allen Pinkerton, he believed she was looking for clerical work. However, Kate explained that she would best suited as a detective. After all, men tended to flap their gums and brag about things they probably ought not to brag about when a pretty woman is around. Intrigued, Pinkerton brought Kate on as a detective. He even chose her over his own brother!
Soon after being hired on, Kate was assigned to look into embezzlement happening at the Adams Express Company. She was able to befriend the wife of the prime suspect, finding out condemning evidence about the couple, and ultimately bringing about justice to the tune of $50,000!
Not long after, The Pinkerton Agency was hired to protect president-elect Abraham Lincoln on his tour from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. When a plot was uncovered that a rogue group was planning to assassinate the next president, Kate set her own plan into action. She and Pinkerton convinced Lincoln to cut his tour short and he put his life in their hands. Kate decided that they would disguise Lincoln as her “invalid brother” and smuggle him onto a train. During the long, overnight train ride it is said that Kate did not sleep at all. Because of her tenacity and determination to keep the President safe, she inspired the Pinkerton Agency’s slogan: “We never sleep”.
Kate Warne continued her spy and detective work throughout the Civil War and after through the Pinkerton Agency. In 1868, Kate died suddenly of pneumonia with her dear friend Allen Pinkerton by her bedside. Years later, when Pinkerton passed away, he was buried next to her at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.
Thank you, Kate, for your bad-a legacy!