Thursday, January 31, 2013


Abraham Lincoln
With his bodyguard, Alan Pinkerton, to his right.
I was an investigator for Pinkerton in Montreal in the 1970's. In fact, I was the only female investigator for Pinkerton in all of Quebec at the time. 
I covered all manner of investigations including insurance fraud, theft, company sabotage, kidnapped children, and much more.
As Pinkertons we often did the jobs the police couldn't be bothered to take care of. We worked mostly for companies, but some cases were done for private clients. We did not do the sordid infidelity cases, but I did one special case for a prominent, philanthropic Montrealer who thought his wife was cheating with her dance instructor. To do that, I had to take private dance lessons with the instructor.
The client was mistaken. His wife was not cheating with the dance instructor. She was having an affair with her children's nanny. I have never spoken of this and I will never reveal who was involved, even after all these years.
Pinkerton Quebec at Montreal did not hire female investigators, even though the founder, Alan Pinkerton's right hand man was a woman named Kate Warne. I was hired first as a security guard.
I was in the personnel office one day when my supervisor, Captain Pountney, saw me there. He told me there was an opening for an investigator, and he encouraged me to apply. He promised he would support me, and he did.
Then the supervisors, Art Peard and Paul Guay put me through the ringer, trying to find reasons not to hire me. They couldn't justify their intentions, and so I was hired.
While employed in the Montreal offices of Pinkerton, my supervisor was Art Peard. I was very nervous at first, I kept apologizing all the time, until one day Mr. Peard said that if I apologized one more time, he would slap me. There was no real physical threat. It was intended to get his point across.
And so, from that moment on, I literally would bite my tongue to avoid letting an apology slip through automatically, and the impulse subsided.
I was good at my job. Very good. In fact, I was required to rewrite the reports of most of the male investigators who could not make out a coherent report in English and some of whom were wily as investigators, but could hardly write at all.
A mentor was assigned to train me and be my partner and driver on surveillances. He was an ex-police officer and he quickly became my friend, shielding me from the tricks that went on among the men and teaching me how to drive my car backward, fast, and how to recognize what was going on behind the scenes.
Claude Lalonde turned out to be a very strong and reliable partner. Many's the night we sat in the car on cold and dark surveillances and just watched and talked. I learned a lot from him. And he respected and protected me. I do not forget.
The job was endlessly fascinating. I loved it. Until a new supervisor was added to the team. He came out of nowhere and was posted above Art Peard. When George Neil joined our team, everything changed. It was clear from the start, he did not like me.
George Neil and Art Peard were very different. Mr. Peard was a pleasant man and easy to work with. Neil was always grumbling - and rarely sober. In fact, that is the one thing Mr. Peard and Mr. Neil shared. They were both habitual drinkers.
Mr. Neil tried to get me out in every way he could.  Someone told me he was afraid I was after his job. In fact, I did not want his job. I loved doing investigations and had not the least interest in accounting and supervising others. But Neil was a nervous individual and intent on making life on the job miserable for me.
One day I was assigned to a surveillance with a young partner as my driver. Neil told me that I should find a phone booth at about 10:00 PM and call him at home. He would then decide if we should discontinue the surveillance for the night. No cell phones in those days, so we found a phone booth and I called Mr. Neil. He was almost incoherent, clearly deep in the sauce. He told me to drop the surveillance and report in the morning.
I was in for a big surprise when I went into the office the next day. Neil was spoiling for a fight. He asked me why I had not called in the night before as he had told me to. How do you answer a question like that when I had talked to him at 10:00 PM? When I recovered from the initial shock, I told him I had spoken to him and he had told me to drop the surveillance. He denied it and accused me of not doing my job.
As an investigator, I was required to be at my desk from nine to five. But I was only paid for the time I was working on a case for a client. If I was not assigned a case, I just had to sit there, without pay. George Neil found a way to ensure I would not want to stay. Here is how he did it.
Art Peard and George Neil would usually be in the office in the morning. But in the afternoon, they would usually be out on business. Their "business office" was the Igloo Bar at Dorval Airport. If anything came up in the office, I was to phone them there.
Before leaving for "lunch", George Neil would lock up all the assignments in his desk drawer. And so, often, I was at my desk, with no work and no pay. Who would stay on a job for no pay? Neil was counting on it.
Near the end of the work day, when I was about to leave, Neil and Peard would return to the office. Neil would unlock his desk and assign the clients' cases - to the male investigators, who would be paid time and a half for working the late shift.
I couldn't stay quiet about the abuse any longer. I stood before George Neil who was only mildly inebriated at the moment, and I said, "You come with me!" That was an order that came from my gut.
And I took George Neil, almost physically, to the elevator and up to the penthouse offices of Paul St. Amour  president of Pinkerton Quebec at Montreal.
Neil plopped down in a chair, red faced and silent. And I described the problem to Mr. St. Amour.
His answer was startling. He said, "You know what he's doing. And I know what he's doing. But he keeps the books in the black. How can I tell the New York office that I let him go?"
And so it was. But St. Amour ordered George Neil to make sure that, if there were no cases for me to work on for clients, he was to assign me to investigate those applying for work as Pinkerton guards. The pay for that work was less than for clients' cases, but it was something.
And so I worked for the personnel department under Mr. Martel's supervision when I was not assigned "real" cases. I learned to administer lie detector tests and checked the backgrounds of the applicants - education, previous jobs, neighbourhood, etc. The supervisors took care of financial and criminal background checks as they had "ins" with the police.
Mr. Martel (The Hammer) was not happy with me. I actually thought for myself and would not be obedient... insofar as one task was concerned.
After I had worked on the personnel applications for a while, I was called into Martel's office and he instructed me to make a special mark on the corner of any application made by a Negro. I refused to do it. And so I was in the proverbial dog house with Martel.
As an investigator, I had covered one case where a boy had been kidnapped by his father from the mother who had legal custody. The case had been investigated for about five years by various agencies without success. I traced the boy to Ottawa where I found the father's synagogue. 
I waited a very long time for the rabbi to come to meet me there. The rabbi was amazed at what I had to tell him. He had performed the boy's Bar Mitzvah and had no idea of the background of the case. The boy and the rabbi had been told that the mother had died.
But along came another case where I was asked to help kidnap a child from the father to have him returned at Dorval Airport to his American mother who had legal custody. I refused.
I was assured by my supervisors that, when I brought the child to the airport, I would be shown proof that the mother was the legal parent. I still refused.
I sweated that night, believing that would be the end of my job. In the morning, without explanation. I was told Pinkerton was cancelling the case.
And then there was the last straw. It was winter. I was to get to a dairy and follow a certain truck. And I did. My partner on this assignment was an ex-taxi driver who was supposed to be very skilled. He drove around blocks and lost the truck and it went on and on.
I called in my report and I was told to drop the surveillance. With the cold, damp hours of surveillance I started to get sick with a sore throat and a cough and fever. I called Mr. Neil and told him I was sick and I could not resume the surveillance. In fact my doctor said I had bronchitis bordering on pneumonia. George Neil accused me of "insubordination."
I reported to Paul St. Amour that I could no longer work with George Neil. St. Amour suggested that I work for the personnel department for a while. I would have considered that, but I would be replacing a young mother who needed the job. So I declined. And so ended my career as a Pinkerton.
And that is just part of the story.
Phyllis Mass Carter
 Alan Pinkerton and Kate Warne
Alan Pinkerton was born August 25, 1819, Glasgow, Scotland—died July 1, 1884, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.) Scottish-born detective and founder of a famous American private detective agency.

Pinkerton was the son of a police sergeant who died when Allan was a child, leaving the family in great poverty. Allan found work as a cooper and soon became involved in Chartism, a mass movement that sought political and social reform. His activities resulted in a warrant for his arrest, and in 1842 Pinkerton fled to the United States, settling in Chicago.
Moving the next year to the nearby town of Dundee in Kane county, he set up a cooper's shop there. While cutting wood on a deserted island one day, he discovered and later captured a gang of counterfeiters. Following this and other similar achievements, he was appointed deputy sheriff of Kane county in 1846 and soon afterward deputy sheriff of Cook county, with headquarters in Chicago.

In 1850 Pinkerton resigned from Chicago's new police force in order to organize a private detective agency that specialized in railway theft cases. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency became one of the most famous organizations of its kind. Its successes included capture of the principals in a $700,000 Adams Express Company theft in 1866 and the thwarting of an assassination plot against President-elect Abraham Lincoln in February 1861 in Baltimore.
In 1861, working for the Union during the Civil War, Pinkerton, under the name E.J. Allen, headed an organization whose purpose was to obtain military information in the Southern states.

After the Civil War Pinkerton resumed the management of his detective agency. From 1873 to 1876 one of his detectives, James McParlan, lived among the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania and secured evidence that led to the breaking up of this organization of coal miners supposedly engaged in terrorism.
During the strikes of 1877 the Pinkerton Agency's harsh policy toward labour unions caused it to be severely criticized in labour circles, although Pinkerton asserted he was helping workers by opposing labour unions. Pinkerton wrote The Molly Maguires and the Detectives (1877); The Spy of the Rebellion (1883), his account of Lincoln's journey to Washington in 1861; and Thirty Years a Detective (1884).

Kate Warne First Female Private-Eye
By Barbara Maikell-Thomas

Kate Warne has the honor of being America's first female private investigator. She become a very good one and was able to act as an undercover agent infiltrating social gatherings and gathering information no man was able to obtain. She was able to wear disguises, change her accent at will and became a huge asset to the success of Allen Pinkerton and Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Kate Warne was so undercover for Pinkerton, no one know is sure of what her actual name was. Note that on her tombstone (she is burred next to Allen Pinkerton himself) her name is spelled Warn without the "e". All known documents from the Pinkerton family history have is spelled Warne. Robert Pinkerton called her Kitty.

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