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Allan Pinkerton


My new release, Cassidy’s War, is a reunion story of two characters who’d originally come together in a previous book set during the Civil War. But in this new book, I had to have a reason for them to break up and reunite five years after the war ended in 1870.

In the original version of Cassidy’s War, my heroine was a former Civil War nurse who aspired to be a physician and the hero, a former Civil War Union officer, had left to pursue the life of a professional gambler.

After submitting the novel, I learned my editor didn’t think the profession of gambler was heroic enough and suggested George Masters be recast as a Pinkerton Agent, coming back to town under cover.

I knew next to nothing about Allan Pinkerton and his agency, so had to embark on some research.

Allan Pinkerton was born on August 25, 1819 in Glasgow, Scotland. He emigrated to the United States in 1842, settling in Chicago, then moving to Dundee, Kane County, Illinois a year later where he established a cooperage business. There he ran down a gang of counterfeiters and was then appointed deputy sheriff of Kane County. He later left this post to establish his own national  detective agency in 1852. The Pinkerton Detective Agency was the first of its kind in the United States.

In 1861, Pinkerton discovered a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln. The plot was thwarted when the president-elect changed his itinerary. On the suggestion of General George B. McClellan, Lincoln later used Pinkerton to organize a “secret service”. The main goal: to obtain military information from the Southern states during the Civil War.

Pinkerton developed the US Secret Service under the assumed named of Major E. J. Allen.  His agency was also responsible for breaking up the secret organization, the Molly Maguires.

Allan Pinkerton suffered a partial stroke in 1869, forcing him to rely on his sons, William Allan and Robert to manage the agency.

He died July 1, 1884 in Chicago after publishing two books: “The Molly Maguires” and “the Detectives” in 1877 and “The Spy of the Rebellion” in 1883.

For more information on Allan Pinkerton, visit these sites:

For more on my new release, Cassidy’s War, visit my website for opening chapters and purchase info:


  1. Love that cover, Susan. I have read this info on Allan Pinkerton when Gerry was talking about playing his character – OK so I am shallow. 🙂 It really is an interesting time in history and to think the name is still used today.

  2. Thanks, Paisley! I, of course had heard of the Pinkerton Agency and Allan Pinkerton, but never did any research on him until now. It really did help my story to have my hero be a Pinkerton agent. Kind of fun, too!

  3. Great post, Susan. I loved CASSDY’S WAR and believe Allan Pinkerton was a clever man.

  4. Thanks, Caroline! Glad you enjoyed it!

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