Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Allan Pinkerton and Kate Warne

Allan Pinkerton  and Kate Warne

Born in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Allan Pinkerton had to leave school when his father was killed in a political riot. He went to work as a runner for a pattern maker, then as an apprentice, but soon grew restless and joined the Chartists, a revolutionary group who demanded the working mans’ voice in government. At 22, Allan Pinkerton was put on their watch list.

He married singer Joan Carfrae in secret when he was 23, their honeymoon spoiled when a friend of Allan’s came to warn them after the ceremony that soldiers were coming to arrest Allan. The next morning, the newlyweds sailed for Quebec.

The ship ran into high gales off the coast of Halifax, blown two hundred miles off course and was shipwrecked on a beach in Nova Scotia. Pinkerton and his wife were both injured, and lost everything they had in the submerged hold, leaving only the clothes on their backs and a few pieces of silver in Allan's vest pocket. They collapsed on the beachhead where they were surrounded by Indians who demanded their trinkets, including Joan’s silver wedding ring.

Once aboard the rescue ship, Allan decided to settle in the United States instead and disembarked above Detroit, Michigan. Chicago was then a town of rutted streets and rough lumber storefronts, where Allan discovered Lill's Brewery was hiring barrel makers. Allan built a cabin on the banks of the Fox River near Dundee, one of the waterways that led to Chicago, and opened a cooperage shop

Allan was an honest man who delivered what he promised, on time, and undercut the Chicago firms. Within a year, he had ten craftsmen working for him. As early as 1844, he was an ardent abolitionist, his shop functioning as a "station" for escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North. Their son, William, was born in 1846. Twins Robert and Joan followed soon afterwards.

Allan helped the Cook County Sheriff apprehend a gang of counterfeiters, which led to his appointment as deputy sheriff of Kane County, Illinois, and, later, as Chicago's first full-time detective. He accrued the highest number of arrests for burglaries and murders than any of the experienced police on Chicago's squad roll.

In the 1850’s, Pinkerton left his job with the Chicago police force, and partnered with attorney Edward Ruckerto form the North-Western Police Agency. They specialised in the capture of train robbers, counterfeiters and provided private security services.

As rail transportation increased, Pinkerton's agency solved a series of train robberies bringing Pinkerton into contact with George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln. Their rules were:

•    Accept no bribes
•    Never compromise with criminals
•    Partner with local law enforcement agencies
•    Refuse divorce cases or cases that initiate scandals
•    Turn down reward money (Agents were well paid)
•    Never raise fees without the client’s pre-knowledge
•    Keep clients apprised on an on-going basis

Kate Warne

Born in New York, Kate Warne was slender, brown haired and widowed shortly after she married. In 1856, she walked into the agency offices in answer to a newspaper advertisement for detectives:

‘Kate argued her point of view, saying women could be useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.’ 

Pinkerton took her on and in 1858, Kate gained the confidence of the wife of a Mr Maroney, who stole $50,000 from the Adams Express Company. With Warne’s help, $39,515 was returned and Mr. Maroney was sentenced to ten years.

In April 1861, the Confederate States of America in Charleston fired on Fort Sumter. Asked by Major General George B. McClellan to set up a military intelligence service, Pinkerton became head of the Union Intelligence Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. He took Warne, Timothy Webster, and later George Bangs to set up a headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, to follow McClellan's Ohio division.

Kate Warne was believed to be the figure holding the post
Kate Warne was one of five agents sent to Baltimore, to investigate secessionist activity prior to the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. During the investigation, they unveiled the plot to assassinate Lincoln on his way to take office. Posing as a rich southern lady visiting Baltimore, Kate Warne infiltrated social gatherings, like the Barnum Hotel where she discovered details of the plot. Lincoln gained four more years before John Wilkes Booth shot him at the Ford Theatre.

After the War, Pinkerton was hired by the railroad companies to track down Jesse James, but failed to capture him. The railroad withdrew their financial support, so Pinkerton continued the search at own expense. James allegedly captured and killed a young undercover agents. Pinkerton gave up the chase which some said was his greatest failure.
Allan Pinkerton, Abraham Lincoln, and General McClernand, 
at Antietam, Maryland, October 3, 1862

Kate Warne worked on various high profile cases, the murder of a bank-teller, and a case of suspected poisoning. Her employment was unusual in that women were barred from the police force until 1891 and could not be detectives until 1903.

Kate became supervisor of Pinkerton's Female Detective Bureau, but her expenses became a sore spot between Pinkerton and his brother, Robert, who believed she was simply accompanying him as his mistress.

Pinkerton would never confirm the suspicions about his relationship with Kate, though they were often seen together and she continued to deliver information through her many clever guises.

Kate caught pneumonia on New Year's Day, 1868, and died shortly afterwards at the age of 35. Pinkerton was at her bedside and reportedly devastated. She was buried according to his wishes in Pinkerton's family plot in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. He wrote in his will that that Kate's plot was never to be sold.

In 1876, Robert Pinkerton conspired with two lead agents not to hire female detectives. Allan sent Robert a blazing telegram:

"It has been my principle to use females for the detection of crime where it has been useful and necessary," he wrote. "With regard to the employment of such females, I can trace it back to the time I first hired Kate Warne, up to the present time. And I intend to still use females whenever it can be done judiciously. I must do it or falsify my theory, practice and truth."

After Allan Pinkerton’s death in 1884, his sons rid the agency of all their female operatives.

The achievements of Pinkertons Detective Agency are too extensive to mention in this blog, but their main cases can be read about here:

Allan Pinkerton died in Chicago on July 1, 1884, and he was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.

Today, Pinkertons agency employs approximately 28,000 women.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Cover Reveal: New cover for Broken Hero, WWII novel.

I'm enjoying re-releasing my old back list into ebook formats on all Amazon sites.

The latest one I've put online is my World War II novel, Broken Hero.

Audrey Pearson's life changed dramatically when WWII broke out and her large home, Twelve Pines on the East Yorkshire coast, became a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Her life is no longer lavish with entertainment, beautiful clothes and surrounded by a loving family. Soldiers, physically and mentally wounded now fill her home. The smell of disinfectant replaces her mother's perfume and gone are the friends and acquaintances - instead nurses roam the hallways. 
Captain Jake Harding, a doctor training in psychiatry arrives at Twelve Pines. Audrey immediately finds herself attracted to the Captain, but he is remote towards her. Puzzled by his cold behaviour, Audrey tries to learn more about the handsome Captain. He reveals that he's lost a wife and baby in childbirth and refuses to ever remarry. 
However, despite this, Audrey believes she can change his mind and make him aware he doesn't have to spend his life alone.The ice around Jake's heart begins to melt. For years he has rejected the possibility of finding love again because of the pain it caused him before, but the beautiful Audrey shows him her love and she needs someone to love her in return. 
Could he honestly walk away from her, from the love that could be his? 

Available for Kindle and all other online forms of reading devices.
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Historical Research: Estate Garden and workers

To continue my research on manor houses and their estates, specifically showcasing Normanby Hall where I spent the day a couple of weeks ago. (See previous blog post)
The Walled Garden of Normanby Hall, supplied the fruit, vegetables and flowers for the hall. It was built in 1817, the high wall protected the plants and the glass houses were built along the south wall to take advantage of the sun.
 Details on the Gardeners and their accommodation

The Greenhouse

The family would visit the greenhouse after church on Sundays and the Head Gardener would have something special each week to show them.

Splayed fruit trees. Even pineapples were grown in the greenhouses.

The next post will be on the house itself.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On the best seller's list!

Just had to share my news, Kitty McKenzie's Land, (it's a sequel to Kitty McKenzie) is #20 on the best seller's list on Amazon Australian historicals! Yay!

This book is the sequel to Kitty McKenzie, the start of Kitty's journey when her world is turned upside down by the death of her parents, and she is left penniless and must take care of her siblings in a world totally unknown to them.
Find out more about Kitty on Amazon USA  or Amazon UK

Thank you to those readers who take the time to leave reviews. They are so important to authors! Thank you!

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Release from Jen Black: THE CRAIGSMUIR AFFAIR

Here’s an excerpt from my new book published on 20th July. 

In 1893 Daisy dreams of a career as an artist but runs up against the rock that is Adam Grey, who distrusts women and thinks wives should be content with home and family life. When a valuable painting goes missing in the country house where they are both guests, Adam turns detective and Daisy must prove that she is not the thief Adam initially believes her to be. Does she want love and marriage or to fulfil her dreams? Can Adam get over his distrust of women?

Adam reached out, grasped her shoulders and dropped a kiss on her forehead. Looking at him, she could think of nothing to say; nor could she break the spell with movement. He stood so close she was aware of his warmth and the faint tang of shaving soap. His gaze held her still. She forgot to breathe.

Slowly, without haste, he set his lips to hers.
His mouth was cool and surprisingly gentle. Aware of a pulse thudding in her throat, she did not move and made no sound as his lips moulded and teased hers. Through almost closed eyes she observed his lashes, so dark and long. His head tilted. His mouth claimed more of her. She sank deeper into the kiss.

Adam pulled back with a groan of distress. ‘Oh God, I’m sorry, Daisy. That was unforgivable….’ One hand flailed the air in a gesture she interpreted as distress. ‘I should not have….’ He turned away, palms clasped and held close to his mouth. ‘Please forgive me.’

At first Daisy could not speak. The separation was too sudden. Her fingertips went to her warm lips. What had displeased him? Had she not reciprocated in the correct way? ‘Please do not spoil it,’ she said, her voice wavering. ‘I expect I shall treasure it as my first grown-up kiss.’

‘I doubt it,’ he said dryly, staring at her hungrily.
She ought to be shocked, but felt nothing of the sort. Instead an odd sense of unsuspected power trickled through her veins. Now she knew what a kiss could be and wished it had gone on longer. Obviously he had done it against his better judgement and that of itself was exciting. If it had happened once, she could make it happen again.
She saw how deeply he frowned and wondered at it. ‘Do not worry. I shall not tell anyone. The kiss shall be my secret.’

‘That is hardly the point, is it? I should never have allowed myself to kiss you.’
She shrugged. ‘But you did. And I enjoyed it.’ She knew she should not make such an admission, but wanted to whirl and dance around the room in sheer happiness.
His mouth flattened in displeasure. ‘Why is it that with you….’
She allowed a pause to develop and then said, ‘Go on.’
He shook his head. ‘I should go,’ he said stiffly. ‘You were right. I should not have brought you in here. Will you excuse me?’

‘No,’ she said calmly, tempted to laugh at his alarmed expression. For once, Daisy felt older than her years and in control. It was a heady feeling. Remembering her conversation with Vicky in the Long Gallery at Clennell, she spoke softly. ‘I can only think you are wary of women because one of my sex has treated you badly. If that is the case, I shall let the subject go as it is none of my business.’
His head went back as if she had slapped him.

He glared at her. Daisy licked suddenly dry lips. How could she have been so crass as to mention his past history? Anxious to get the conversation back on mundane matters, she said ‘You brought me here to talk of theft. Do you think, as I do, that Maitland has taken the money as well as a painting?’

The CRAIGSMUIR AFFAIR,  Amazon kindle US

and for the UK -

Posted by Jen Black

Friday, September 4, 2015

Historical research: Horses, carriages, stables and automobiles.

On a recent trip to Normanby Hall, a local historical manor house a few weeks ago, I spent a lovely few hours in the sun strolling around the estate and gaining knowledge that will come in handy for writing my historical novels.
I thought I would write a post on each part of the house and grounds, and I'm starting with the stable block.

Horse stalls, made of brass and timber, and note the floor for easy cleaning. The stable block was built in 1818, and was a walled square with open arches. It was a hive of activity and the meeting place for hunts and shooting parties.

The daily duties of a Groom or Coachman

 Feed and Muck out the horse.
Breakfast at the Hall.
Rub down and groom the horses.
Clean and put away any tack (riding and carriage equipment used).
Prepare the coach for the family.
Feed the horses.
Lunch at the Hall.

Afternoon and Evening:
Get horses ready for any family members wishing to ride.
Sweep out the stableyard.
Clean and put away any tack used.
Exercise any of the horses that have not been ridden that day.
If carriage not needed again, carry on with any odd jobs around stable.
Feed horses.
Supper in the servant's hall.
Rub down and give the horses water and hay for the night.
Maintenance work on the carriage - cleaning, brass polishing, and touching up paint.
Soak wheels of carriage to prevent wood from shrinking and spokes becoming loose.

Carriage Lanterns

                                                                                                                                    Carriage interior, with glass windows.   
 Early forms of transport.

The estate had its own horse drawn fire engine, with working water pump. The unit was used for the local village as well. It was officially retired in 1953.

The grooms and coachman lived in housing above the coach house but ate with the household in the Servant's Hall. The groom had to sometimes act as a footman if the family held a large dinner party.

Census records between 1841 - 1891 show that none of the grooms or coachmen were local Lincolnshire men. They came from neighbouring counties, and as far away as London. This shows that people were prepared to travel for work.

By the 1920s, only one side of the stable block was in use as a stable. With the introduction of the motor car in the early 1900s, the stable block was adapted to house up to six motor vehicles.

Normanby Hall.
North Lincolnshire

Next post will be on the estate's garden.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I have a new release today. HOW TO TAME A RAKE $0.99

My new release, HOW TO TAME A RAKE is set in the Victorian era, because I wanted to feature an amazing woman, 1st Baroness, Angela Burdett-Coutts, who was widely known as ‘the richest heiress in England’. Angela did some amazing things in her lifetime, she proposed to the Duke of Wellington, and at 67 years old, despite the huge disparity in their ages, married her 29 year old secretary, American-born William Lehman Ashmead Bartlett. But it’s her philanthropic endeavors which are most impressive.

Burdett-Coutts spent the majority of her wealth on scholarships, endowments, and a wide range of philanthropic causes. One of her earliest philanthropic acts was to co-found a home for young women with Charles Dickens. Urania Cottage was for those who had ‘turned to a life of immorality’, including theft and prostitution.
Her amazing achievements are too large to list here. My interest lay in her close involvement with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
The RSPCA was founded in a London coffee shop in 1824. The men present knew they were creating the world’s first animal welfare charity, but they couldn’t have imagined the size and shape that the charity would become today.
A painting of the trial of Bill Burns, showing Richard Martin with the donkey in an astonished courtroom, leading to the world's first known conviction for animal cruelty, after Burns was found beating his donkey. It was a story that delighted London's newspapers and music halls
Back then, they were called the SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Royal patronage followed in 1837 and Queen Victoria gave permission to add the royal R in 1840, making us the RSPCA as they’re known worldwide today. They are best known today for the work they do with pets. But they were influential in forming and improving animal welfare law.

When they were founded, their focus was on working animals, such as ‘pit ponies’, that were worked down the coal mines.  
In 1822, two years before they were founded, ‘Martin’s Act’ was passed. It was the very first animal welfare law and it forbade ‘the cruel and improper treatment of cattle’.

Thirteen years on, in 1835, and ‘Pease’s Act’ consolidated this law. The prohibition of cruelty was extended to dogs and other domestic animals, bear-baiting and cock-fighting was forbidden, and it insisted on better standards for slaughter houses.

Other successes long after my story ends have included laws for lab animals, the abolition of fur farming in the UK, the ban of fox hunting with dogs and the animal welfare act.
How to Tame a Rake
Due to the codicil in his father’s will, Blake Dangerfield, Earl of Hawkeswood, must marry the woman chosen for him, or lose part of his inheritance. Did his father hate him that much? Wilhelmina Corbet is a hoyden, not long out of the schoolroom, who hails from a farm in Northumberland. The last time Blake saw her she wore braids and climbed a tree to rescue a kitten.

Wilhelmina Corbet has dreamed of Blake since she was twelve. But the thought of marrying the handsome earl terrifies her. She comes to his estate, Hawkeswood, determined to measure up to his expectations for a wife. But after time spent with him in London, Mina begins to wonder if the rake is the man she wants to marry.

Can they find happiness when a handsome heir to a dukedom, unruly pets, and a young chimney sweep are thrown into the mix?
Refreshed edition.

Here’s a taste:
Another day passed before Mina felt well enough to leave her bed. The breakfast room was empty. Crowley informed her that Blake always rode early and Lady Elizabeth took breakfast in bed. She sipped her tea, gazing at the gardens beyond the window, where an unusually mild day beckoned.
Donning her pelisse and bonnet, she ventured outside into the brisk air and went for a long walk, glad to be out again after the stuffy, overheated rooms. The day was cool, but not as cold as it had been. She ambled along the path and descended a graceful, stone stairway flanked by enormous marble urns and onto a long sweep of lawn. A statue sat on a plinth in the distance, and she walked toward it. Before she reached it, she saw something lying stretched out on the grass. At first, she thought it a pile of leaves. On closer inspection, she found a fox cub. As she knelt down to him, he lifted his head, his dark eyes pleading.
“Oh, you poor, poor thing.” She stroked the red-gold coat. How beautiful he was. He’d hurt a leg, probably in one of those horrid traps. It was broken, dangling at an odd angle. She knew just what to do about it. She’d splinted one of her dogs back home when he’d broken his leg jumping from a high wall.
Picking the cub up carefully, Mina cradled him against her chest. He didn’t struggle. Perhaps he knew that she was a friend or was too weak to care.
She carried him along the path. As she rounded the corner of the house, she came face to face with Blake.
“I’m glad to see you out and about…” he began. His dark brows shot up. “What on earth do you have there?”
“A fox cub. He’s hurt his leg. I’ll have to splint it.”
“You’ll do what?”
“A splint. You use a straight piece of—”
“I know what a splint is, Mina! But this is fox hunting country. We can’t keep a fox here.”
“Why not? When his leg is healed, he will go and join the other foxes.” Her lip trembled. “And then you can hunt him down and kill him.”
“For Lord’s sake!” Blake searched her face as she hugged the animal possessively in her arms. “Come on, then. The animal is ruining your gown. Fortunately, that’s no great loss for Mother plans to see to your wardrobe.” He turned and headed back toward the stables. “We’ll get my head groom to splint it.”
“And feed and water him until he’s strong again?” she called after him.
“Yes. All right!”
Early the next morning, Mina returned to the stables.
Blake came in as she was sitting with the fox. He had a stall all to itself. He was sitting up, his ears pricked. “Won’t be long before the leg is mended,” Blake said, leaning against the stall door. “And then you must let it go, Mina.”
“I know. He’s a wild thing.” She stroked the fox’s soft fur.
“Are you feeling well now?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Good. Arrangements have been made for you and Mother to go to London. Tomorrow.”
Mina gazed up at him. “You’ll look after Felix?”
“That’s his name. Felix. Promise you’ll look after him after I’ve gone.”
Blake tilted his head, gazing down at her. “You are an odd girl, Mina. I would have expected you to be far more interested in going to London.”
She stood and shook out her skirts. “I’m very excited, I assure you. I must go and pack.”
“The maids will do it,” he called after her. “But you can leave most of your clothes behind.”
Mina had a strange impulse to turn and poke her tongue out at him. But she suspected he already thought of her as too young for him. She put her fingers to her lips. No matter what happened, she would always remember her first kiss.