Saturday, July 30, 2016


By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Long before Sherlock Holmes became a glimmer in the imagination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, another Scotsman had achieved fame and fortune as a legendary detective and founder of a national detective agency that became as famous for their skill as their slogan, “We Never Sleep”…not to mention the nickname that emerged based on their logo…the Private Eye.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland on 25 August 1819, Allan J. Pinkerton was the son of William Pinkerton and Isobel McQueen.

William Pinkerton died when his son was eight years old; an event that resulted in grave poverty for the family and caused Allan to quit school and help support the family by working in a pattern-making shop. Eventually, as he grew older, Pinkerton found work as a cooper.

The plight of his widowed mother and the working class in general greatly influenced the mindset of Allan Pinkerton.

He became involved with the British Chartist Movement, a group of political and social reformists who believed the working class should have the same rights as everyone else, especially concerning their right to vote.

Often considered radicals, Pinkerton’s involvement led to a warrant for his arrest. In 1842, after secretly marrying Joan Carfrae, Allan and his bride set sail for America. He was 23 years old when he settled in Chicago, Illinois. In 1843, he relocated to nearby Kane County and the town of Dundee, where he opened shop as a cooper.

But sometimes fate takes a hand in one's destiny.

While minding his own business, cutting wood for his cooper business—on a deserted nearby island no less—Allan Pinkerton happened to come upon a gang of counterfeiters. The key information he provided the law helped lead to the gang’s capture. Before long, the young Pinkerton played a key role in bringing other criminals to justice.

It came as no surprise to locals when Allan J. Pinkerton was named Deputy Sheriff of Kane County in 1846. Having heard of his intellect, skill, and bravery, Cook County solicited his services. Pinkerton was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Cook County based in Chicago, and in 1849, he became the first detective in the city of Chicago.

Realizing the great need for other trained detectives, Pinkerton resigned from the police in 1850 and started his own detective agency with Edward Rucker, a Chicago attorney. Originally called the North-Western Police Agency, Pinkerton’s partnership with Rucker would end in 1851. He then joined forces with his brother, Robert, who had also formed a detective agency called Pinkerton & Co. With Allan on board, the company became known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and specialized in railroad theft cases.

Among the techniques invented by Pinkerton (and still used today) were secret surveillance, known as shadowing, and assuming a fictitious identity, better known as undercover work.

In addition to running the business and training agents, Pinkerton always seemed to have an uncanny knack for being at the right place at the right time. His intelligence and skill for gleaning secret information became world-renowned when he thwarted an attempt to assassinate president-elect, Abraham Lincoln. Impressed by Pinkerton, President Lincoln hired the master detective and several of his agents as personal security during the Civil War. Agents also worked undercover as Confederate sympathizes and even soldiers. Pinkerton himself often went on many undercover spy missions.

[Pictured left: Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. George McClellan]

After the Civil War ended, Pinkerton returned to Chicago and detective work at the agency he co-owned with his brother.

When Robert died in 1868, Allan ran the company alone, although his sons, William and Robert, started working with him. A year later, in 1869, Allan Pinkerton suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. As he struggled to regain his health, his sons and the sons of his deceased brother worked together to run the agency. Unfortunately, infighting and rivalry caused problems. The agency suffered, internally and financially. As best he could, Allan Pinkerton tried to bring order back to the business.

Throughout his life, Pinkerton admitted he was difficult to work for (and live with), but he strived to be just and honest. Without question, he was also a shrewd businessman. A perfect example is when disaster struck Chicago on 07 October 1871, otherwise remembered as the Great Fire.

For three days the fire raged. In the aftermath, among the businesses destroyed was the Pinkerton building and most of the agency’s records. Financial ruin and the fate of the agency was threatened.

On the work front, agents were hired to prevent looting in a city now under martial law. On the home front, the widow and children of his brother (and former partner) were homeless. When his sister-in-law asked Pinkerton for financial assistance, he encouraged her to return to Great Britain, offering to pay for the journey. Mrs. Alice Pinkerton and her sons accepted the offer. A benevolent gesture or shrewd business decision? One thing is certain. Allan Pinkerton was well aware he needed to focus on re-establishing his business and wanted no more fighting with relatives. The departure of Alice and her sons left Pinkerton and his sons with complete control of the agency.

Allan Pinkerton disliked failure of any kind. When a railroad contract ended because his agents failed to capture outlaw Jesse James [pictured left], Pinkerton continued to track Jesse at his own expense. One might say he became obsessed with capturing Jesse James.

The animosity between Pinkerton and James escalated, especially on 05 Jan 1875. Although it is believed the tactic was authorized by his sons, Pinkerton agents tossed an iron torch inside a house where they believed Jesse was living. The act caused an explosion and resulted in the arm of Jesse’s mother to be blown off.

For the first time it was difficult for the public to tell the good guy from the bad guy. Needless to say, Jesse James wanted revenge. He went to Chicago to kill Allan Pinkerton. Headstrong, Jesse failed to take into account Allan Pinkerton had once been a Union spy and in 1875 was the most skilled detective in the world. After four months, Jesse gave up and left town.

Even without getting Jesse James, under the leadership of Allan Pinkerton, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency grew in stature to become the most famous detective agency in the United States. In addition, now known throughout the world, other countries sought the services of Allan Pinkerton and his agents. [NOTE: This fact played a important role in the backstory of one of my heroes, JORDAN BLAKE, in WHISPER IN THE WIND.]

The prestigious agency was also hired by the United States Government to handle cases now assigned to the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service. Pinkerton’s impressive techniques and efforts at uncovering military intelligence during the Civil War also became a major contributing factor to the establishment of the United States Intelligence Service, today known as the Secret Service.

Pinkerton agents increased by reputation and number, and were often considered an army unto themselves. Their services were so highly sought after throughout the United States, they were authorized to carry firearms wherever they went.

At the height of the agency’s notoriety, Pinkerton employed more detectives than the standing army of the United States. The State of Ohio found this fact rather intimidating and outlawed the agency, fearing a company of that size and skill might be hired as a private army.

In the late 1870s, Allan Pinkerton’s health continued to deteriorate. Under the leadership of his two sons, the agency continued to experience criticism, primarily because agents were often retained to investigate and stop militant labor unions.

Since as a young man back in Scotland, Allan Pinkerton had worked for the rights of workers and had himself been a Chartist, it seemed odd his agents were fighting labor unions created to help mine workers. When criticized, particularly during the famous Molly Maguires movement in Pennsylvania, Pinkerton maintained that his company was trying to help the workers fight the oppressive, violent labor unions that used terrorism to get their demands met.

By the end of his life, Pinkerton’s attention focused on creating a procedure that consolidated criminal information and photographs called the Rogues Gallery that could, in turn, be shared with other law enforcement agencies. In fact, when the FBI was established they used many of Allan Pinkerton’s procedures, including his ID database.

Pinkerton also wrote 18 successful books, including The Spy of the Rebellion (1883), which detailed Lincoln’s 1861 journey to Washington.

Allan Pinkerton died in 1884; he was 64 years old. It should be noted that it wasn't until three years later in 1887 when the fictitious Sherlock Holmes made his brilliant debut in A Study in Scarlet, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In May 2000, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency donated an archive of “rare and once-secret files, photographs, drawings and documents on Jesse James, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, the Missouri Kid and Butch Cassidy” to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. A year later, in 2001, Pinkerton and Burns International merged, becoming part of the Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., “the largest security services provider in the world”.

On a personal note, I have always held a great fascination and appreciation for Pinkerton agents. You see, my auburn-haired Scots-Irish great-grandfather was a Pinkerton who worked for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, also known as the KATY. As an undercover detective, he worked to prevent and/or stop train robberies.

Featured left is a photograph taken in the late 1870s of my handsome great-grandfather (seated) and his partner. [Note: This image is copyrighted by me, and cannot be reproduced or used without written authorization.]

One of my favorite facts about my great-grandfather was his technique for disarming outlaws. Not wanting to draw his firearm on a train with innocent passengers in close proximity, he stealthily approached his target then used his secret weapon. Namely, a powerful right hook which proved both surprising and quite effective.

As a result, his right hand was broken many times. The repeated injury took a toll. In appearance, his right hand appeared larger than the left. Not surprisingly, in later years it became quite painful with arthritis. After leaving the Pinkertons, he took up farming to raise his 10 children, and also worked as a detective for the Dallas Police Department.

My fascination (and pride) in my ancestor inspired the handsome hero in my western time travel romance WHISPER IN THE WIND. JORDAN BLAKE is not only a Pinkerton detective, but also experienced the same type injury to his right hand and proves his fisticuffs ability in a very dark moment.

If you would like to win a digital or signed print copy of WHISPER IN THE WIND, please visit my website and register for my mailing list. Here is the link:

As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope you found my post about ALLAN PINKERTON AND THE PINKERTON NATIONAL DETECTIVE AGENCY of interest. ~ AKB

Thirty Years A Detective by Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton: The First Private Eye by James Mackay
Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations

Thursday, July 28, 2016


I slipped up big time! I “THINK” I may have overloaded my brain. You see, today is my birthday—the big 59 (and forever holding, right here!) and a boxed set release day with one of my “oldie but goodie” stories in it. And it’s also my blog day here at Sweethearts. Sorry to be so late, but without further ado, here’s my big news! I will give away a Kindle copy of this boxed set to ONE LUCKY WINNER! Just leave a comment about what got you started reading romance books and be sure to leave your contact info in the comment section, as well! You just might be my winner!

Are you ready for FIVE books in one of the best western historical romance boxed sets to debut this year? Prairie Rose Publications has got just the stories you’ve been craving! Get ready for some wonderful hours of pleasure-filled reading as you settle back in your easy chair and get lost in these wonderful tales of romance that you won’t be able to get enough of!

HER SANCTUARY by Tracy Garrett
Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible.

GABRIEL'S LAW by Cheryl Pierson
Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn't expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch's upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and GABRIEL’S LAW.

OUTLAW HEART by Tanya Hanson
Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive—a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an OUTLAW HEART…

THE DUMONT WAY by Kathleen Rice Adams
The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains a new, never-before-published tale by Kathleen Rice Adams! Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things THE DUMONT WAY…

YESTERDAY’S FLAME by Livia J. Washburn
When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell's duties propelled her from San Francisco 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger—and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be... "A timeless and haunting tale of love."~ The Literary Times

The link is "live" at Amazon, if you want to pop over and pick this great collection up for only .99!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


            Don’t you love hearing about strong, successful women who shaped the West? Let me tell you about one who became called The Cattle Queen of Texas and who was a teacher, author, and business woman. Her name was Elizabeth “Lizzie” Johnson Williams.

Lizzie Johnson was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on May 9, 1840 to Catherine (Hyde) and Thomas Jefferson Johnson, who were both educators. In 1846, the family moved to Huntsville, Texas. In 1852, her father founded the Johnson Institute on Bear Creek in Hays County about sixteen miles southwest of Austin. Students called Thomas "Old Bristle Top" because of his unruly hair and called his wife "Aunt Caty". All six of the Johnson children attended the Institute, and then Lizzie also attended Chappell Hill Female Institute in Washington County, Texas. When she graduated, she joined the staff of the Johnson Institute, teaching basic subjects and bookkeeping. 

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Johnson
In 1863, Lizzie left her family’s Institute and taught in various Texas schools before she ended up in Lockhart. In that town, she started a business bookkeeping for cattlemen, thereby learning much about the cattle business. When she moved on to Austin to establish her own primary school, she continued keeping books for ranchers. 

Lizzie was intelligent with a vivid imagination and began to dabble in writing stories. No one would buy fiction written by a woman, so she wrote anonymously for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Magazine. According to Carmen Goldthwaite, Lizzie’s stories reportedly included “The Sister’s Secret”, “The Haunted House Among The Mountains”, and “Lady Inez: or, The Passion Flower, an American Romance”. Since she wrote anonymously, no one knows how many or which other stories she had published.

Working three jobs, she saved $2500, which she invested in the Evans, Snyder, and Bewell Cattle Company of Chicago. Three years later, she sold her interest for an astounding $20,000. Lizzie registered her CY brand in Travis County and began buying cattle and land. In 1873, the glut of beef and the economic downturn resulted in many ranchers contracting with a stock driver to take the cattle north for sale. At first, Lizzie did also.

In 1879, she met and married a retired Baptist minister, Hezekiah “Hez” Williams. He was a tall, charming widower with several children and he drank and gambled. Here’s another first for the time. Before Lizzie married him on June 8, 1879 in a Presbyterian ceremony, she had him sign what is believed to be Texas’ first prenuptial agreement. She retained rights to all her property brought into the marriage. (When I used this in my now permafree book BRAZOS BRIDE, now with an audio version available, many people thought that anachronistic, but that book takes place in this era.) At that time in Texas, when a woman married, all her property came under control of her husband, who could sell it and keep the money without benefit to her.

Lizzie was a spiritual woman who read scriptures daily. Hez drank, but not in her presence. Reportedly, they had a great deal of respect for one another. She was far better in business and kept careful tally of their herds, insuring that she received the money for her cattle and he for his. On occasion, she loaned him money, but insisted he repay her. Eventually, he yielded his operation to her.

The two were very competitive. One ranch hand who worked for them recounted the story of competing instructions. Lizzie would tell him to brand all Hez’s calves with her brand and Hez told him to brand all of Lizzie’s calves with his brand. The cowboy was kept busy following these instructions.

Lizzie’s life revolved around cattle, real estate, and investments. She was good at all three. Soon she and Hez were living the good life. In addition to their ranch at Driftwood, they owned a home in Austin.

Lizzie was one of the first women to go on a cattle drive. The hardy Texas cattle were immune to the ticks that caused serious illness in Hereford cattle raised further north. When tick fever made Texas cattle unwelcome in Oklahoma and Kansas in the 1880s, Lizzie took her cattle and Hez's up the Chisholm Trail.

Lizzie Johnson Williams

Eventually, she and Hez followed their herd up the Chisolm trail in a buggy. Other ranchers trusted Lizzie to keep careful tally of the “community herd” driven north.

When driving north became impossible due to barbed wire, quarantines, and arrival of the railroad about 1890, she began shipping beef from Indianola and Galveston to Cuba. She and Hez traveled to Cuba, where he was kidnapped. She paid the $50,000 ransom. Those who knew them joked that Hez kidnapped himself to get a little spending money of his own.

With their increased wealth, the couple was able to travel, always staying in the finest hotels. Lizzie became interested in silks and satins, jewelry, and accessories. Reportedly, on one trip to Manhattan, Lizzie spent $10,000 on jewelry.

Hez’s health declined after their trip to Cuba so they traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas for him to take the waters and also to the drier climate of El Paso. He died in El Paso in 1914. She purchased a fancy casket for $600 and returned him to Austin for burial. Allegedly, she scribbled across the undertaker’s bill, “I loved the old buzzard this much.”

Lizzie, now in her seventies, continued to manage her businesses. Without her gregarious and charming husband, she became a recluse who was known as miserly. About six months before her death, a niece took Lizzie into her home when the niece determined Lizzie had dementia.

Elizabeth Johnson Williams died on January 5, 1924 without a will and was buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery beside Hezekiah. Because she had appeared to Austinites as impoverished, they were surprised to learn she had amassed a fortune worth a quarter of a million dollars. Lizzie had a strict policy of no loans to family or friends and had told no one where all her funds were. She was so eccentric, she had hidden money and jewels in all sorts of places in her home—in wallboards, floors, cabinets, basement, and crevices.

Though unconventional, this amazing woman achieved major accomplishments. She was one of the first women to drive her cattle up the Chisholm Trail, which resulted in her nickname as The Cattle Queen of Texas; she had the first prenuptial agreement in Texas; and she was a pioneer in breaking the barrier into what had always been a man’s world: cattle trading. Is it any wonder she was the Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree in 2013?

 Caroline Clemmons writes historical and contemporary western romance. Her latest is THE RANCHER AND THE SHEPHERDESS, a Montana Sky Kindle World novel being released from Amazon on July 27, 2016. Check her Amazon Author Page here for all her books. For a free novella, subscribe to her newsletter.

TEXAS RANCH WOMEN: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie, by Carmen  Goldthwaite, History Press, 2014

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Virginian

I think I’ve seen every episode of the long running TV show, The Virginian, but that doesn’t stop me from watching them again when my husband clicks in on. Even if I’m deep into a book, either reading or writing, that show has the ability to pull me out and engage me in what’s happening in Medicine Bow. 

The TV series is but one adaptation to the original book written in 1902 by Owen Wister. Several movies were also created based on this book that has been credited as being the first true western ever written and the one that created the genre made famous by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. In my office, I have boxes of Louis L’Amour and few Zane Grey novels that had been my grandfather’s and then my mother’s. I’ve read many of them, but in truth, they are getting too fragile, but I’m not ready to be parted from them yet. 

I’ve also read The Virginian. I found the concept of the 1st person narrator who details the story of a man who is only referred to as the Virginian interesting and unique. No real name is ever mentioned. One of my favorite characters in the TV series is Trampas. (I appreciated the cameo of Doug McClure in the popular 1994 Maverick movie starring Mel Gibson. McClure died just a year later.) In the book, Trampas is the Virginian’s foe. The book also has the Virginian ‘getting the girl’, a young school teacher named Molly Stark Wood, and has an happily ever after ending. 

The Virginian TV series was unique in the fact it was filmed to be ninety minutes long, (seventy-five with commercial breaks). Running for nine years, it became the third longest running western series behind Bonanza and Gunsmoke. The show had many changes throughout it’s run, including the changes in the owner’s of Shiloh Ranch, but the main character, the Virginian, played by James Drury, remained the same. Drury starred in many TV shows and films, including a cameo appearance in the 2000 movie, The Virginian starring Bill Pullman.

If you enjoyed the show, this is a fun website full of information--

If you have the time and interest, I’d recommend reading the original novel, just because. A free download can be found here

Friday, July 22, 2016

The National Park Service turns 100!

By Peggy L Henderson

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Parks system. And it all started in Yellowstone… with the US Army.

In 1872, President U.S. Grant signed into law the Yellowstone National Park Protection Law, making Yellowstone the nation’s first national park. Protecting a large area of land was a big deal, because during that era, it was all about expansion. The new law states “…the headwaters of the Yellowstone River…is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale … and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” 
However, there were problems. Lawmakers didn’t think that maintaining the park would cost the government anything. The first superintendent, Nathaniel Langford, was unpaid in his position.  He did what he could to protect wildlife and the natural features. Without money, he couldn’t hire anyone to enforce the laws within the park.
When the second superintendent, Philetus Norris,  took over in 1877, Congress appropriated money to “protect, preserve, and improve the Park.”
Roads were constructed and a “gamekeeper” was hired to get rid of vandals and poachers. He was succeeded by three superintendents who were ineffective at protecting the park. Even with ten assistants, they could not properly police the park and couldn’t stop the destruction of wildlife.

The army posing in front of the Liberty Cap at Mammoth Hot Springs where Ft Yellowstone was built

In 1886, Congress refused to appropriate money for Yellowstone. The Secretary of the Interior therefore called on the help from the Department of War. So on August 20, 1886, the US Army took control of Yellowstone. They didn’t expect to stay long, but they were so effective in keeping law and order in the park, that they remained for 30 years.
On May 11, 1891, the army received approval for a permanent base, and began constructing Fort Yellowstone inside the park. Prior to this date, the Army had operated out of Camp Sheridan, located at the base of the Mammoth Terraces.

Mounted cavalry at Ft Yellowstone

The army, comprised of Company M of the US cavalry, enforced regulations inside the Yellowstone Park boundaries, guarded the major attractions, patrolled the interior, and got rid of troublemakers. Their main role turned out to be apprehending poachers. Poachers slaughtered deer, elk, and bison, threatening their extermination. The maximum punishment at the time for poachers was eviction and banishment from the park.

In 1894, the cavalry arrested one persistent poacher, Ed Howell for killing bison when there were only several dozen left in the park. A journalist was present at the arrest, and sent a report and photographs to his newspaper in the east. His story created a national outcry, and within two months, Congress passed the Lacey Act, giving the army greater authority for protecting animals and features in the park.

The image that spurred the Lacey Act (soldiers with confiscated bison heads from poacher Ed Howell)

While the army was great at protecting the park, they couldn’t do much when it came to answering visitor questions about the area. Furthermore, 12 other national parks had since been established in the US, all under different administration.
Finally, on August 25, 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, creating an agency that would manage all national parks. The first national park rangers, many of whom were veterans of the army, took over in Yellowstone in 1918.

early NPS image, ca 1929

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Award-Winning Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series
Wilderness Brides Historical Romance Series