Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kate Warne - First Female Detective in the United States of America

Kate Warne
circa 1830-1868

Pinkerton Detective (1856-1868)
Secret Service of the Army, Washington, D.C.
Head of the first female detective bureau in the USA, New Orleans, (1865- )

Kate Warne was born in New York circa 1830-1833. Nothing is known about her early life, not even her maiden name. What is told is that she was left a childless young widow, and seeking employment, she entered the offices of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, Illinois, in 1856. According to Allan Pinkerton:

"[I] was surprised to learn Kate was not looking for clerical work, but was actually answering an advertisement for detectives he had placed in a Chicago newspaper. At the time, such a concept was almost unheard of. Pinkerton said " It is not the custom to employ women detectives!" Kate argued her point of view eloquently - pointing out that women could be "most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective." A Woman would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. Men become braggarts when they are around women who encourage them to boast. Kate also noted, Women have an eye for detail and are excellent observers."

Because of her position as a detective, an operative, and a spy, it is difficult to discover her real name, as she used many aliases in her work. The names Kate Warne and Kate Warn were the ones to be recorded most often. Other names were various spellings of Kitty Warren and Kay Waren. Angie M. Warren was also used. It's also questionable if Warne or Warn was her maiden name or her "deceased" husband's surname. The case may have been that she was single and claiming she was a widow made her more acceptable as a working woman of the time.

During her time with the Pinkerton Agnecy, she was integral in preventing an assassination plot on the president-elect, Abraham Lincoln, in February 1861.

Upon her death, her age was given as both 35 years old and 38 years old. She had contracted  pneumonia in December 1867 and died of "consumption of lungs" on 28 January 1868. Her final address was 94 Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois.

She was buried on 30 January 1868 in the Pinkerton Family section of historic Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Her name is listed as "Kate Warn" on her tombstone.

(Additional information to be added soon.)