The Pinkerton Detectives

  • The Pinkerton Detective Agency was founded by a former police officer – Allan Pinkerton – in 1850.
  • Their first office was in Chicago.
  • During the Civil War the Pinkertons gained fame as the personal body-guards to the president-elect, Abraham Lincoln.  They claimed to have foiled an early assassination plot against him.
  • At the height of its power the Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency was the largest private law-enforcement agency in the world.
  • They also acted as strike-breakers, sometimes hiring goon-squads to intimidate workers during labor disputes.
  • Kate Warne became the first female detective in 1856.
  • John Scobell was their first African-American Intelligence Agent during the Civil War.
  • Their Conduct Code included: 1. No bribes – 2. No compromising with criminals – 3. Support local law-enforcement – 4. Refuse divorce cases – 5. Avoid scandal cases – 6. Do not accept reward money – 7. Only raise client fees with prior notification – and 8. Give clients regular updates on progress.
  • The Pinkertons were hired to pursue the James-Younger Gang, the Dalton Gang, and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.
  • They were the first detectives to collect mug shots and develop a criminal database.
  • When Allan Pinkerton died in 1884 the business passed to his sons, Robert and William.  Later it went to his grandson, Allan Pinkerton II (1907), and then to his great-grandson, Robert Pinkerton II (1930).
  • In 1906 there were 20 U.S. offices, and when the corporate office moved to New York in 1960 the agency began expanding internationally.
  • Today, it is the largest security services provider in the world and recently relocated to a new global headquarters in Michigan.
  • Their famous logo – “We Never Sleep” – triggered the nickname private eye for all future detectives.


History Lists, “10 Things You May Not Know About The Pinkertons,” at, “History,” at

Wikipedia, “Pinkerton (detective agency),” at


Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch

Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch (a.k.a. The Hole in the Wall Gang)

  • The Wild Bunch Gang was founded by Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker) in a place known as Hole In The Wall, part of the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.
  • They were the most successful train-robbing outfit in history.
  • These colorful outlaws were active from 1899-1901.
  • Although they had a large ‘body-count’ between them, these desperados claimed never to have intentionally killed an innocent by-stander.
  • Famous members – aside from Butch Cassidy – included The Sundance Kid (Henry A. Longabaugh), Kid Curry (Harry Logan), News Carver (Will Carver), and The Tall Texan (Ben Kilpatrick).
  • There were a total of 19 train-robbers who branched out into bank, stagecoach, and store heists, as well as cattle and horse rustling.
  • They were often assisted by the Bassett Sisters (Ann and Josie) who supplied them with food, fresh horses, and female company.
  • What differentiated the Wild Bunch from other gangs is their intelligent planning and good-mannered bantering.
  • The gang broke up after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were forced to flee the United States.
  • Their fame and success ultimately attracted too much attention from the law!


Nash, Jay Robert, “The Real Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch,” at

Rosa, Joseph, G. Age of the Gunfighter: Man and Weapons on the Frontier, 1840-1900. Oklahoma: U of Oklahoma P, 1995.

Wikipedia, “Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch,” at