Pinkerton's Puts Fox Valley in TV Spotlight

Article excerpt

Byline: Allison Kaplan Daily Herald Staff Writer

His name is synonymous with detective work, yet the Fox River town where Allan Pinkerton solved his first case - launching him to a career of solving national crime cases and protecting Abraham Lincoln - barely gets mentioned in stories of his adventure-filled life.

A historical marker where his house once stood - next to a Third Street garage in East Dundee - is the only modern-day evidence of Pinkerton's presence in town.

"Bogus Island," the Fox River island north of the Dundees on which Pinkerton discovered and broke up a counterfeit currency ring in the late 1840s, has long since sunk.

But Towers Productions, a Chicago film company that contributes episodes to cable station A&E's "Biography" program, recently paddled the Fox River to re-create the scene of the counterfeit caper for a program on Pinkerton's life.

In the process of researching Pinkerton - which led Towers Productions to film on-location in Pinkerton's native Glasgow, Scotland - Associate Producer Scott Alexander said he realized a significant piece of the story occurred right in the production company's back yard.

As the story goes, Pinkerton, a barrel maker by trade, was looking for wood on Bogus Island - Basswood Island, as it was known before this event - when he came across a fire and got suspicious. Pinkerton returned to the island several times, eventually spotting a band of counterfeiters from Algonquin. He notified the Kane County sheriff, and together they arrested the band by raiding the island.

After that, Pinkerton was appointed deputy sheriff of Kane County. But his sights were set on much grander projects. He remained in East Dundee only six or eight years before moving to Chicago, where he set up the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. …