A Cowboy Detective: A True Story of Twenty-Two Years with a World-Famous Detective Agency

A Cowboy Detective: A True Story of Twenty-Two Years with a World-Famous Detective Agency

A Cowboy Detective: A True Story of Twenty-Two Years with a World-Famous Detective Agency

A Cowboy Detective: A True Story of Twenty-Two Years with a World-Famous Detective Agency

Synopsis

After years of cowboying, Charles A. Siringo had settled down to store-keeping in Caldwell, Kansas, when a blind phrenologist, traveling through, took the measure of his "mule head" and told him that he was "cut out" for detective work. Thereupon, Siringo joined the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1886. A Cowboy Detective chronicles his twenty-two years as an undercover operative in wilder parts of the West, where he rode with the lawless, using more stratagems and guises than Sherlock Holmes to bring them to justice and escaping violent death more often than Dick Tracy. He survived the labor riots at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in 1892 (his testimony helped convict eighteen union leaders), hounded moonshiners in the Appalachians, and chased Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. Once described as "a small wiry man, cold and steady as a rock" and "born without fear," Charlie Siringo became a favorite of high-ups in the Pinkerton organization. Nevertheless, the Pinkertons, ever sensitive to criticism, went to court to block publication of Siringo's book. Frank Morn, in his introduction to this Bison Books edition, discusses the changes that resulted from two years of litigation. Finally published in 1912 without Pinkerton in the title or the text, A Cowboy Detective has Siringo working for the "Dickensen Detective Agency" and meeting up with the likes of "Tim Corn," whom every western buff will recognize. The deeper truth of Siringo's book remains. As J. Frank Dobie wrote, "His cowboys and gunmen were not of Hollywood and folklore. He was an honest reporter.

Excerpt

This story of twenty years of active service as a detective, an autobiography of many thrilling adventures, on mountain and plain, among moonshiners, cattle thieves, tramps, dynamiters and other strong-arm men, has been delayed for a long time in coming from the press. The delay was due to the protests of the author's former employers. These protests were undoubtedly rightful, but it was considered in the beginning that no harm could come therefrom, for the reason that the identity of persons involved was not disclosed except in reference to past facts, matters that were done and over with. Now this difficulty has been overcome and the objections removed by the use of fictitious names in many places. But the story in no wise loses its interest, and it is believed the reader will find in the volume much with which to entertain himself.

The author is not a literary man, but has written as he speaks, and it is thought that the simplicity thus resulting will not detract from the substantial merit of the tales, which are recitals of facts and not of fiction.

CHARLES A. SIRINGO.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, January 6, 1912.

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