Select Page
Author Desk: Meet the Heroes

Author Desk: Meet the Heroes

Welcome to the end of a crazy month (so crazy, I’m a day late on this post) with the prospect of one more left to go. It’s wild how much our world can change within a matter of weeks. I pray you are staying home, staying healthy, and if you are one of those essential workers getting out every day to serve the rest of us, THANK YOU SO MUCH. My prayers are with you no matter where you may be working.

I am back at editing my Secret Service story, so to shake things up a bit, I thought I’d share the inspiration for each of my Secret Service heroes.

Meet the Heroes of Counterfeit Love

Broderick Cosgrove

Broderick works as an undercover Secret Service operative during the early 1880s. He is focused, loves puzzles, and sees his service to country as primary in his life. He pursues justice and truth with care so that no innocent person comes to harm and all who are guilty face a punishment befitting their crime.

His goal in Counterfeit Love: Ferret out the leaders of an elusive counterfeiting gang before they can get the new counterfeit twenties into circulation and damage an already fragile economy.

The Challenge: His former fiancée has somehow become entangled with the gang. She is innocent, but how can he prove it and protect her while doing his job? 

The real inspiration behind the character:

Andrew L. Drummond, Chief of the Secret Service between February 1891 and January 1894 – The initial inspiration for this story came from his book True Detective Stories. One of my favorite stories is where he was “arrested” and escaped jail with a counterfeiter in order to build the trust of an elusive gang. Where did his escapades lead him, but Cincinnati? The location of my story.

Andrew Darlington

While Andrew Darlington may not seem the hero type, he is a man trying to overcome a secret past which could cost him his job as a Secret Service operative. Therefore, he strikes every case with a vengeance. Collateral damage don’t matter so long as the criminal is brought to justice and put behind bars. 

His Goal in Counterfeit Love: Prove Theresa Plane is the real mastermind behind the elusive counterfeiting ring. No one knows better than him how corrupted and devilish a woman’s soul can be.

The Challenge: Broderick Cosgrove has been swindled by the woman and now he must work around a fellow operative to bring the truth to light.

 The real inspiration behind the character:

William P. Wood, Chief of the Secret Service from January 1863 to May 1869

Chief Wood earned a reputation for rash aggressiveness. In the book Illegal Tender, David R. Johnson described Chief Wood as “prowl[ing] the boundaries between legitimate and deviant society” and “lacking scruples and good judgment.” This was the basis for my backstory for Darlington. He is a complex character which you only scratch the surface of in Counterfeit Love. 

Josiah Isaacs

Poor Josiah Isaacs is an accidental play boy. He can’t help it that women take his friendliness to be flirtation, and bless his soul, he’s incapable of purposely breaking a woman’s heart. He’s been cornered into a proposal multiple times, and uses cases which take him away from home to convince the women he’s not a good for them so they break it off. He’s smart, caring, and understands Broderick’s position, but duty to their job must have the final say in the case.

His goal in Counterfeit Love: Allow Broderick–his partner and friend–the support and space he needs to prove whether or not Theresa Plane is guilty, but stand firm in revealing the truth should evidence prove otherwise.

The Challenge: Withholding information from their superiors could cost their job, and when the evidence continues to point toward Theresa Plane’s guilt, his friendship with Broderick becomes strained.

 

The real inspiration for the character:

There isn’t one particular Secret Service operative who stuck out to me to inspire Isaacs. He is sort of a meshing of many operative stories and characters. For me, I wanted a character who would play off the others and be fun to develop, and what more fun can I have than with a man who doesn’t mean to flirt and keeps getting engaged even when he never wants to marry? The story I have planned for him will be so much fun!

 

Catching a Counterfeiter – The Other Side

This week I am wrapping up my Secret Service series with a look at the other side, counterfeiting in the late 1800’s. While there is a lot more information to share, I just broke the counterfeiting scheme down to five basic steps with tidbits of extra information.  Enjoy, and don’t get into too much trouble!

 

For unfamiliar terms, please visit last week’s post: Secret Service Dictionary and Fun Facts

 

The Process of a Counterfeiting Scheme:

Step One: Engrave plates for use on printing presses.

counterfeitplate

  • Engravers were particularly scarce; those who did succumb to thievery had to serve many masters and lived rather hectic lives.
  • Engravers earned between twenty to forty dollars a week and worked nearly a year to finish a set of plates.
  • There was a market for used plates. A good set of plates could be sold for between several hundred and two thousand dollars.

 

Step Two: Print the Money

  • Like the manufacturers of legal merchandise, criminals needed to consider opportunity, risk, demand, price, and quality before investing their capital, time, skills, and organizational talent in the business.
  • The effort, time, and money (several thousand dollars) needed to produce an issue put the manufacturing of counterfeit notes beyond the resources of a single individual.
  • Plates belonged to one partner – either because he had provided the money to have them made or because he took them as part of his share in the proceedings.
  • Manufacturers used areas where there were a large number of supply stores clustered in the area to sell paper, type, ink, and various kinds of presses, which printing-1032552_1920.jpgwere the raw materials of counterfeiting.
  • Knowledge and techniques were transmitted orally and perfected by practical experience in saloons. Counterfeiter’s reliance on an oral culture and on personal relationships effectively shielded them from the police.
  • A firm could print between ten thousand and twelve thousand dollars a month.

 

Step Three: Sell to a Wholesaler

  • The wholesaler was the key figure in the distribution process. If the wholesaler was a member of the production firm, he had direct access to the product without any additional costs beyond his original investments in the partnership.
  • The whole seller sold product to dealers/retailers.

 

Step Four: Sell to a Dealer/Retailer

  • There were two types of dealers: (1) Thieves who bought counterfeits to pass on unsuspecting merchants or (2) Merchants who were willing to cheat their customers by giving them counterfeit money in change.
  • Dealers created customer lists, which they jealously guarded from their competitors. Their customers regularly wrote to the retailers or left messages at the saloons that retailers visited.

 

Step Five: Shove the Money – (A.K.A. Put counterfeit notes into circulation.)

  • Shovers usually operated in small groups of two or three. One shover entered a alcohol-1238345_640shop, made a small purchase, and received genuine money in change. While the shover was transacting business, a companion remained outside to watch for the police and to make sure that the shover was not followed by the store keeper, who might have discovered the counterfeit.
  • After each transaction, they placed the proceeds in a separate pocket or envelope, so that their associates would be able to trace the precise amounts each shover collected.
  • Then the group returned to their meeting place and divided the proceeds.

 

The Price of Counterfeiting:

The price of counterfeit bills fluctuated based on their quality and lack of public awareness. New notes were easy to pass and thus sold for more money, generally between thirty and seventy cents. The better the counterfeit quality, the better the price.

 

As soon as a new counterfeit’s existence became widely known, dealers had to lower the prices to compensate their customers for the increased risk. Discounted notes sold for between eighteen and twenty-two cents on the dollar.

TBT: Secret Service Dictionary and Fun Facts

Just as any career has its own jargon, so did the counterfeiting world and the Secret Service. Below are a few of the most important terms to know.  Below that are a few fun facts about the Secret Service.

20-dollar-bill-021

Secret Service and Counterfeiting Dictionary

  • Boodle – notes bought from a production firmBoodle carrier – a courier who delivered counterfeit notes from the dealer to the shovers.

    Chief Operative – first-class men assigned to the division’s major districts, each chief operative would have assistant operatives working under his direction, and would be responsible for all administrative and investigative activities within his district.

    Dealers – people who bought the counterfeit notes from wholesalers and then used shovers to distribute the money into general circulation

    Distribution – the spread of counterfeit money through an underground sales network

    Engraver – the person who created the plates used to print money

    Firm – the collective group of people used to print money

    Issue – an edition of a set of counterfeit bills

    Manufacturer – a person or group of people who printed counterfeit money

    Network – the sum of one’s personal acquaintances (which included non-criminals).

    Notes – another term for paper money

    Operative – the official title of the Service’s employees

    Plant – a term used to reference where counterfeiters made their money

    Plates – metal pieces with copied images from the bill being counterfeited

    Product – another name used for counterfeit money, generally used by the counterfeiters

    Production Firm – the collective group of people used to print money

    Queer – another term for counterfeit money

    Retailer – another term for a dealer

    Shover – a person who bought low priced items with a higher counterfeit bill to get real money back in change

    Straw bail – a situation in which a false bondsman was contracted to swear they possessed sufficient property to pay the bond, and then the counterfeiter would subsequently fail to appear in court

    Wholesalers – men or women who would buy counterfeit notes from manufacturers and then recruit potential customers through personal contacts or the mail to create a sales network

     

     

  • Fun Facts about the Secret Service

    • D.C. was the Service’s bureaucratic headquarters and the chief lived there
    • Between 1875 and 1910, the division never employed more than 47 men, and the average was only 25. 1878-1893, the average number of servicemen was well below that.
    • Chief operatives often had several cases under investigation at once and had silhouette-407659_640testy battles with headquarters over conflicting demands for economy and results
    • Each chief operative maintained a retinue of assistants and informers
    • Each district contained a number of states and a single operative maintained a headquarter in a major city
    • There were field offices in 11 cities across the nation.
    • Operatives were paid once a month on a daily scale, an average of $7 per day.
    • Each work day ranged from 12 to 16 hours long.
    • There were no days off and any “vacation” time was unpaid.
    • Operatives were required to itemize all their expenses for everything from travel to personal needs.
    • Operatives were to maintain peak physical fitness, swear unquestioning obedience to chief’s directives
    • In 1881, all toy money was removed from shelves and industries.
    • While time-consuming, the work was not particularly dangerous (no Service employee was seriously hurt in the line of duty until the murder of an operative in 1908).

     

TBT: Secret Service Operatives – the Early Days

BostonBankNote

 

The Secret Service history dates back to the Civil War when they were informally created to detect, investigate, and arrest counterfeiters. The early days were fraught with detectives who had less than ethical standards and tactics that disregarded the rights of a citizen. In less than ten years after its establishment, a reformation was demanded and a whole new breed of Secret Service Operative came into existence.

Who was this new breed of operative?

Operatives tended to have military, police, or detective experience and come from a law-abiding middle-class background. These men were successful in life prior to being appointed and often had a job history that indicated an ambition to do more.

 

Unlike their predecessors, they adapted their behavior to bureaucratic routine, followed orders, and obeyed rules. They were talented detectives, highly tolerant of paperwork, and committed to organizational goals.

 

They were a  tough, capable, and honorable breed, with high standards of personal integrity, who felt it their duty to interact with criminals for the greater good of society.

 

“Employees will be judged by the character they sustain, by the results they accomplish, and by the manner in which they accomplish them.” – Elmer Washburn, Chief of the Secret Service 1874-1876

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Operative in the 1880s

  • Avoid “any appearance of impropriety or disgraceful behavior.”
  • Criminals are not personal acquaintances; they are enemies of the social order.
  • Submit weekly reports to the director. They must include accounts of your actions and expenses every hour of every day.
  • Do not accept gifts or gratuities to perform or forgo official duties.
  • Do not deliver or give permission to use counterfeit money to any unauthorized person.
  • All arrests must be in strict conformity to civil law and with the cooperation of the local policing institution.
  • All financial transactions must be reported, even those with criminals.
  • Report all criminal transactions: what was paid for counterfeit money, from whom it was purchased, where they deal was made, the kind of bogus money purchased, and how much counterfeit was obtained.SecretServiceBadge1
  • Record “all charges for information and assistance,” including names and residences of each person receiving these sums.
  • Purchasing counterfeit money must be done for the smallest, practical amount.
  • “Authority must be had from this Office before any bargain is made for information or assistance, unless the operative can clearly make it appear that the interest of the service would have suffered materially by the delay necessary, in order to obtain such authority.”
  • “Operatives will neither promise, either by word or implication, immunity from punishment, nor anything in mitigation of sentence, to any person for any offense he may have committed.”
  • Suspects must be warned about their rights – everything they said will be documented and used against them in court. Suspects needn’t answer any questions until a lawyer is obtained. (This was long before the Miranda Rights became required in 1966.)

Throw Back Thursday: Secret Service History

silhouette-407659_640

“The detection of crime, when entered upon with an honest purpose to discover the haunts of criminals and protect society from their depredations by bringing them to justice, is held to be an honorable calling and worthy of commendation of all good men.”

– Hiram C. Whitley, Chief of the Secret Service, May 1869 – September 1874

 

While many people today think of the Secret Service as primarily protecting the President, that duty did not actually become a part of their repertoire until 1894. Until 1902 it was conducted only informally and part-time, and even then, only two operatives were assigned full-time to the White House. So what did they do from their creation in 1865 until 1902, and beyond?

 

Before the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was given exclusive authorization of currency production in 1877, our  our government was in a precarious situation. Prior to the formation of said currency, one third to one half of all money in circulation was counterfeit. Determined to ensure the safety of the new national currency, the Secret Service was tasked with detecting and bringing to justice the counterfeiters whom were so talented at creating the illegal tender.

 

Enter the heroes of my series in progress. Each hero is a Secret Service operative from the early days when detecting counterfeiters was their man job and concern. My current hero is working a case in 1883. Researching the cases of these amazing heroes has been a revealing and enjoyable adventure.

 

More posts will be devoted to these amazing heroes of our early economic system, but for now here are few interesting facts gleaned from my research of the Secret Service prior to 1901:

  • The number of operatives in the Secret Service ranged between fifteen men in 1865 and a high of thirty-five in 1898 for the entire United States. A large portion of that time the number of operatives was well below thirty.

 

  • The badge below was issued in 1875 and was the first to feature the “Service Star” – the official emblem still used today. SecretServiceBadge1
  • The star’s five points each represent one of the agency’s five core values: justice, duty, courage, honesty, and loyalty.

 

  • Secret Service operatives not only located and shut down counterfeiters, they also investigated nonconforming distillers, smugglers, mail robbers, land frauds, and other infractions against the Federal government.

 

  • Secret Service operatives were not initially allowed to arrest criminals, therefore they had to work in conjunction with local police.

 

  • U.S. Marshall’s once earned extra income through the reward money granted for the capture of counterfeiters. When the Secret Service took over that duty, tension developed between the two agencies. Eventually this faded, but in those early days working together was not always done amicably.

 

Pin It on Pinterest