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 John Reno

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John Reno

  • Birth 23 Jul 1838 Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana, USA
  • Death 31 Jan 1895
  • Burial Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana, USA
  • Memorial ID 15013041

John Reno, b. July 23, 1838, Seymour, Jackson Co., Indiana; d. January 31, 1895, Jackson Co., IN; buried secretly next to his brothers in Seymour cemetery; m. Sarah Ford, August 05, 1880, Jackson Co., IN; b. June 22, 1844, Brownstown, Jackson Co., IN; d. November 12, 1930, Jackson Co., IN; buried Riverview Cemetery near Seymour. His parents
were: Wilkison Reno and Julia ANN FREYHAFER.
One of the Reno Gang brothers, he was in the Missouri State Penetentiary in 1868 when his brothers were hanged in a New Albany, Indiana jail. His nickname was "Trick" Reno. He wrote a book in 1879 entitled "The life of John Reno, the world's first train robber". In his autobiography, John Reno tells of running away from home at the age of 16 on a stolen horse, making his way to Louisville, and then boarding the "Fannie Ballet" riverboat to get to Mobile, Alabama where his cousin Hiram Smith lived. Upon finding hard times in Alabama and Mississippi, he eventually returned back upriver to Louisville and to the family farm near Seymour, Indiana.
John Reno joined Captain Cockefair's company in the Civil War and fought in Maryland and Virginia for a total of 2 years and eight months. His enlistment record reads "Private, Co. H, 6th regiment, enlisted for three months. Enrolled April 22, 1861; mustered Nov. 24, 1861. Enrolled at Seymour by Fielder A. Jones. Mustered at Indianapolis by T. J. Wood. Age 24. Mustered out at Indianapolis, Aug. 2, 1861." He also enlisted as a corporal in Company A, 13th regiment. Mustered in June 19, 1861 at Indianapolis; deserted July 20, 1863, Norfolk, Virginia. In September 1866, John Reno, his brother Simon and Frank Sparks robbed their first train of $16,000. The well-told story about how Allen Pinkerton tricked him at the train depot in Seymour and kidnapped him is false. He was arrested for the Gallatin, MO robbery by Sheriff John Ballinger and Mr. Woodruff, in Indianapolis at 3 a.m., not by Allen Pinkerton. In January 1868, John pleaded guilty to robbing the treasury office in Gallatin, MO because he thought he would be lynched by an angry mob if he didn't. He was held in the Missouri State Prison for 10 years and 1 month before his sentence was commuted. As soon as he was released from prison, he was re-arrested for his first train robbery in Seymour. At his trial in February 1879, he was acquitted.
After leaving prison, he lived in Chicago for awhile with his niece Appelena Reno and her husband. On February 6, 1879, the Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County dismissed the remaining charges against John Reno, and said "It is therefore considered by the Court that the defendent go hence fully discharged". John Reno was a free man. On August 5, 1880, he married Sarah Ford Reno, widow of his brother Frank. A few years after he wrote his book, John Reno was arrested by federal agents at a saloon he owned in Seymour, and was found in the possession of a large amount of counterfeit notes that he had made and circulated. He was sent to the Michigan City Prison. Sarah divorced him on April 19, 1887 and took her maiden name of Ford back, but in 1890 when John was released from prison, they remarried again in Columbus, Indiana. He died of paralysis at his home in Seymour on January 31, 1895 at the age of 56 (Jackson Co. Death Records Vol. 1, p.60). The story by Volland (1948) that he was losing badly in a card game, and after telling his opponent "I will beat you, damn it, or die doing it!", fell backwards to the floor, stricken unconscious and paralyzed, was fabricated, as were many other stories related to the Reno Gang.
Loren Noblitt, the historian for Jackson County, claims that John Reno had an illegitimate son named John by Mollie Nagle of Rockford, whom he was seeing just before he enlisted in the Civil War. John and Mollie went to Clay Co., Indiana and rented some farmland from a Dr. Leabolt, 2 miles west of Brazil, but they "sold out" and she returned to Rockford and John enlisted in the military.





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  • Created by: Sandra
  • Added: 22 Jul 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 15013041
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Reno (23 Jul 1838–31 Jan 1895), Find A Grave Memorial no. 15013041, citing City Cemetery, Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Sandra (contributor 46524408) .