Western Outlaw. Born in Jackson County, Indiana. During the American Civil War federal recruiting officers paid a cash bounty to each man who signed up for military service. So the Reno brothers (Frank, John, Simeon, Clinton and William) became bounty jumpers. They joined up, took the money and then deserted from the Union Army. They then moved to another part of the state and repeated the process. The Reno brothers committed the first train robbery in American history at Seymour, Indiana. It was a great success and the gang got away with $10,000. This was followed by a bank raid in Missouri. Soon afterwards Allan Pinkerton and six of his agents arrested John Reno. He was convicted and sentenced to forty years of hard labor. Frank Reno led a raid on the Harrison County Bank in Magnolia, Iowa. This being followed by an attack on the Jefferson, Missouri and Indianapolis Railroad train in May, 1866. This time they got away with $96,000 in gold and government bonds. These activities continued and in 1868 the Southern Indiana Vigilance Committee published a leaflet warning that they would take revenge if the Reno brothers continued to break the law. The gang fled west to Iowa where they robbed the Harrison County treasury of $14,000. The next day, they robbed Mills County treasury of $12,000. The Pinkerton detectives quickly located the men and arrested them at Council Bluffs, Iowa. On April 1, the gang escaped from their Iowa jail and returned to Indiana. Frank Reno, the gang's leader, and Charlie Anderson were tracked down to the Canadian border town of Windsor, Ontario. With the help of United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, the men were extradited in October under the provisions of the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Both men were sent to New Albany to join the other prisoners. In the night of December 1868, about 65 hooded men traveled by train to New Albany. The men marched four abreast from the station to the Floyd County Jail where, just after midnight, the men forced their way into the jail and the sheriff's home. After they beat the sheriff and shot him in the arm for refusing to turn over the keys, his wife surrendered them to the mob. Frank Reno was the first to be dragged from his cell to be lynched. He was followed by brothers William and Simeon. Another gang member, Charlie Anderson, was the fourth and last to be murdered, at around 4:30 a.m on December 12. It was rumored that the vigilantes were part of the group known as the Scarlet Mask Society or Jackson County Vigilance Committee. No one was ever charged, named or officially investigated in any of the lynchings. Many local newspapers, such as the New Albany Weekly Ledger, stated that "Judge Lynch" had spoken. Reno Avenue in New Albany is likely named for the gang. Frank Reno and Charlie Anderson were technically in federal custody when they were lynched. This is believed to be the only time in U.S. history that a federal prisoner had ever been lynched by a mob before a trial. Secretary of State Seward wrote a formal letter of apology as a result. A new bill was later introduced into the U.S. Congress that clarified the responsibility for the safety of extradited prisoners.
Bio by: Shock
Sarah V. Ford Reno