John Reno (1839 - 1895)

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Nicknames: ""Trick" Reno"
Birthplace: Indiana, United States
Death: Died in Jackson, Indiana, United States
Cause of death: hanged by vigilantes
Occupation: outlaw
Managed by: Michael Pierce
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Reno

The Reno Brothers disliked school and resented their religious upbringing. John and Frank Reno started their criminal career by playing crooked card games to defraud travelers passing on the road by the farm. At age 11. John stole a horse and left home. He came back a year later only to embezzle money from his parents and left the farm again for a short time.

In the year of 1851, a series of mysterious fires began to break out in Rockford. Businesses and homes were set ablaze at night and some times in broad daylight. During the course of seven years, the almost whole town was burnt to the ground. There was a rumor that the Reno’s were responsible for the fires.

The Reno Gang who used the State of Indiana as their primary base of operations was actually the first to rob a train in the United States. The main core of the Reno Gang consisted of four brothers: John, Simeon, Frank, and William Reno. Initially, the Reno family which consisted of six children had lived in the State of Kentucky. The family later moved to the small community of Rockford, Indiana prior to the War Between the States. Rockford was only a short distance from the town of Seymour, Indiana which was to be plagued by the Reno family from the day they moved into the area. The Reno family owned a farm considered large for the time and there were two other children, Laura Ellen, a daughter, and a son, Clint, who did not become directly involved in the outlaw activities of the other brothers.

After a series of incidents including several arsons the Reno brothers left Indiana and moved to an area just outside St. Louis, Missouri. At the onset of the War Between The States they left Missouri and returned to Indiana where all four brothers joined the Union Army. Only one of the four would remain in the Army long enough to be honorably discharged. The others continued their lawless behavior. By the end of the war all four Reno brothers organized into a dangerous gang of outlaws who spread terror throughout Indiana and other states including Missouri. It was during this time that the Reno's made history.

On the evening of October 6, 1866 three of the four brothers boarded an Ohio and Mississippi Railway train near the town of Seymour, Indiana. After entering an express car they assaulted a railroad employee and then forced open a safe which contained $16,000.00. A larger more secure safe the outlaws threw off the train and a fourth brother along with other gang members attempted to open it with no success. Evidently, there was an eyewitness to the robbery for a posse was soon formed and they pursued the gang members who fled southwest into Missouri.

At the time the premier detective agency was the Pinkerton Agency formed by Allen Pinkerton. They were after the Reno Gang as well. It is not surprising that the Reno Gang fled back to Missouri because the state following the War Between The States was a heaven for countless gangs and outlaws. After reaching Missouri, within a short period of time the Reno Gang robbed the Daviess County Treasurer's Office at Gallatin, Missouri of over $22,000.00, a vast sum at the time. The gang then circled back and fled to Indiana.

John Reno had been recognized by an eyewitness to the Gallatin robbery. He was apprehended by Indiana authorities and secretly transported to the Missouri state line where he was taken into custody by the Daviess County, Missouri sheriff. Reno was tried and convicted of the Gallatin robbery and given a sentence of twenty-five years in the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City. At the time a twenty-five year sentence was extremely long.

As it turned out the twenty-five year prison term for John Reno was a blessing in disguise. After a continuing string of robberies and murders which lasted for months the remaining Reno brothers were hunted down and eventually lynched by vigilantes in the State of Indiana. John Reno who remained behind the high stone walls of the Missouri State Penitentiary escaped the hangman's noose.

But the story does not end there. According to official historical documents kept in the Missouri State Archives John Reno was supposed to be released from the Missouri State Penitentiary on the 8th day of January 1873 but wasn't.

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John Reno's Timeline

1839
July 23, 1839
Indiana, United States
1880
August 5, 1880
Age 41
Jackson, Indiana, United States
1895
January 31, 1895
Age 55
Jackson, Indiana, United States
????
Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana, United States