Frank Reno was born in
Jackson County in about 1840. 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
On 6th October, 1866, the Reno brothers committed the first train robbery
in American history at Seymour, Indiana. It was a great success and the
gang galloped 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 hard labour.
Frank Reno led a raid on the Harrison County Bank in Magnolia, Iowa. This
was followed by an attack on the Jefferson, Missouri and Indianapolis
Railroad train on 22nd 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.
Pinkerton discovered the Reno gang planned to rob another train near Seymour.
When the train was stopped, instead of gold, it contained Pinkerton and
his men. After a gunfight the Reno brothers tried to escape from the scene
of the crime. Three members of the gang were captured and lynched by a
local vigilante group. Frank, William and Simeon Reno, as well as Michael
Rogers, Miles Ogle, Charlie Anderson, Albert Parsons and Charles Spencer
were also captured.
On 12th December, 1868, 56 hooded men entered New Albany jail. Frank Reno
was the first to be dragged from his cell to be lynched. He was followed
by his two brothers, William and Simeon. Another gang member, Charlie
Anderson, was also lynched.