Reno family ties run deep in Seymour, Indiana, beginning when Wilkinson Reno moved to the Hoosier state from Kentucky in the early 1800s. Five sons and one daughter were born into the family while living that their home on Jackson County. Frank, William, Simeon and John Reno went on to become part of the the infamous Reno Gang. The fifth brother was nicknamed Honest Clint, because he wasn’t involved with gang activities.
The Reno Gang caused tons of trouble in south central Indiana, during a time when robberies and murders were on the rise. They were responsible for a massive train robbery, where more than $10,000 was stolen. It was dubbed the “world’s first train robbery” and the robbery’s history is detailed on a marker near the site. It reads, “One mile east of the intersection of railroads in Seymour, John and Simeon Reno and Frank Sparks committed the world’s first robbery, October 6, 1866 at 6:30 p.m., robbing the O and M Express car of $10,000.” In reality, this particular robbery was likely the first in the United States, but not the first in world history. That title goes to an England robbery that occurred in 1855, when millions of dollars and several gold bars were stolen. Later that robbery was detailed in a book and movie called The First Great Train Robbery.
The rich Indiana history to be discovered in this small Indiana town, located just 60 miles south of the Circle City. Not only do visitors seek the robbery site, but the site of Hangman’s Crossing and the Reno grave site are popular stops.The Reno Gang is believed to have been involved with three other major robberies in the Crossroads of America. Their legend in Indiana doesn’t end with the robberies, the Reno Gang was making headlines until their deaths. The original Hangman’s Tree was cut down, but curious adventurers still hunt for the Hangman’s Crossing, just west of Seymour. The site gets its name from the day in 1968, when several Reno Gang members were hanged by vigilantes. A train was transporting prisoners, and three gang members were hanged at this Seymour stop. Just a few days later three more gang members were being transported by wagon were hanged by the same tree.
John Reno was known as the key figure in gang activities, but he was not hanged like the others. John was busy doing time in Missouri until his charges were dismissed. He was jailed for counterfeiting for a short time in the 1880s, then he went on to die peacefully in 1895.
City Cemetery is where the Reno graves are found, and it lies one half mile north of the plaque, on Indiana 11 and 9th Street. The Reno Gang leaders Frank, Simeon and William Reno are buried at this site.
Each year, travelers trace The Reno Gang’s footsteps in Seymour, Indiana. It makes for an excellent and historic adventure and a super fun day trip from Indianapolis. Other fun historical sites to see in Indiana include the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville, Billie Creek Village in Rockville, Norm Skinner’s Farm Museum and Village in Perrysville, Museum of the Soldier in Portland and many, many more.