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Sunday, July 3, 2011

John Reno Served Ten Years in Missouri State Pen

John Reno (MO State Pen files)
Lawless gangs roamed freely in the post-Civil War years. John Reno and his three brothers - Simeon, Frank and William - had all served in the Union Army. After the war, they became known as the Reno Gang. They created chaos across the Midwest. In 1866, they have the dubious honor of successfully carrying out the first train robbery in Indiana. They fled to Missouri where they robbed the Davies County, Missouri Treasurer's Office, escaping with $22,000. By that time, the Pinkerton Detective Agency joined in the hunt for the brothers.

After he was caught, John was sentenced to 25 years and sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. While he was incarcerated, his brothers continued their lawless ways of mayhem and murder until Indiana vigilantes caught and lynched them. The Missouri Governor commuted John's sentence from 25 to 10 years. He was released on February 18, 1878.

"Rage at Dawn," a 1955 movie starring Randolph Scott and Forrest Tucker, tells their story. Tucker plays John Reno and Scott portrays the lawman who caught him.

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