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April 10, 2013

NEW ALBANY BICENTENNIAL: The Reno brothers’ demise



“We do not believe that there is any danger of the Jackson County Vigilance Committee extending their visit to New Albany,” Fullenlove purportedly said. “They would be sure to meet a hot reception here, and they had better keep at a safe distance. These men were sent here for safekeeping and they will be safely kept if it is in the power of the authorities to do so.”

On Dec. 12, 1868, Fullenlove became keenly aware of the limits of his power when a group of Seymour residents decided to pay a visit to New Albany.

“The vigilantes, there was supposed to be about 100 of them, commandeered a train in Seymour. They came down to New Albany and got off at the depot at State Street,” Seidl said. “They went down to the sheriff’s house, which was down where the library is now. [They] broke in there, started beating on him. Shot him with his own gun in the arm and that’s when his wife gave them the keys to the jail. [The] sheriff made the quote about you can take my life but you cannot rob me of my honor or my duty …  something like that.”

With the keys to the prison, the angry mob proceeded to go up the stairs to the second floor where they hung the four inmates from a balcony railing. Frank and William died first. Simeon put up a fight, so the crowd used the noose to slowly choke him to death from the rafters. Anderson, the last to be killed, had to be strung up twice due to the rope breaking midway through. 

After the killings, according to legend, the outlaws were displayed in pine boxes at the jail so long lines of visitors could witness the bodies. To this day, no one has ever been convicted of their murders.


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