ockford was considered a regional hub until Seymour was established and the railroads ran through the city.
The world’s first train robbery was in Seymour more than three years after the end of the Civil War.
The area also has history with the Underground Railroad.
All kinds of stories and information were shared with 20 people Saturday during a Civil War historical tour of the Seymour and Rockford areas.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]
Local historian Don Tatlock narrated the two-hour bus tour, with information shared by Tom Cooley, Monty Shields and Dick Rumph.
Tatlock began the tour by noting that some of his stories are based on the best available information.
“I have enough experience to do investigative work and stuff like that to root the truth out if I can get it,” he said. “There have been so many things that (people) have guessed at and published were the truth.”
The tour began with a visit to the Jackson County Visitor Center on Broadway Street, where a jail cell that once housed the infamous Reno brothers is on display.
Frank, Simeon and William Reno were leaders of the Reno Gang that committed the world’s first train robbery on Oct. 6, 1866, in Seymour. They were hanged by vigilantes Dec. 12, 1868 in a jail at New Albany.
The brothers were three of Wilkinson and Julia Reno’s six children. The Renos were a respected family that lived on a farm near Seymour.
Seymour was at the junction of two major railways, and it was a hub for soldiers returning home from the Civil War. They, however, became victims of counterfeiters, gamblers, murderers and thieves who invaded the city during the post-war transition period.
The Reno Gang, which is said to have numbered between 100 and 200 members, committed crime in the area for three years.
Other stops on the tour included homes and grave markers of some of the Reno family members. Grave markers for the three brothers are surrounded by an iron gate in the City Cemetery off Ewing Street in Seymour.
The original Reno home used to stand along County Road 760E down from Chateau de Pique
Winery. That road once was U.S. 31.
Glenn Noblitt lives in that area, and a stop was made there. He presented Tatlock with an original brick from the former Reno residence.
Following a drive through Riverview Cemetery, looking at gravestones of prominent people in Seymour and Rockford history, the bus was stopped to talk about the former Rapp’s Grove and Tanglewood areas near Rockford.
Back into Seymour, several sites — including a former horse racing track and barn — were pointed out until arriving at Hangman’s Crossing on the far west side of the city. That’s where other members of the Reno Gang were hanged in 1868.
The tour ended with a drive out through the county roads on the south end of the city, pointing out things related to the Underground Railroad and a Quaker settlement area.
Tatlock, who leads the county’s cemetery commission and used to be president of the historical society, said a fall historical tour has been conducted for many years in
Each time, it covers a different area of the county and focuses on a different era.
Cooley, who is involved in the local history center and cemetery commission, said the tour is a good way to educate people on the importance of preserving history.
“We’ve got people that don’t even know we’ve got a history center down at Brownstown, but it’s for all of Jackson County,” he said. “A lot of people that volunteer and help, they donate money all the time because they want to keep the history alive, and they want to preserve it.”
Tatlock said it’s important to pass on the history of the area.
“There are people that lived before me that have done work … and there will be people come along that maybe can build on what we’ve done,” he said.
Jeremy and Denise Wischmeier and their son, Wyatt, were among the tour participants. All three said they absorbed a lot of information from the tour guides.
“We just thought it would be kind of neat to see some of the historical places because you drive around and you wonder where they were, but you’re not for sure,” Denise said. “Sometimes, you just don’t know some of the back history of certain places or where they were.”
Wyatt and Jeremy liked learning about the Underground Railroad.
“I didn’t realize so much of the Underground Railroad and where it came through and the ties here. That was just interesting,” Jeremy said. “Seymour’s claim seems to be the Reno brothers, but you don’t hear about (the Underground Railroad), which seems to be a pretty prominent historical thing going on at that time.”
The historical tour drew a lot of interest from people, but only 20 were accepted because of bus capacity. Tatlock said there’s a possibility of having a tour in the spring for people who signed up but weren’t able to participate.
“The Parks and Recreation Department had enough to almost fill a
bus up again, so they put them on a waiting list,”