Hoosier History: On This Day, December 12


The Reno Gang train robbers. (Photo courtesy: Jackson County Library)

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Today is Wednesday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2018. There are 19 days left in the year.

Today’s Hoosier Highlight in History:

On Dec. 12, 1868, members of the Reno Gang, also known as the Reno Brothers Gang and The Jackson Thieves, are dragged from their cells in the New Albany jail and lynched by 56 hooded men. The group of criminals operated in Indiana and the Midwest during and just after the Civil War. Though short-lived, they carried out the first three peacetime train robberies in U.S. history. Most of the stolen money was never recovered. 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 hanged in the jail.

On this date elsewhere:

In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated Oscar Straus to be Secretary of Commerce and Labor; Straus became the first Jewish Cabinet member.

In 1913, authorities in Florence, Italy, announced that the “Mona Lisa,” stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, had been recovered.

In 1917, during World War I, a train carrying some 1,000 French troops from the Italian front derailed while descending a steep hill in Modane (moh-DAN’); at least half of the soldiers were killed in France’s greatest rail disaster. Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1937, Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat Panay on China’s Yangtze River. (Japan apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.)

In 1946, a United Nations committee voted to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to be the site of the U.N.’s headquarters.

In 1963, Kenya became independent of Britain.

In 1977, the dance movie “Saturday Night Fever,” starring John Travolta, premiered in New York.

In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.

In 1995, by three votes, the Senate killed a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against Old Glory.

In 1997, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal,” went on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. (Ramirez was convicted, and is serving a life prison sentence.)

In 2000, George W. Bush became president-elect as a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election.

In 2003, Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chretien (zhahn kreh-TYEN’) as Canada’s prime minister. Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was knighted by Britain. Keiko, the killer whale made famous by the “Free Willy” movies, died in the Norwegian fjord that he’d made his home.

Ten years ago: Abomb exploded inside the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, Ore., killing Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant and Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim. Actor Van Johnson died in Nyack, N.Y. at age 92.

Five years ago: The House voted to ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and head off future government shutdowns, acting after Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on tea party-aligned conservative groups campaigning for the measure’s defeat. Actor-writer-producer Tom O’Laughlin, 82, creator of “Billy Jack,” died in Thousand Oaks, California.

One year ago: Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special Senate election over Republican Roy Moore, who had denied accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls that allegedly took place when he was in his 30s; it was the first Democratic Senate victory in Alabama in a quarter-century, and came despite an endorsement of Moore by President Donald Trump. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the city’s first Asian-American mayor, died at the age of 65 after collapsing while grocery shopping.

Today’s Birthdays: Former TV host Bob Barker is 95. Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit is 86. Singer Connie Francis is 81. Singer Dionne Warwick is 78. Rock singer-musician Dickey Betts is 75. Hall of Fame race car driver Emerson Fittipaldi is 72. Actor Wings Hauser is 71. Actor Bill Nighy (ny) is 69. Actor Duane Chase (Film: “The Sound of Music”) is 68. Country singer LaCosta is 68. Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby is 66. Author Lorna Landvik is 64. Singer-musician Sheila E. is 61. Actress Sheree J. Wilson is 60. Pop singer Daniel O’Donnell is 57. International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin is 56. Rock musician Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors) is 55. Rock musician Nicholas Dimichino (Nine Days) is 51. Author Sophie Kinsella is 49. News anchor Maggie Rodriguez is 49. Actress Jennifer Connelly is 48. Actress Madchen Amick is 48. Actress Regina Hall is 48. Country singer Hank Williams III is 4. Actress Mayim Bialik is 43. Model Bridget Hall is 41. Actor Lucas Hedges (Film: “Manchester by the Sea”) is 22. Actress Sky Katz (TV: “Raven’s Home”) is 14.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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