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JOHN RENO: Born 13 April 1715
and died 14 June 1806

John Reno was born on the Patent of 1710 obtained by Lewis Reno from Clermont Chevalle, at the confluence of theOccoquain River with Broad Run in Prince William Co., VA. He was living there in 1749 when Faquier Co. was formed out of Prince William Co. There are records of him living in Frederick Co. in 1758 and 1760. On Mar. 5, 1764, he and wife Susannah "of Frederick County" sold land in Prince William Co. to William French, except 1/2 acre for the graveyard described as land left him by his father Lewis Reno (Prince William Co. Deed Book Q, pp. 147, 165). The witnesses to this land sale were Lewis, Francis, Elizabeth, and Laurence Reno. (Nothing is known about this Laurence or Lauroner Reno [writing difficult to read]). Also in 1764, John and Susannah purchased 293 acres on Patterson Creek from Christian and Elizabeth Long. In 1764, John Reno also transferred 600 acres on Patterson Creek, Hampshire Co., VA (formerly part of Frederick Co.) with other transfers listed in 1769, 1770, and 1771. John Reno and his wife appear in land records of Hampshire County in 1761, 1762, 1764, 1765, 1769, 1770, and 1771. About 1772 after the death of Susannah he apparently moved with all of his children except George and Thomas, who remained in Hampshire County, to Chartier's Creek valley in Washington County, PA (later became Allegheny County). Between 1784 and 1787, John Reno and nine of his children (all except Benjamin, who died about 1782, and Francis who remained in PA) moved to Washington Co., North Carolina, which later became Carter Co., TN, and where he died about 1808.

John and his family were among the first settlers of Sinking Creek in Carter Co., TN. Prior to 1776, due to strained relations between the Americans and the British, the British provided the Indians with arms, ammunition and merchandise and in return the Indians harassed the frontier settlements. The Indians were constantly burning, pillaging, and massacring pioneers near the Watauga Settlement where the Renos first lived. During the State of Franklin controversy in Tennessee between Colonel John Tipton and Colonel John Sevier, we find the following: "I hereby give Publick Notice, that there will be an election held the third Friday in August next, at John Rennoe's, near the Sickamore Sholes where Charles Robertson formerly lived, to choose members to represent Washington county in the General Assembly of North Carolina, agreeable to an Act of Assembly, in that case made and provided, where due attendance will given per me." Colonel Tipton was, by his oath as representative of the North Carolina law in the Washington District of North Carolina, opposed to the treasonable act of establishing the State of Franklin which was being organized under Colonel John Sevier. As John Reno had both Sevier and Tipton daughter-in-laws and this conflict had broken out into an armed one, John's situation must have been acute. However, as we see by the advertisement dated July 19, 1786, quoted above from Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee", page 338, John Reno must have sided with Colonel John Tipton, whose sister (or niece) was married to Reno's son Charles.

"Sicamore Scholes" was on the Watauga River, near the site where the first cabin built by white men in Tennessee Country was erected in 1768. From 1787, John and Charles Reno are found in the tax lists for Washington County, Tennessee (North Carolina). (East Tennessee Genealogical Magazine, Vols. 34, p. 126, and 35, p. 108, et seq.)

On 14 June 1806, John Reno made his will: "In the name of God amen - I, John Reno, being weake in body but of perfect mind and memory Blessed God, and Calling to Mind the Mortality of the body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die - doe Make Constitute and ordain this to be My Last Will and testament - in Maner and form following - that is to say after all just debts being paid at the discretion of my Executors - I first will and bequeath unto my beloved son William Reno twenty five cents - to my Beloved Benjamin Reno I also Will and Bequeath twenty five cents - to my beloved daughter Sarah Rodgers I also will and bequeath twenty five cents - to my son John Reno I will and bequeath twenty five cents - to my beloved daughter Mary Calvin twenty five cents - to my beloved son George Reno twenty five cents – to my beloved son Lewis Reno twenty five cents - to my beloved son Francis Reno twenty five cents - to my beloved daughter Margaret Vance twenty five cents - and to my beloved son Charles Reno I will and bequeath all and everything belonging to me of every kind, or spacious of property whatsoever of any kind belonging to me. I and doe make constitute and appoint the aforesaid Charles Reno sole Executor to the same, in witness whereof I have this fourteenth day of June in the year one thousand eight hundred and six and in the presence of these witnesses acknowledge this to be My Last Will and testament Together with my Hand and Seal annexed to the same." Witnesses were John Dunlap, William Lacey, and Samuel Tipton (Original Wills, File No. 2, p. 679, Office of County Court Clerk, Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee; Virginia Magazine of History, vol. 9, p. 12; Tyler's Quarterly, vol. 4.)


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SUSANNAH THORN: Born 11 Nov 1719
and died 29 August 1773

Susannah's mother's maiden name was probably Mary Peck, daughter of Robert Peck. She married first John Orear, and then William Thorn. Donna Sarchet ( found a 1733 deed in King George Co., VA where William Thorn and his wife Mary, "relict of John Orea of Prince William County, VA", and Margaret Glasscock (daughter of John Orea and Mary Orea Thorn) and her husband John Glasscock, sell land to Cornelius McCarty. This land is stated in the deed to have been owned by John Orea before his death. In 1708, Robert Peck and his wife Margaret granted a lifetime lease on this same piece of and to John and Mary Orea "of Stafford Co., VA" on behalf of John and Mary's daughter Margaret, who later married John Glasscock. Robert Peck says that this transaction is for "the love, goodwill, and affection which I have and bare towards my loving friend, Margaret Oriar, daughter to John and Mary Oriar". One source says that Susannah Thorn was born in New England, but there is no evidence for this, and all of the records for William Thorn and his wife Mary in the early 1700s have them in or near Stafford or Prince William County, VA. According to Boddie's Historic Southern Families, Susanna died at Patterson's Creek, VA and may have been killed by Indians. Her name last appears in land records for Hampshire Co., VA in 1772, and it is thought that her husband moved to Pennsylvania about 1772-1773 after her death.


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JOHN DAVID RENEAU: Born 16 April 1746
and died in 1827.

On December 31, 1777, John Reneau renounced his allegiance to George II and swore allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia as an independent state. The 1790 census for Burke City, North Carolina has John Reno, married with 2 boys under 16 and 5 females in the family. In 1792, John was Justice of the Peace in Jefferson County, TN and was living near Dandridge in 1798. According to Sherman Reno, "John, his sons Aaron, Francis and Lewis, with the Lacey brothers moved down the Tennessee River to Alabama. Francis went on south to central Alabama while Aaron and Lewis, with the father John, settled at Somerville, Morgan Co., Alabama". A tax list for Madison Co., Alabama in 1811 lists John, Frank, and William Reno.


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Numerous spelling variations of the Reynaud name have appeared in records during the past 300 years in America, such as Reno, Reneau, Reynaud, Rheno, Rennoe, Renoe, Rhyno, and others. Many of the records, such as census records, were spelled phonetically and the records themselves cannot be relied upon. However, various documents signed by Renos appear with various spellings over the years, and the variations Reno and Reneau are common to this day. The Huguenot immigrants, having fled France for a British Colony, adopted the anglicized version of Reynaud, and especially during the French and Indian War when the French were the enemies of the British in the colonies it was desirable to dissociate themselves from the French. Lewis Reno wrote his name Reno when he signed a deed in 1711, and deeds from the Northern Neck Grant books and early Prince William County records have original signatures by Lewis Reno, Jr., Thomas Reno, Zeley Reno, and others with the spelling Reno. The majority of Reno/Reneaus today can be traced to John Reno and Susannah Thorn. In his 1806 will, John spelled his last name, and the names of his sons, as Reno, and most of the land records also spell his name Reno. Their son Thomas changed the spelling of his name to Reneau when he moved to the French Broad River country of Tennessee. In July 1900, Isaac Tipton Alexander Reneau of Nebraska wrote a letter to his cousin Clara Eola Reneau Beutrell, stating that he has located John and Susanna's family bible, and in his own writing he listed John and Susannah's children and birth years. In this letter, he spelled their name as John and Susannah Reneau, but the evidence indicates that John Reno spelled his name Reno.


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Famous Reneau/Renos

Perhaps the most famous member of the Reno family was Jesse Lee Reno, who was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War. The city of Reno, Nevada; Reno County, Kansas; and several streets and small towns are named for him. His son, Jesse Wilford Reno, was an accomplished engineer who invented the escalator. In 1896, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the "inclined elevator" invented by Jesse Reno was ridden on by more than 75,000 people when it debuted for two weeks at Coney Island in New York.

Another famous Reno was Marcus A. Reno, a Brigadier General in the Civil War who later served as Major in the 7th Calvary under the command of George Custer. Custer's widow tried to brand General Terry, Captain Benteen, and Major Reno as having done less than their duty in order to explain Custer's defeat. A Court of Inquiry into his actions during the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876 exonerated him of any blame, but he was dismissed from the Army in 1880 on a general charge of misconduct related to advances he made on another officer's wife. In 1967, his court martial was reopened and the original verdict of guilty was reversed, and he was restored to his full rank and honors. His body was reinterred in the Little Big Horn National Cemetery.

The Reno name was also made famous by the Reno Gang, a notorious band of train and bank robbers in ndiana just after the Civil War who may have descended from Revolutionary War veteran Zeley Reno. The Reno Gang committed the world's first train robbery as well as a series of robberies and other crimes, and three of the brothers were eventually hung by vigilantes, causing a serious strain in relations between the United States and Great Britain because Frank Reno had been extradited from Canada to be tried.

(Taken from "Genealogy of the Reno Family in America, 1600 -1900  Second Edition 1999", by Steven G. Fancy)


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