Sheriff Herman Thomas Lange | Dearborn County Sheriff

Age: 40¼ years
Served: 1 year
December 31, 1928 to December 31, 1929


Herman was born September 3, 1889 in Aurora, the 3rd of 8 children born to William Christian and Margaretha Louise (Lampe) Lange. He grew up working the family farm and continued as a farmer until well after marrying Mayme Gesell in 1911. During 1928, Herman was elected as the 37th Sheriff of Dearborn County and took office on December 31.

During December 1929, he was travelling the county roads looking for James Anderson, a suspect in an earlier shooting at a home brew camp on the Whitewater River. The sheriff spotted Anderson walking by the road and offered him a ride. Sheriff Lange was not wearing a uniform and his badge was pinned to his clothing under his overcoat, but his coat came open exposing the badge. Anderson opened fire, striking Sheriff Lange in the abdomen.

Sheriff Lange was transported to Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati. He gave a deathbed statement implicating Anderson and died on December 31, 1929 of peritonitis due to the gunshot wound; exactly one year to the day after taking office.

Sheriff Lange was survived by his wife, Dearborn County Jail Matron Mamie Magdalena (Gesell) Lange, and a daughter, Stella May Lange (14). He was buried in Greendale Cemetery, Lawrenceburg on January 4, 1930.

Sheriff Lange was the first Dearborn County law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty. Mrs. Lange was appointed to fill out his unexpired term, becoming Dearborn County’s 38th Sheriff and the first and only woman to serve as such. She died in Cincinnati 14 years later in 1944 and was buried next to her husband.

Anderson was found, arrested, charged, and convicted of Murder. He appealed and years later his conviction was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. After twenty years, he was paroled.

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This narrative was revised December 24, 2014 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with research provided almost entirely by Chris McHenry of Lawrenceburg, Indiana. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.