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In the Line of Duty

March 28, 2010
By Serra Muscatello — Staff Writer

NEW ULM - John F. Herzog was a well-known local New Ulm police officer and fireman for many years.

On Thursday evening on Feb. 18, 1928 he was making his regular beat rounds. He was on his way to the Northwestern depot located near the C & N W. railroad crossing, at First South Street, where he was planning to meet the evening passenger train. This was part of his usual duties.

The sidewalks that night were icy and he slipped, falling against a fire hydrant "with such force that he suffered a complete transverse splintered fracture of his left upper arm, about midway between the elbow and shoulder, as well as multiple fracture of several ribs on his left side," according to an article published in The Journal newspaper on Feb. 24, 1928.

Article Photos

John F. Herzog; end of watch Feb. 18, 1928

Even though he suffered from intense pain, he finished his rounds to the depot, before he walked to his home located on South Front Street, where he then collapsed.

It was at this time, that a local physician was called. The physician revived Herzog and took him in to the office where x-ray tests were done and his fracture could be reduced.

"The terrible nervous shock, resulting from the injury, complicated by bronchial pneumonia, which later developed, rendered his condition hopeless, although he remained conscious until a few moments before the end came," the article said.

Fact Box

For the past year, New Ulm Police Department's Officer Eric Gramentz, Commander Dave Borchert and Chief Myron Wieland worked to recognize New Ulm Police officers - Albert Winkelmann and John F. Herzog - who died in the line of duty.

Gramentz has been leading the effort to get these two men recognition on the local, state and federal levels.

Eric's father, Alan Gramentz, who had recently retired from 3M, has also provided some assistance and has done research on this project.

Winkelmann's "end of watch" was on July 5, 1895. Herzog's "end of watch" came on Feb. 18, 1928.

Information about these two officers was gathered and presented to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (MN LEMA). The National Law Enforcement Memorial has accepted these officers and their names will be added to the memorial in May. Gramentz also learned that MN LEMA has accepted the two officers and their names will be recognized at the state level.

The Officer Down Memorial Page ( has also accepted these two officers' deaths as being "in the line of duty" and has added them to the website.

He died of bronchial pneumonia several days after the fall at the Loretto Hospital. His death was caused by complications resulting from his fall.

It was also discovered in a post mortem examination that he had fractures to his ribs.

Herzog, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, was 65 years old when he died in the line of duty. He and his wife Mary (Gausling) had 10 children.

Herzog arrived in New Ulm with his family in December of 1891, accepting a position at the Eagle Roller Mill Co. He stayed with the company for 18 years. He accepted an appointment as the night policeman on the local police force, also for 18 years, up to the time of his death.

"He was a fearless officer, and his record on the local police force is a very creditable one," the newspaper article said.

Herzog also served as a member on the New Ulm Fire Department since 1895 and was known by people throughout the state. He served one year as chief of the local department in 1906.


The death of 32-year old night watchman Albert Winkelmann in early July of 1895 of "shocked" the people of New Ulm when they heard the news.

Winkelmann had been ambushed and shot while walking his beat in the outskirts of the city near the intersection of Front and First South Streets. It was claimed that the "bullet evidently was fired by a scoundrel lying in wait," according to an article appearing in the Review, July 10, 1895.

Winkelmann was found, still alive, at 4 a.m. on the morning of July 4.

"The bullet had passed through his neck and taken away his speech," the article said.

"The people of New Ulm were shocked Thursday morning to hear that night watchman Albert Winkelmann had been shot, and when death ensued Friday morning the feeling and desire that the wrong should be avenged became all the more intense," according to the article.

"Who did the dastardly deed and what was the motive are still mysteries, but the prevailing sentiment is that ere long both will be ferreted out," the article noted.

Winkelmann was discovered by his cousin, Albert Kiesling.

It was thought that Winkelmann was walking along the sidewalk and someone either hid behind the fence or electric light pole, fired the shot as he passed by - only about two feet from the shooter. The bullet entered the left side of his neck.

Winkelmann's revolver was still in its leather pouch, which led the authorities to believe he "was shot unawares, and that when he reached for it he no longer had the strength for a short time to hold it," the article said.

At this point he fell and was able move to the place where he was discovered by his cousin.

There were tracks, possibly from the murderer, down to the river, and blood was found on the grass where they entered into the water.

Winkelmann was taken to the hospital, "where every effort was made to arouse him but without avail, death coming early Friday morning," the article said.

There were several witnesses who swore that "a tramp was the murderer."

A reward of $200 was offered by Mayor Koch for the capture of the murderer.

The article went on to say, "Winkelmann had been in the service only a short time, but he had proved to be a splendid officer - always obliging, conservative and courageous. The whole city knew this and realizes now that it was the dastardly deed of a coward and fiend that deprived him of his life."

He left a wife and two children to mourn him.

Dr. August Koehne, a well-known veterinarian, and said to have been an enemy of Winkelmann's was charged with Winkelmann's murder, and the case was taken to court.

Koehne was released when the prosecution failed to produce any evidence that he was connected to Winkelmann's murder, according to an article published in the Review on Nov. 13, 1895.


New Ulm Police Department Officer Eric Gramentz said that it was important to their department to recognize and honor these men as dying in the line of duty.

Gramentz was reading Elroy Ubl's book, 'The Matter Lies Deeper' and learned that these men had not been recognized as dying in the line of duty on the state and national levels.

Gramentz began about a year ago contacting both levels. He also asked his father, Alan, who had retired from 3M last year to help him with researching the archives at the Brown County Historical Society & Museum.

Commander Dave Borchert said, "There's been a lot of work done by Officer Gramentz. I appreciate the fact that he took it upon himself to do that (research) and I appreciate his father's efforts in assisting with the research ... The amount of information he was able to get ... just reading it ... it was chilling ... it really makes you think."

Borchert said he had visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. was quite an experience for him.

"It's well worth the stop and effort (to see it)," said Borchert.

Gramentz added, "It's almost like going to a cemetery ... it's quiet ... it's a place that no one talks loud .. you just talk softly. It's a place where officers can gather to remember other officers."

Another police officer Paul D. Renner had also been killed in the line of duty in 1966. He has been recognized at the state and national leve and his photo and plaque appears in the lobby at the Law Enforcement Center.

Local plaques will also be made for Winkelmann and Herzog.

In the history of the New Ulm Police Department there have been three in the line of duty deaths, according to Gramentz.

Every year there is a deadline to recognize officers who have died in the line of duty. They had to have everything in by Dec. 31, 2009 for consideration for year 2010, Gramentz said.

"It's a brother and sisterhood and when an officer dies ... they want to remember that officer in the department," said Gramentz, "It's our responsibility now to recognize these officers because they have never been recognized. It's only fair and right that they get the recognition that other officers do."


The historical photos and research information of Winkelmann and Herzog are courtesy of the Brown County Historical Society and Museum.

The photos of the memorials are courtesy of the New Ulm Police Department.



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