Sheriff J. C. Fennel

Sheriff J. C. Fennel

Orange County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Friday, September 25, 1885

J. C. Fennel

Dave Anderson arrived in Orange County on a train. Anderson was wanted in Nashville, Tennessee, for the murder of I. B. Buddington, a brakeman on the Louisville and Nashville railway on August 16, 1885. The brakeman had tried to stop Anderson from stealing a ride on the train and Anderson killed him.

Orange County Sheriff J. C. Fennel attempted to arrest Anderson on a murder warrant from Tennessee. No details are given but Anderson shot the sheriff during the arrest attempt. Sheriff Fennel died around 9:30 p.m. on September 25, 1885.

Orange City Marshal Davis gathered a posse and tracked down the killer, and lodged him in the county jail. After dark, a torch-light mob of masked men marched to the jail, and “at the point of 100 cocked revolvers,” forcibly removed the prisoner. He was quickly carried to an oak tree and hanged on First Street, after which the mob quickly dispersed, leaving Anderson’s body “literally riddled with bullets.”

Sheriff J. C. Fennel was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Orange, Orange County, Texas in an unmarked grave. Burial records indicate Fennel was born on January 29, 1853. He was survived by his wife, Lucy Junker Fennel. Fennel was elected sheriff of Orange County on November 4, 1884. His name has also been reported as Fennell. His first name was either James or Jasper.


  • Age 32
  • Tour 10 months, 3 weeks
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Unknown weapon
  • Offender Dave Anderson lynched by mob

Most Recent Reflection

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Heroes live forever, Sheriff Fennel, and we will never forget. Thank you for the sacrifice you made for the citizens of Orange County and the great State of Texas.

Greater Houston C.O.P.S.

September 25, 2013

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