Looking for information on Robert Ottokar Lindner born 1877 in Leipzig, Germany (according to his marriage certificate in Billings, Montana in 1916). Thereafter, he changed his name in 1916 to Robert Ottokar Lindneux and wrote a memoir that tells his lif

Is it possible to find actual birth certificates from 1871 in NYC without being a relative of that individual?  

I'm stuck on how to factually document his life before 1916.  I've found a bit of info on his wife, Gertrude Helen Tenzer, but it's very spotty in newspaper articles.  

I'd very much appreciate any help/guidance.  I've found his SS# and his wife's, but that didn't take effect until after his name changed.  His art appeared in a few magazines early on when he signed his work as Lindner.  

  • Hello Crapster,

    what an interesting project. I did not know this person before, but it looks he had a very inconsistent and creative relation to the facts of his origins and the events in his life. After seeing his paintings, reading his interview (https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-robert-ottokar-lindneux-12101), searching a little through the internet he left many more questions than it gave one clear answer. Unfortunately I could not find a readable version of his memoirs from 1923, but everything that can be found seems to be based just on his stories. Several articles refer to each other but not really to any documents that can be connected to or verify his stories.

    It is a kind of interesting that he married his wife Gertrude in 1916 under the name Robert Ottokar Lindner, a name he used obviously all his life before, born in Leipzig/ Germany, 39 years old (which made him be born in 1877). By this time the names of his parents were Frederick William Lindner and Augusta Marcella Kroppe. I do not know his memoirs, but in his interview from 1964 he was born in 1871 in New York on Canal Street and he had changed the names of his parents to Guillaume Francois Lindneux (born in Bern) and Marcella Roberta Fuchon (born in Lyon), who came to the USA in 1862, not to mention the with no doubt interesting information of a great-grandfather who was an officer in Napoleon’s army.

    A familytree on ancestry, supported by no records, suggests that he had also 15 siblings which all have the name Lindneux, but did all not live longer than May 1874 (?). Five of the siblings show that they allegedly were also born in New York, but nobody with the name Lindneux appears when searching f.e. familysearch or ancestry, on no ship lists, no vital records, really nothing, which is very unusual for so many siblings. On the other hand there is in the 1910 Census for Brooklyn, New York a Robert O. Lindner, age 35 (so born ca. 1875), from Germany, father German, mother French, occupation artist. It is also reported that he immigrated to the USA in 1893 and had by 1910 filed his first paperwork for a naturalization. The paperwork should be available too.

    For a proof of a birth of him or his siblings in 1871 and before in New York you could try to request records f.e. here


    Because of the several different information you could also check for Leipzig/Germany the registry records for births available on familysearch.


    Starting for births in 1870 here


    I could find several Lindners, but no Robert Ottokar Lindner. Church records may be out there too and Standesamt records from 1874 on, but I did not check there yet.

    For information whether his family indeed came from Bern there are records online available:


    When he, like claimed, was born with the name Lindneux, so his father and 7 of his older siblings should be somehow in the records there.

    To research his life before 1916 his interview actually gives a lot of information to work with, like the names of his teachers and schools/places he said he studied painting in Europe or also the names/places of people he said he spent time with in the wild west. Some events he talked about can maybe be found in newspapers of those days, f.e. the fire of the hotel that destroyed all his belongings, including all his papers, photographs etc. in 1896 while he was looking for a cattle boat to bring him back from England to America.

    Very interesting is also that he mentioned the tragic deaths of his parents, but with not one single word he mentioned  his 15 siblings. Just an aunt with the name of Lucille Lindneux, no records about her to find either, took care just of him as an orphan and not the other siblings born in New York and who were actually not much older than he was?

    The following article leads to another story I would think is also about him:


    I could go on with all the questions which occurred while reading about him. I also would like to say that while reading another person came inevitably into my mind. I remembered the story of a, at least in Germany, very well-known German writer with the name of Karl May who came to fame around the same time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_May . He wrote stories about the wild west (Winnetou and Old Shatterhand etc), which also were turned into movies in the 1960´s. He inter

    Lindeux visited Karl May`s house, a Museum in Radebeul/Saxony in 1938. The German newspaper reported about it.

    With no doubt Mr. Lindner/Lindneux was an interesting character and an interesting artist.


  • Sabine,

    In the many articles I've found written about this artist, the wordage and stories all seem to have come from a single source.  He wrote his memoir probably during the time when he and his wife Gertrude began to use the name Lindneux. I am in contact with his relatives who have the memoir and am hopeful that I can eventually read the entire 400+ pages.   I've seen about 40 pages of it when I did some research at the History Center in Denver, CO.   I cannot verify most of his claims with any factual information.  And, I keep hitting dead ends with regards to where he was actually born.  The claims and names he 'drops' from his early 'studies' in Europe are likely very exaggerated.  I've only been able to nail down one fact which was that he was not actually a student, but likely studied privately with one particular artist.  

    All of this begs the question of WHY did he fabricate all of this?  Probably not because of the one article you found where he sold a painting twice..Although, that IS intriguing.   I found one article re a Robert Lindner in a Brooklyn NYC paper re a paternity issue, but the dates don't line up.  There were several Robert Lindner's during that time period.  One in particular kept popping up, but the social activities just don't fit.

    My sincere thanks for taking your time and efforts.  I'd be very interested in learning about the German newspaper you found indicating he visited Karl May's house.  He very likely read May's books, especially if he grew up in Leipzig, Germany.  They would have kindled his desire to come to the U.S. and travel to The West.  He may have seen Buffalo Bill while in Europe, but it seems far fetched that he met him.   He did return to Germany about the time Hitler went into Vienna.  Photos he took at that time are in the Denver Public Library.

    Much of what you saw in Ancestry was added to the family tree by his relatives and are not corroborated factually, as you indicated.  I've begun entering info with the Lindner name to that tree in hopes of gathering new info through that search engine.  

    One of the quirkier aspects of his life was that he was a self promoter.  I found many articles about him speaking in various cities promoting his work..   He painted many paintings of himself painting,  painted in department stores in Denver where people could watch, and painted himself painting in a cage with wild animals with a guard with a gun to kill the animal if he attacked.  

    Again, thanks for taking your time.


  • Kathe,

    here is a link to the articles from German newspapers.


    Another one you can download here:


    It is the second link under "Weblinks"

    In Fraktur print:




    I mentioned the story of Karl May because he intermingled reality and his fantasy. He tried to make the people believe that he wrote about events that happened to him. He even told the people he himself was Old Shatterhand and even became the commander of I don’t know how many thousands of Apaches. He struggled with the law f.e. because of Hochstapelei (engl. Cheating, fraud, swindle). He obviously had a lot of fantasy and imagination paired with the gift to tell these stories that the people believed him or wanted to believe him. Who could prove it in those days, and who cared? The Wild West was a never reachable fascinating place for most of the people, and still is, I guess. And his stories and books were sold and made him famous and a wealthy person. By the way, Information and stories like his were out there in the newspapers, art or travel magazines in those days. When you search for Karl May f.e. on https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov you will see that the newspapers also here in the US wrote about him. When you read what Karl May did to promote himself and his stories and when you would have been to the Museum in his home, you maybe can understand why Karl May came right into my mind.

    Here are some more thoughts:

    While reading about Robert Lindneux I had the same impressions like you and I would agree that there seems to be just a single source. Maybe his memoirs offer some better hints which can lead to provable facts, but I intentionally mentioned the part from his interview, where he tells the story that all his papers, photos etc. about his important time in Europe burned in a hotel fire. Why the people would doubt the stories of great artist?

    So even when his records burned he or his aunt would have needed to apply for passport papers for him before going to Europe. A possibility to find out would be here:


    Ship lists for his passage to Europe are probably available too. And what about aunt Lucille? And he actually also needed some type of identification to return to the US, even when he came back on a cattle boat, I would assume. I doubt that these types of ships just could land wherever they wanted and passengers could just jump off the ships on arrival in the USA, even when they were US citizen.

    Records from the Düsseldorfer Malerschule are probably a dead end since the in the internet available publication lists him as a private student of B. Vautier without records in the schools documentation center. But where does the information come from? From Vautier’s estate or from Robert Lindneux’s memoirs? He also alleged his father was a friend of B. Vautier.

    I do genealogy already for a while and to me it is really weird that there is not one person with his name Lindneux coming up exept his family after he got married in 1916 so that one can come to the idea, that the name is just an invention like an alias artists often use. Usually, when you take a name and you search it in the following pages








    there is always a person or place connected to your search coming up, but not in his case. Everything is connected to his family or his paintings and everything is just after around 1919.

    Even in the adress books of Bern (https://www.digibern.ch/katalog/adressbuch-der-stadt-bern ), where his father supposed to be born in 1834 and where his family moved from France in around 1815, one cannot find one single person with the name Lindneux.

    Because of these facts I would preferrably go with the variant of Robert (Ottokar?) Lindner before around 1919.

    Maybe you can access any personal records of him from the time period when he changed his families name. Latest when he applied for a passport for his trip to Europe in 1938 he should have produced an offical birth record. The marriage record actually should be the same like available on ancestry.

    Since there are several Robert Lindner, it is really difficult to find out which one could be him. The little information that can be connected to him already and which, for sure, has to be handled with care concerning their truth could maybe help, like the 1910 Census. Also, applications for Naturalization contain some handwritten parts from the applicants. So if there cannot be found an application of a Robert O. Lindner from 1893, maybe there is a chance to compare Lindneux's handwriting to the available records on Familysearch or ancestry?

    A very interesting project...


  • Sabine,

    Wow!  Thank you for finding the German newspaper articles and your ideas and insights.  I am a total novice compared to your skills. I am so appreciative of your time and enormous talents!!!

      Big questions:  re full page article: Is it just a coincidence that "American Horse's" clothing ends up in Karl May's Museum?  

    He wants to return home (to America) and help his compatriots open their eyes to the true picture of the Third Reich! ???

    Could just anyone book a stay with Mrs. May at their home? Did he know Karl May somehow?  As you very accurately articulated, they had a lot in common - none of it good

    How could he have afforded to spend so much time in Europe? Did someone sponsor him? 

    His memoirs were not published.  

    I don't have examples of his handwriting, but some of his signatures from his early works which he signed Lindner and later with Lindneux.  I will ask his relatives if they have any samples.  

     1910 census: indicates he was a lodger in Brooklyn Ward 10 Kings, NY. immigrated in 1893 , born in Germany . artist.  Listed age as 35 so he would have been born in 1875.

    In the 1920 census he is living in Denver under the name Lindneux, listing his birthplace asNew York 

    I'll keep digging, 

    So appreciative of your help,


  • Kathe,

    to be honest your project seems to be extensive work for more than just one person.

    Just a short note about Karl May. In Germany Generations of children grew up with his stories. I would even say Winnetou and Old Shatterhand were in those days what Harry Potter became in these days. Here in the states his books were published too, but did not become so popular.

    About your question how the exhibits for f.e. “American Horse” ended up in the Karl-May-Museum I would refer to the webpage https://www.karl-may-museum.de/en/. They could probably also answer questions about Lindneux`s visit. Karl May was fascinated about the Wild West like Lindner/Lindneux. One used words to express this interest the other one his great gift and talent to paint. To go in detail with their art both needed a big portion of imagination and both obviously had a captivating nature to promote it. So it also could be that Karl May’s widow heard about Lindneux and his paintings and was for these reasons willing to meet him in person.

    Interesting also this link https://www.dw.com/en/who-was-karl-may-facts-and-myths-surrounding-the-creator-of-winnetou/a-37675272

    Here is still something about Lindneux’s visit in France in French newspapers:




  • Sabine,

    The timeline you generated is so very helpful.  I had't considered putting the Lindner and Lindneux timelines side by side.  You've taught me how to do it more precisely.  I need to go back to my timeline, now, and reconfigure it in this format which will be very beneficial.

    And, thank you, also, for the newspaper articles from Paris. I had thought that the photos I had of him with the Cowboy Club were in Germany. I've attached some of the documentation that confirms some of his story about his 'first' time in Europe.

    I've emailed the Karl May museum to see if they have any documentation/information about his visit in 1938.  And to inquire about Patty Frank, who I believe was the first museum director there.

    You are correct that I'm a novice in this adventure.  As I have never used History Hub before, I don't know the protocol.  Is it appropriate for me to ask if you would be willing for me to contact you personally?  Again, please pardon me if this is not ok to ask.  

    The Lindneux family members with whom I am in contact have populated much of what you see on Ancestry.com.  I've tried to put only verifiable facts on the tree I've generated for Lindner.. But, again, I am a novice at this and hope I am doing this carefully and appropriately.  

    I began down this path when I became a docent at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK.  We had one of his pieces hanging and had no biographical information to share with visitors so, I was asked to write a short bio about him.  I only found what I now know was from his memoir that was on the Lindneux web site  created by his family.  But, something didn't feel right about what I read and it's stuck with me for over 9 years now.  When COVID hit, and our museum closed, I thought I'd do a bit more research since I had time.  That was when I reached out to his family and they finally shared the marriage certificate that blew a hole in everything about his early life.  And, so I began searching...

    His work is very unusual and often criticized artistically, but notably several of his pieces are in almost every article or book written about the Trail of Tears or Native American history, especially in Oklahoma.  Not to mention the huge piece of Buffalo Bill.  However, there has never been a book written about his life as you would typically find in a museum bookstore where his work is displayed.  There's nothing.  I think I understand why, but am undeterred.  His life after 1916, except for the first few years that they were in Billings, is pretty easy to document with census reports and newspaper articles.  But his stories about being with trappers and tribes is unverifiable.  I've searched newspapers.com in Ancestry and find nothing about his stories about living with them or being named a part of their tribes.    Newspaper articles often regurgitate what he supplied.

    I have been able to get my hands on only 50 pages of the memoir where he recounts his early years. (All of which, I believe, were fabricated.) 

    Several artists with German heritage did change their names in order to shed any stigma during the WWI and WWI years.  But certainly not all, significantly, Albert Bierstadt, 

    [Moderation Note: This reply has been edited to remove an image that contained personally identifiable information (PII).]

    Thank you, Sabine.  You have been so hugely helpful and I am very grateful,