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New Braunfels Founder Profile: Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer

Published Monday, October 5, 2020 3:00pm

Many people associate Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer with New Braunfels, and they are right in doing so. Lindheimer was one of the founding citizens when the city was incorporated in 1845. He lived a full and interesting life in New Braunfels until his death on December 2, 1879. During that time, he served as director of the New Braunfels Botanical Garden and as editor of the Herald-Zeitung newspaper. He also ran a private school for gifted children and was the first Justice of the Peace in Comal County.

The New Braunfels Conservation Society preserves The Lindheimer House — an entrant in the National Register of Historic Places — and it serves as a public museum. Visitors to New Braunfels can visit the two-story mural, which the city commissioned to commemorate Lindheimer’s 200th birthday. The mural was painted by San Antonio artist Alex Brochon in 2001 and can be seen at 165 South Seguin Avenue on the side of the Hoffmann Building, just one block from the Main Plaza in downtown New Braunfels.

But Lindheimer had traveled to “The New World” a decade before joining up with Prince Carl and his crew of German immigrants.


Exciting Life Before New Braunfels

Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer was something of a political activist back in his native Germany. During his time as a teacher at the Bunsen Institute in Frankfort, Lindheimer became involved with the Dreißiger. This movement opposed the oppression of free thinkers and attempted to stage a coup against the German government. The uprising was swiftly quelled, and many associated with the Dreißiger fled to a commune in Belleville, Illinois.

From Illinois, Lindheimer found his way to New Orleans and then to a German settlement in Veracruz, Mexico. Here, he dove enthusiastically into studying Mexican flora. When the Texas Revolution kicked off in 1836, Lindheimer boarded a ship bound for action. Some of his old compatriots from the Bunsen Institute had found service under Sam Houston.

Unfortunately, his journey was waylaid when his vessel shipwrecked near Mobile, AL. He found his way back to New Orleans and joined a company of Texas-bound Kentucky volunteers led by Jerome Bonaparte Robertson.

Lindheimer arrived in Texas just after the final battle had been concluded, but joined the Texas army and served with distinction until 1837.


Travel Throughout Texas

Around 1843, Lindhimer found employment with an old friend, George Engelmann, and Asa Gray, a Harvard University botanist. He was charged with traveling throughout Texas to collect, study, and record flora. His hunt for native plants took him to numerous locations, including Chocolate Bayou, Cat Springs, Matagorda Bay, Indianola, and Comanche Springs.


The Father of Texas Botany Finds a Forever Home

In 1844, Lindheimer encountered Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and his Adelsverein. He joined their expedition to carve out a new German city in the Texas Hill Country. The botanist received a land grant along with the rest of the founding families of New Braunfels. He married Eleanor Reinartz in 1846, and together they raised four children. The wandering activist, adventurer, and scientist had finally found his home.