Many thanks. I was hoping for more information [to verify what I had] but this is very interesting and adds a couple of details.
Perhaps I should be looking for more clues in Indiana.
I had found a little more information on Earl and his wife since requesting an obit. I believe I found his marriage to Ethel Rattell in ""Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949" this April. They were only 19 and 16.
I first learned about the existence of Earl from a descendant of his mother's family. Up to that time I had believed that his father Frank Lindner (of Calumetville, WI) had never married. As far as I know nothing had ever been said in the family. She had mentioned the Neilsville obit. Apparently the body was not found until early Nov.
Perhaps there was no obit, only a death notice.
I must have found the newspaper item because my notes say:
The 4 Nov 1909 Neillsville paper’s front page headline "Will be Buried in Neillsville": per telegram to Mrs. Haner her daughter Nora’s son Earl Litner (s/b Lindner), who left a wife and child, drowned in ocean near San Francisco and that his mother Mrs. Nora Dougherty would be returning to Neillsville with the body for burial.
Earl's mother Nora married a Bussian the year before and the couple lived in California. I'm guessing that the young family was visiting them.
I did find Earl's grave in the Neillsville cemetery index, but Ethel is not there. She may have remarried (she had only been 16) and buried elsewhere.
I've looked for clues to what happened to his wife Ethel and child (name unknown) since the drowning without luck.
In the 1900 census I had found Ethel Rattell with her parents in Tomahawk, Lincoln, WI. Nothing in 1910 or later in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or California.