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paper trail

 (including census 1880-1930, marriage license, 1890 voter registration, newspaper articles, church booklet, obit, death certif)

Anton Wachdorf

5-14-1861 to 10-14-1937



None known.

No one in the US is named Wachdorf except his direct  descendents, so he may have gotten his own name wrong.


One of his

granddaughters said

the story was told that

his parents were killed

in a buggy accident in Germany, so he came to

the US with an aunt.




married 4-18-1882 in

St. Peter's Church, Chicago


Anna Klein

5-12-1861 to 3-9-1941

Anton's children

all born in Chicago


  1883-Clara Roster

  1884-Kitty Hochertz

  1886-Harry H. Wachdorf

  1888-Edward Wachdorf

  1892-Joseph Wachdorf

  1895-Lettie Myers

  1897-Mae Wachdorf

  1899-Frances Stevens

  1902-Madge Wachdorf



his parents:


"came to Chicago as a small boy

with his parents" or an aunt

from Rhine-Prussia regions

her parents:

John Klein and Christina Alberg

His grandparents:

unknown in Germany

He worked his whole life for the Pennsylvania RR, most of his career as the nighttime bridge tender running a lift bridge on a branch of the Chicago River. There were several articles written about him when he neared retirement age that give his version of his history. To read them click here: articles

Click on image to enlarge it. After enlarging, activate zoom tool by moving cursor to right of image, back onto image, and clicking again. To read articles about Anton click here: articles. More photos from the 1930s to be added. Info on Anton beneath photos.

Anton and Anna's 1882 marriage certificate

on the bridge he tended

Think it's Anton on the left in a vest, man on right unknown. Photo courtesy of granddaughter's of Anton's son, Joe.

Anton, Anna and Queen in front of 316 W. 58th St.

Anton Wachdorf and his dog Queen

Anton and Anna on their porch steps on the day of their 50th anniversary in 1931

9-5-1932 visiting granddaughter Irene "Sis" Wachdorf at convent. More photos of same day on her page

Anton's mass card 1937

Anton's obituary 1937

Anton's death certificate 1937

Anton and Anna's tombstone, St. Mary's Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL



In the interviews for newspaper articles Anton himself said that he arrived in the US as a small boy "with his parents" from "Rhein-preizen." At a guess, Rhein-preizen is probably Rheinpreussen, or Rhine-Prussia. While Anton was almost certainly in the US by 1870 (though I can't find him in the census) he may not have arrived with his parents. His daughter, Fran, told her children that he said his parents were killed in a buggy accident in Germany, and he arrived in the US with an aunt. If, in fact, he was in the company of a maternal aunt, or a married aunt, that would explain why I can't find him in the 1870 census or on a ship's log, as he may be listed under her unknown last name. As far as I can tell, anyone of the surname Wachdorf in the US is descended from Anton, which implies he got his own last name wrong (or he was the last child of his line in Germany).


Paper Trail


Click here to read what was written of Anton in his lifetime or shortly after his death: articles.


1877 Chicago City Directory:

Wachdorf, Anton, turner, house 79 Meagher


1878 Chicago City Directory:

Wachdorf, Anton, woodtnr. house 78 Meagher

(I believe Meagher was what is now W. 15th Place, near Douglas Park)


1880 census, Chicago District 68, 215 W. 14th Street

Joseph Brand, age 31, machinist, born in Prussia of Prussian parents

wife Elizabeth, age 31, keeping house, born in Prussia of Prussian parents

son Henry, age 8, born in IL (as are all the kids)

son Joseph, age 6

daughter Elizabeth, age 4

daughter Margaret, age 2

boarder Anthony Wachdorf, age 20, works for RR, born in Prussia of Prussian parents

(NOTE: by looking at previous censuses, I find Joseph Brand, like Anton, was once an employee of the Pennsylvania RR)


His 1882 marriage certificate is in the photo gallery above.

1882 Chicago City Directory: Wachdorf, Anton, fireman, house 258 W. 14th

(note in the same directory under "Dressmakers": Klein, Anna, wid. Anthon, 270 W. Chicago av.)


1884 Chicago City Directory

Wachdorf, Anton, fireman, house 91 Stewart av (note that his wife's family lived on Stewart Ave in 1880 census)


Anton is listed in the Centenary Booklet of St. Martin's Parish as one of the heads of families in the neighborhood and ready to start the Parish before the church was built (along with George and Hubert Wirtz).


1890 Chicago Voter Registration: A. Wachdorf, 418 W. 58th Street, resident of precinct 3 and a half years, of county and state for 24 years. Where his date of papers and place of papers for naturalization should be listed, the columns are left blank.


In every census after his marriage, Anton is listed as born in Germany of German parents, his wife as born in IL of German parents, and the children as born in IL. He is a bridge engineer for the Pennsylvania RR.


1900 census, Chicago Ward 30, District 945, 418 W. 58th St.

Anton Wachdorf, age 39, born May 1861, married 18 years, immigrated 1865, naturalized, engineer-loco

wife Annie, age 39, born May 1861, mother of 8 of whom 8 are living

daughter Clara, age 17, born June 1883, milliner

daughter Katherine, age 15, born Aug 1884 (no profession listed, nor "at school")

son Henry, age 13, born Aug 1886, at school (Harry)

son Edward, age 11, born Aug 1888, at school

son Joseph, age 8, born June 1892, at school

daughter Coletta, age 5, born May 1895

daughter "Mary," age 2, born July 1897 (Mae)

daughter Frances, 10 months, born Aug 1889

(NOTE: neighbor is John C. Miller, policeman, with sons John F. born in 1887 and Andrew born in 1894. John F. is witness on marriage certificate of Edward Wachdorf and Andrew is witness on marriage certificate of Joseph Wachdorf)


1910 census, Chicago Ward 31, District 1338, 316 W. 58th St.

Anton Wachdorf, age 45, in 1st marriage 25 yrs, column for immigration year says "?", naturalized, engineer--bridge co

wife Anna, age 45, mother of nine of whom 9 are living

daughter Catherine, age 25, packer--Stone Bros.

son Henry, age 23, chauffeur--automobile (Harry)

son Joseph G, age 17, messenger--railroad

daughter Coletta, age 14

daughter "Mary" A, age 11 (Mae)

daughter Frances B, age 9

daughter Magdalena, age 7

(Note son Edward is living at 355 W. 58th with his new in-laws, the Pflegers.)


1920 census, Chicago Ward 31, District 1896, 316 W. 58th Street (owned)

Anton Wachdorf, age 58, immigrated 1863, naturalized 1882, elect. eng--Electric Bridge

wife Anna, age 58

daughter Coletta, age 23, packing--jewelry house

daughter "Mary," age 22, bookkeeper--jewelry house (Mae)

daughter Frances, age 20, packer--jewelry house

daughter Madeline, 17, steno--(illegible)

(NOTE: neighbor is once again John C. Miller--see 1900 census for comments)


1930 census, Chicago Ward 17, Block 51, 316 W. 58th Street (owned, not rented, valued at $4000, with radio)

Anton Wachdorf, age 68, married at 21, immigrated 1866, naturalized, engineer--bridge

Wife Anna, age 68, married at 21

Grand-daughter Coletta, age 15, born IL (Joe's daughter)

daughter "Mary," age 32, general office--novelty co. (Mae)

daughter Magdalen, age 27, stenographer--Chicago Motor Co

son Henry, age 42, married at 37, auto mechanic--auto shop (Harry, whose wife Dell is with her sister at 334 W. 58th)

(Note that the neighbor is John C. Miller again--see 1900 census.  Note also that son Edward lives just down the street at 334 W. 58th.)


His obituary and death certificate are in the photo gallery above.