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To jump straight to the photographs on this page, click here: pics

There are a LOT of photos of Dell.

To reach three more galleries (as a girl, as a seamstress, at her sister's), click here: Dell Pfleger


There is only one letter in which Dell writes and only briefly (9-1932 circular letter) but she is mentioned in the following letters: 9-16-1932 Irene; 11-10-1932 Chris; 11-18-1932 Irene (her husband loses his garage)


Reminiscence One: Her nephew Jerry recalling the gift of the girly fur coat.

Reminiscence Two: Her niece recalling Dell's death from a ruptured appendix


Adelaide C. "Dell" Pfleger Wachdorf

9-9-1884/5 to 9-9-1942



  c.1878-Henry Pfleger

  1880-Oscar Pfleger

  1883-Lou Pfleger

  1888-Irene Pfleger


All the Pfleger children were born in Jackson, MI but spent most of their lives in Chicago


Dell and her sister Irene  married brothers

Harry & Edward



married c. 1924-25


Harry H. Wachdorf


no children


Dell's name is

given sometimes








She died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix

Dell's parents:

John Pfleger


Maria Grimm


Harry's parents:

Anton Wachdorf


Anna Klein


Her maternal grandparents:

Frank Grimm and Katerina Lukner


Her paternal grandparents:

Jean Pfleger & Katharina Walter

Her maternal aunts & uncles: Peter Grimm & Kittie (of Jackson, MI), Louis Grimm & Rosina, Kate Grimm (Endres) (of Germany)


Only two paternal relatives are known to have come to the US: Lena Pfleger Philipp & August, and Franz Pfleger who died in Jackson MI. Her father also had the following siblings in Germany: Katharine, Karl, August, Peter, Elisabetha (Schaeffer).  


Her paternal great-grandparents & more in Pfleger Family tree

Click on image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom, move cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again. To see more photos of Dell with as a girl, with coworkers, etc, (before she married Harry) click here: Dell Pfleger.

50 Miles From Crown Point. A wedding trip for Harry and Dell? See next photo

companion photo to previous. Dell 4th from left standing, Harry seated 2nd newsboy hat from left. Next shot is same with labels

Same as previous, as labeled as I can get it right now.

her brother Oscar's sister-in-law, Dell in Happy New Year hat, her sister Irene

partially labeled by Harry, next shot is same with fuller label

same as previous, with labels

pos. Emil Wiedemann (her brother Oscar's brother-in-law), Dell and Harry

same outing, herd on the rock waving, see next photo

This group in next photo. Same outing?

Dell, Oscar's Ed, Lou's wife Gert & daughters Catherine, Marie and Leona, Oscar, Lou, Oscar's Eleanor

perhaps same outing. Dell & Harry far right, standing. Next photo is same with labels

same as previous, labeled

1-6-1934 at her nephew's wedding. Next shot is same group, labeled

same as previous, labeled. Dell is #19, Harry is #17

same gathering, slightly less blurry

Dell, her brother Oscar's wife Annie, Dell's aunt Kittie Grimm (wife of her mother's brother Peter)

her husband Harry Wachdorf, Oscar's son Ed, Annie, Kittie Grimm, Dell

1942 death certificate

Dell's obituary from the Chicago Tribune

interment card. There was no tombstone when I visited. One was ordered, but I never went back to photograph it.

1953 Purgatorian Society membership 11 years after her death reveals her middle initial

Info on the first part of Dell's life is on the Dell Pfleger page, but briefly recapped, she was born in Jackson, MI, and shows up in the 1900 Chicago census as a 15 year old listing her occupation as telephone operator. The 1910 census shows her still with her parents at 25, occupation: dress maker. In 1912 she was named godmother of her sister's daughter, Irene Hildegarde. A postcard addressed to her in 1912 puts her on Princeton Avenue (near her parents, but not with them) but by the 1920 census she is living with her mother and sister in the home of her sister's husband, Ed Wachdorf. In the 1930 census she is again with her sister, though she lists that she is married, and has been married for 5 years. Harry Wachdorf, in the 1930 census, is with his folks, also listing himself as married for five years. He was three years younger than her, and they knew each other for years and years before marrying when she was 40. It begs the question: why did they marry at all? Her mother died in 1924. I wonder if the two events were related.

Dell was a seamstress for the store, Marshall Fields, and also personal seamstress to Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink, an opera diva of some notoriety at the time, as famous for divorcing her husband (against his will) as she was for her career. There are many, many photos of Dell with cronies whom I assume to be her fellow seamstresses on the Dell Pfleger page.

9-16-1932 letter from Irene Pfleger Wachdorf to her daughter: "Before I forget, don't forget to put in a few words to Aunt Dell when you write again, as she was kind of disappointed at not being mentioned in your last letter."

9-23-1932 Dell adds to a letter to Irene's daughter: "Say big girl, when do I get a letter from you? I must be at the bottom of your list. When you have nothing to do just drop me a line. Say a prayer for me for my intention. Your Bestest Aunt Adele."

11-18-1932 she is sponsor at her niece Eleanor's confirmation (daughter of her brother Oscar).

9-9-1942 death certificate: born 9-9-1884 (she died on her birthday?), age 58. Father John Pfleger of unknown Germany, mother Mary Grimm of Canal Dover, Ohio. Attended from Sept. 2 to Sept. 9. Immediate cause: gangrenous ruptured appendix. Other conditions: peritonitis. Operation performed Sept. 3 for appendicitis.


From a phone conversation with her nephew, Jerry Wachdorf, in Feb. 1998:

Jerry said he was his Aunt Dell's favorite. He said she was a seamstress for the store, Marshall Fields, and personal seamstress to Madame Schumann-Heink, "the famous opera diva" (though no one in 1998 knew who she was--looked her up online and found she was more famous for her divorce than her singing. Many photos of Dell with seamstress co-workers on Dell Pfleger page). At some point in Jerry's childhood, his aunt Dell gave him the expensive gift of a chinchilla coat. It must've cost $30, he said, which was a lot then. He wore it once to school, where the other kids razzed him and told him he looked like a girl. Which, he said, he did, at least in a girlish fur coat. So on the way home from school he threw the coat in a trash bin in an alley.

        When he got home his mother asked what had happened to his new coat. He answered, "I can't wear it. It's a girl's coat."

        "But where is it?"

        He admitted he'd thrown it away (must've been quite young indeed). His mother marched him back to that alley where she made him dig through the rubbish and retrieve the chinchilla coat.

        After that day, he said, he never saw the coat again, never knew what became of it. "Didn't occur to me at the time," he said thoughtfully, as if only realizing decades later, "but it must've hurt Dell's feelings."

        He said she was very Prussian, "alt Deutsch," high German, very proud of the fact.


Reminiscence Two:

Details of her death as recalled by her niece, Dolores Wachdorf, who was 12 when Dell died.

Harry brought home a bushel of apples but had forgotten his keys. He knocked, and getting no answer, left the apples in the hall outside the door and headed up the street to her sister, Irene's, presuming she'd be there. In the meantime, Dell got out bed where she was laying down feeling sick, made it to the front door, and found the bushel of apples. In trying to drag them inside, she ruptured her inflamed appendix, and collapsed.

        Dolores recalled her mother saying that Dell always carried a note in her pocket that said, "Everything goes to Irene," but after Dell's death nothing was said of anyone discovering the note, therefore any of their mother's possessions that passed to Dell did not make it to Irene. No one is quite sure what became of Dell's things when her husband moved to California and then remarried. However, as is obvious, her sister Irene saved every photo of Dell that she had.

She is interred at St. Mary's Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL. There was no tombstone, probably because Harry intended to be buried with her, but he  instead moved to California and remarried and is buried there. A tombstone was arranged in 1998, but I've never been back to see if it was actually put up.