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 divided into several galleries:

 up to 1909: Ed as son

1909-1953: Ed as worker, Ed as husband, Ed as father 

1953-1966: California



A prolific letter writer. Examples 1905 to 1966 accessed from this page: All Letters


Paper Trail

includes census, WWI draft registration, newspaper article, more to add



Almost nothing in this section yet, but getting to it


Also have audio recordings from the early 50's/late 60's (chatting and singing) and brief film footage.


Edward John Wachdorf

8-8-1888 to 8-30-1966



  1883-Clara Roster

  1884-Kitty Hochertz

  1886-Harry H. Wachdorf

  1892-Joseph Wachdorf

  1895-Lettie Myers

  1897-Mae Wachdorf

  1899-Frances Stevens

  1902-Madge Wachdorf


Harry Wachdorf married

Dell Pfleger, the sister of Edward's wife.

married 1909


Irene Pfleger





 1910-Edward Wachdorf Jr.

 1912-Irene H. Wachdorf

 1915-Arthur Wachdorf

 1917-Harry Wachdorf

 1919-Jerry Wachdorf

 1923-Frank Wachdorf

 1926-Larry Wachdorf

 1929-Dolores Wachdorf


his parents:

Anton Wachdorf


Anna Klein

Irene's parents:

John Pfleger


Maria Grimm


His maternal grandparents:

John Klein and Christina Alberg Klein


His paternal grandparents: unknown

His maternal aunts & uncles:

Mary Klein Falkenthal & Charles, Henry Klein, Catherine (Sr. Mary Anthony), Christina Klein Lehman & George, George Klein & Laura

Click any image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom move cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again. This is just a sampling. To go to his main photo galleries, follow links at top of page.


The best knowledge of Ed is gained by reading his numerous letters, which begin at letters 1949. Not included in the letters: records show that the Wachdorfs had a phone by 1932. Ed's daughter Dolores recalled that the early phone took nickels, or slugs. Once a week the phone guy would come to empty the phone box and collect cash for the slugs.

She also recalled that her father liked people who "gave him guff" and enjoyed doing silly things like taking the hot spoon from his coffee and touching it to someone's arm to make the person jump, which embarrassed him greatly when he did it to someone in a restaurant once whom he mistook for a friend, only to find it was a stranger.

A client once gave him two Saint Bernard puppies, Socks and Tuffy. She recalled how much it made him laugh when they would nip at his ankles as he tried to hurry through the kitchen. One of the dogs got distemper from a neighborhood dog and died. The other was stolen (it was the Depression, and they were pure bred, therefore valuable). They then had a mutt, Gizmo. There was also a cat (see letter 11-4-1932 Harry) that had kittens. Dolores recalled the cat had the kittens in the basement, and her brothers would check the cat's progress, then come up and silently signal to their mother, like baseball players, surreptitiously running fingers through their hair (one finger, one kitten. Two fingers, two kittens, four fingers...).

During the Great Depression, he managed to hold onto his job at Sinclair Oil (a source of pride for all of them) but his daughter recalls it was a very close thing, and that sometimes his wife had to borrow a nickel from the neighbors to pay his streetcar fare to get him to work, because they were at times that close to broke.

The death of his oldest daughter, Irene (Sis), from tuberculosis was a major blow for the entire family and perhaps more for Edward because he had been reluctant to let her enter the convent (it was there that she contracted the disease from a fellow novice). His surviving daughter, Dolores, only four when Sis took ill and ten when she died, felt her father never loved her as much as Sis. Her mother said it was because he didn't want to be hurt like that again. But at 14 Dolores herself contracted diptheria and came very close to dying. She recalled her father and mother standing on the other side of the glass at the contagious disease hospital, and her father held up a five dollar bill and pointed at it to say it was hers when she got better. Shortly after she got home, he sat down with her and read her the funny papers, and the unexpected act of tenderness, combined with her weakened state, caused her to start crying. The tears confused and distressed him.

They moved to California in his retirement years because he had developed emphysema from his heavy smoking. In the end he would often sit up all night in his rocking chair, having trouble breathing. He also suffered from long and violent attacks of hiccups.

Paper Trail

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, 355 W. 58th St.:

John Pfleger, 64, born in Germany, married 33 years, immigrated 1874, naturalized, occupation: butcher in a shop.

Wife Mary, age 60, mother of 8, five surviving, born in Ohio.

Daughter Adelaide Pfleger, 26, dress maker in a dry goods establishment.

Nephew Louis Grimm, 18, stockman in a dry goods establishment.

Daughter Irene Wachdorf

Son-in-law Edward J. Wachdorf, married 0 years, profession: book keeper for oil company.

1917 draft registration: Edward John Wachdorf, age 28, of 649 E. 87th Place. Born 8-8-1888 in Chicago. Occupation: office clerk for Standard Oil Company of 72 W. Adams. Reason for exemption: support of wife and three children. Tall, of medium build, with bluish gray eyes and dark brown hair, also noted: bad eye sight.

1920 census, 649 87th Place, 9th Ward (Township: tract Ag. 5 bounded by 84th St. Cottage Grove 88th Place and precinct line State St.--this was out in the country at the time. They even raised chickens):

Edward Wachdorf, 31, office manager for oil manufacturer

wife Irene, 32

Son Edward, 9

Daughter Irene, 7

Son Arthur,4

Son Harry, 2

Son Gerald, 4 months

mother-in-law Mary Pfleger, widow

sister-in-law Adele Pfleger, 35, dress maker in a general merchandise establishment.

10-20-1920 article from the Daily Southtown (or Suburbanite Economist, or whichever name it went under at the time): Perez Annual Ball: Arrangements are now complete for the big K of C ball at White City on the evening of Nov. 5th...the newly installed officers of the Father Perez Council include Frank R. McGarr Jr., grand knight; Edward Wachdorf, deputy grand knight; Emmett McCarthy, chancelor; John S. Boes, treasurer; H.F. Heinrichs, financial secretary; and Peter T. Murphy, warden. HB Wickers is recording secretary. Last Thursday John R. Reilly, the retiring secretary after holding the office for eleven years, was given an ovation by the Council and presented with a chest of silver and a cut glass water set. Retiring Grand Knight Keown was presented with a beautiful diamond ring..." (Note photo number four in the first row of the gallery above shows some of these same names with different positions, and Ed Wachdorf as chancellor instead of deputy grand knight--an earlier year judging by presence of Reilly, retiring in 1920.)

1930 census, 334 W. 54th St.:

Edward J. Wachdorf owns home value $6000, has a radio. 41, married at 21, occupation: agent for Sinclair Refinery.

Wife Irene, 42, married at 21.

Son Edward, 19, shipping clerk

daughter Irene, 17, doing bookkeeping for a stationary company

son Arthur, 15, no occupation

son Henry, 12

son Gerald, 10

son Francis, 7

son Lawrence, 4

daughter Dolores, 11 months

sister-in-law Adele Wachdorf (no longer Pfleger), age 45, married at 40 (though husband Harry Wachdorf is living down the street with his parents), occupation: seamstress for Dept. Store.