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Gallery One, Before 1909: Irene Pfleger

on this page, Gallery Two, 1909-1953 (primarily): pics

Gallery Three, 1953-1969: California

Letters: too many to specify, from 1905-1969. To go to letters, click here: All Letters


so far one by her son-in-law and some scattered recollections by her daughter

Welcome others, if anyone wants to send them.

Audio & film:

There are audio recordings from the late 50's/early 60's of Irene chatting (and going into gales of giggles at times, for example when her son ties her apron strings to her chair while she's not paying attention). There is also film footage. Not on this website, however. Working on the DVD.



Irene Rose Pfleger Wachdorf

2-22-1888 to 1969



  c.1878-Henry Pfleger

  1880-Oscar Pfleger

  1883-Lou Pfleger

  1884/5-Dell Pfleger


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


Harry Wachdorf married

Dell Pfleger, the sister of Edward's wife.


married 1909


Edward Wachdorf





 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

Only her last two children were born in the hospital, and the rest were born at home. Only Art, Harry, Larry and Dolores have birth certificates with Cook County. Believe that means only those births were attended by a doctor.

Irene's parents:

John Pfleger


Maria Grimm

his parents:

Anton Wachdorf


Anna Klein


Her maternal grandparents:

Frank Grimm & 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

Many photos to be added. Also have letters written from California in the 50s and 60s. Also have audio recordings (favorite bit is when Larry ties her apron strings to the chair and she can't talk for laughing). 

Click on image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom, move cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again. To see photos of Irene as a girl, click on this hyperlink: Irene Pfleger

partial scan of 16x20 marriage certificate 1909 St. Martin church

marriage certificate, on the back at the bottom

marriage certificate, on the back at the top

Irene's demitasse set, handed down to her daughter, Dolores

Irene, Edward, and their firstborn, Ed Jr. 1910

Irene and firstborn, Edward John Jr. 1910

Irene on right with her sister Dell in the middle and her brother Oscar's sister-in-law Gert Wirtz Wiedemann (Annie's sister)

cleaner copy without label. Dell's hat says "Happy New Year."

her son Harry put partial labels. See below photo gallery for full label and how people relate

Irene feeding the chickens when they lived "in the country" on 87th Street instead of 58th

label on back of previous written by her husband

probably 1917. Ed, Sis and Art on trike, Irene looking pregnant

same day. Now you see why I said she looked pregnant.

Irene on left with her sisters-in-law Madge, Mae, and Clara. Photo courtesy of Joe Wachdorf's granddaughters, Shirley and Laurie.

Irene, Edward, Dell on left with Sis and Art in foreground and probably Dell's fellow seamstresses holding baby Harry (born in 1917)

Ed and Irene on left, their children Art and Sis in the middle, Dell on the far right c. 1918

Holding baby Dolores 1929

in black, with her mother-in law, daughter, etc. c. 1936 (next is same with labels)

same as previous, labeled

Sis and Irene, looks like same day as previous shots

Irene on right with her nephew Henry Pfleger's wife Margaret and one of Margaret's sons

Irene Pfleger Wachdorf and her son Harry's mother-in-law, Margaret Hannigan

1957 Irene on left, her brother's widow Louise (nee Lift) on left.

Irene and Edward's tombstone, St. Mary's Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL

Irene's mass card 1969


By her daughter, Dolores

        Dolores said Irene was so small at birth that she fit in a cigar box--she was only two pounds.

        She also recalled as a girl, saying in pre-teen self-pity that was was never wanted, that she was one too many (being the youngest) and her parents hadn't wanted another child, to which Irene replied, "Don't kid yourself. I miscarried before you and after you."

        Once, while talking about the Great Depression, Dolores shared memories with her husband of the split pea soup everyone made during the Depression because the WPA workers were sometimes paid in bags of dried split peas. She said her father, Ed Wachdorf, was not on relief and managed to hold onto his job (though she recalled the kids were sometimes sent out scrounging for a nickel to pay for the streetcar to get him to work) yet the Wachdorfs still ate too much split pea soup because soft-hearted Irene would take bags of split peas in trade so neighbors who could afford nothing else might have something better.


By her son-in-law:

           "While I was dating Dolores, I developed a healthy respect and liking for her mother. She was a nice lady but one who managed a household with six boys and a husband, yet there was little doubt who was in charge most of the time.

            She was a dyed-in-the-wool White Sox fan, which was surprising, as she seemed to be very feminine and motherly, and not at all like a sports fan in demeanor. However, if you got onto the subject of baseball, she knew all the statistics, and would answer a simple question like, "How did Minny Minoso do yesterday?" with something like, "He got a single and a double for four times at bat which brings his batting average for the season up to .335."

            You would never have known she had any interest in baseball until the first television set came into the Wachdorf household. She was dead set against the TV, and refused to watch it or even go into the room with the TV when it was on. However, there was a problem--sometimes people were in there watching baseball. Sometimes it was the White Sox playing.

            Rather than go in and sit down and watch the game, she went on with her regular household chores, but each time she walked by the door to the room with the TV, she slowed down as she went by to see what was on and hear what the announcer was saying. Still she wouldn't go in. It's my recollection that it took a couple of years for her pro-baseball bias to win out over her anti-tv bias."

            (Dolores added, "She would be doing laundry, which she hung out on the line, and every time she walked past the door she went a little slower..."


Because she had so many children and so many relatives in the area, the household on 58th Street in Chicago bustled with constant activity (evident in letters written to her daughter, with people constantly in and out and saying they visited --see All Letters and go to the ones from 1932). The house was so busy that her future son-in-law thought for a long time that Peanut (Wilbur) Schuch was also one of the Wachdorf boys, because he was always there.

In later years, in California, she kept a drawer full of candy for her grandchildren, who were allowed to select one piece each night before they had to brush their teeth.

Paper Trail

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.


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.


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.


To read many letters by Irene, or by her husband or children, click here: All Letters

California Death Certificate:

(informant--her son Larry, who messed up by giving her father's name as Anton Pfleger--her father was John Pfleger. Her husband's father was Anton Wachdorf. Maiden name and birthplace of mother, by Larry's information, "Unknown--unknown.")

Personal data: Irene Rose Wachdorf, born 2-22-1888, died 1-7-1969 at 9:15 PM. Born in Michigan. 80 years old at last birthday. No social security number. Citizen of the US. Widowed. Last occupation: housewife, 60 years in that field, employed in own home.

    Place of death: Riviera Community Hospital 4025 West 226th Street, Torrance California, Los Angeles County.

    Usual Residence: 3845 West 154th St, Lawndale, Los Angeles County. Informant: Lawrence Wachdorf (son).

    Physician's or coroner's certification: illegible signature of 502 Torrance treated her from 1962 to 1-7-1969.

    Immediate cause of death: cerebral hemorrhage of 5 hrs duration due to or as a consequence of atherosclerosis due to or as a consequence of age. Other significant conditions: carcinoma of colon. Was operation or biopsy performed for any condition specified?: colonoscopy 1963. Autopsy: no.

    Burial: St Mary's Cemetery, Chicago IL, embalmer Richard J McCormick of McCormick Mortuary.