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Contents of page:

photographs (including her christening gown)

reminiscences and oral history

 paper trail (census, marriage record, husband's death certificate, her own death certificate)



Maria Grimm Pfleger

11-18-1850 to 11-23-1924



 c.1852-Peter Grimm

 c.1858-Louis Grimm

 Kate Grimm (Endres)


Maria, brothers Peter & Louis all left Katzenbach, Germany for Jackson, Michigan in the US.


Her brothers and husband were all butchers in Jackson. Both Maria and family and Louis and family moved to Chicago.


married 11-26-1876

in Jackson Michigan


 Johannes/John Pfleger

1846/47/48 to 1-10-1912


all born in Michigan

all died in Chicago


c.1878-Henry Pfleger

1880-Oscar Pfleger

1883-Lou Pfleger

c.1885-Dell Pfleger

1888-Irene Pfleger

"Arthur" who died in 1893

        at 11 months or 2 yrs

plus two more who died


Dell & Irene Pfleger

married brothers

Harry & Edward Wachdorf


Frank Grimm


 Katerina Lukner

spouse's parents:

Jean/Johannes Pfleger


Katharine Walter

She told her daughter that she had not intended to stay in the US, only visit, but the voyage over was so horrible, she refused to get on another ship to go back.


Both Maria and her brother Peter often listed on official documents that they were born in Canal Dover, Ohio (or neighboring Bakerville). Maria even told her children that she was born in Canal Dover. See Peter's passport application on his page. Apparently her parents lived in Ohio c. 1850 and returned to Germany (the Katzenbach region) so their children were natural born citizens and yet immigrants.

Click on image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom, move cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again. Photo of the Grimm family best viewed by printing the balanced version.

her christening gown

label on envelope that originally held the christening gown

close-up on the pattern

Bakerville Ohio where she was supposedly born (that or Canal Dover, the closest town to Bakerville large enough for a Catholic church)

The Grimm family in Germany. Frank, Peter, Maria, Kate (Endres), Katerina Lukner Grimm

Maria Grimm

John and Mary Grimm of Jackson Michigan with children Henry, Dell, Lou, and Oscar (left to right)

Mary Grimm Pfleger with some of her children and the Wirtzes. Full label beneath photo gallery

Mary Grimm Pfleger in the shadows, holding grandson Harry Wachdorf

Mary Grimm Pfleger lost to shadows, with grandkids Sis and Art Wachdorf (and in shadows, baby Harry and Ed Jr. in glasses)

Ed Wachdorf Jr. (her grandson), unknown, Mary Grimm Pfleger

The boy is Edward Wachdorf Jr with Mary Grimm Pfleger behind him and her daughter Dell Pfleger (Wachdorf) peeking over her shoulder.

1924 death certificate

tombstone of John and Mary Pfleger, St. Mary's Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL

caption of group photo with Wirtzes: her son Oscar's sister-in-law Gert Wirtz Wiedemann, her daughter Irene's husband Edward Wachdorf holding unknown child, her daughter Dell, her son Oscar holding unknown child, daughter Irene Pfleger Wachdorf, her son Oscar's sister-in-law Mary Wirtz Enk, her son Oscar's brother-in-law Charles Wirtz (probably) on end. Front row from left: her son Oscar's brother-in-law Tony Wirtz, unknown child, her son Oscar's mother-in-law Mary Krump Wirtz, herself, her son Oscar's wife Annie Wirtz Pfleger, her grandson Herbert (Oscar's) slightly behind Annie with Irene's hand on his shoulder, two unknown children in front of her son Oscar's father-in-law Hubert Wirtz, and on the far end, her grandson John (Oscar's).


Oral History and Reminiscences:


On official forms she reported that she was from Ohio, and her children mostly followed that line. Over and over again she is listed as being born in either Canal Dover, Ohio, or Bakerville, Ohio. One of her grandsons recalled hearing (but could not recall from where) that she came to the US merely to visit, but found the passage by ship so miserable that she refused to step foot on another boat. Her brother's passport application lists that he was born in Canal Dover, Ohio of a father who "was" ("is" is crossed out) a naturalized citizen, so it appears the Grimms did live in Ohio, but then moved back to Katzenbach, Germany, and then some of their children returned to the US as adults.


Granddaughter Dolores was told that Maria's daughter Irene (Dolores' mother) was so small at birth that she fit in a cigar box. She weighed only two pounds.

Grandson Jerry Wachdorf remembered her as a big, rawboned woman, and grandson Art Wachdorf laughed and imitated her calling, "Artur, kommen zie." She spoke no English, he said. Asked what her name was, he laughed and said, "Grossmuter." But he smiled just to think about her, which tells you she was not as sour  as she looks in her photographs.

Maria Grimm Pfleger believed herself to be somewhat psychic. There is a story her granddaughter, Dolores Wachdorf, has told (repeatedly): one day Mary said to her daughter, "Write down the date, Irene. My mother just died in Germany." And sometime later, of course (because it wouldn't be a very good story otherwise), it turned out she was right. Dolores recalled her mother, Irene, saying often, "No kitchen is big enough for two women." The impression she got was that things were not always smooth sailing during Maria's widowhood when she lived with her daughter Irene. Maria thought Irene had married beneath her, Dolores recalled, because the Pflegers were high German and the Wachdorfs were low (or at least that's how she recalled it). Adding insult to injury, Maria's other daughter, Dell, later married the brother of Irene's husband, so there were two low German Wachdorfs in the family.

Dolores also says that every time she got pregnant, her mother would speculate it might be twins, because Maria had twins. Dolores thought Maria's twins were named Edward and Arthur. St. Mary's Cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL (where the rest of the family is buried) has a Joseph Arthur Pfleger, interred 4-21-1893, 11 months old (there is no stone). I requested his death certificate and got one for "Arthur" Pfleger, who died 4-19-1893 of meningitis. His age was given as two, however, instead of 11 months. Don't know which source was in error. In the 1900 & 1910 census Maria is listed as mother of 8, with 5 surviving. Twins plus Joseph Arthur? Or was Joseph "Arthur" one of the twins?

Paper Trail:

Marriage certificate:

Nov. 26, 1876 in Jackson County, Michigan, city of Jackson, a marriage was performed by Theopilus Buyse, Catholic priest, between John Pfleger, 28, and Maria Grimm, 26. John's birthplace is listed as Bavaria, his profession as butcher. Maria's birthplace is listed as Ohio. The witnesses were her brother, Peter Grimm, and Emma Gass, both of Jackson. (Emma Gass may have been a relative, but no connection has yet been established.)


1880 census, Jackson, Michigan, 5th Ward, District 121, Courtland Street, page 26 or 45

John "Pflager," 32, profession: butcher, born Germany.

Wife Mary, 28, born Ohio.

Son Henry, 2, born Michigan (born 7-21-1878).


1900 census, Chicago, Southtown, street name looks like "Berteau"?

John Pfleger, born Aug. 1854 (but it was probably more like 1846-48), immig 1875, renting, married 23 years, occupation: butcher

Wife Maria, born Nov. 1851, born Ohio, mother of 8 children of whom 5 are living.

Son Henry, born July 1874, Michigan, occupation: optician.

Son Oscar, born Aug. 1881, occupation: cashier.

Son Louis, born Jan. 1883, occupation: book keeper.

Daughter Adelaide, born Sept. 1885, occupation: telephone operator.

Daughter Irene, born Feb. 1888, at school.

Nephew Louis F. Grimm, born Dec. 1893 in Michigan (son of Maria's brother Ludwig/Louis Grimm and Johann's niece, Rosina Pfleger--why he did not live with his mother and sisters is one of the family mysteries).


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, nephew, stockman in a dry goods establishment.

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

Daughter Irene Wachdorf (essentially same info was 1900)


Husband's death:

Death certificate: John Pfleger died 1-10-1912 at 6 p.m., lived at 355 W. 58th St. for 8 years, and had been a resident of the city for 21. His parents are given as John Pfleger and Mary (blank). Note first that his son, Lou, is the informant and Lou's mother is named Mary. His date of birth is given as 1855 (but his marriage certificate, age on ship's log etc make 1846-48 more likely). Cause of death: carcinoma of face and neck. Physician attended May 1911 (might say 1910) until 1-10-1912. Last occupation: packer, furniture 1907-1911. Previous occupation: butcher, packing house.

Death announcement from Daily Southtown (called Suburbanite Economist or some variant back then): John Pfleger died Wednesday last week at his home, 355 W. 58th St. and his funeral occurred Saturday from St. Martin's church, burial at St. Mary's cemetery.

Maria's death certificate:

Nov 1924 Mary Pfleger, widow of John Pfleger, 334 W. 58th st, born 11-18-1850, age 74 years, occupation: housework. Informant: Oscar S. Pfleger of 5648 S. Wells. Birthplace of deceased: Bakerville, Ohio. Name of father: Frank Grimm. Birthplace of father: Katzenbach, Germany. Maiden name of mother unknown. Birthplace of mother: Katzenbach. Date of death 11-23-1924. Cause: chronic valvular heart disease of 10 years duration. Physician attended 9-18-1924 to 11-23. Signed by Guy Forney (future husband of her niece Hilda Grimm)