Among the wealthier residents of Mendota who have done a great deal for the city and whose money is extensively invested in home enterprises, is the gentleman whose name stands at the head of this sketch. He is a native of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, and was born November 30, 1848. His parents were Phillip and Margaret (Gud) Waldorf, both natives of the same province, where they were married and three of their children were born, — Margaret, Catherine and Louis. They emigrated to America in 1853, landing in New York April 13, and at once came to this county and settled in Troy Grove, where the father engaged in farming until 1863, when he died in his forty-ninth year. Three children were born to them after locating in Troy Grove, — Phillip, William and Peter, — the first mentioned residing on the old homestead and the two latter in Nebraska. Margaret married Ferdinand Kampf, a farmer of Troy Grove township, and Catherine is the wife of Edward Grube, of LaSalle. The mother reached her seventy-fourth year and sank to sleep in 1872.
Mr. Waldorf was educated in the country schools and grew to manhood on the farm, remaining there until he was twenty-one, when he came to Mendota and with his brother-in-law, Mr. Grube, went to manufacturing and wholesaling vinegar. The business was conducted until June, 1874, when Mr. Waldorf sold his interest in the concern to his partner, who discontinued it in 1875, as it was not a profitable investment. In October, 1874, he entered into a partnership with M. Abrahams, under the firm name of Abrahams & Waldorf, and engaged in the wholesale liquor business in this city. On the first of January, 1890, Mr. Waldorf purchased the interest of his partner and has since carried on the business alone. He has been very successful, disposing of large quantities of liquor, and from the modest beginning of two thousand dollars' capital the business has spread to its present gigantic proportions. He is an able business man and is regarded by the citizens as one of the shrewdest in this section of the state. Not only has he guarded his own interests with an eagle eye but has also worked for the municipality, and he has been the means of bringing much trade to the merchants of this city. He formerly held the position of vice president of the Mendota National Bank, of which he was one of the organizers, and is one of the foremost citizens of Mendota. He resigned as vice president of the Mendota National Bank and sold his interest in the institution in September, 1899.
In 1878 he was united in marriage to Miss Josephine Pitts, a native of Luxemburg, Germany. Four children have been the fruits of this union, — Lorena, Arthur, Rufus and Herbert. Lorena and Arthur are graduates of the Blackstone high school, of Mendota, and are remarkably bright pupils. Mrs. Waldorf was a teacher of German in the Blackstone schools of Mendota from 1873 to 1878 and as such made many friends both among parents and pupils. They are members of the German Lutheran church and contribute liberally to the cause of Christianity and the spread of the gospel. Their home is a model of elegance and refined taste. Little short of a mansion in architecture it pleases the eye of all who view its magnificence. Entering the heavy oak doors leading to the vestibule the same refined taste is apparent, everything being of the most elegant but unostentatious character. The vestibule is a spacious room with a mosaic floor and leads directly to the hall proper, which can also be used as a reception room and is a circular apartment ornamented with art glass of varied and beautiful tint. Passing to the left we enter the parlor and confront a large mirror built into the wall, the sides of which are green while the ceiling is frescoed with Mexican roses. The finish is birch with a mahogany finish, and in no part of the house has paint or paper been used, natural wood and fresco taking their places. In the rear of the sitting-room, which is finished in light oak with light blue frescoe and ceiling ornamented with morning-glories, is the dining-room, a beautiful creation in dark oak with paneled wainscoting. This, like the sitting-room, has a fireplace, and a handsome sideboard is built in the wall. A butler's pantry connects with the kitchen, which is provided with all the conveniences known to modern housewifery. This floor has a pleasant bed-room, and each floor is supplied with an elegant bath-room, with onyx washstand, porcelain tubs, nickel fixtures, and floors and walls of pure white tile with delicate pink border. Hot and cold water, either hard or soft, can be had whenever needed; and not one point has been forgotten or neglected that would add to the comfort of the inmates. The wood-work of the entire second story is of highly finished cypress, and the large, pleasant bed-rooms are situated on this floor, as is also the library. The room designed for the eldest daughter is peacock blue, with wild-rose ornaments, and is a dream of beauty. The furniture is in keeping with the building and harmonizes with the finish in each room. In the cellar is the laundry, heating plant, etc., and taken altogether it is one of the handsomest and most complete residences it has ever been our good fortune to see.
On the close of the year 1899, Mr. Waldorf completed the building of a two-story business block, on the southwest corner of Illinois and Jefferson streets in Mendota. The building is the most modern business block in Mendota and is a model structure. Two store-rooms 30x85 feet, each with basements; and the second floor, devoted to office rooms, is heated throughout by steam, and has other conveniences of excellency. The entire building is a monument to the enterprise of Mr. Waldorf.
Mr. Waldorf is a Democrat and served as alderman for ten years. He is also a member of the board of education and a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Extracted 26 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 2, pages 442-443.