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Schowalter, Jacob Abraham (1879-1953)
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Mar 12 p. 1
Birth date: 1879 Sep 25
text of obituary:
Prominent Farmer Called Away In Death
JAC. A. SCHOWALTER DIED IN BETHEL HOSPITAL TUESDAY AFTERNOON
Jac. A. Schowalter, 73, prominent farmer and community leader, died in the Bethel Deaconess Hospital at about 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, after a four weeks’ illness of heart ailment.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, with a brief service at the Kaufman funeral home in Halstead for relatives and close friends at 1:30 p.m. and the public service at 2:30 in the First Mennonite church of Newton. Having never been married, Mr. Schowalter leaves as his closest surviving relative a brother, Fred Schowalter and family of near Halstead. Living with him at the homestead southwest of Newton in recent years were Mr. and Mrs. Titus Jost, formerly of Hillsboro.
Born in Friedelsheim, Germany, Mr. Schowalter came to America in his early youth, taking up farming and engaging in various business undertakings, in which he proved outstandingly successful. He served one term in the Kansas state legislature as representative of Harvey county. Aside from his farming and business interests, he devoted much time to community work, relief and philanthropic enterprises. Together with other local men, he spent several weeks in Paraguay early last year and had planned a similar trip again this spring.
Burial is to be made in the Mennonite cemetery at Halstead.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Mar 19 p. 3
text of obituary:
CALLED AWAY—Jac. A. Schowalter, 73, who died Tuesday, March 10, and for whom funeral services were held at the First Mennonite church, Friday afternoon, March 13. Mr. Schowalter customarily spent much time at his business desk (above), stacked high with papers in the front room of his farm home seven miles southwest of Newton. A man of considerable means, he gave generously to benevolent causes, including educational institutions, missions and relief. The Wurlitzer electric organ in the First Mennonite church is a gift from him. He served three terms in the Kansas state legislature. A second trip to Paraguay he had planned this spring failed to materialize.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Mar 19 p. 6
text of obituary:
— A large assembly of relatives and friends from the Newton vicinity, as well as many from other communities, attended the J. A. Schowalter funeral at 2:30 p.m, Friday, March 13, at the First Mennonite church. A service for the closest relatives was held earlier in the afternoon at the Kaufman funeral home in Halstead. Ministers who participated here were Rev. D. J. Unruh, Rev. J. E. Entz and Dr. J. H. Langenwalter. A men's quartet sang three of Mr. Schowalter's best-loved hymns, one of them in German. Interment was made in the Halstead cemetery, at the side of his parents, Heinrich and Marie Schowalter.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Mar 26 p. 1
text of obituary:
Bulk of Estate Left to Three Conferences
Will of Late J. A. Schowalter Submitted For Probate in Local Court Last Week
The will of J. A. Schowalter, well known Harvey County farmer, stockman, legislator and financier, whose death occurred March 10, was submitted for probate in the local court last week, Sam H. Sturm, probate judge, announced Wednesday.
The will was submitted by A. C. Detweiler, Halstead banker, and Wm. F. Schowalter of Jetmore, a cousin. Judge H. H. Sizemre is attorney for the estate.
After certain specific bequests to the next of kin and several employees, the bulk of the estate, according to terms of the will, goes for the General Conference of the Mennonite Church, the (Old) Mennonite General Conference, and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. Administration of the estate to be jointly held by the three conferences is placed in the hands of trustees, to be appointed as provided for in the will.
Among the purposes for which proceeds of the trust can be used are, aid to ministers and missionaries, support of Deaconesses, education and training of Christian workers, MCC refugee resettlement projects and promotion of world peace.
Upon filing of the petition for probate by Judge Sizemore, the hearing was set by Judge Sturm for Friday, April 16.
Friends and acquaintances of Mr. Schowalter estimate his estate to exceed one million dollars. Mr. Sizemore states, however, he is not in position to give any figures at this time except to say that the amount is substantial.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Mar 26 p. 9
text of obituary:
J. A. SCHOWALTER
Jacob Abraham Schowalter was born at Friedelsheim, Bavaria on September 25, 1879, the fourth child of Heinrich and Marie Risser Schowalter. He departed this life at the age of 73 years, four months and 13 days on March 10, 1953. His spirit was released to enter the presence of Him in whom he had believed and whom he had served.
Together with his parents, three brothers and two sisters, he came to America in June 1883 and located on a farm near Halstead, Kansas. In his early life he was deprived of both of his parents, father passing away in May of 1885 and the mother in the fall of 1890, leaving the family of six children orphans.
In 1894, on September 9, he was baptized upon the confession of his faith by Rev, Christian Krehbiel and became a member of the Halstead Mennonite church. In 1942 he transferred his membership to the First Mennonite church of Newton, where he remained a faithful and active member until his death.
After completing the rural schools, he attended Bethel College and the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan.
His life was characterized by hard work, integrity, frugality, sincerity, simplicity, a high standard of life, deep Christian convictions and constructive benevolences.
Brother Schowalter taught the men's Sunday school class of the Newton First Mennonite church for several years, was on the building committee when the addition to the church was built, and served the church and the conference in other capacities. He served his state as Representative from Harvey county for three terms. For many years he was overseer and treasurer of the Leisy Orphan Aid Society and for nine years a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethel Deaconess Home and Hospital Society, where his insight and counsel were much appreciated.
The Lord had blessed him with earthly goods which he considered to be a sacred trust as a steward of God, and which he enjoyed to share with many in need. Churches, Christian institutions, the foreign relief work and many other causes can speak of his benevolent spirit. He loved to help small, new congregations build their houses of worship and found many other ways to support the Lord's work financially. The organ, enriching the services for many years, is a gift by him to the First Mennonite church. The fact that the guests at the Bethel Home for the aged can share at this moment in the message is due to his generosity and love to help others.
The foreign relief work had a very warm place in his heart and was liberally supported by him. After World War II, he adopted 22 needy families and regularly sent them CARE packages for many months. A year ago, on March 2, he left with a group of like minded friends on a good-will tour of Paraguay, spending several weeks there for the purpose of finding ways and means to help new emigrants in a program of economic development in industrial and farming operations. His Christian character showed itself in high ideals and noble purposes.
He became ill, and just five weeks before death he entered the Bethel Deaconess hospital, but the best of care and the doctor’s skill could not hold back the fast ebbing life.
Two brothers and two sisters preceded him in death. There remain to mourn his departure one brother, F. W. Schowalter of Halstead; six nephews, three nieces and their families; Bro. and Sister Titus Yost, who lived in his home with him for a number of years, and a host of other relatives and friends.
Now he is at home with the Lord! “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow them.”
Memorial services for Mr. Schowalter were conducted on Friday afternoon, March 13, 1953 at 2:30 o’clock from the First Mennonite church of Newton preceded by a short prayer service for immediate relatives in the Kaufman funeral chapel at Halstead. The clergymen officiating were: Rev. D. J. Unruh, Rev. J. E. Entz and Rev. J. H. Langenwalter. A quartet composed of Edwin Regier, Willard Enns, Herman Regier, and Irvin Goertzen sang, “Have You Heard of That Beautiful Stream,” “My Jesus, I Love Thee” and “Take Thou My Hand, O Father.” Mrs. Edith Harms was the organist. As organ selections, she played hymns and German chorales which ware favorites of Mr. Schowalter.
He was laid to rest in the family lot in the Halstead cemetery by the side of his parents. The Kaufman funeral Home was in charge of funeral arrangements. Casket bearers were Adam Nightengale of Halstead, Joe Detweiler, Titus Jost, Dr. H. R. Schmidt, Ernest Bachman and W. P. Miles, all of Newton.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Apr 2 p. 6
text of obituary:
. . .
— Upon invitation by Judge H. H. Sizemore, attorney for the J. A. Schowalter estate, some 18 representatives of the General Conference, the Old Mennonite conference, and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, met unofficially last Friday evening in the offices of the Spier, Stroberg & Sizemore law firm to hear a report on the will of the late Mr. Schowalter. Mr. Sizemore, presiding as chairman, gave a general outline of the provisions of the will, which designates the bulk of the estate for the above-named conferences. Dr. J. E. Hartzler, special Bible Week lecturer at Bethel College, who had also been invited to the meeting, closed the session with prayer.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1953 Dec 3 p. 1
text of obituary:
Inventory Filed in Schowalter Estate
$1,157,309.93 Estate Left to Churches
A German immigrant lad accumulating a million — then leaving it all to three Mennonite conferences — such is the story that came into full focus here in the filing of the inventory of the J. A. Schowalter estate in the Harvey County probate court this week.
The instrument designated and appraising the extensive Schowalter holdings was filed on behalf of the executors by Judge Herbert H. Sizemore, well known local attorney. Mr. Schowalter, prominent farmer, stockman and legislator, died in Newton on March 10 of this year.
Total appraised value of the estate, as given in the inventory, is $1,157,309.93, the bulk of which is in farmlands and town properties listed at $862,093.00. All of it, aside from a few bequests, to relatives, is to go to the General Conference Mennonite Church, the Mennonite General Conference (Old), and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. All three of these groups have officially accepted the trust and appointed the designated number of trustees.
The grouped assets are shown as follows:
Bonds (U. S. government), $63,872.00
Stocks (Corporate), $17,502.00
Notes and mortgages, $57,551.88
Livestock and poultry, $27,791.09
Grains and hay, $106,192.99
Farm equipment, misc. $4,650.00
Real estate, $862,093.00
Born in the typical Bavarian village of Friedelsheim, Germany, Sept. 25, 1879, Jacob A. Schowalter came to America at the age of three with his parents, three brothers and two sisters in 1883, the family settling southwest of Newton, near Halstead. His father, Heinrich, died in 1885 and his mother, Marie, in 1890.
The orphaned children met the hardships of pioneer life with courage and hope, and young Jacob soon learned the lessons of hard work, frugality and thrift. Mr. Schowalter was never married but had other families living with him during a good part of his life.
The wide scope of his interests became evident in early manhood, when he began accumulating properties not only in Harvey county but also in other parts of the state. While his energies were mainly concentrated on farming and stock raising, he also became actively interested in politics, later serving in the Kansas State Legislature from 1934-36and 1936-38. He was perhaps the first to introduce the important practice of summer fallowing in western Kansas, which he based on observations made while on a trip through eastern Oregon.
As his property accumulations increased, Mr. Schowalter contributed to various philanthropic causes, assisting students and missionaries, giving generously to foreign relief and helping other farmers. The Wurlitzer electric organ at the First Mennonite church in Newton is a gift from him. Together with several business and professional men he made a trip to South America in the spring of 1952, where he purchased a large tract of land among the Mennonite colonies in Paraguay. His properties there included 28,125 acres of pastureland west of Filadelphia, Paraguay and an undivided one-half interest in 9,266 acres south of Filadelphia.
In buying Kansas farmlands, Mr. Schowalter usually made a careful study of annual rainfall and hail in given localities and spotted his holdings accordingly. An example of how his land has appreciated in value is seen in Scott county, where he originally bought a half-section for $5.00 an acre. Shortly before his death he bought an additional 320 acres nearby at a price in excess of $100 per acre.
Final date for closing the administration of the Schowalter will has not yet been determined. It is understood that a number of claims are being pressed against the estate by various persons, in addition to the efforts of various heirs to have the will or parts thereof set aside.
The executors are Wm. P. Schowalter, Jetmore, a cousin, and A. C. Detweiler, Halstead. The trustees elected by the three conferences are Herman J. Andres and Ernest Bachman of Newton, General Conference; Dan C. Buller, Halstead, Adin F. Holdeman, Hesston, Church of God in Christ Mennonite; Orlo O. Miller, Akron, XX and C. L. Graber, Goshen, ind., (Old) Mennonite General Conference.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Jan 7 p. 3
text of obituary:
Schowalter Will Contested
HEIRS ASK SHARE IN ONE MILLION DOLLAR ESTATE OF LATE J. A. SHOWALTER ['sic SCHOWALTER]
A petition contesting the will of the late J. A. Showalter ['sic Schowalter], prominent Harvey county farmer and stockman, under which the bulk of his $1,157,309 estate is left to three Mennonite conferences, was filed in the Harvey county probate court on Dec. 31, 1953.
Mr. Showalter ['sic Schowalter], who was never married, died a year ago next March 10, at the age of 73.
The petitioners are Harold A. Schowalter, Wilbur H. Schowalter, Carol Schowalter Holman and Richard A. Schowalter, children of Henry Schowalter, deceased, a brother of the late Mr. Schowalter. Three of the petitioners reside in Wichita. The filing was through the Wichita law firm of Hiebsch & Zacharias and D. Arthur Walter of Arkansas city.
The date for the hearing has been tentatively set for Feb. 2. Probate Judge Sam H. Stum stated on Wednesday.
The petitioners allege that “they have a direct interest in the validity, or invalidity”of the Schowalter will and that the trust set up therein is “not charitable in nature . . . . violates the rule against perpetuities . . . . fails to establish with certainty definite objects and purposes” and is “based upon contingencies and is “based upon contingencies and remote visionary whims of the testator.”
Attached to the petition is a copy of “The Charter and Constitution of the General Conference of the Mennonite Church of N. A. (as revised and adopted in 1929)“ in reference to which it is stated that “one of the basic fundamentals (which trustees . . . are repeatedly required by the testator to conserve promulgate and further) is the doctrine of non-resistance; that said basic fundamental has been promulgated by the General Conference of the Mennonite Church of N. A., the Mennonite General Conference (Old Mennonite) and the Church of God in Christ Mennonite” and “that the use of the corpus and income: as designated “is contrary to public policy and as expressed in legislation duly
In various other allegations and involved references to stipulations of the will, the petition contests the basic principles of religious freedom and states that the purposes of promoting world peace and religious and educational benefits are opposed to the public interest and polity.
H. H. Sizemore, of the Newton law firm Speir, Stroberg & Sizemore, attorneys for the estate, said, “We believe the petitioners overlook the fact that freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the Federal Constitution; that the world peace objective cannot be contrary to public policy but in fact tends to promote the public interest, and that education and charitable objectives are not contrary to public policy but tend to relieve the public of a public obligation.” The petitioners ask that the will be declared “null and void . . . . and that an undivided one-half interest therein be awarded and assigned to these petitioners.”
The Schowalter will is now under probate, with A. C. Detweiler, Halstead, and Wm P. Schowalter, Jetmore, serving as executors.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Mar 4 p. 1
text of obituary:
A hearing in the District Court of Harvey County, arising out of a petition filed in December by four collateral heirs of the late J. A. Schowalter, was disposed of by journal entry, Tuesday, March 2, on order of Judge Alfred G. Schroeder.
The journal entry, approved by attorneys for the claimants as well as by attorneys for the Schowalter estate — Speir, Stroberg & Sizemore of Newton — sets forth basic facts regarding the Schowalter will and testament which both parties accept, namely, that Mr. Schowalter was “mentally competent in all respects” and that the will was “duly and regularly executed and attested as required by law.” Issues as to the ”validity of any terms or conditions” of said will are at the same time reserved “for other appropriate proceedings.”
The extensive Schowalter estate, estimated at more than one million dollars, was left to three Mennonite conferences, the (Old) Mennonite General Conference, the General Conference of the Mennonite Church and th Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. Mr. Schowalter, prominent Harvey county farmer and stockman, died March 10, 1953. He was never married.
As to further developments in the case, Attorney Herbert H. Sizemore of the firm Speir, Stroberg & Sizemore stated that hearing on whether or not the will is to be broken has been set for Wednesday, April 14, 10 a.m. in the Harvey County Probate Court, Judge Sam Sturm presiding.
Claim against the Schowalter estate was entered here in December by a Wichita law firm on behalf of Harold A. Schowalter, Wilbur H. Schowalter, Carol Schowalter Holman and Richard H. Schowalter, all children of Henry Schowalter, who was a brother of J. A. Schowalter and had preceded him in death by a number of years. Three of the children live in Wichita.
Heirs Claim Rejected
The answer filed in February on behalf of the executors and beneficiaries, by Speir, Stroberg & Sizemore, asks the Probate Court to dismiss the petition by the claimants. The answer rejects the claim of the heirs and declares that the Schowalter will and codicils thereto “are legal and valid in all respects and do not violate, in whole or in part, any rule of law, statute of the State of Kansas, or the constitutions of the United States and the State of Kansas,” also, that the will is “legal, valid and fully capable of administration and that the objects and purposes, sought to be attained by the decedent, are legal, proper and valid.”
Until such time as full disposition thereof is made, the Schowalter estate remains in the hands of the executors, who are A. C. Dettweiler of Halstead and Wm. P. Schowalter of Jetmore. An appraisement of the estate, which consists largely of land and other properties and includes sizeable tracts in Paraguay, was made last fall by three local appraisers, Chester E. Benfer, K. A. Richert and Orlando Andres, and total value set at $1,157,300.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Apr 8 p. 1
text of obituary:
Hearing in Schowalter Case Postponed
CONTINUANCE ASKED BY OPPOSITION IN CASE FIRST SET FOR APR. 14
The opposition in the J. A. Schowalter case have asked for a continuance of the hearing previously scheduled for Wednesday, April 14, in the probate court of Harvey county. Herbert H. Sizemore, attorney for the estate announced this week.
All concerned parties agreed to the request and the postponement is for 60 days.
Near relatives of the late Mr. Schowalter have filed claim to the million dollar estate which he willed to three Mennonite conferences. The hearing, now postponed till June will determine whether or not the will can be broken.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 May 13 p. 1, 3
text of obituary:
Charter Issued at Topeka May 7
Action by the late J. A. Schowalter in leaving all of his $1,157,000 estate to three Mennonite conferences, culminated in the creation of The Schowalter Foundation, Inc., a non-profit religious charitable and educational organization, here last week.
Kenneth G. Spier, of the law firm Spier, Stroberg and Sizemore, drew up the articles of incorporation on behalf of the trustees of the estate and made application for the charter, which was issued at Topeka, Friday, May 7. The principal office of the foundation is to be located in Newton.
Mr. Schowalter, wealthy Harvey county farmer and stockman and member of the First Mennonite Church, died March 10, 1953. Beneficiaries of the estate are the General Conference of the Mennonite Church of North America; the Mennonite General Conference (old Mennonite); and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
The six elected representatives of the respective conferences will serve as the first officers of the foundation, namely: Orie A. Miller, Akron, Pa., chairman of the board; H. J. Andres, Newton, president and general manager; Attorney Herbert H. Sizemore, Newton, first vice-president and general counsel; Ernest Bachman, Newton, second vice-president and assistant manager; D. C. Buller, Halstead, third vice-president and assistant manager; C. L. Graber, Goshen, Ind. treasurer and Adin Holdeman, Hesston, secretary.
The trustees and incorporators deemed it advisable to form this foundation as a convenient method of handling the affairs of the estate and appropriately accomplish his objectives. Through it also recognition could be made of the rights and interests of Fred and Paulina Schowalter, brother and sister-in-law of the deceased Mr. Schowalter. Subsequently a $15,000 cash settlement and lease of specified property has been arranged with them, they relinquishing all further claims to the estate.
As for the litigation now pending in the Harvey County Probate Court, whereby four nephews and a niece of the donor seek to acquire a portion of the estate, the Wichita law firm of Lileston, Spradling, Gott & Stallwitz has been retained to represent the trustees and the foundation. The hearing is scheduled for sometime in June.
The By-Laws of The Schowalter Foundation, Inc. provide that each of the three interested conferences "shall be privileged in the future to elect (or re-elect) two members of The Foundation to replace or continue each of the above named (original members and officers) . . . ." Also that "the members of The Foundation may elect other members not designated or selected by the above named conferences or any of them; provided however, that the total number of such members so elected shall never exceed 4. . . . The members of the corporation shall never exceed 10 nor be less than 6."
All trustees, except Orie O. Miller, met in Newton last week to transact business in connection with the Schowalter estate.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Jun 10 p. 1
text of obituary:
Schowalter Hearing Again Postponed
NEW DATE TO BE SET FOR LATE THIS MONTH BY COURT
Hearing on the suit against the J. A. Schowalter estate pending in the Harvey County probate court has been postponed according to announcement made by the law firm of Spier, Stroberg and Sizemore, attorneys for the estate and also legal counsel for the three Mennonite conferences which were designated sole beneficiaries under the Schowalter will.
The hearing, previously set for Wednesday, June 16, now is to be held at such later date this month as the court will decide.
The postponement was made on the request of the opposition attorneys representing the Wichita heirs, children of a deceased brother, who brought the suit.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Ju1 1 p. 1
text of obituary:
Hearing In Schowalter Case Set For July 7
JUDGE SAM H. STURM JR. OF HARVEY CO. PROBATE COURT TO PRESIDE
Hearing in a petition to set aside the will of the late J. A. Schowalter, filed by a niece and three nephews has been set for Wednesday, July 7, 1:30 p.m., in the Harvey County probate court, Judge Sam H. Sturm jr. presiding.
The petitioners, three of whom reside in Wichita, ask that the will be declared "null and void. . . . and that the undivided one-half interest therein be awarded and assigned to these petitioners."
The hearing in the local court was postponed several times since filing of the petition on Dec. 31, 1953.
Mr. Schowalter, prominent Harvey county farmer and stockman who died March 10, 1953, left the burk [sic] of his $1,157,309 estate to three Mennonite conferences. The Newton law firm Spier, Stroberg & Sizemore serves as legal counsel for the estate.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Jul 15 p. 3
text of obituary:
Court Sets Aug. 15 Date for Briefs in Schowalter Case
Two-Day Hearing Held Last Week In Harvey County Probate Court
The Mennonite faith and doctrine, is or is not contrary to public interest and policy — was a point of major contention at the two-day hearing last week in the Harvey County probate court on the will of the late J. A. Schowalter.
The hearing, Probate Judge Sam H. Sturm presiding, began at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 7, and ended at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, July 8. The court handed down no decision in the case but attorneys for both sides were given until August 15 to file briefs in support of their arguments.
The hearing arose out of a petition filed Dec. 31, 1953, by three nephews and a niece of the deceased Mr. Schowalter claiming one-half of the $1,157,309 estate willed by him to the General Conference of the Mennonite Church, to the (Old) Mennonite General Conference, and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
Mr. Schowalter, well known Harvey County farmer and stockman, died March 10, 1953. He was a member of the Newton First Mennonite Church.
Attorneys D. Arthur Walker of Arkansas City and Milton Zacharias of Wichita represented the petitioning heirs. Defending the will were Herbert H. Sizemore and Kenneth G. Spier, Newton attorneys for the executors; Geo. Stallwitz, Wichita attorney for the trustees elected by the respective conferences, and Rodney Stone, representing "men in the armed services, unknown heirs and other persons."
Some 25 persons from in and around Newton attended the hearing throughout the two days.
Arguing that the will is "null and void." D. Arthur Walker, chief spokesman for the petitioning heirs, said "of all the wills we have ever seen . . . . we have never seen one as ambiguous and confused as this one." He held the floor for three hours on Wednesday afternoon and another hour and a half after the hearing was resumed Thursday morning.
Main reasons for setting the will aside, he contended, are: 1. It is void under the rule against perpetuities. (Based on contingencies it provides no valid passing of title); 2. It is ambiguous and unworkable; and 3. It is "contrary to the statutes of the state and nation" and "contrary to public policy."
As it turned out, Walker took the longest time and greatest effort in expounding point three. Reading from the General Conference Statement on Peace, War, Military Service and Patriotism, first adopted in 1941, he placed special emphasis on the word "nonresistance," then argued that "under the doctrine of nonresistance, the General Conference has construed that they will not buy war bonds, will not work in defense plants . . . . They are against ROTC. They are against contributing to the Red Cross . . . . They are against labor unions." All of which, he contended is contrary to public policy."
Kenneth G. Spier and Rodney Stone, attorneys supporting the will, answered that the title to the Schowalter estate does "vest absolutely in the trustees" and "this being a public trust, the rule of perpetuities does not apply." As supporting evidence Stone read from the First Amendment to the Kansas Constitution which guarantees liberty of conscience, adding that "the contention that the promotion of world peace is contrary to public policy is beyond my comprehension." "In fact," he said, "charitable religious and educational institutions are favorites of the law . . . . There will be no technicalities permitted to avoid the accomplishment of the purpose of this instrument."
Geo. Stallwitz, speaking on behalf of the trustees, pointed out that "all of the limitations in the Schowalter will . . . . are simply an admonition to the trustees as to how they should spend the income. Indefiniteness is by no means fatal to a charitable public trust." He termed the arguments against the will "an attack on the religion and principles of the Mennonite Church . . . . They (the Mennonites) have lived here in peace, they have built up the communities and certainly the things they have done are not against public policy." Spier emphasized one might as well argue that "the Christian faith is contrary to public policy."
Statements of military personnel on what constitutes public policy were introduced as exhibits by Milton Zacharias, to which attorneys for the estate and conferences objected as being "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial." The court, however, overruled the objections. A demurrer by counsel for the estate and a motion to dismiss the petition of the heirs-at-law was not acted upon by the court at this time. Court decision will likely await the briefs on law to be submitted by Aug. 15.
The million dollar Schowalter estate consists largely of farm lands, oil properties and sizeable holdings in Paraguay. Executors are A. C. Dettweiler, Halstead, and Wm. P. Schowalter, Jetmore. Trustees elected by the three designated conferences are H. J. Andres and Ernest Bachman, Newton; Adin Holdeman, Hesston, and D. C. Buller, Halstead, Orie O. Miller, Akron, Pa. and C. L. Graber, Goshen, Ind.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Oct 14 p. 1
text of obituary:
The last will and testament of J. A. Schowalter, deceased is "truly a public trust for religious charitable and educational purposes," and from it "far-reaching social improvements and great public benefits will result," declared Judge Sam H. Sturm of the Harvey County probate court in his "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" issued Monday Oct. 11. The Findings denied the petition of four contingent heirs who had asked that the will be declared "null and void.
The ruling in effect leaves the bulk of the $1,157,000 Schowalter estate to the three Mennonite conferences named in the will, the General Conference of the Mennonite Church, the (Old) Mennonite Conference, and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. All three are represented in the Schowalter Foundation, Inc., created expressly for the purpose of administering the trust.
The petitioners were three nephews and a niece of the late Mr. Schowalter, Harvey county farmer and stockman, who died March 10, 1953. Should they and their attorneys decide to appeal, the case will next go to the Harvey County district court.
In a letter to the parties involved, Sturm said, "the efforts of the court have been directed toward arriving at the intention of the testator by giving consideration to all parts of the will. After so doing his intention seems quite clear."
The American Bible Society, named a beneficiary under a residual provision, "has validly assigned its interest therein to the Schowalter Foundation, Inc." Sturm stated.
The petition by the heirs was filed on the last day of 1953 and the hearing held in the Newton court on July 7, 1954. The Schowalter estate consists mainly of Kansas farmlands, oil and gas properties and a considerable tract of land in Paraguay.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1955 Oct 20 p. 1
text of obituary:
Major Portion of Schowalter Estate Becomes Property of Churches
JUDGE STURM SIGNS ORDER TRANSFERRING KANSAS HOLDINGS TO SCHOWALTER FOUNDATION
Upward of $700,000 of Kansas real estate owned by the late J. A. Schowalter was legally transferred here this week to the Schowalter Foundation, Inc., and thereby to three Mennonite conferences, through an Order of Partial Distribution signed by Judge Sam Sturm of the Harvey County Probate Court.
Three Conferences Named
The three conferences becoming beneficiaries of the large estate are The General Conference Mennonite Church, The (Old) Mennonite Church, and the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
Jacob A. Schowalter, 73, wealthy Harvey county farmer and stockman, died March 10, 1953, leaving a will directing that his estate be held in trust by the three named bodies for religious and charitable purposes and for the promotion of world peace. He was a member of the Newton First Mennonite church.
“With all major indebtedness against the estate having been paid and all contingent claimants having released all claims, this sizeable distribution can be made at this time,” said Herbert H. Sizemore, of the law firm Spier, Stroberg & Sizemore, attorneys for the executors and trustees.
Excess of 7,500 Acres
Farm lands involved in the distribution total more than 7,500 acres and are located as follows: Harvey county, approximately 2,000 acres; Scott county, 2,200 acres; Sedgwick county, 560 acres, Sherman county, 880 acres; Stevens county, 2,100 acres. Included is also some property in the City of Newton.
Additional properties in Oklahoma and in Paraguay are to be handed over to the Foundation at a later date.
Trustees of the Schowalter Foundation, Inc. are H. J. Andres and Ernest Bachman, Newton, representing the General Conference; Orie O. Miller, Akron, Pa., and Albert Weaver, of near Hesston, representing the (Old) Mennonite conference; D. C. Buller, Halstead, and Adin Holdeman, Hesston, representing the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. Executors for the estate are A. C. Dettweiler, Halstead, and Wm. P. Schowalter, Newton.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1954 Dec 2 p. 6
text of obituary:
. . .
— An appeal from the recent ruling of the Harvey County Probate Court upholding the will of the late J. A. Schowalter has been filed in the Harvey County District Court, according to the office of the clerk of the district court. The will, leaving the bulk of the million dollar estate to three Mennonite conferences, is being contested by three nephews and a niece of Mr. Schowalter.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1957 Jun 13 p. 1
text of obituary:
$1,000,000 Estate Closed, Handed Over To Churches
PLEASED LARGE ESTATE CAN GO FOR SUCH SPLENDID CAUSE, SAYS JUDGE STURM IN SIGNING ORDER
Final disposition of the $1,000,000 J. A. Schowalter estate was made at the Harvey County court house Tuesday at 10:30 a. m. when Probate Judge Sam Sturm signed the order closing the estate and officially transferring the property into the hands of three designated Mennonite conferences.
"I am pleased and gratified that this large estate can be handed over to such splendid cause," said Judge Sturm as he signed the papers which now constitute a document of considerable Mennonite historic significance.
The three conferences named as beneficiaries are the (Old) Mennonite Church, the General Conference Mennonite church, and the Church of god in Christ, Mennonite, with title to the property held jointly through the Schowalter Foundation, Inc.
Present at the Tuesday hearing in the offices of Judge Sturm were H. J. Andres, administrator of the Schowalter Foundation, Inc., A. C. Dettweiler, executor, and attorneys Herbert H. Sizemore and Rodney Stone.
Extensive Land Holdings
The estate of the late J. A. Schowalter consists of extensive land holdings in central and western Kansas, some farm lands in Oklahoma and also a sizeable undeveloped acreage in Paraguay. Mr. Schowalter, wealthy Harvey county farmer and stockman, died March 10, 1953, leaving a will directing that his estate be held in trust by the three named bodies for religious and charitable purposes and for the promotion of world peace. He was a member of the Newton First Mennonite Church.
Trustees of the Schowalter Foundation, Inc. are: For the General Conference, H. J. Andres and Ernest Bachman, Newton; (Old) Mennonite Church, Orie O. Miller, Akron, Pa., and Al Weaver, Hesston; Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, Adin Holdeman, Hesston, and D. C. Buller, Halstead.
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1957 Jul 4 p. 1
text of obituary:
MILLION DOLLAR TRANSACTION — Judge Sam H. Sturm of the Harvey County Probate Court signs the order closing the $1,000,000 J. A. Schowalter estate and officially transferring the property into the hands of three Mennonite conferences. Looking on are (l. to r.) Atty. Herbert H. Sizemore, representing the estate, A. C. Dettweiler, one of the two appointed executors, H. J. Andres, administrator of the newly organized Schowalter Foundation, Inc., and Atty. Rodney Stone, representing unknown heirs, minors and disabled persons. The three Mennonite conferences to whom the estate was wille by the late mr. Schowalter are The (Old) Mennonite Church, The General Conference Mennonite Church, and The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.