Biography of John Schalker, Sr.
John Schalker, Sr. Among the names which have become indelibly impressed upon the recent commercial history of Leavenworth, one of the most prominent is that of Schalker, in connection with the Schalker Packing Company. This concern, the growth of which had been phenomenal, and which had only lately doubled its operations, was founded by John Schalker, Jr., and Austin Schalker, sons of John Schalker, Sr., a resident of Leavenworth since 1883.
John Schalker, Sr., was born June 2, 1858, in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland, and is one of five children born to Jacob and Susan (Widmer) Schalker. His youth was passed after the manner of Swiss boys and at an early age he started to learn the trade of iron moulder. When he was twenty-three years of age he left his native land and came to the United States, where he soon found employment at his trade at Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1883 he changed his residence to Leavenworth, Kansas, and, with the exception of one year spent in farming in Missouri, had lived here ever since. For a number of years Mr. Schalker was employed in the wholesale grocery house of Rohlfing & Company, but since 1898 had been engaged in the retail grocery business. He is one of the highly esteemed citizens of his community, a dependable and reliable man in business affairs, whose integrity is unquestioned and whose reputation is unassailable. He belongs to the German Evangelical Church and in his political views is independent. Mr. Schalker was married October 26, 1887, to Miss Agnes Trollman, a member of one of the old families of this locality, and they are the parents of five children: John, Jr., Austin, Helen, Bernice and Agnes.
John Schalker, Jr., is a native of Leavenworth, Kansas, as are also his brother and sisters. He was born December 14, 1888, and secured his education in the public schools, being graduated from the Leavenworth High School in 1908. At once, in partnership with Harold D. Stiles, he embarked in the wholesale meat business, under the firm name of the Schalker-Stiles Meat Company. The aggregate capital of the firm at the start was about $600, but the business was successful from its inception, and in January, 1910, they found it necessary to increase their quarters, and therefore rented the old Ryan packing plant and began slaughtering extensively. This business also grew and prospered, but eight months later the plant was destroyed by fire and the partnership was mutually dissolved.
The Schalker Packing Company, with John Schalker, Jr., and Austin Schalker, co-partners, was then organized and had since become one of the leading business establishments of Leavenworth. The old Ryan plant was rebuilt for the new concern, but at the end of five years the business had grown to such an extent that they were compelled to seek a new place of business. The business was accordingly reorganized and incorporated for $50,000, and the present two-story and basement reinforced concrete and brick structure was built. The plant is not the largest of its kind in Kansas, but it is inferior to none for its size. It is operated throughout with electrically driven motors.
In November, 1916, Orsino and Romeo Giacomini, father and son, acquired a half-interest in the corporation, and as a result the output of the plant and the number of men now employed will be nearly doubled within a few months. The new members of the firm began taking an active part in the direction of the business December 1. The deal was made by the Schalker brothers in order to secure additional capital with which to increase the output of the plant, and the newcomers invested an amount equal to that already invested by the Schalkers. The concern had continued under the same name, with the new official personnel being in order: John Schalker, Jr., president; Austin Schalker, vice president; Orsino Giacomini, treasurer; Miss E. M. Connor, secretary; Romeo Giacomini, assistant secretary. Prior to the reorganization, the company employed approximately 50 men and handled between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of meat a day. Since then the business had been nearly doubled, and it is believed that it will be tripled at not a far distant date. Since the erection of the plant at Third and Choctaw streets, Leavenworth had had one of the most modern and up-to-date packing establishments in the country. All machinery and equipment are of the latest type, being the same as is used by the great packing concerns of Kansas City and Chicago, and only those who have personally inspected the building realize what a complete and modern concern it is. The capacity is much larger than the average person who sees the building only from the outside would estimate. It can handle in one day 400 hogs, 100 cattle, 50 sheep and 50 calves, and even if run at only half capacity can furnish a market for all the farmers of the surrounding territory. It had already been a great aid to both farmers and city in this way, saving the grower the trouble and expense of shipping to Kansas City, and at the same time bringing him to this city to trade. Another important feature of the institution is its cold storage department. It is the only up-to-date storage house in the city, and had been of the greatest aid to farmers and commission merchants. Since the Schalker brothers began their business at the old packing house on South Second Street, they have been great business boosters of Leavenworth. The erection of the new brick building and the increase in output had made their concern a recognized factor in the business life of the city and since its reorganization on a bigger and stronger basis the company had become one of the city’s most valuable assets.
John Schalker, Jr., was married May 14, 1914, to Miss Esther Stockton, of Leavenworth, and they are the parents of one daughter: Lucile Elizabeth.
Austin Schalker, vice president of the Schalker Packing Company, and one of the live and progressive among the younger business element of Leavenworth, was born in this city January 24, 1891. He was graduated from the Leavenworth High School with the class of 1910, and immediately thereafter began his connection with the packing business, in which he had continued to be engaged without interruption. He is unmarried.