Showalter (Schowalter) family

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Showalter (Schowalter) is a Mennonite family name of Swiss origin found in the Palatinate and across the border in Alsace, chiefly at Deutschhof, Kaplaneihof, Schafbusch, and Geisberg. In 1717 a Bernard Schowalter lived at Lambsheim, Palatinate. About 1720 a Johannes Schowalter was living at Geisberg and a Peter Schowalter at Schafbusch. In 1740 a Christian Schowalter lived at Mechtersheimerhof. About 1750 a Jakob (Christian Schowalter) came to the Haftelhof. In 1787 a Joseph Schowalter of Klein-Bunderbach near Zweibrücken purchased the Kaplaneihof, where there are still four Schowalter families. In 1794 Jakob Schowalter purchased part of the Deutschhof. Pastors Otto Schowalter of Hamburg and Paul Schowalter of Weierhof stem from the latter two communities. In 1936 Schowalter, with 98 persons, was the third most common name in the Mennonite congregations of the Palatinate, exceeded only by Krehbiel and Stauffer. The chief congregations with numerous Schowalters were Deutschhof-Geisberg (24), Monsheim-Obersülzen (20), Neudorferhof (17), and Ludwigshafen (8).

Christian Schowalter (1828-1907), a prominent minister and leader in the formation of the General Conference Mennonite Church in the 1860s, pastor at Donnellson, Iowa, 1861-1907, came from Assenheim in the Palatinate to America in 1850. Jacob A. Schowalter (1879-1953), a General Conference layman of Halstead and Newton, Kansas, born at Friedelsheim in the Palatinate, came to Kansas in 1883, served in the Kansas State Legislature 1934-1938, and established upon his death the J. A. Schowalter Foundation, a charitable trust for Mennonite purposes, with assets in the 1950s of some $1,200,000.

In 1750 five Schowalters arrived on the Brotherhood at Philadelphia—Jacob Sr., Jacob, John, Christian, and Peter. By 1759 Jacob Sr., John, and Joseph owned land in Whitehall Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Jacob Sr. being a leader in the newly established Siegfried (MC) congregation. The removal of John, Joseph, and Jacob (Jr.?) in 1771 to other places was a severe blow to the congregation, which soon died out. Of Jacob Sr.'s eight sons, Christian Showalter moved to Lancaster County, Peter and Jacob Showalter died in Bucks County, John and Joseph Showalter in Chester County, Pennsylvania, while three, Daniel, Valentine, and Ulrich Showalter, moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. Three Showalters were preachers in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Joseph (d. ca. 1802) at Charlestown (MC) and John and Daniel (d. 1840) at Phoenixville (MC). In 1824 David was a trustee at Charlestown. Additional immigrants were John (1744) and Christian (1764) Schowalter. The original Showalters have apparently died out in Eastern Pennsylvania.

In 1788 Daniel Showalter, apparently ancestor of most of the Virginia Mennonite Showalters and the few Mennonite Church families by this name living farther west, settled near Broadway, in Rockingham County, Virginia. Among his descendants are an unusual number of Mennonite ministers. Serving the Northern District churches in the Shenandoah Valley were his son Daniel (1802-1889) Showalter and the latter's grandson, George B. Showalter (1859-1931). Four of George's sons have served in the same area: Bishop Timothy Showalter (1887-1957), G. Paul Showalter (1890- ), Lewis P. Showalter (1890- ), and Mark Showalter (1891- ), and a daughter, Elizabeth Showalter, served as editor at the Mennonite Publishing House at Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Three grandsons of George B. Showalter are also Mennonite ministers: Elmer Showalter at Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Omar Showalter at Pipersville, Pennsylvania, and Paul Showalter at Wooster, Ohio. A great-grandson of the first Daniel, Earl Showalter (1890- ), served at La Junta, Colorado, and elsewhere. A younger descendant, Richard L. Showalter, served at Perryton, Texas. Mary Emma Showalter, a great-granddaughter of the first Daniel and a daughter of Howard D. H. Showalter, was professor at Eastern Mennonite College, and Amos M. Showalter, a great-grandson of Daniel and son of Cyrus who moved from Virginia to Kansas in 1910, was professor at James Madison College, both of Harrisonburg, Virginia.


Crous, Franz. "Mennonitenfamilien in Zahlen." Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter 5 (1940): 26-45.

Schrag, Robert. "The Story of a Mennonite Millionaire, Jacob A. Schowalter 1879-1953." Mennonite Life 11 (1957): 64-69.

Showalter, Elizabeth. Our Family, Facts of the George B. Showalter Family. 1955.

Showalter, P. M. Family Record of the Showalters. Maugansville, Md., 1943.

Wenger, J. C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. ScottdaLe, Pa.: Mennonite Pub. House, 1938. Reprinted Lititz, PA?: Publication Board of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church], 1985.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1958

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MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Showalter (Schowalter) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 22 Jul 2024.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1958). Showalter (Schowalter) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 July 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 516-517. All rights reserved.

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