In his absence , with no foreman in charge, his workmen could not be relied upon to keep up the standards and when new less skilled workmen replaced the older ones quality suffered and poor instruments were produced.
About 1895 Schall suffered a stroke and had to close his business down. He eventually recovered but for several years suffered from chronic rheumatism and partial paralysis. In 1905 his health had improved enough for him to open a small banjo shop (over which he lived alone) and he started to make banjos by himself for professional players although orders were scarce. He did make a banjo for Bert Earl in 1907.
He died in dramatic circumstances in around 1907 when he was 55. He had just completed two banjos for an act appearing at the Olympic Theatre in Chicago and the players invited him to hear their performance.
Occupying a front seat on the balcony he was listening intently to the instruments he had made when he suddenly rose out of his seat with a choking cry and appeared that he would fall over the balcony when he collapsed to the floor. Ushers rushed to his aid and carried him into the foyer where they attempted to resuscitate him. The act on stage had continued unaware that Schall was dying on the balcony.
Once he partially gained consciousness , opened his eyes and murmured “I can go home now” and as the act on stage burst into the last bars of a popular song JB Schall breathed his last.
Images courtesy of the estate of Richard Evans