Ernst Scherff Papers
Manuscript Collection: MC026
Born at Goettingen, Prussia, March 31, 1826, Ernst Scherff emigrated with his widowed mother and two siblings to the United States in 1849. After living in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, they settled in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1855 where Scherff became a clerk in the Ferguson Brothers General Store at 200 West San Antonio Street. He married Sophie Reich on October 15, 1859. When the Ferguson brothers died, Scherff bought the store from the heirs and reopened it in November 1860 under his own name.
Prevented by poor health from serving in the Confederate Army, Scherff conducted business in one of the two general stores kept open during the Civil War. On December 14, 1864, he moved into the Gustav Conrads building on the town square and became the largest store in New Braunfels. The railroad came to New Braunfels in 1880 and Scherff began to order merchandise by the carload. Between 1881 and 1887, he controlled a monopoly on all the beer sold to the saloons in town. In 1883, he constructed a new store beside the old building. Scherff retired in June 1887 selling the business to his clerks, George Knoke, his nephew, and George Eiband, who changed the name of the business to Knoke and Eiband. Ernst Scherff died June 9, 1897, at age 71. He is buried in the Comal Cemetery, New Braunfels, Texas.
A variant spelling of "Scherff" is "Sherff." Further information about Ernst Scherff can be obtained from the Sophienburg Museum and Archives, 200 Seguin, New Braunfels, Texas 78130.
Correspondence, financial documents, and printed materials (1860-1881) document the business dealings of Ernst Scherff, dealer in dry goods, groceries, and general merchandise, between 1860 and 1887 in New Braunfels, Texas. Written almost entirely in German, the correspondence records transactions between Scherff and wholesale suppliers in San Antonio, Houston, and Indianola, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and New York, New York. The forty-seven bills of lading in the papers record various means of moving goods from wholesale suppliers to retail establishments. Financial documents include invoices, checks, receipts, and statements. An affidavit from Maryland attests that goods being shipped to Scherff were never in a Yellow Fever district in 1878. Eighty-six circulars (1867-1878) and seventy-seven price lists (1867-1874) document the types of goods being offered for sale along with the prices of the times. Six advertisements (circa 1866-1878) contain illustrations of farm machinery, carriages, wagons, guns, and dry goods.
Of the 717 documents, 390 were glued to the pages of two apparel catalogs from 1936 and have not been removed. There is no discernible arrangement to these documents.
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Terms Governing Use
Open for research by appointment.
Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jacinto Museum of History. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jacinto Museum of History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.
[Identification of Item], Ernst Scherff Papers, MC026, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.
Gift of C. M. Fischer, 1952.
Processed by Sarah Canby Jackson, 2001.