Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Ernst Scherff Papers

Manuscript Collection: MC026

Collection Summary

Creator: Scherff, Ernst, 1826-1897
Title: Ernst Scherff papers
Dates: 1860-1881
(Bulk: 1868-1876)
Abstract: The Ernst Scherff Papers document the business of a dealer in dry goods, groceries, and general merchandise in New Braunfels, Texas, 1860-1887.
Identification: MC026
OCLC Record No.: 47139248
Quantity: 1 box (.4 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English and German.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

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.

Scope and Content Note

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.


Organized into seven series; arrangement is alphabetical, chronological, and by subject.


Restrictions on Access


Terms Governing Use

Open for research by appointment.

Publication Rights

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.

Index Terms

Knoke, George
Scherff, Ernst, 1826-1897
Evans, Gardner & Co.
G. Seegligson (Firm)
Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company
H. Runge and Co. (Indianola, Tex.)
J.M. Lewis & Co.
J.W. Sheerer & Co.
Jehial Read & Co.
Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company
R.W. Rood & Sons
Schmidt & Ziegler (Firm)
St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway Company
Stromeyer & Co.
Wagner & Rummel (Firm)
Western Railway of Alabama
Freight and freightage--Texas
General stores--Texas--Archives
New Braunfels (Tex.)--Archives
New Orleans price current
New Orleans cotton and produce circular

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Ernst Scherff Papers, MC026, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.


Gift of C. M. Fischer, 1952.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Canby Jackson, 2001.



box folder
28 1 H. Runge & Co. 1861-1871
2 Stromeyer & Co. 1867
3 General: A-H 1861-1875
4 General: L-T 1861-1879
5 General: U-Z 1868-1876
6 Sent 1876-1877
7 Mandelbaum & Frank to George Knoke 1876
8 Telegrams 1869-1876
9 Note 1875

Correspondence: Scrapbooks

range shelf
14 5 Scrapbook. "Apparel Arts / Fall 1936" 262 documents with no apparent arrangement circa 1860-1877
5 Scrapbook. "Lord Baltimore / BALTO Clothes" 128 documents with no apparent arrangement circa 1860-1877


box folder
28 10 Bills of Lading: G. H. & S. A. R. W. Co. 1876
11 Bills of Lading: H. Runge & Co. 1860-1872
12 Bills of Lading: Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. R. 1876
13 Bills of Lading: St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern R. R. 1876
14 Bills of Lading: Steamships 1868-1876
15 Bills of Lading: Western R. R. of Alabama 1876
16 Bills of Lading: General 1867-1876
17 Checks 1875
18 Invoices 1860-1868
19 Invoices 1872-1875
20 Receipts: Business 1864-1875
21 Receipts: Personal 1875-1881
22 Receipts: Tax 1870-1875
23 Statements 1868, 1876


box folder
28 24 Affidavit 1878

Printed Materials: Advertisements

box folder
28 25 General circa 1866-1878

Printed Materials: Circulars

box folder
28 26 New Orleans Cotton and Produce Circular 1868, 1873
27 General 1867-1869
28 General 1871-1878
29 New Orleans Price Current 1867
30 New Orleans Price Current 1868
31 New Orleans Price Current 1871 January 5
32 New Orleans Price Current 1871 June 12; 1873
33 Postcards, Undated Circulars 1878-1881, undated

Printed Materials: Price Lists

box folder
28 34 Evans, Gardner & Co. 1870-1871
35 J. M. Lewis & Co. 1871-1873
36 Jehial Read & Co. 1871
37 R. W. Rood & Sons 1872-1873
38 H. Runge & Co. 1868
39 H. Runge & Co. 1873
40 Schmidt & Ziegler 1873
41 G. Seegligson 1871-1873
42 J. W. Sheerer & Co. 1871, 1873
43 Wagner & Rummel 1868-1873
44 General 1867-1874
45 General undated