Eiband & Fischer Store
The 2011 address of the location under consideration is currently: 263 E. Main Plaza, New Braunfels, Texas, 78130. The business which became Eiband & Fischer, Inc, originated in 1846, one year after New Braunfels was founded, when a mercantile company was moved from the island of St Thomas by two young men, James Ferguson and Henry Hessler. This mercantile company stood on the corner of Castell and San Antonio Streets. By 1858 both men had died, and Ernst Scherff, an employee, purchased the business from Ferguson’s widow and changed the name to Ernst Scherff Mercantile. In 1864, six years later, Scherff moved the business to the center of town on the corner of the Main Plaza and S. Seguin Streets, Lot #40, which he bought from Gustavus Conrads and wife, Anna.
Ernst Scherff, as sole owner, grew his business into one of the most successful in the state, doing business with farmers and ranchers from many nearby counties. The back lot of his business was a camp yard where the farmers could stay overnight for they usually could not make the trip to town and back in one day. Scherff also did business with companies as far away as New Orleans, St Louis, Galveston and even Chicago & Milwaukee. For the convenience of his many German customers he became an agent for the steamship line Lloyd, thereby establishing credit with New York banks.
Around 1880, Scherff brought his nephew, George Knoke from Germany to learn the business, since Scherff had no heirs. In 1887 he leased the business to George Knoke and George Eiband, an employee, and the business became known as Knoke & Eiband
The Eiband & Fischer Mercantile was completely consumed by fire on 2 March 1947, the main building burning to the ground except for a few brick walls which remained standing. Apparently a motor used for various coolers and freezers in the grocery department overheated and caught fire in the basement. The fire spread rapidly because of the oiled floors on the main level to control the dust. The glass skylight soon broke from the heat and created a chimney for the fire. Several fire departments from surrounding communities came to help the local fire department, but still one man died and three others were injured by the flames. An annex was saved because it was separated by a courtyard from the main building. This annex was used to house what could be salvaged after the fire, so the business was able to continue until 1959. There was a mercantile business at this location for a total of 95 years when adding the twelve years that the business continued after the fire.