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Operational Archives Branch
Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060


Papers of Chief Commissary Steward
Joseph Scherf,
1907-1933



Biographical Note 

Joseph Scherf was born on 24 October 1886 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  He was the second child born to his parents, Henry Scherf and Caroline Herbst Scherf.  He enlisted in the United States Navy on 9 August 1907 at a recruiting station in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Scherf's first assignment was that of a commissaryman on USS Franklin from 6 December 1907 until his transfer to USS Alabama on 3 November 1908.  He remained on Alabama for less than two months, and was serving on USS Hancock by 22 December.  He remained on Hancock until 7 February of the following year, when he reported to USS Constellation.  His services on Constellation lasted slightly more than a year, and on 12 April 1910 he began a brief tour on USS Dixie.   8 August 1911 marked Scherf's first shore duty at Pensacola Navy Yard, after which he was stationed at the Navy Recruiting Station in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

On 11 December 1911 he returned to Franklin for slightly more than a month before being assigned to USS Buffalo on 21 January 1912.  On 1 April 1912 Scherf began service on USS Saratoga, which was stationed in Shanghai, China from August 1913 until 12 December 1915.  During this time Scherf was advanced to the rate of Ship's Cook First Class, and the following year he was appointed Commissary Steward. Scherf was assigned briefly to USS Helena, also in Shanghai, in December 1915.  He then returned to USS Saratoga, where he was awarded the title of Commissary Steward.  In June 1916 Scherf extended his enlistment for an additional four years and commenced duty on USS North Carolina.  He served these four years on North Carolina before again reenlisting in 1920. 

Scherf was next stationed at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida from 7 June 1920 until 6 July 1921, where he was awarded the Good Conduct Bar.  He reported to USS Colorado on 3 July 1924, and while serving on Colorado was given several more awards for excellent conduct and performance.

After retiring from active duty, Joseph Scherf was employed as a civilian in the Supply Department of the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as Stockman, Class D in charge of the appropriation of Maintenance, Supplies, and Accounts.


Scope and Content Note 

The Papers of Joseph Scherf are comprised of correspondence, photographs, services records, publications, and personal effects of Joseph Scherf. 

This collection is organized into six series. Series I is a personal file. The folders are divided by subject and arranged alphabetically.  Located within these files is Scherf's request for and copy of his birth certificate from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  Personal documents regarding pension and insurance plans can also be found here, along with personal letters written to and by Joseph Scherf.  

Series II, Commissary, contains a variety of documents from the ships Scherf was stationed on.  Among the items in this series are menus from USS Saratoga, Helena, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, and Pensacola Naval Air Station.  Included also is material regarding the organization of the Supply Department on USS Colorado, which outlines the duties of such figures as the Chief Commissary Steward, Shopkeeper, and the assistant to disbursing.   Documents concerning food standards and daily rations have also been placed in this series. This series is also a subject file and is arranged alphabetically. 

Series III, Service, contains letters of recommendation written for Scherf, several of these letters tell of his exemplary service on USS Colorado and Saratoga.   Scherf's original service records along with several Petty Officer Appointment certificates, letters of appointment to the Supply Department, and items regarding his Veteran’s affairs are also contained within this series.

Series IV, Publications, holds publications on USS Colorado.  Included are numerous church bulletins from several holidays and regular masses.  A press release from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba gives news briefs from major world cities including baseball scores and officer orders. Several newspaper articles detail Colorado's trip to Norfolk and Manhattan from the Pacific for repairs.  

Series V, Miscellaneous, contains personal items including a hand-written recipe, several liberty cards issued to Scherf, Duke University Athletic Association tickets from 1930, and receipts.

Series VI, Pictures, contain a variety of photographs arranged by subject.  The majority is from Scherf's time in Shanghai and the China Sea.  There are many photographs of ships and various locations in Asia. Locations and dates have, in most cases, been provided by Scherf, who has written on the front of the photos. This series continues in an oversized box, which contains wedding photographs of Scherf and his wife, Beulah Anderson Scherf, and a 1924 photograph of USS Colorado.


Preferred Citation

Papers of Joseph Scherf, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington D.C.


Subject Headings (LCSH)

United States. Navy--Stewards.
Cookery, Military.
United States. Navy--Messes.
Colorado (Battleship : BB-45).
Helena (Gunboat).
Saratoga (Ex-U.S.S. New York) (Armored Cruiser No. 2).
North Carolina (Armored Cruiser : ACR-12).
California (Battleship : BB-44).
United States. Navy--Religious life.


04 June 2003