Alfred A. Benitz Page last modified:
Missing cover

(Courtesy of A.M. Benitz)

“Alfred Benitz
Pioneer, Sportsman and Gentleman”
1952

No parrot pic.

Don Alfredo
and his inseparable “Perico”

(circa 1935 - Photograph by George R. Daly)

In the table below, click the Page with the chapter you wish to view.
The Preface and our comments are included below the table.

Web Chapters Years Ages Events Places
Page 0 Cover, Title Page, Preface, Contents, & Transcriber observations.
Page 1 1-5 1845-1874 0-15 Family history & youth. Ft. Ross & Oakland, California, USA
Page 2 6-10 1875-1876 16-17 Emigration & settling into Argentina, father dies. Panama, New York, Southampton, Buenos Aires, Rosario, Estancia “La California”
Page 3 11-13 1876-1880 17-21 The family business, Charlie & Uncle Frank die, Willie marries. Ea. “La California”, Santa Fé, Argentina
Page 4 14-16 1881-1897 22-38 Hunts, expansion north, Indian chases, Frank & Herman die. Calchaquí, Saladillo & Toba rivers, Laguna Yacaré, Ea. “Los Palmares”
Page 5 17-20 1898-1937 39-78 More growth, Travels, & Marriage. Europe, USA, Africa, Yukon, Ea. “Las Tres Lagunas”, “El Rincon”, Patagonia, Chile
Page 6 Appendix Bibliography, Glossary, & Illustrations
Page 7 The Chronicles of Alfred Benitz, 1815 - 1937

Published by Olga Benitz
“La California”, Argentina
1952

Printed by C. J. Austen
in collaboration with and in the printing establishment of
Perelló, S.R.L., Corrientes 432, Rosario,
the 20th December, 1952.
 
[Ghost written by Eileen Benitz,
based on the original draft,
The Chronicles of Alfred Benitz, 1815 - 1937,
compiled by Lillian Marsh-Simpson,
May 1st., 1938.]

DEDICATED TO MY HUSBAND
OLGA BENITZ

PREFACE

This book gives the story of the life of Don Alfredo Benitz, or Uncle Alfred, as he was known to so many of the young in this country, besides his many nephews and nieces. It is compiled directly from his own diaries, and from information given by those fortunate enough to have heard of some of his adventures from him personally.

He was a naturally quiet and reticent man, and it took many questions and much prompting to draw from him the bare outlines of episodes which others might have turned into stories of danger and excitement.

He undoubtedly inherited much of his love for open spaces and wild life from his parents, Californian pioneers, and he spent many years of his young life working in the Chaco. In those days, this entailed protecting yourself and your cattle and particularly your horses, from attack; by Indians and wild animals. He also hunted big game in Africa, Northern Alaska and the Yukon, before he finally settled down to the more peaceful, if still energetic, life of managing his estancia.

To all those who knew him he will be remembered with affection as a shy, retiring man; uncritical of others, and full of those great gifts: kindliness and charity.

E. B.

CONTENTS

  Preface
1 The Beginning
2 The Miners
3 The Family Grows
4 Life in Oakland
5 The Last Days in America
6 The Voyage to New Horizons
7 Argentina and some of its History
8 Buenos Aires
9 Rosario
10 Pioneering Again
11 Frank’s Diary
12 Life on the Pampas
13 The Growth of a Family and of a Nation
14 A Hunting Expedition and Life on the Estancia
15 Cattle-Raising in the Chaco
16 Argentina at the Turn of the Century
17 Argentina in the 20th Century
18 Travels and Big Game Hunting
19 Marriage and Further Travels
20 Finis
  Bibliography
  Glossary of Spanish Terms
  Appendix of Illustrations
   

Transcriber’s Notes & Observations

  1. Included in these web-pages is the complete transcription of the biography.  Tony Benitz kindly lent us his copy of the biography so that we could scan it.
  2. Words and notes between square brackets are our observations not in the original text, [e.g. acres converted to hectares]. Where we found factual errors, we point to another document on the Benitz web-site with the correct information.
  3. Other changes:
    • Inserted the photos, etc. from the “Appendix of Illustrations” with the matching text.
    • Indented quotes from letters, diaries, etc. to make them stand out and break up the text to make it easier to read on the web.
  4. Quotes from Alfred’s diaries are not verbatim.  We strongly recommend verifying dates and quotes with the un-edited diaries, which we are adding to the Benitz website (page images in PDF format, and text transcribed verbatim).  A few quotes are flat incorrect, have been merged, or come from a combination of sources; we flag these as we find them.  Most changes to quotes do not alter their original meaning.  The biographer edited quotes to improve their readability: grammar and spelling were changed, words were added or omitted, quotation marks were added, tense was standardised to past (whereas Alfred often mixed his tenses past and present), Spanglish terms were translated into standard English, and accent marks were added to Spanish words.
  5. Please bear in mind the biography was published in 1952 in Argentina by and for Anglo - Argentines fifteen years after Uncle Alfred’s death in 1937.  Though modified considerably from the original draft of May, 1938, it is much more readable.  The original draft, The Chronicles of Alfred Benitz, 1815 - 1937, is largely composed of entries from his diaries - we have appended it to the biography (see list of web-pages above).
  6. The biography was always subject to Auntie Olga’s editorial whims. Yet, whatever her shortcomings as an editor, thanks to Auntie Olga’s efforts we have a biography that remains the best organized record of (Californian-Argentine) Benitz family history of Uncle Alfred’s generation.  That said, here are some notable omissions:
    • It is impossible to believe Uncle Alfred had no love interests during 40 of his most virile years, from age 15 in 1874 (when Bella Williams was the recipient of his Valentine Day’s card) until age 56 in 1915 (when he married Olga B. Horner, Auntie Olga).  There are some intriguing gaps in the diaries, and, per family anecdotes, Alfred was certainly not celibate.
    • The biography makes no mention of Auntie Olga’s brother Humphrey’s children (John, Mary, & Willie Horner) whom she & Alfred took in after Humphrey’s death and whom she adopted after Alfred’s death.
  7. Complementing Alfred’s biography is that of his brother John Benitz by Carlos Alberto Foglia (1997), Juan Benitz, de California a Woodgate. La historia de un pionero 1860-1916; it contains illuminating insights into how the family was viewed by outsiders.
  8. Chapter notes:
    • Chapters 1 - 3: For more detail see the Wilhelm Benitz web pages for his letters (several referenced here), as well as court proceedings, newspaper articles, county histories, etc. 
    • Chapter 7: Argentine history, from the discovery by Spanish adventurers to the arrival of the Benitz family.
      • If you are interested in its general history, we recommend: Breve historia de los argentinos, by Félix Luna, 1993, Editorial Planeta Argentina, Buenos Aires, chapters VI - X discuss the 1880-1930’s period.
      • If you are interested in the history of estancias (ranches), read Los Estancieros, by María Sáez Quesada, 1980, Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, in particular chapters V & VI describe the British “gentleman farmer” estancieros of that time.
    • Chaptes 14 : Mistakenly places a hunting trip in the La Pampa and Córdoba provinces — it took place in northern Santa Fé west of the Calchaquí river.
    • Chapter 15: Alfred and his brothers claimed ownership to a league of their older brother Frank J. Benitz’s failed Colonia Espín near the former Laguna Yacaré (1884-1889); however, Alfred was evicted end of 1889.  He moved his stock onto land rented from the Santa Fé Land Co. (a.k.a. La Forestal).  This second camp, between the Salado and Calchaquí rivers, became estancia “Los Palmares.”  See his diaries for the years mentioned.  The biography has merged the two camps, speaking of them as if they were one and the same, they are not.  Alfred eventually bought “Los Palmares” in 1904; the brothers’ previous offers in 1894-1896 were turned down.
    • Chapter 15: Colonia California was founded in 1866, near San Javier (SFé).  “Uncle Frank” (Franz Xavier Benitz) was one of its founding members.  For more about the colonies of American and British settlers in northern Santa Fé, see our Franz X. Benitz biography.
    • Chapters 18 & 19: see John Todd’s recollections about their travels together.  The biography mistakenly places their 1908 hunting trip in Alaska (US), it took place in the Yukon (Canada).  See our transcription of Alfred’s notes and diaries.
    • Chapters 18 & 19: Alfred’s camp on the Rio Bermejo was “Campo Winter,” not “El Bermejo.”  Estancia “El Bermejo” was next to it and was managed by Alfred’s brother John for a group of English & Scottish investors (see the diaries of Alfred & John).

Click here for the first chapter.


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)