Wilhelm Böniz and Josefa Kollmerer are the primary ancestors to all who have Benitz ancestors born in California before 1874 and in Argentina after 1874.
Both emigrated from Endingen, in Baden (Germany), Wilhelm to New York (1833), Texas (by 1836), then California (1842), Josefa to North Carolina (1833), Missouri (1840), then California (by wagon train with her parents in 1845).
They married, in 1846, and lived at Fort Ross (California) where all their children were born; and where Wilhelm began creating his wealth via real estate transactions, farming & ranching, and investments in mining.
In 1867 William sold Fort Ross and the family moved to Oakland for the schooling of their children — and better business opportunities. By 1874, when they left for Argentina, he had doubled his net worth through investments in real estate and mining.
In 1875 he bought the land that became estancia “La California” (Santa Fé), stocked it, and built a magnificent family home. He died the next year. He left his family well established but lacking his vision and strong shrewd leadership. A significant part of his capital still needed to be reinvested.
Josephine took charge for the next 5+ years. Though strong willed, she was unable to prevent son Frank from bringing near ruin to the family in 1881. He and two other sons died but her remaining four children did very well. Continuing in the pioneering spirit of their parents, three sons became wealthy landowners. Josephine died at age 82 in 1912 — at “Villa Josefina”, her summer home in the hills of Córdoba.
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)