On trips to England, Alfred always took time to visit John at his home. See Alfred's diaries and his biography, in particular chapters 15 through 20.
John’s pursuits in Argentina are recapped in the following paragraph taken from the article "Tussle with a Lion. - Cumberland Big Game Hunter’s experiences", published in The Standard (Buenos Aires), Tuesday, September 28, 1915:
“The hunter, Mr. John Todd, has many friends in this country, he having been for some time on the Estancia Rafango at Las Rosas, Santa Fe and afterwards for some years in La Cesira V.M.R. as manager of the Estancia Esmeralda belonging to the late Mr. John Duggan, and afterwards as manager of a gold mine in Choele-Choele.”
[ Click here to see the full article.]
Below are some of John's own recollections of his experiences in Argentina (1887-1900+), and of his travels, hunting expeditions, and other anecdotes as they relate to Alfred A. Benitz (1859-1937). These recollections were very kindly provided to us by his great-grandson, Chris Owen (for more information, see Benitz Queries). We also have two other accounts of his (in which Alfred did not take part), to the Yukon in 1905 and to the Sudan in 1920 that we will add in due course.
When on the Empress of Ireland (C.O.: a ship I presume!!!!!) one day I was thinking about Alfred Benitz, or Don Alfredo as he is called in the Argentine and about the many shoots I had had with him; we had arranged to meet on the 25th at the Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver.
Thinking about him brings up the whole of the ten years to my mind that I spent in the Argentine, and at once takes me back to the year 1887 when I first landed in Buenos Ayres (sic) in the month of February. I remember that I went out on the SS Caxton, Tamport & Holt line, that we took 34 days getting to Buenos Ayres, that I took the first job offered to me, that of a common workman on a ranch near the capital, that I stayed there three months, during which I picked up the Spanish language pretty quickly: after this I got the post of second on another ranch: this I kept for about 2.5 years, when I got the management of a ranch and so on.
After 4.5 years steady work I began to think of a holiday up north in territory of the Chaco where Alfred Benitz had a frontier ranch which at that time was in wild Indian country, being in fact on the southern edge of the limiting ground of a tribe of wild Indians called the "Mataccos". These were in the habit of making raids on the nearest ranches, stealing horses, and occasionally killing anyone who stood in their way.
Well, I see there is no help for it, I must go right back to August 1890: that was about the time of the revolution of that year, during which I had to ride into Rosario to see the owner of the ranch I was managing; this was none other than Mr. A. S. Hall, a prominent man in Rosario and a very kind, honest, straightforward man into the bargain. After being turned more than once by troops with gattling guns that were posted in certain parts of town, I managed to get to Mr. Hall's office and made arrangements for another man to take charge of the ranch for a month or so while I was away on holiday. However I did not get out of town at once, Mr. Hall sending me to a large warehouse to help weigh out sugar, biscuits, meat, in fact necessities to the wives of the Rosario soldiers who had been killed in this revolution in which one of the Rosario regiments suffered very heavily Having completed my arrangements, the revolution being over and the trains running again, I left Rosario for Santa Fe with rifle, saddle and other necessary equipment for camping out.
However I now think it would be easier to turn to an old diary and copy from it, my memory being a bit hazy about events which happened 19 years ago. I must say, however, in further explanation, that these diaries give a short account of three out of four hunts that I had up in the Chaco; of the fourth I am unable to find a record. I have also hunted "Guanaco" in the Andes, which I have crossed eight times over five different passes. This was during 2.5 years spent in the Neuquen territory where I was sent by Mr. Hall I believe in the years 1895-97, which appointment I held for the above mentioned time. The old rough diary starts at Sunday, August 10th, 1890.
More to follow... (we hope)
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)