Frank J. Benitz Page last modified:

Letters & Documents

Missing image

Frank at 29
16 Oct. 1879
(Silvia Ucko)


Stored in the old safe at "La California" is a collection of letters from the years 1878 to 1882 relating to Frank’s failed business ventures and his likely drowning, as well as other documents relating to legal issues as a consequence of his death.

Frank's first letters are highly optimistic; the later ones are defensive and desperate as his investments run into trouble.  There is a plea to the governor to extend the contract period for Colonia Espín, letters from creditors (one is none too flattering about his integrity), and two from Johnnie to Willie in which he describes his search for Frank’s body and how Frank most likely drowned crossing the Saladillo river.   

We have transcribed the letters as written, neither changing nor correcting any errors in spelling or punctuation.  However, for clarity, we added page number separators to the text.  Anything else that we added is enclosed in [square brackets].  When time allows, we will add English translations to the letters written in Spanish.

We are especially grateful to Charles A. Benitz for kindly allowing us to make copies of all of these documents — enthusiastically assisted by his daughter, Veronica.  And to Javier Maffucci-Moore for providing us with background information via excerpts from newspaper articles and letters.


We explain here some of the measures used in the letters. However, for a more detailed explanation, please refer to our Measures page.


Link Date Place From To Subject
#1 July 27, 1878 San Javier, SFé FJ Benitz Diary Assumed Schmeaderer's share of Colonia Espín (including debts).
#2 Sep.24, 1879 Rosario, SFé FJ Benitz Brother Rented Dr Romang's monte to cut wood, with optimistic plans for its exploitation.
JM1 Oct. 4, 1879 B.A. newspaper The Standard   Frank is mentioned in an optimistic article about the agricultural prospects of north Santa Fé.
JM2 Nov. 7, 1879 B.A. newspaper The Standard   Frank is mentioned in a glowing article about the timber industry in Santa Fé.
#3 Nov.10, 1879 Santa Fé (city) Alexander MacLean
Griffith Price
FJ Benitz
Simon Iriondo
Solicitud / request to extend by two years the contracted period within which to develop Colonia Espín.
#4 Feb.15, 1880 Rosario, SFé FJ Benitz His mother Everything going well: bought out Espín partners, bought Romang's store; requests she endorse note to Mr. Curry.
#5 Mar.25, 1880 Esquina, SFé FJ Benitz His mother He can not travel to Rosario, requests she renew her signature on his notes: lists the notes (not valued) and his assets (valued), apparently in reply to doubts about his financial status.
#6 May 19, 1880 Rosario, SFé J. Lloyd Mrs. Benitz Politely but firmly requests payment of a "pagaré" due May 16.
#7 Aug.4, 1880 Rosario, SFé FJ Benitz His mother Bank loans due, Lloyd's note due, Curry's soon to be. Goods delayed, fresh loans not available, requests she mortgage the estancia.
#8 Nov.3, 1880 Rosario, SFé FJ Benitz Bro. William Sold store back to Romang, ending timber business, dedicating self to Espín.  Note to Mr Curry due, payment for timber delayed, request mother obtain bank loans.
#9 Oct.4, 1881 Buenos Aires Juan Larguia Fco. Benitz Arranging a meeting regarding Espín.
#10 Nov.1, 1881 Buenos Aires Herm Altgelt FJ Benitz Furious letter listing debts owed, fraud, lies, broken promises, misuse of funds, taking legal action.
#11 Dec.9, 1881 Colonia Espín Johnnie Bz William Bz Sad news, Frank's likely drowning, sending Eliza and sister to La California, Colonia Espín taken over by the provincial government.
#12 Jan.5, 1882 Colonia Alejandra Johnnie Bz William Bz The search for signs of Frank, how he may have drowned; Eliza, Johnnie & Herman's schedule.
JM3 Feb.14, 1882 Santa Fé (city) Alexander McLean Governor Petition seeking relief from debt left by Frank Benitz.
#13 Feb.17, 1906 Rosario, SFé newspaper El Municipio    Legal notice, published at court order, finalizing Frank's affairs.
#14 May 21, 1908 Rosario, SFé F.C. Marty Bz brothers Legal fees to declare Frank dead and release his property (if any) to Josephine K. Bz.


 No. 1:   Frank J. Bz — diary entry, San Javier, July 27, 1878

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

George M. Johnson left Santa Fé for the United States on the 1st of December 1877. And arrived at New York on the 20th of January.

San Javier

July 27th 1878.

I today received from Mrs Maria K. de Schmeaderer a cession of Mr. A. Schmeaderers interest in the "Espin" colonization scheme. I assumed all responsibilities. Also the payment of Mr. Schmeaderers part of the note due to Juan G. Helbling of $800.00. which reduced to bolivianos and expenses amount to $B1115.80.

Messrs MacLean, Price & Livi paid the above amount, on the 15th of May. I am to pay reimburse Mr. Schmeaderers part $B278.95 with 1½ per cent per month since the 15 of May, to the above gentlemen.

I also received from Mrs. Schmeaderer a note of $336.00 with interest at 1½ per cent. After deducting from this note my travelling expenses and that due to Messrs McLean, Price & Livi I gave her my pagaré of 133.00$B at sight. Interest 1½ per c.

 No. 2:   Frank J. Bz to Brother — Rosario, September 24, 1879

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Rosario - Sept. 24. 1879

Dear brother:

Last Saturday night I arrived from the Gran Chaco, am of this afternoon again for Santa Fé, as I have to see the governor about our Espin Colony. I rented all of Dr. Romangs monte and have a lot of men working on my account. I have the exclusive riqht to cut in those montes for three years, that is to say up to the first of January 1883. I want to hire all the wagons that I can get, I enclose you one of my circulars. I expect 2000 posts down shortly, if they dont arrive very soon I will buy posts for you here in Rosario. Let me know how many you want. I will be back in a few days from Santa Fé. I expect Mr. Murphy out from the states by the end of this month, he is bringing out families. I have 15 wagons working already for me, the timber that each wagon hauls per month leaves me a net profit of $B30.00 efective. Within a few weeks I will have 30 wagons working, I want in all 60. I have made the largest contracts ever made in the Chaco and have also sold the timber in Buenos Aires. Mr. Murphy who is bringing out a steam saw mill will go into partnership with me and perhaps another rich englischman that is here. Trusting that you are all well and with love to all the folks I remain

Your loving brother

F. J. Benitz

 JMM. 1:   The Standard, Buenos Aires — October 4, 1879

[ Javier Maffucci-Moore (descended from Thomas M. Moore, co-founder of Colonia California) sent us this excerpt from an article printed in The Standard. ]

“Mr. Frank Benitz, just down from the Gran Chaco, reports progress up there, he has rented the quebracho forest of Malabrigo and is working that timber on an extensive scale for the european market.  The quebracho colorado of Malabrigo is an important article for tanning and dying purposes....Very little wheat sown this year up there, as the colonists nearly all own small herds of cattle and find constant employment in hauling timber.  The Espin Colony, the lands of which are among the finest of all the riparian territory, is now being settled ... stock in the Alexandra and Malabrigo [later renamed: Romang ] Colonies is in tip-top condition; owing to the superior qualities of the pastures you can find a juicier beefsteak there than either in Buenos Ayres or Rosario.”

 JMM. 2:   The Standard, Buenos Aires — November 7, 1879

[ Javier Maffucci-Moore (descended from Thomas M. Moore, co-founder of Colonia California) sent us this excerpt from an article printed in The Standard.  The reporter was on a boat travelling up the Paraná River from Buenos Aires, member of President Nicolas Avellaneda’s tour to the colonies of Santa Fé. ]

“...the quebracho wood business is now the talk of the whole river and we hear of Mr. Benitz and his contracts, and his wood-cutters, his saw-mills and his new partner expected every day out from the United States”

 No. 3:   Frank J. Bz (et al) to Governor Simon Iriondo — Solicitud to extend, November 10, 1879

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Es copia de una solicitud hecho
á su Excelencia Simon Iriondo
Gobernador de la Provincia de
Santa Fé -

Santa Fé, Noviembre 10 de 1879

Excelentisimo Señor.

Alejandro MacLean, Griffith Price y Francisco J. Benitz como sucesor de Alejandro Schmederer ande V. E. respectivosamente nos presentamos y decimos:-

Que como consta de documento publico de fecha de noviembre 27 de 1877 somos empresarios y socios para la formacion de la Colonia "Espin" con arreglo á la ley y contrato existente con el  Excelentisimo Gobierno y firmado por "Johnson & Cia".

Con arreglo á ese contrato debiamos haber colocado en el paraje de Espin cincuenta familias concluyendose el plazo para complementar esta obligacion el dia 27 de este mes, si bien tenemos en aquel punto algunas familias y galpones suficientes para recibir á los demas, sin embargo no nos ha sido posible el tenerlos colocados en el plazo indicado. Causa de esto ha sido la muerte de uno de los socios principales como tambien las visitudes por las cuales atravesó la Republica haciendo una inpresion defavorable para la fundacion de un nuevo Colonia, siendo la principal de ellos la guerra del Pacifico, corriendo la voz en el estrangero que tambien la Republica Argentina tomaria parte en aquella guerra. No por eso los socios que suscriben piensan dejar de trabajar para la fundacion de una Colonia en la cual ya tienen invertido un fuerte capital, mas para eso necesitan de la proteccion de V. E. y suplican sea servido dar a esta solicitud el curso necesario para conseguir una proroga de Dos años mas para la fundacion de la Colonia de Espin.

Los trabajos que hemos hecho ya estan muy adelantados y necesitamos de esta proroga para poder colocar á los Colonas que cada dia nos llegan en los vapores de ultra mar. Creamos Exmo Señor que estos consideraciones seran suficiente por el objeto que nos proponemos

Es justicia y gracia

firmado por

Alexander MacLean
Griffith Price
F. J. Benitz

[the following is vertical against left side:]

de una solicitud presentada
al Gobernador
por "Johnson & Cia"
10 de Noviembre 1879

 No. 4:   Frank J. Bz  to Mother — Rosario, February 15, 1880

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Rosario, February 15 - 1880

Dear Mother

I am down from the Gran Chaco for a few days, today I am off for Buenos Aires and will be back again on Friday or Saturday next.

Everything is going on well in the Chaco. I have bought out my partners in the "Espin" Colony I have all to myself now 16 square leagues of land, and am building now a house on it, the corral is finished. I have emigrants on the land also peones.

I have also bought out Dr. Romangs store and rented half of his big house. A cook by the name of Waldi that used to cook for Scharff is my cook up there. The store is a splendid business, it is the largest in the Colony. I have got some 2500$B stock in it, and am buying a great deal more here. The store in the first month that I had it, left me nearly $B500.00 profit.

Mr. Currys note is due and he has extended the time for me, as it suits him better to do so and at the same time I require the money to buy a fresh stock for the store. Please endorse the note and send it in to him as soon as possible.

I got news this morning that the soldiers have captured cacique "Mariano" and all the Indians of San Martin. They are on their way now to Martin Garcia. Uncle knows the chief. This is great news for Espin.

With love to all I remain

Your loving son

F. J. Benitz

 No. 5:   Frank J. Bz  to Mother — Esquina, March 25, 1880

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Esquina, March 25th 1880

Dear mother

As it is impossible for me to go down to Rosario at present to look up strangers to indorse my notes due on the 31st inst and 6th of next month, I must beg of you to renew your signature.  This will be the last time that these two notes will be renewed as I am now loading a norwegian bark at Malabrigo with 400 tons of timber, and have orders to get another cargo of 500 tons ready, and this will give the necessary funds to meet the notes when they come due.  Besides I am expecting a lot of families from Europe and California for the Espin colony, the sale of lands will also give funds to meet my obligations.  In order that you know how I stand I will state the following:

I own the whole of the Espin colony, except two leagues which my former partners own.  My part of Espin consists of 16 square leagues.

At Espin I have a house 5 x 20 varas, large corral, wagon, oxen, cows, a few heifers and novillos.  Besides l0 men between colonists and peones.

At Malabrigo I have a store containing a stock of 3000.00 bol. dollars, 2000 arrobas of quebracho saw dust worth $B700.00.

A quebracho saw-dust machine sold for $B750.00 and the buyer still owing me $B600.00.

House and lot of 200 varas front cost me $B320.00.

Blacksmith shop and tools for Espin $B360.00.

Advance to Ben Moore on account of 10,000 posts that he is to deliver $B200.00.

Besides my store books show about a $B1000.00 that colonists are owing me.  Only those colonists that can pay are trusted.

Of course my interest is to pay off the notes as soon as possible as I can not be bothered to run down to Rosario every month.  Up to the present I had to spend a lot of money for Espin and the store.  I have now surveyors out at Espin and as soon as all the chacras are measured, I will have a number of settlers from the California and Alexandra colony.  Trusting that you will indorse the notes I remain

as ever F. J. Benitz.

 No. 6:   J. Lloyd to Mrs. Benitz — Rosario, May 19, 1880

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

J. Lloyd

145 Santa fé
19th May 1880

Mrs Benitz,


I have written several letters to your son Mr F. J. Benitz, without receiving any letter from him. My last letter was simply advising him that the "Pagaré" which I have against your good self & Him, falls due on the 26th inst. and I shall be oblidged if you will be good enough to meet it the day it becomes due.  The amount is $B4l23.60 Bolivianos Efectivos.

You will, I am sure, understand the reason why, I write to you. As I should not like to file a protest if not paid on that date.

I Remain   
Dear Madam
Yours very faithfully
J. Lloyd.

 No. 7:   Frank J. Bz to Mother — Rosario, August 4, 1880

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Rosario, Aug. 4th 1880

Dear mother

The vessels that are up river are not down yet. The bank will not wait any longer for me and insist upon the note being paid. They told me that they would write to you to that effect, at the same time telling me that they would not take any legal measures. I tried everywhere to get the cash from some one else, but no one has it and those that have ask either for too high interest or another signature, which cannot be had. The best way to arrange the matter is, to borrow money on a mortgage of the land on a long term and I'll pay the cash in to you folks. Mr. Lloyds note is due on the 25th as he wishes to have it paid up, its better to finish the two off in this way. It stops all running backward and forward and at the same this stops all disturbance. The best way is for you & William to come in and bring the titles of the land along. See Mr. Fredericson who knows of an Estanciero who wants to loan out money at 1%. Go quitely to an escribano and have the documents done.

In this way no one knows anything about it, and of course the less spoken about it the better.

Make Lloyds and the banks both into bolivians silver one half of the sum payable in six months and the other half at the end of a year. As the vessels come down I pay the amount to you till its paid in full.

This is the only way I see out of the difficulty. No one knows anything about it here, and its better that nothing is spoken about it.

Mr. Currys note is extended up to the 6th of November, he wishes me to have it renewed. I have four schooners up river loading and as the Cisne is one of the first steamers going up, I leave on it this evening in order to hurry up the loading and get the other cargos ready.

Realy the only way to get money here is on a mortgage, I have tried every capitalist and bank in town.

I will be down again in a month

Your loving son
F. J. Benitz


Send the note to Curry right now as he is going away.   FJB

 No. 8:   Frank J. Bz  to William O. Bz - Rosario, November 3, 1880

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Rosario. Nov. 3d 1880

Dear brother William

I arrived this morning on the steamer "Guaraní" and am off this afternoon for Buenos Aires. Its only this morning that I heard the sad news of the death of uncle. I was very much surprised. Alfred dont know anything about it yet.

Alfred is well, he and the young german went out on an indian raid with colonists from Mal Abrigo & soldiers from Reconquista. They killed 18 indians besides taking many women and children prisoners.

I have sold my Mal Abrigo store to Dr Romang, and as soon as I have shipped all my timber I am going to stop the timber business, and attend to Espin exclusively.

The note due Mr Curry is due on the 6th inst. You will have to ask the bank for a two (2) months extension, as I am now transhiping a large schooner load of timber here in the port, besides the german brig "Clementine" is loading 300 tons now at Malabrigo & will not be down before the 20th inst. I cannot get the money for the timber till it is all down, which will be in the course of this month. In Buenos Aires there is a man who wants to buy my Espin store, I am going down to close business with him, so as to raise cash. Mr. Curry sais that Treacher told him that mother could get all the money she wanted from the Bank. Therefor you had better ask for 60 days.

You can get the money before as soon as I can get it. I have had hard work in getting ships to go up but have plenty now.

With love to all
Your loving brother
F. J. Benitz

 No. 9:   Juan Larguia to Francisco Benitz — Buenos Aires, October 4, 1881

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

93 Calle Cangallo
Buenos Aires.

  Sr. D. Franco Benitz.

Esto Amigo,

A las cinco de la tarde espereme en la fanda [fonda], iré con mi hermano Janás [Jonás], para que hablemos del asunto Espin, que se presenta bien   Suyo afmo.

Juan Larguia

Casa de Galan.
Obre 4 1881

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

93 Calle Cangallo
Buenos Aires.

  Sr. D. Franco Benitz.

Dear Friend,

Expect me at five in the afternoon at the inn, I will come with my brother Jonás, to discuss the Espin matter, which looks good.  Yours sincerely.

Juan Larguia

Casa de Galan.
Obre 4 1881

 No. 10:   Herm. Altgelt to F. J. Benitz — Buenos Aires, November 1, 1881

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Casa de Consignaciones
(Casilla Correa 3)

Buenos Aires, Noviembre 1, 1881.

Señor Don F. J. Benitz

 Muy Sr. mio. Adjunto el estracto de la cuenta de U. en mis libros con un saldo en su contra de $2l6.297— m/c valor hoy. Contra este saldo hay que poner el inventario de su Colonia, que U, por documento en mi poder, ha puesto en mi nombre, tambien va en contra el producto de compras de .....ias [?] que U. ha efectuado en Esquina con los $l5000- giro de Demascani. En las 2 fechas ha empeñado U. su palabra de honor, que existia Inventario y que los $15000.- serian empleados en favor de los colonos de Espin. U. me ha dado su palabra de honor, por escrito y por telegrama, que entregaria al Sr. Don J. Wild aquellas compras en Esquina. U ha fallado las 2 veces, y U. ha jugado con su palabra de caballero de un modo que echa una luz muy estraña sobre su caracter. Toda su vida, todas sus palabras, todas sus promesas han formado una sola cadena de mentiras; en vez de compras emplear los $15000 en compras de provisiones, U. se ha ha sustraido la mas grande parte de aquel dinero del uso que yo le habia dado; y este solo acto es suficiente de llevarlo ante el Tribunal correccional. Yo le dije al Juez de calificar este hecho, y me contento en citarlo. ¿Como piensa U. pagar ahora? ¿Que ha hecho U. del inventario que no le pertenecia? ¿Porque no ha tenido bastante moral para impedir el Remate que los Srs Challandes han hecho decretar, lo que U. podia haber hecho con una sola palabra declarando que era mio el Inventario?

Espero que U. puede liberarse de estas acusaciones tremendas, que, si U. no las refuta le ponen a U. bajo el nivel de cualquier embustero y estafador.

Herm Altgelt

 No. 11:   John E. Bz to William O. Bz — Colonia Espín, December 9, 1881

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

[ Notes: (i) The letter consists of 2 flimsy pages folded in half, written on only one side, pages 1 & 4, 2 & 3.  (ii) Keep in mind that Johnnie is just 20 years old, Willie is 27. ]

Colonia Espin. Dec. 9th 1881.

Dear William

it is my duty to write you some very bad news.  I wrote to you before that Frank was down in St. Fe for nearly two months settling about the land.  He wrote me a letter saying that he had failed to become the whole land, but that he would not come home empty handed saying also that he was coming out on the 23rd but as he did not come, and Eliza was nearly in despair waiting so long for him.

I wrote a letter to Scott in Alexandria asking him to let me no what he had heard of Frank and when he was coming back.  He wrote back that Frank had left there on the 23 to come out here [approx. 30 km. from Alejandra to Colonia Espín—a 1/2 day ride] on a good fat horse he had hired and that ten or twelve days afterwards the horse had come back very thin with a mañador [a single long rawhide strap with a ring, similar to a laso] tied around his neck and in the middle of the mañador was tied a loop as if he tied it around his body in crossing the Saladillo [El Toba / Saladillo Dulce] which was very swolen at the time.  Immediately they received my letter saying that he had not appeared.  Mr. Richards, Scott and several others went out in search for some clue to the mystery, at the same time sending a letter saying that as soon as some sign was found he would immediately let me know, which up to now he has not done so I suppose he has found nothing.

So tomorrow I am going with some colonists to take the canoe from the Espin river down to the pass and do our best to find something, but it is hardly possible as it is so long past.  Eliza poor girl feels it very deeply, especially as her father was drowned in the same place so short time ago.

She does not want to live up here any more, epecially as the colony is about to bust up, and she cannot live with her stepmother who it seems always mistreated her shamefully.  So I, thinking it but right that we should help her a little, advised her to sell some oxen which Frank had left her, and her horse and some of Frank’s other things to raise a little money, and to come down to the Estancia untill she can think of her future plans.  And so she will come down as soon as possible with her little sister.  I know mother would be very glad to have her Eliza with her, she is such a nice girl.  I thought of leaving here on the 28 of this month but I suppose I will have to postpone it a little later.  The Colony Espin belongs to governor Iriondo in St. Fe now but is represented by a Mr. Lieve the head of the government surveyors.  He wrote a letter saying that everything in the colony was to go ahead the same as before, those that had papers or had bought their land were to keep it.  The colonists all came together and had a meeting today, and they are going to send Don Oppel to St. Fe tomorrow to tratar [arrange] with him about making bridges across the rivers and improving the roads.  He is going down overland over San Pedro.  But I must close now as the paper is getting scarce.

We are both well and enjoying good health and I send my love to all in which Eliza joins.  Hoping you are all well

I remain
your affectionate brother JOHNIE BENITZ

[Notes along left margins:]
[Page 2] I hope you have sent the money I asked for.
[Page 3] Eliza wants to know why Alfred does no write to her.
[Page 4] how is every thing getting along down there

 No. 12:   John E. Bz to William O. Bz — Colonia Alejandra, January 5, 1882

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(Source: C.A. Benitz)

[ Notes: (i) The dark stains on the letter are from the tape with which it was pieced together. (ii) That is Charles’ finger! ]

Colonia Alexandria
Jan 5th 1882.

Dear William.

I now sit down to answer your letter I. received yesterday with the money in it all right. I. also received a letter from Josephine and one from Clara and was very glad to hear from home and that you were all well. we are also all enjoying good health.

I suppose you received my letter about Franks death. I. wrote to you that I. was going to search for some sign, but after looking all day we only found a thick felt saddle blanket on the other side of the pass. but I got notice the next day from Mr. Richards and that he had been there the day before us and had found Franks cloths gun saddle and everything lying at the posts on the other side they also found a place a little down stream where the high comolotes [camalotes: mats of floating water hyacinth] had been eaten off.

~~ Page 2 ~~

so most likely as he was unlucky enough to tie himself to his horse and maybe his horse had tumbled backwards in the water or entagled himself in the camolotes and dragged Frank about in the water untill he was dead and then the horse had not been able to drag him out of the deep water untill the fish [piraña] had eaten him or he had decayed. that is why the horse had not been able to come back for thirteen days and so lean and weak he had been nearly starved. we looked if we could find some bones but could not. I. came in here to get sone the things they found. we had a bad trip ____ the pass was very swollen all three arms swimming. and then had tried to make a short cut and got into a large estero [marsh]or unkall [rushes] and thought we would never get out alive. the grass was so high that when I.

~~ Page 3 ~~

  stood on my horse's back I. could not look over. and the water up to the saddle. it is an awfull dull hole here Elisa feels awfull bad yet

Frank before anything had been ambargared [embargoed] put his things and a lot of things out of the pulperia [pub/store] amoung the colonists. and as soon as we can saddle sell these things Elisa and her little sister are going down to us.

We are all going to Ovejetis Fon Oppell also, it is ten legues from Espin and from there there is a diligense [stage-coach] to St. Fe which it reaches in 2 days. And there Fon Oppel is going to put her on the steamer and she and her sister will go to Rosario and I. will give her a letter to Keenan telling him to put her on the train I. will also send Hansen a letter telling him to have her taken out in his carriage. you had better talk to Hansen about it.

~~ Page 4 ~~

From Ovejetes Herman and I. are going down over Esperanza I. gues. it will take us about 5 or 6 day to travel as the roads are splendid and not much danger except from the wild Indians. The indians came into Espin the other day and stole 8 horses. from the colonists. I. immeadiatly mounted some soldiers on my horses and gave chase but could no catch the devels. they have been murdering and stealing in all directions the colonists are all going to leave Espin it is going to bust up. please write to Josephine and tell her the news or better send her this letter. you must excuse the bad writing but my hand is trembling just had a heated discussion with a man whom Frank owed a lot of money.

with love to all I. remain

Johnie Benitz

[note in left margin:]  We will leave Espin in two or three weeks.

 JMM. 3:   Alexander McLean’s Petition — February 14, 1882.

[ The following is an excerpt from a petition submitted by Alexander McLean on February 14, 1882, to the governor of the province of Santa Fé seeking relief from a debt left by Francisco Benitz (3,000 pesos fuertes is approx. 68,200 U$D-2000).  Alexander McLean was a cosigner on the original contract to establish Colonia Espín.  The governor granted the petition.
McLean was also one of the founders, as was Frank X. Benitz, of Colonia California in 1866.  Javier Maffucci-Moore, who sent us the excerpt (in Spanish), is descended from Thomas M. Moore, a leader & co-founder of that colonia. ]

“...que habiendo fallecido Don Francisco Benitz sin cumplir con las condiciones del contrato sobre fundación de la Colonia Espín, como fiador del contratante señor Johnson, a quien sucedió el señor Benitz, estoy obligado al pago de la fianza de tres mil pesos fuertes, establecida en dicho contrato. En consecuencia ocurro ante V.E. suplicándole que teniendo en cuenta el mayor valor del terreno, los gastos cuantiosos hechos por mí y otros para cumplir el contrato y las crecientes pasadas que hicieron del campo del Espin una isla, se digne exonerar de dicha fianza, mandando cancelar la hipoteca que al efecto he constituido sobre mi casa habitación...”
“ ...Don Francisco Benitz having died without fulfilling the terms of the contract to found the Espín Colony, as guarantor for the contractor Mr. Johnson, who was succeeded by Mr. Benitz, I am obliged to pay the security of three thousand pesos fuertes stipulated by said contract.  Consequently I come before Your Excellency begging you to take into account the increased value of the land, the large expenses incurred by me and others to fulfill the contract and the past floods which made an island of the Espín land, please forgive said security, ordering cancelled the mortgage that I took out to that purpose upon my home...”

 No. 13:   Public Notice requiring Frank to appear — 17 February, 1906.

Missing image.

(Source: C.A. Benitz)

[ Summary, translated without the legal boilerplate. ]

Judge José R. Bravo, on 17 February, 1906, ordered a notice be published five times, once per month, in “El Municipio” requiring Frank or anyone knowing of his whereabouts to appear before the court (in Rosario, SFé).  If Frank did not appear, Josefina Colmer [Kolmer] de Benitz could assume full possession of all of his property; Frank’s property having already been assigned provisionally by judge José M. Salva, on 8 October, 1896, as permitted fifteen years after his disappearance.

 No. 14:   F.C. Marty’s fees to have Frank declared dead — 21 May, 1908.

Missing image.

(Source: C.A. Benitz)

Final Bill:  F.C. Marty - May 21, 1908
Legal fees to have Frank declared dead.

Dr. Culaciati - lawyer

Sr. Jimeno - prepared and published the notice, 1906.

Amount: $8,145.51 m/n


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)