Emigrants to the Americas Page last modified:

Emigrants to Colonia Tovar, Venezuela

Missing seal

In 1843-1844, Alexander Benitz, with Colonel Agustín Codazzi of Venezuela, recruited and led nearly 400 German emigrants from Endingen and the surrounding villages to establish Colonia Tovar in Venezuela.  The colony is located about 50 km. west of Caracas.  It still exists and is today a tourist destination.

All the Benitz who emigrated from Endingen to Venezuela were the children or grandchildren of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  Three other children (Louis, Adolphus, & Barbara) emigrated to western North America — their bios are available via the above “Texas/Calif.” button.  All of them are included in the “Ancient Benitz” family tree, available via the above “Roots” button.

NOTE: Most of the material about the Benitz siblings who emigrated to Venezuela we obtained from “La Colonia Tovar y su gente“, by Leopoldo Jahn Montalban, published 1999.

————«♦»————

This page includes brief histories of the following persons: (The above buttons provide access to much more detailed information regarding the person whose name is on the button.)

Alexander Benitz (1813 - 1865) — own page —
Born 19 November, 1813, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), son of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb; he trained in Freiburg as a surveyor and cartographer. In 1843-1844, with Colonel Agustín Codazzi of Venezuela, he recruited and led a large group of emigrants from Endingen and other villages to Venezuela where they established the “Colonia Tovar”, 50 km. west of Caracas.  In 1846, he became the 2nd mayor of the colony, a post he held until he died, 15 November, 1865.  In 1859 Alexander met Josepha Hildebrandt in Endingen; he took her back to the colony where they were married; they had two sons, Alexander Benitz (1862) and Carlos Federico Benitz (1864 - may have died young).
Karl Benitz (1821 - 1883) — more below —
Born 2 June 1821, baptized Karl Freidrich Benitz, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), son of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb. Karl and his brothers established a brewery and a trading company at Colonia Tovar.  In 1854, he married Emilia Brecht in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA), likely from Germany, born c.1829; they had 6 children.  When Alexander died in 1865, Karl became the colony’s 3rd mayor, protecting it during the internal wars of Venezuela.  He resigned in 1879, moving to Caracas, where he died, 19 April, 1883.
Karolina Benitz (1823)
Born Maria Karolina Benitz, on 3 June 1823, Endingen (Baden, Ger.); daughter of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  We know little about her.  She is listed as an unmarried emigrant to Tovar, where she and her brother Theodor were the first to brew beer in Venezuela.
Lugarda Benitz (1810 - 1888+) — more below —
Born 10 September, 1810, baptized Maria Lugardis Beniz, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.); daughter of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  Likely never married, though she had a son, Wilhelm Benitz (b.1833).  In 1843, she emigrated with her brothers to establish the Colonia Tovar.  She & Karl formed a company “Carlos y Lugarda Benitz y Compañía” which monopolized the colony’s trade.  In 1888, she filed a missing persons notice in The New York Times for her son Wilhelm.
Theodore Benitz (1817 - 1843) — more below —
Born Theodor Constantin Benitz on 17 July, 1817, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), son of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  In 1843, he emigrated with his brothers to establish the Colonia Tovar.  He & his sister Karolina were the first to brew beer in Venezuela.  He died 26 June, 1843, as a result of rough treatment for protesting against strict rules imposed by the mayor of the colony.
Wilhelm Benitz (1833 - 1888?) — more below —
Wilhelm was born 3 January, 1833, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), the illegitimate son of Lugarda Benitz.  In 1851 he emigrated, with official permission, from Germany to Colonia Tovar.  We know little about him.  We suspect he likely died in 1888, shortly after disappearing in New York city.

Karl Benitz, 1821

Missing portrait.

Karl Benitz, 1871
(Source: “La Colonia Tovar y su gente“, by Leopoldo Jahn Montalban, 1999)

Born Karl Freidrich Benitz on 2 June 1821, in Endingen, Baden, Germany, a son of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.

In 1843 Karl joined a group of almost 400 colonists led by his brother Alexander Benitz, founding members of Colonia Tovar in Venezuela.  Karl and his brothers established a brewery and a trading company.   In 1854, on one of his business trips to the U.S.A., he married Emilia Brecht in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - she was born c.1829, likely in Germany.  Upon the death of his brother Alexander in 1865 Karl became the colony’s third mayor, protecting it from sacking and burning by warring factions of the internal Venezuelan wars.  In 1879, he resigned and moved his family to Caracas, where he died on the 19th April, 1883.

At the time of his death, Karl owned the estate, “La Fundación” (in the state of Miranda) which he used for the cultivation of cane sugar and maiz.  After his death, his son-in-law, Emerich Heny, managed it for the family.  It was partially ransacked during the “Legalista” revolution of 1892.  When the Venezuelan government failed to offer proper restitution, Heny, as a US citizen, filed a claim with the US Senate, which was settled in 1903.

Per the testimony in Heny’s claim, Karl and Emilia had five children.  We are still researching their descendants.  The following is a summary of what we have discovered:

Bertha
She married Emerich Heny in Caracas, 1883.  Heny was born 1846 in Germany, emigrated to the US in 1867; he became a US citizen on 15 October, 1872, in New York, then moved to Venezuela in 1874.  They had several children.  Their son, Gustavo Heny, was a fellow explorer of Jimmie Angel’s, the discoverer of Angel Falls in Venezuela.  Search for 'Gustavo Heny' on the web and you will find plenty about him, also try 'Angel Falls' and 'The Lost World'; his grandsons operate an ecotourism company in Venezuela (or they did until recently), using his name: 'Cabuya Heny'.
Matilda - b. ca.1868
 On May 8, 1895, she and her mother (Mrs. Emilia B. de Benitz) arived at Ellis Island, aboard the SS Venezuela from La Guaira.  Her mother is listed as of German origin, 66 years old, and a “transient” (someone on a short term stay in the US) and Matilda is listed as 26 years and 7 months old.
Adolf - b. ca.1880
Emigrated to the US in ca.1894 and became citizen in 1899.  During the 1930’s he is referred to as “Uncle” by Bertha’s children in their visa applications, living in Saybrook, NJ.
Emilia
(have not researched)
Gustavo
(have not researched)
Luis M. - b. ca.1877
Not sure of his age, for he is not listed in testimony.  He may have died young.

Lugarda Benitz, 1810

Born on 10 September, 1810, she was baptized Maria Lugardis Beniz on 14 September in Endingen, Baden, Germany.  Her parents were Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  She is not known to have married though she had a son, Wilhelm Benitz.

In 1843 Lugarda emigrated to Venezuela as a member of the group of almost 400 German immigrants who established the Colonia Tovar under the leadership of her brother Alexander and Colonel Codazzi (Venezuelan).  Lugarda and her brothers formed a company “Carlos y Lugarda Benitz y Compañía” which with Codazzi’s protection monopolized the colony’s early trade; all products entering or leaving the colony passed through their control.  She was apparently still living in 1888 when she filed the missing persons notice for her son Wilhelm.

For more about the Colonia Tovar, see Alexander Benitz on this page.  See also siblings Karl & Theodore Benitz.

Lugarda’s Vital Records:

No record

Maria Lugardis Beniz
Baptism records, 1810 - Endingen, Baden, Germany
(Surce: James Bell, from LDS (Mormon) BMD records)

No record

Theodore Benitz, 1817

Born Theodor Constantin Benitz on 17 July, 1817, in Endingen, Baden, Germany, a son of Johannes Beniz (master dyer) and Maria Barbara Herb.  In 1843 he joined the group of almost 400 émigrés led by Colonel Codazzi (of Venezuela) and his brother, Alexander, the founding members of Colonia Tovar in Venezuela.

We have the tragic manner of his death on 26 June, 1843, from; “La Colonia Tovar y su gente” by Leopoldo Jahn Montalban, 1999 (pages 59-60) - the translation is ours:

Missing pot.

Theodore’s beer kettle, 1843
(Source: “La Colonia Tovar y su gente“, by Leopoldo Jahn Montalban, 1999)

“It is clear Codazzi, who had been a good planner for the Colonia Tovar project, lacked the necessary skills to lead people outside a military environment.  It’s obvious he did not understand nor know how to relate with the settlers to instill group harmony.  A difficult group to lead made up as it was of people who, in their home country, had a very strong sense of community and did not respond well to the strict rules Codazzi wanted to implement, supported by [Alexander] Benitz.  Several settlers, including Theodore, protested.  They considered Alexander a traitor for siding with Codazzi.   Wanting to set an example, Alexander had his brother arrested by Codazzi’s militia, who bound him up with heavy rope.  Attempting to free himself, Theodor resisted fiercely and as a result passed out, and fell when the ropes were loosened.  He lay ill for several days and, in spite of Alexander’s efforts to save him, died on 26 of June, 1843.  A few days earlier, Theodore with his sister Karolina had been the first to make beer, which was also the first beer brewed in Venezuela.  The kettle used to make the beer is today the property of Juanico Breidenbach’s inheritors.”

Theodore’s Vital Records:

No record.

Theodor Constantin Böniz, 1817
Church baptism record, 1817 - Endingen, Baden, Germany
(Source: James Bell, from LDS (Mormon) BMD records)

On July 17 at 8:30 in the morning a boy was born at this location.  He was baptized in the St. Peter’s church at 4: o'clock in the afternoon.  He was named Theodor Constantin Böniz.  Father: Johann Böniz master tanner.  Mother: Barbara Herb.  Sponsors: Georg Zingler soap boiler and Franziska Böniz unmarried.  Witness: Joseph Nägele teacher.  Endingen, July 17, 1817.  Julian Martin vicar performed the baptism.
   Alexander Umber pastor

Wilhelm Benitz, 1833

Wilhelm was born 3 January, 1833, in Endingen, the illegitimate son of Lugardis Benitz - she never married.  He emigrated (for which he obtained official permission) from Germany in 1851 to Colonia Tovar where he is listed as a late arrival.  Little is known about him.

The following article, published in the New York Times, September 22, 1888, indicates Wilhelm was somewhat unreliable, going on sprees.  The article also mentions he had been in San Francisco.  It is possible he visited his uncle Adolphus Benitz in western Nevada, a former miner who had become an Angora goat breeder.

We don't know if Wilhelm was ever found.  New York in 1888 was a rough city and he may well have been one of its victims.

Missing article.
WILLIAM BENITZ HAS DISAPPEARED
  An advertisement was published yesterday asking for William Benitz of Caracas, Venezuela, who has disappeared from his boarding house, 8 State-street.  He is described as about 55 years old, 5 feet 2 inches in height, with ruddy complexion, and short gray hair and mustache.  He could speak but little English.  At the office of Messrs. Bothfeld & Arnaud, 78 Broad-street, who published the advertisement, it was said that Benitz’s mother sent him to this country about two years ago.  He was in the habit of going on periodical sprees, and nothing could be done with him.  Last Summer his mother wanted him to return home.  Messrs. Bothfeld & Arnaud sent for him to San Francisco, and their agent there gave him a ticket for New York and $25, which the firm thought was two much for his needs, though he spent all on the way and arrived here without a cent.  He missed the steamer, and the firm placed him the boarding house and paid his expenses.  The following day he walked out of the house, and that was the last seen of him.  Two days later an alarm was sent out in this city, Brooklyn, and Jersey City, but no trace of him could be found by the police.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)