|Emigrants to the Americas||Page last modified:
In early 1866, Frank (Franz) X. Benitz (b.1816) joined a group of Californians (some were disgruntled Confederate sympathizers) who were emigrating to Chile. They eventually established a colony (Colonia California) in Argentina, on the western shores of the Paraná river, 160 km. north-east of Santa Fé city. Harassed by Indians, the colony failed. Some of the settlers moved north to a British colony, Alejandra. Others returned to the US. Frank returned to Oakland, California, in 1873, where his brother William (Wilhelm) Benitz (b.1815) had grown dissatisfied. William wanted to set up his sons upon large expanses of land, no longer available in California. Frank’s description of the wide open pampas fit his dreams.
William sold everything he owned, and in the last days of July, 1874, he loaded his entire family onto a paddle-steamer, bound for New York via Panama. In New York, he was re-joined by Frank and by their sister, Nany (Maria Anna Benitz, b.1819) and her husband Urban Mahrer. Travelling via Southampton (England), they arrived in Buenos Aires in early October. In December, two months later, the Mahrers decided Argentina was not for them and returned to the US. In early February, 1875, William bought 4 square leagues (10,800 hectareas, 27,430 acres) of prime agricultural land in Santa Fé province. He died there the following year, in June of 1876. Estancia “La California” is still in operation and will be for the foreseeable future, much smaller but still farmed by fifth generation Benitz.
A brief history of William is available via the above “Texas/Calif.” button, brief histories of Frank and Nany are available via the above “Ohio/Penn.” button. Much more detailed information is available via their above named buttons: “William”, “Frank”, and “Nany”.
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)