Ea. “La California” Page last modified:
Missing Litho.

Litho by John Schreiber, 1878
(source: Silvia Ucko)

Estancia “La California”
Las Rosas / SFé
Argentina

Founded by Wilhelm (William) Benitz in early 1875, 9 km. south-east of present day Las Rosas, province of Santa Fé, it became the Benitz family’s center of operations and residence for the next several decades.

When the family first arrived, there was not a tree on the place.  First used for grazing cattle and sheep, with wheat cultivated on Las Tijeras by colonos (tenant farmers), it is today fully dedicated to corn, soybeans, wheat, dairy, and cattle fattening (grass fed & silage).  The land is flat, slightly undulating with very fertile deep loess soils.  It is some of the best farm land in Argentina.  (The old boy did us good!)

Time Line

1875 – La California
Purchased by Wilhelm Bz from Carlos Vernet for 16,000 pesos fuertes (426,000 U$D-2000).  It consisted of an east-west strip 1x4 leagues (6,000 x 24,000 varas – 10,800 hectareas – 27,430 acres) in the district of “Los Esteros” (later the municipality of “Las Rosas”), approximately 30 km. north of Cañada de Gómez, Santa Fé. (Las Rosas did not exist, founded in 1889).
Missing map.

District of “Los Esteros”
& neighbouring lands, ca.1875

‘Vernet’ row above ‘Armstrong’
became “La California”
(source: C.A. Benitz, 2010)

1876 - La California
After Wilhelm died (June, 1876), the estancia was managed jointly by his oldest sons, Frank J. Bz (very briefly), William O. Bz, and Alfred A. Bz, with the assistance of their Uncle Frank (Frank X. Bz).
1881 – La Independencia
The westernmost league, known as La Independencia, was sold to pay the debts incurred by Frank J. Bz’s failed ventures.  William O. Bz left to become a hired manager and the management of La California fell to Alfred A. Bz and John E. Bz.
1884 – La California & Las Tijeras
Management fell to John when Alfred left to establish camps at “Laguna Yacaré” and later “Los Palmares”.  Major decisions continued to be made jointly by the 3 brothers: Alfred, John, & William.  The third (& now most western league), known as Las Tijeras, was rented to sharecroppers (colonos).
1896 – La California & Las Tijeras
When Wilhelm's sons divided up their properties, the casco (headquarters) and the 2 eastern leagues went to William Otto Bz (who took over its management), the third league (Las Tijeras) went to Alfred A. Bz (he also received the cattle at “Los Palmares”, over 15,000), and John Edward Bz received the recently purchased “Los Algarrobos” (4 sq. leagues, south of Monte Buey, Cba).
Missing map.

Estancia “La California”, ca.1910
Reproduction of the office wall map,
redrawn from photos of original.
(source of original: C.A. Benitz, 2013)

1911 – La California
Upon William Otto Bz’s death, his share of La California was split amongst his many children.  Son William Agar Bz (Willie) inherited the casco and continued to manage the whole estancia as a single unit.
1918 – La California
Willie’s first wife, Flora King, died.  Ownership of her share (by marriage) of La California went to her then infant children Corina, Stuart, and Malcolm.  Stuart died in 1919.
1920’s - La California
The estancia shrank when Willie’s sisters claimed their shares, which they then sold.  With the assistance of his uncle Alfred, Willie was able to purchase (i.e. retain) some of the land put up for sale. (Fields lost: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6(¾), 8, 27, 28, 31, 32, & 33.  Note: as with all inheritances, the size & shape of some fields were adjusted to the shares.)
1937 – Las Tijeras
Upon Alfred Bz’s death his many properties, including Las Tijeras, were inherited by his widow, Olga B. Horner.
1947 – El Piquete
F. Malcolm Bz took possession of his share of La California inherited from his mother (3 & 7), naming it El Piquete.
1956 – La California
Following Willie’s death, Malcolm added his share to El Piquete (15, 16, & 20).  The rest of the estancia continued to be run as one unit by Charles A. Bz., with the assistance of the Australian Mercantile Co.
1960’s:
La California: Corina and Moyra sold their shares; Charles took full control of his (9-14, & most of 17).
El Piquete: Malcolm sold 15, 16 & 20 to buy one of Corina’s fields (¼ of 6) and grazing land in Corrientes (La Isleta).
Today (2010):
La California: The original casco (much reduced) and surrounding land is owned by the children of Charles A. Bz., great-great-grandchildren of Wilhelm Bz.; it is operated as a single unit.
El Piquete: Owned by the children of F. Malcolm Bz, great-great-grandchildren of Wilhelm Bz.; it is operated as a single unit.
Las Tijeras: In 1963, upon the death of Alfred's widow, Olga Horner, it (and other properties) passed to her brother’s children whom she had previously adopted.  Most of it is still operated by them or their children.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)