Alfred A. Benitz Page last modified:

Alfred Alexander Benitz
(1859 - 1937)

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Uncle Alfred, c.1920
(Source: Susan Horner)

Alfred to his siblings, Uncle Alfred to his many nephews and nieces, and Don Alfredo to most everyone else.  The eighth child of William & Josephine Benitz, he was born on 15 June, 1859, at Fort Ross (California).  He was a child of 8 when the family moved to Oakland, only 15 upon arrival in Argentina, 17 when his father died in 1876.  He had light brown hair and blue eyes, and as an adult he was 1.80 metres (5 foot 11 inches) tall.

Alfred came of age at estancia “La California” (near Las Rosas, Santa Fé).  He was a bachelor most of his life, and was likely the most colorful of his siblings.  He was a big game hunter, hunting in the Argentine Chaco, the Yukon (Canada) in 1908, and British East Africa (today Kenya) in 1910.  But he was also a very successful businessman and estanciero (rancher). 

In 1884, aged 24, he established a camp in the Chaco region of northern Santa Fé province, north-east of Calchaquí, Santa Fé, between the Espín and Toba (a.k.a. Saladillo Dulce) rivers, on land had once been part of his older brother Frank’s failed “Colonia Espín”.  Alfred’s headquarters were located on the shores of Laguna Yacaré, from which it took its name (the laguna is now dry).  Evicted in December, 1889, he moved nearby, a few kilometers west of Calchaquí to what later became estancia “Los Palmares” (16,000 hectareas, rented from the Santa Fé Land Co., a.k.a. “La Forestal”; stocked with almost 12,000 head of cattle in 1894).  He managed it for the family then for himself (after Benitz Hermanos dissolved), eventually buying it in 1904.  He also inherited “Las Tijeras”, the western league of estancia “La California”.  In 1909 he added to it the neighbouring “Las Tres Lagunas” (½ league) — filling the house with his hunting trophies.  In 1917 he bought “Campo Winter” (on the south shores of the Bermejo river, Chaco), expanding it in 1927, 1932, and 1937 to approx. 7 leagues (17,500 has. / 43,250 acres).

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Auntie Olga, c.1915
(Source: Silvia Ucko)

In 1915, at the age of 56, he married Olga Blanche Horner (a niece of the Dickinson brothers who’s estancia “Las Lomas” bordered the east quarter of “La California” to the north).  They had no children of their own but raised three of Olga’s brother’s children whom she adopted after Alfred’s death.

Uncle Alfred outlived all his siblings becoming the family patriarch, counselor, and banker.  He died at the age of 78 on 17 September, 1937, at “Las Tres Lagunas”.  Diminutive Auntie Olga, the family battle-axe, received an OBE for her support of the British war effort during WW-II.  She was 87 years old when she died on 4 February, 1963, at “El Rincon” (Cruz Grande, Córdoba), and is buried beside Uncle Alfred at “La California”.

In these pages there is a great deal more about Alfred.  His biography is a must read.  He also kept a diary for much of his life (beginning as a teen in Oakland to the day he died) in which he recorded the family's long journey to Argentina, his many trips, and his more mundane daily activities.  If you have the time, his diaries are a fascinating read.

Alfred’s Event Timeline

(Olga’s Event Timeline is on her own page.)

Year Age Event
1859, June 15 0 Alfred Alexander Benitz was born at Fort Ross, California, USA, the eigth child William Benitz & Josephine Kolmer.  Alfred to his siblings, Uncle Alfred to his many nephews & nieces, and Don Alfredo to almost everyone else.
1857 8 Family moved to Oakland where he enrolled in the xxxxx school. see diary
1874 Oct. 15 Arrived in Buenos Aires with his parents & siblings.
1875, May 19 0 Olga Blanche Horner is born, in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England
1884 24 Drove a herd of cattle north from La California, to his brother Frank's former Colonia Espín east of Calchaquí (Santa Fé), where he established an estancia on the shores of the Laguna Yacaré.
1889 29 Evicted from Laguna Yacaré, he established estancia Los Palmares on land he had already rented from the Santa Fé Land Co. (La Forestal), west of Calchaquí between the Calchaquí and Salado rivers, and south of the Laguna Los Palmares. About 16,000 hectareas.
1893 33 Visited England and the U.S.
1894 34 His cattle herd at Los Palmares had grown to 12,000 head.
1897, April 1 37 In Rosario, Santa Fé: With brothers William and John: (i) bought out their mother and sister’s shares in the family enterprises.  (ii) created Benitz Hermanos in which each brother managed one of the estancias: La California, Los Algarrobos, & Los Palmares.
abt.1900   Benitz Hermanos was disolved early - it was intended to last 5 years.  Las Tijeras (Alfred’s share of La California, 1 sq. league) was managed for Alfred by William.  It was rented out to colonos - share croppers.
1904, Feb. 11 44 Alfred bought Los Palmares from the Santa Fé Land Co., paying xxxxxxx.
1904, June 4 44 Alfred left Los Palmares;  trip to Europe (24 June - 4 Dec.): England, Scotland, Germany (Endingen), France, & US: St. Louis (World Fair), Corsicana et al in Texas, Colon (Panama), South American west coast ports, & crossed the Andes by train from Santiago to Mendoza.
1908 47  Alfred purchased the land in the Cruz Grande valley on which he built his summer home, El Rincon.  It is above brother John’s summer home Cruz Grande (named for the valley/quebrada).
1908 48 Travels to the US & Canada; hunts in the Yukon with John Todd.
1909 49 Alfred bought estancia Las Tres Lagunas & El Ombú from Portious & Knight; approx. ½ league, between his estancia Las Tijeras and the town of Las Rosas.
1910, June 10
- 1911, May 15
50 Travels to England & Europe (3 months); on safari with John Todd in British East Africa (today Kenya, 3 months); returns to England (10 days); travels the US (3 months).  He was present when his brother William died in Corsicana, Texas, 1 April, 1911.
1915, Jan. 55 Brother John’s diary mentions Alfred travelling with a friend to Los Palmares.  It is the last time Los Palmares is mentioned as being Alfred’s.  Per Alfred’s diaries, while on a train during a trip in 1925 to Campo Winter, he met “Echevaria of Los Palmares”; the phrasing suggests he no longer owned it.
1915, Sep. 29 56 - 40 Alfred & Olga Blanche Horner marry in Buenos Aires.
1917 58 - 42 Alfred buys Campo Winter, 4 leagues (10,000 has.) in the Chaco prov., against the Rio Bermejo.  He added to it 3 more camps, the last in 1937 (El Sombrerito), for a total of 18,390 has.
1920 60 - 45 Alfred & Olga travel to England: London, Pebmarsh (Olga’s relatives), & Mereside (John Todd).  Alfred goes to France with nephew Willie (buys a Percheron stallion, returns from Paris to London by air: 6 passengers, 3½ hours).
1922 62 - 47 Alfred & Olga ride from Zapala (Neuquen), visiting her brothers at Estancia “Pulmari” before continuing across the Andes into Chile.
1925 65 - 50 Alfred & Olga travel to the UK; often renting cars, they visited: Pebmarsh (Horner fly), Bournemouth, Devon (Traill fly), Cumberland, & Scotland (with John Todd fly).
1935, May-Sep. 75 - 60 Alfred & Olga travel the U.S. accompanied by his nephew Willie Benitz, Eileen, and Willie’s children Corina & Malcolm.  They visit Fort Ross – see Willie’s account of the trip.
1937, Sep. 17 78 Alfred died at his estancia “Las Tres Lagunas”.  He was buried in the Benitz family cemetery at Ea. “La California”, Las Rosas, Santa Fé, Arg.
ca.1938 63 After Alfred’s death, Olga sold Campo Winter and El Ombú, the proceeds distributed equaly to 15 of his 16 nephews & nieces; Willie received Alfred’s shares in La California S.A..
xx xx Olga adopted her brother Humphrey’s children after he died: John, Mary, & Willie Horner.
xx xx Olga was awarded an OBE for her support during WWII.  
1963, Feb. 4 87 Olga died at “El Rincon”; she was buried next to Alfred at Ea. “La California”.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)