John & Marjorie Benitz Page last modified:

John & Marjorie Benitz
Letters, Print, Anecdotes, & Documents

Documents personal (e.g. birth certificates) and public (e.g. census records),
References in print: books, magazines, & newspapers,
Personal letters & diaries.

Subjects with their own pages

Cruz Grande Tragedy In the early morning of March 20, 1916, a flash-flood broke the retaining wall protecting Cruz Grande, taking the lives of John, Marjory-Daw, and four guests.
Segundo at Los Algarrobos Ted Gillyatt’s acccount of his experience as a young segundo (apprentice) at Los Algarrobos during the late 1920s.

Subjects on this page

Lincoln School, Oakland, California


No pic.

John’s “Reward of Merit”
(Source: J.C.Benitz)


No pic.

John’s promotion to 5th Grade
July 7th, 1873

(Source: J.C.Benitz)


No pic.

A page of poems
(Source: J.C.Benitz)

Here rests a poor woman
Who always was tired
For she lived in a house
Where help was not hired
Her last words were, friends,
Fare ye well; I am going
To a place where theres nothing
Of washing or serving.
Then weep not my friends,
When deth shall us sever
For I’ll have a nice time
In doing nothing forever.
For everything there
Is exact to my wishes.
Since where they don’t eat,
theres no washing of dishes.
The courts with sweet music
Are constantly singing;
But having no voice,
I shall get clear of singing
She folded her hands
With her Latest endeavor
And whispered sweet nothin
Oh nothing forever

Billy went up the main-top gallant mast,
And down he fell on his bended knee;
He scarce had come to the twelfth commandment
When up he jumps – Theres land I see.

Jerusalem and Madagascar
And north and South Amerikee
Theres the british flag a-riding at anchor
With Admiral Napier, K.C.B.

So when he got abord of the Admirals
He hanged fat jack and flogged Jimmee.
But as for little he made him
The captain of a seventy thre.


Oh, hurry Bartolmew out in the woods
In a beautiful hole in the ground.
Where the bumble bees buzz and the wood peckers sing.
And the straddle bugs tumble around
So that in winter when the snow and the slush
Have covered his last little bed
His brothe Artemires can go out with Jane.
And visit the place with the sled.

Letters by John

Instructions to Marjorie
25 Feb. 1907

No pic.

John to Marjorie
25 February, 1907
Ea. Los Algarrobos/Cba

This unfinished letter of instructions in case of his death was found enclosed with John’s will.

(Source: John C. Benitz.
Transcription: JPBz & RABz.


Bell Ville, F.C.C.A. February 25 de 1907

My dearest Marjorie
  As we are all mortal and have sooner or later to retire for a time from this life, it is only right that one should try to make it easier for the dear ones who remain, so that nothing is interrupted in any way and everything continues as usual.
  I. would like you to follow your own desires and do as you think best about everything, knowing that you have always the interests of our children at heart, and will always love this Estancia, our second home in this Country and our very own, and which we have both worked so hard to build up and where some of the happiest days of my life have been spent, with you my dear wife and my children
  The following are only suggestions which you can follow or not as you think best, I. know that I. have made many mistakes and if I. had only my life to live over again I. would try and model it on different lines.  and would make you a happier woman and would have left my affairs in a more prosperous condition,
  As it will be necessary for you to at once to get a person of abality and confidence to help you to carry on the Estancia, I. would suggest for you to at once send for your brother Robert, for whom I. have always entertained a great respect and affection, ask him to give up his present position and pay him a better salary say five hundred pounds sterling a year, or a smaller sum and an interest in the profits of the Estancia. and wish that you would ask Alfred and Mr Marty to help you and make a fair arrangement for all parties, also ask their help in any other cases-.
  Robert and his family could occupy the Administracion and have their meals brought from either of the kitchens, or build him another building. exactly like the Administracion. only that it would have a kitchen, on the north side of the gate & garden path or avenue and in the same position so as not to spoil the symetry of the plan of buildings.
  As my contract with La Minnesota & El Victoriano expires with my death, Advice would at once have to be given. and at the same time. and at once make an application for the continuation of the contract. which with Roberts help can easily carried out and with pecuniary benefit.  by my contract I. am entitled to the profits of the present months, taking last years profits as a basis.
  Should the above contracts not be caried out. then Robert could dedicate himself entirely to the Estancia. and could reduce after a time part of the staff.
  Should loans be needed, then give Shares as security. but do not sell any of the land.  keep the land all together, within a few years the land will be worth three times the present value, and with the advanced cultivation and prices of produce and stock you need have no fear for the future.  have the children educated for a few years in England. & the boys taught some profession should they incline that way. and if any of the children desire to enter an Agricultural Colege, let them do so.  as why should the girls be fitted to be Estancieras, to my idea it will be an ideal life for a woman, as in time the conditions of life will change. and the conditions of work also. and a person who works more deserving of respect and admiration.

Letter to Alfred re “Villa Josefina”
8 Sep. 1909

No pic.

John to Alfred
8 September, 1909
Cruz Grande, Córdoba
(Source: J.C. Benitz)

September 8, 1909 

Dear Alfred
   I. arrived up here on Tuesday evening and found everything all right.  Mother looking well and happy and Clarita looking quite strong again.
  The work of making the path for the canal to your place has been finished some days ago.  it comes some three or four meters higher than the site of the old goat corral. just about the place where we had leveled to when we marked it out, the men have all been paid off except Benjamino, until we can get a man to build the canal. sand has been piled up ready sifted. lime taken to the place. and have enough cement to finish it, and hope we finish it soon before the summer comes on.
  I. had a Carpenter sent up from Buenos Aires and brought one up from the Algarrobos– and they will put in the doors- and windows of Villa Josefina, the house is thatched. the chimbrays [chimneys?] finished. the fire places set in and now they are putting up the wooden cielorazos [ceilings]. the plastering is finished inside and only has to be done outside. the wall around the patio is finished and this morning Mother planted eleven big vines that we bought from Panta. around the base of it.  and tomorrow she is going to transplant roses there.
The Kitchen things that Mrs Richard Agar bought for Mother in New York arrived yesterday, and Mother had great delight in unpacking them. all sorts of ingenious things.


Now Alfred I. am going to tell you something and hope you will take it in the same spirit as I. mean it and will not allow it to change your feeling towards me in any way,  if it does. then I. will never forgive myself.  Although you or William have never said anything to me about it, but I. know that you have both spoken to Mother and to Marjorie about it, and that you both object very much to the ammount of money that I. am spending on Mothers house and to the first cost of the place, so that I. have decided to pay for everything myself and have asked William to tear up all the accounts that I. have sent him in connection with Villa Josefina and have sent him a cheque for the ammount he paid to Mr Marty as his share of the purchase price and now also enclose a cheque to you for $6.660.60100 your share of the purchase price.  so after this, everything will be as before the place was bought and hope their will be nothing further happening to cause any doubt between us– and nothing to cause Mother any unhappiness as I. am shure would be the case if she knew that her wish to have a last little home all of her very own should have made any unhappiness.
I. am leaving again on Saturday morning and expect to get home by nine oclock at least from Bell Ville in my car.
   Your affect.   Johnie.

Letter to William re “Villa Josefina”
8 Sep. 1909

No pic.

John to William
8 September, 1909
Cruz Grande, Córdoba
(Source: J.C. Benitz)

September 8  1909 

Dear William
   I. was very sorry that I. could not go back to the Rosario Show to attend the bull sales, but I. could not get away, some cattle buyers & butchers came and kept me buzy and I. had to come up here as I. had arranged with Mr Goldammer to meet me.
I. did not sell any novillos [steers] as there were not even enough but am now feeding them dry hay to bring them on.  but sold 126 cows from La Minnesota at 80.$ to a Cordoba butcher.  from Los Algarrobos- I. also sold some more old cows. old bullocks & small novillos.
The Capones [wethers] sold well in Buenos Aires for 9.$ & 9.50 clear. and my capon pigs [barrows] cleared 40$ not very fat,
Marjorie was coming up with me but she had visitors and could not get away.
I. had a carpenter sent up from Buenos Aires and brought up one of mine from Los Algarrobos- and will start at once setting in the doors & windows of Mothers house and today Mr Goldammer showed the builders all about putting in the drains & water system and expect that the house will soon be finished.
Although neither you or Alfred have ever said anything to me about it, but I. know from what you both have said to Mother and Marjorie that you do not approve of the money I. am spending on Mothers house and did


approve of the purchase of the place in the first instance, and as I. do not wish to have any misunderstanding or any chance of unhappiness between us three on account of Villa Josefina. and do not want Mother to think that she may have been the cause of any unhappiness, I. have decided to pay for everything connected with the place myself, and wish you would tear up all the accounts connected with Villa Josefina that I. have sent you, and now send you enclosed in this- a cheque on the London Bank for $6.660.60100 which is what you paid as your share of the purchase price to Mr Marty.  I. am sending one also to Alfred. so now everything will be as before, and hope that nothing will ever come between us three brothers to cause any ill feeling or misunderstanding again life is too short and the money not worth it.
Clarita is looking very well and expect that she will be stronger than ever now.  Mother is also very well and says that she is glad that she spent the winter up here.
After the wind and the dust of the Estancia it is a great pleasure to come up here for even a few days, but I. have to leave on saturday morning again and with the car arrive home about 9 oclock that night.  I. am going to the Palermo Show on the 15th & hope to see you down there.
   Yours affect.   Johnie.

Letter to Marjorie re Bermejo
28 Apr. 1910

No pic.

John to Marjorie
Aboard the river boat S.S. Berlin
Sailing down the Paraná River,
Las Palmas (Chaco) to Bs.As.
28 April, 1910

(Source: John C. Benitz,
Transcription: JPBz & RABz

See Maps of the Chaco


Bell Ville, F.C.C.A. Thursday. April 28 de 1910

S.S. Berlin

My Dearest Marjorie
   I. am so glad to get back to civilization again. and to be able to write to you again.  and hope soon to be with you, you must have wondered where I. have been so long.  but as soon as I. got back to Las Palmas I. telegraphed to you. to Cruz Grande. wondering at the same time if you was- still up there, or if you had gone back to Los Algarrobos, all by yourself and the children, and I. know you dont like to travel by yourself, I. am sorry.  but I. hurried all the time, traveled at unearthly times of the night, and the whole time it was hurry, hurry.  so sorry to leave you so long. but once embarked on this land hunt and land buying there was no turning back. and I. think that in time we will be repaid for everything.
   We left Los Palmas- at 2 a.m. fancy catching a train at that time in the morning on tuesday, the 19th we sat on our saddles- on a teeney little open truck while a little teeny puffing engine pulled us for five hours: to the end of the rails. through great cane fields and woods, it was a lovely night, and after the morning star came out we saw the Comet [Halley's Comet]. for the first time. very clear and bright, when we arrived at the end of the rails our teeth were chattering with cold and soaked with the heavy dew.  but a young irishman in charge out there had some tea with condensed milk and steaks made for us- so we were soon all right, but no Mc.Lean with horses was there to meet us-, so we watched the men loading up the heavy bags. and the bulloch carts bring in more. and the wild Correntino & Indians cutting trees.  the end of the rail is right in the forest. and is surrounded with the grass & palm huts of these wild people. you never saw such wild looking women. all barefooted. but all surrounded with swarms of little children, so the wilds & the climate does not prevent them from becoming happy mothers, the horses did not arrive that day either

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so next morning, the 20th Don Pancho and I. took the rifle and went for a long walk we followed a stream and along the edge of the woods- for a couple of legues. but there was no game.  there are too many people about. but we saw a lot of strange birds and trees. and a tucan, a bird with a huge yellow beak. but did not hit it.  I. would have liked its beak for my collection.  when we got back we found Mc.Lean and his horses waiting for us.  two peons. and two pack saddles- the peons armed with remingtons, but the sorriest horses I. ever saw, the thinnest and miserablest horses you could immagine.  a beggar would refuse to ride them.  if there had been any chance to have got others I. would have refused to have gone with Mc.Lean. but there are no horses up there at all. hardly any one to be seen. Well we saddled up after lunch. and we trotted & trotted all afternoon as hard as we could make the horses go. then camped at a frenchmans. right in the woods- alongside of the stream. and by the time we eat, made our beds- and put up the mosquitozas it was late, next morning early early we were on horseback and at midday arrived at a lonely little bolicho [boliche - pub / bar] by a rude bridge over a deep stream.  we rode all afternoon untill we got to another bolicho not far from the edge of the land we were going to see, Next morning we started out. just the three of us: & and rode to a part of the camp. just inside of the line of the camp a scotchman has settled a Mr Farquaharson [Farquharson] from the Banda Oriental [i.e., Uruguay]. has about 2000 head of cattle on the camp.  it seems that the land we want to see has been considered untill lately as fiscal land which was to be made into a pastoril colony.  250 legues-. in one legue blocks. so settlers rushed out to take possesion of the lots before the Goverment made the survey and the allotments.  so when last year the Goverment survey the land. a great many people found that they had settled on private property, so quickly moved off to get onto other lots.  so the first part of the camp we went to see is full of deserted houses. ranches & fields but Farquaharson just being on the edge stayed on.  The 8 legues is all freshly surveyed off and has freshly marked mojones [survey markers] all over it.  the first part of the land that we revised that day is lovely rolling land dotted with millions of palms and groups of trees.  plenty of natural water and crossed by a stream and full of cattle of all the neighbors.  that night we slept again at the boliche. and the next morning saturday the 23rd we moved our camp to the centre of the camp.  to a puesto belonging to

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Uriburro [Uriburu]. who has got about 12 000 head of cattle on the camp.  he has got an Estancia adjoining. and keeps part of his cattle on the camp. has put up corrales and fences.  we had lunch there and in the afternoon we rode over the camp. and got as far as the Rio Bermejo which is outside of the camp. but I. wanted to see this famous river of which I. heard so much for many years-.  it is a big river half as broad as the parana in front of Rosario.  it brings snow water from the Cordillera [Andes Cordillera].  comes through Salta & Jujuy. you remember the Leaches went down it on an exploring trip.  this river has a very swift current. high banks-, covered with big lapacho [Handroanthus lapacho] & urunday [Astronium urundeuva] trees.  it will never be navigable on account of its current. & the big trees on the bottom. invisible. but make navigation impasible.  we stood half an hour on its high bank. and during that time two hugh pieces of bank with big trees fell into the river with a mighty roar,  the river water is like mud. thick with sediment and it is this river that dirties the parana.  above its outlet the parana is as clear as cristal.  later on when we got onto this steamer we saw it ourselves.   That night we slept in a big open camp. where we had difficulty in finding firewood, next morning we returned to the puesto. and in the afternoon broke camp and returned to the bolicho [boliche].  The camp exceeded my expectations.  it is lovely camp. high. with few swamps. millions of palms. and clumps of woods. an ideal Estancia.  on our ride there is a hugh impenetrable wood. immense trees. all hard wood, when it can be worked it will repay the full cost of the camp.  the main part of this camp is the good water. wells can be dug anywhere. with good sweet water.  you can dip a bucket in from the surface.  The open camp is all good for agriculture. the soil is splendid.  maize. alfalfa. peanuts. linseed. cotton. oranges-. bananas- & dates grow well if planted.   At the boliche that night I. met a nice young

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Englishman called Richard Paul, he has got one of the legue lots of pastoril Colony land and has some cattle.  he is in lise [lease] with the county. says there are a lot of Englishmen & germans out there.  the Goverment gives them the land on the condition the lise [lease] on the land for five years. spend five hundred dollars on improvements and keep 500 head of cattle and pay so much a year. so that in five years the land is their own & has cost them about 10.000.$.  all the lots are taken up long ago. but they say that none of the land is as good as that what we went to see.  all along the Bermejo there is a strip of exceptionaly good land. the rest is low & swampy.  Monday the 25th we left the boliche early. and the next day at 10 a.m. we arrived back at the point of the rails [rail-head].  we just had time to put our saddles into their bags and climb up top of a pile of big logs on a little truck and in the evening late got back to Los Palmas. ar'd to the hotel.  Mc.Lean accompanied us & it was too late to telegraph. and as there was no bath room in the miserable hotel. we made a screen on the corredor with catres [cots / beds] stood on end and with buckets of water and a bar of soap we had a fine wash down.  the first bath since Resistencia. and the first time we felt refreshed.  we had no time for bathes outside. not even for washing. and I. tell you it was fine to get into fresh changes of clothes and feel clean once more.  one gets terribly dirty. you have no idea.  the mud, mud, everlasting mosquitos & eating meat with your hands, & greasing your boots every day makes one awfully muddy & dirty.  the next morning, yesterday, we started early. after telegraphing to the seller of the land, telling him that I. would buy it. and was going to Buenos Aires to Escriturar. and telegraphing to you. to Mr. Hinners & to Mr Marty.  we took the little train & went to the port & just caught this streamer. Berlin. coming from Asuncion.  McLean got off at Barranqueras [Resistencia’s port], and Don Pancho and I. just enjoyed a fine siesta and a fine sleep last night and this morning we just soaked ourselves in a fine hot bath and feels tons cleaner.
   This steamer is not one of the best boats, but it is good enough.  it is the same one I. think that we & the children came up once from Buenos Aires to Rosario.

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   Now I. am wondering if the titles of the land will be all right and if the seller will keep faith.  but on monday I. will know and expect it will be all right and hope it does not keep me long.  you have no idea how homesick I am.  Away outside in the Pastoril Colony. we called on a lonely little hut where the woman stopped us – and told us about her husband. a fine tall frenchman.  he had gone quite mad.  they had no horse. no meat. and a lot of little children.  we left word at the next place we called and they came and took him away.  quite mad. singing & shouting.  loneliness did it.  the savage wilds.
   We carried the winchester rifle with us everywhere. took turns in carrying it.  but shot nothing but some charatas. a kind of pheasant. of which we had some meals.  we saw no game. there is none in the open but the big wood on the camp is full.  I. walked or crawled into it for a little distance. quite near to the puesto and saw tracks of every kind of wild animal. and the trees were full of charatas. and wild turkeys. parrots & pidgeons.  you should just see how the pidgeons and parrots go for the maiz fields.  four different kinds of parrots and great big blue pidgeons.  they must do a terrible lot of damage. but nobody seems to mind, there is a lot of maiz, at every house a big field and there seems to be a good sale for it as they charge up to 1.30$ the 10 Kilos.  Mandioca, a very nice vegetable grows everywhere and I. liked it. I. only tasted milk once. and that was on the camp, at Uriburras puesto.  when we returned from the Bermejo they were milking and a woman handed me a big cup full of fresh milk.  it tasted good after so much mate sucking.  the children all eat charqui and sweet potatoes.  it seems to aggree with them.
Everybody outside knew McLean.  he goes about a good deal. but I. don’t think he is much liked. but he is a good campman and knows his way about. all through the montes. in the darkest night. but I. cant forgive him for mounting us so badly.  the

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horses were skin & bone. a poor miserable kind of Correntino horse. worn to skin and bone by long expeditions through big grass & mud and sucked dry by countless mosquitos.  we had to abandon three on the way. poor animals.  they were so weak that they actualy stood still & refused to go into water or mud and it made me sick to whack whack the poor animals.  it was a revelation to Don Pancho. who said that he would never have dremt of an Englishman being so cruel.  he says he will appreciate better now our horses at Los Algarrobos.  Don Pancho enjoyed the trip immensely.  it will have done him a lot of good too.  once he got regular tired out and believe he would not have minded if we had just have abandoned him as long as he could just have laid down and slept.  I. was sorry that I. did not bring a sleeping bag for Don Pancho, several times it got real cold.  the sleeping bags are splendid things.  I. could lay it on my saddle blanket & that red rug. (jergon) and be perfectly comfortable. as warm and as cozy as possible.  putting up the hood against the wind and with the mosquito net spread over to keep out the mosquitos and the heavy dew, it was very cosy.  I. could get up and have it rolled up and strapped before the others had time to gather their saddles together.  luckily the weather was fine the whole time.  the night we left Los Palmas to go outside it rained heavily and the day we left for the steamer it rained in torrents.  luckily we escaped it outside.

I. had my little Camera with me the whole time, in my pocket. and took views of every interesting thing I. saw.  at night in my sleeping bag. laying on my back. well buttoned in.  I. would change the plates in the little plate holders-. but one day I. found out that the little shutter was not working.  I. took it apart with my pen Knife, but could not fix it.  so I. am affraid that the exposures will all be wrong and the plates useless.  I. was so mad that I. nearly threw the camera into a puddle. I. may never get such a chance again to take so many interesting views, and little Johnie will be dissapointed if I. dont show him a photo of the funy little puffing engine & the little train.   This trip down the river is a fine trip, the boat is so steady.  I. wish you were all on board with me.  I. hope to find letters from you when I. get back to Buenos Aires.   Love to Mother and to the boys and hoping to see you soon.  Yours affection.   Johnie.

Letter to Mother, from Scotland
28 July 1910

No pic.

John to his mother
28 July, 1910
St. Andrews, Scotland
(Source: J. Lockwood)

Dear Mother
  This is a lovely place and it must be a very healthy one as I. found our three girls looking so well. the pictures of health, so rozy and well fat & strong.  They like it too & their teachers are so nice.  today they left school and all have some prize to show. Joe has a very good micriscope for 1st prize in “Nature Studies”.  her book is a wonder they tell me.  Today we leave here for Loch Earn, where maybe (we) will stay for a while
Your aff. son  Johnie

Loch Earn - lake due north of Glasgow, & due west of Perth & Dundee.

John & Marjorie’s Wedding – At “La California” – 15 Oct., 1892

In Argentina, the civil wedding (performed before a judge) is the legal wedding (date, place, etc.).  The religious/church wedding is optional.  John & Marjorie performed both on the same day, which is unusual.


No pic.

Civil Wedding
Legal copy of original
(Source: J.P. Benitz)


No pic.

Religious Wedding
(Source: J.P. Benitz)



No pic.

Ea. “La California” daybook
(Source: P. Benitz)

Santos Cegovia took out 10 cows LV.  Johnnie married today.  Oroño and Juez de Paz came to do civil ceremony, and Spangler came with Hugh MIntosh.  Every body except Spangler left in afternoon train.  Bridal couple go to Landa.  Alfredo stops here.  Beltasario took away Nash’s potrillos (50).  Finished shearing - 3538 latas given out.-  $141.50  4 bags wool got damp.  Heavy rain all afternoon.  Cleared up with strong south wind.–  Ceguira took 6 rams.  Butchered vaquilla.

LV – a livestock brand
Juez de Paz – Justice of the Peace
Spangler, J.M. – Rev., Methodist Church, Rosario
Landa – Rincón de Landa in Entre Rios province, where William was mayordomo of a Bunge estancia.
Nash – neighbor NW of Las Rosas town.
potrillos – foals (generic for both sexes)
lata – metal tag, given out one per sheep shorn; i.e. total fleeces = 3,538.
vaquilla – heifer

Newspaper & Magazine articles


No pic.

La California
River Plate Sport and Pastime
Wednesday, May 4, 1892

(Source: Stuart B. Pryor)


No pic.

Notice of the founding of
“Sociedad Anonima Ganadera
Los Algarrobos”

(Source: J.C.Benitz)


Legal Documents



No pic.

John’s Death Report
US Consulate, Rosario/SFé
April 3, 1916
(Source: RABsGrabs)


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)