John E. Benitz Page last modified:
Missing image.

(Source: John C. Bz)

Missing cards.

(Source: Moira Greaven)

John Edward Benitz

John was born 24 August, 1861, at Fort Ross, California, full name John Edwart BenitzJohnie to his siblings.  He was a child of 6 when the family moved to Oakland, and 13 upon arrival in Argentina.  Still 14 when his father died in June, 1876, he grew up at La California to become a civic-minded successful estanciero (rancher).

John helped establish towns and schools, served as mayor of two towns, was a founding member of the Rosario and Bell Ville agricultural societies, and of the The River Plate Polo Association, 1892 (precursor to the Asociación Argentina de Polo, 1922).

He managed La California from 1884 to 1899 when he moved his family to the recently purchased estancia Los Algarrobos (15 km. south of present day Monte Buey, Córdoba), which became solely his when Benitz Hermanos dissolved ca. 1899.  He also managed estancias La Minnesota, El Victoriano, & La Escondida (all next to los Algarrobos), and El Bermejo in the Chaco province — estancias in which he had a minority share in partnership with T. Agar, M. Cross, and others.

On 25 October, 1892, John and Marjorie M. Macintosh; were married at La California.  They had 5 children.

Missing cards.

(Source: Silvia Ucko)

John’s life was cut short on 20 March, 1916, when a flash flood washed through his summer home Cruz Grande, in Cruz Grande, Córdoba.  He was 54 years old.  Marjorie lived another 30 years and was 83 years old when she died on 26 December, 1945, at Los Algarrobos.  They are both buried in the family cemetery at La California.

Event Timeline

Year Age Event
1858-Mar.-21 0 Marjorie Morris Macintosh, was born in in Helenburgh, Glasgow, Scotland; her parents were Thomas Macintosh and Elspeth Dow Macdonald; she was their 2nd child of 11.  (Marjorie would later claim she was born in 1862, likely to appear younger than her husband.  Her altered date of birth does not fit between those of her siblings Mary Dow M. & Thomas Paton M. – see the Macintosh family tree.)
bef. 1890 bef. 33 Marjorie may have accompanied her brother Robert when he immigrated to Argentina in early 1888 or before.  Per the badly damaged La California day-book of 1888, Robert was working there in May, and playing polo with John in September.  There is no day-book for 1889.  In the 1890 day-book, a Miss Macintosh is first mentioned on January 15: “Mr Macintosh took Miss Macintosh and Mrs Cornish out riding.”  After which she is mentioned regularly as a guest at La California, coming and going from Rosario.  (On June 5th, 1890, Hugh, Donald, & Agnes Macintosh sailed from Southampton, England, aboard the ship La Plata, their destination: Rosario.)

1861-Aug.-24 0 John Edwart Benitz was born at Fort Ross, California, Johnie to his siblings.  His parents were William Benitz and Josephine Kolmer; he was their 9th child of 10.
1867 6 The family moved to Oakland, California, where John was put in school.  A good student, he would have completed 5th grade by July, 1874, i.e. before emigrating.
1874-Oct.-8 13 Arrived in Argentina with his parents.
1875 13 In January, his father bought 4 square leagues (10,800 hectares) of land 30 km. north of Cañada de Gómez, Santa Fé.  In April, the family began establishing their new home, estancia La California.
1876-June-27 14 His father died suddenly.
20 John wrote to Willie about his investigation into the disappearance of their eldest brother Frank.  Frank had vanished in November, 1881, when riding from Aljendra to his Colonia Espín.  It was presumed Frank had drowned crossing the El Toba / Saladillo Dulce river, leaving his young wife, large debts, and some very angry creditors.
1884-Mar.-30 22 Alfred left, taking a breeding herd north to establish an estancia on Frank’s failed Colonia Espín, leaving John in charge of the day-to-day management of La California (Oldest surviving brother William having married and left in 1881).
1892-Jan.-21 30 John represented the Santa Fé polo club at a meeting in B.A. of all polo clubs.  On 4 March, 1892 the The River Plate Polo Association came into being (mostly British, with rules of play printed only in English!)  30 years later it merged with other polo associations to form the Asociación Argentina de Polo, today’s governing body.

1892-Oct.-25 31 & 34 John and Marjorie were married at Estancia La California, Las Rosas, Santa Fé, Arg.
1893-Nov.-03 32 & 35 Their first child, Elspeth Josephine Benitz (Elsie), was born 1:30 a.m. at La California. [LCD]
1890-1899 28-38 Per the La California day-books, John was travelling regularly to Rosario, Buenos Aires, Villa Maria (likely looking for land to buy), Córdoba city; & the family took summer vacations in the Córdoba hills (Sierras Chicas), e.g. Capilla del Monte.  [LCD]
1895-Mar.19 33 John was a founding member of the Sociedad Rural Santafecina (smaller versions of it had existed since 1814), with Enrique B. Coffin as its president.  In 1908, it was renamed: Sociedad Rural de Rosario[CAF, pg.117]
1895-Dec.-17 34 & 37 Josephine Elsie Benitz (Jo) was born: “Telegram came from Rosario.  Marjory had a girl baby at tuclu” (two o’clock?)[LCD]
1896-June-3 34 With family funds, John bought Los Algarrobos, 10,125 hectares (3¾ pre-metric square leagues) of flat gently undulating pampas in south-eastern Córdoba province, 10 km. south-west of present day Monte Buey.  On June 15, he paid first instalment: $60,000 mn.  He sold gold at 29750 [LCD]
1896-July-27 34 John bought El Victoriano for Mrs. Clara Agar (1 sq. league & 80 cuadras, i.e. 2,845 metric hectares).  Sold by G. Fisher for $85,000 cash: camp to be delivered in 30 days, including buildings, livestock, & crops. [LCD]
1896-Aug.-2 35 John hired Robert Macintosh as mayardomo to manage Los Algarrobos & El Victoriano at $150 per month, each paying half. [LCD]
1897-April-1 35 With brothers William & Alfred:
(1) Bought out their mother (Josephine Kolmer/Bz) & sister (Josephine Bz/Schreiber);
(2) Formed a partnership Benitz Hermanos where each brother managed one of their estancias, respectively: La California (including Alfred’s Las Tijeras), Los Palmares (rented), & Los Algarrobos.  The partnership was to last 5 years – it ended sooner, before 1900.
1897-May-3 35 John contracted with O. Ragant to sow wheat on alfalfa at estancia La Minnesota, Mr. Agar’s camp; i.e. John was managing the estancia for Agar. [LCD]
1897-Aug.-27 36 & 39 Daughter Marjory Daw Benitz was born at 4:50 pm in Rosario, SFé. [LCD]
1897-Sep. 36 Blacksmith & carpenter at La California were making gates & gate-posts for Victoriano, Algarrobos, and Monterey[LCD]
1897-Nov.-30 36 John was named president of the Comision de Fomento de Las Rosas (equiv. to mayor).  During his tenure: the first Escuela fiscal was built (Nº260), street lighting was improved, rural road bridges were built, & the first school band was formed & instruments bought for it.  He resigned 1899-May-23, before leaving La California[CAF]
1898-Mar.-4 36 Benitz Hermanos held their second board meeting. [LCD]
1898-Mar.-28 36 & 39 John signed the title deeds for land he bought from Justo Zapata for $8,000 mn – it became his & Marjorie’s summer home: Cruz Grande.  (Familiar with Capilla del Monte, he had searched there first, without success.)  [LCD]
1899-June-30 37 & 41 John & Marjorie’s piano & furniture were sent to the Larguia train station for shipment to Los Algarrobos. [LCD]
1901-Apr.-14 39 Son John Benitz was born at Crúz Grande (La Cumbre), Córdoba.
1902 40 John oversaw the management of Malcolm Cross’ estancia Monterey (10,000 ha.), near Monte Maíz/Cba, 20+ km. south of Los Algarrobos[CAF ***]
1903-Aug.-22 42 & Son Alfred Donald Benitz was born at Crúz Grande (La Cumbre), Córdoba.
1904-Mar.-03 42 John received shares in the Scottish Estancia Co. Ltd. from T. Agar.  [JEB]
1904-May-01 42 John purchased La Escondida (at $40 per hectare) from Benjamin Sastre for the Scottish Estancia Co. Ltd., neighbouring east of La Minnesota and south of El Victoriano.  Signed titles May 30, paid $37.596.68mn.  for 939.917 has. (2,321 acres).  [JEB]
1904-1912 42-51 Per his diary & notes, John travelled regularly to La California, Rosario, Buenos Aires, Bell Ville, Córdoba city; & Cruz Grande; also to the estancias he oversaw for Malcolm Cross and the Agars.  Agar family members visited yearly from England.  We have omitted most business transactions & loans, livestock counts & purchases.
1904-July-17 42 Grahame Paul arrived from England, as a “Pupil”, i.e. segundo.  (He later married John’s niece, “Nena” Benitz.)  [JEB]
1904-1905 42-43 Planted trees bought in BA (sycamores, pine, etc.); fetched young ostridges (ñandú) from La California[JEB]
1904-Sep.-3 43 John judged Shorthorn/Durham bulls at the Rosario agricultural show.  (Did so again: 1905, 1906, 1907, 1911.)  [JEB]
1905-March-3 43 John met Malcolm Cross at his estancia Monterey.  Installed new mayordomo, Mr. Francis.  Shortly after John initiated the process of selling Monterey, eventually sold in October.  [JEB]
1905-Oct.16 44 John signed title deeds in Córdoba city for land he bought, from the Zapata family, next to Cruz Grande.  See 19/03/2007.  [JEB]
1906-Mar.-19 44 John began the process of creating Sociedad Anonima Ganadera Los Algarrobos with his brothers & others he trusted.  A means of preserving his properties for his children. (See his diary for the full contract, Jan.10, 1907.)  [JEB]
1907-Mar.-19 45 John sold 2½ has. (land he bought 1905/10/16) to sister Josephine (her Los Nogales?).  John bought back (all/some) on Apr. 22, 1908.  [JEB]
1907-July-04 45 John took his 3 daughters for a 2-week visit to Alfred’s Los Palmares - see photo albums: JEB-8, & AAB-2.  [JEB]
1907-Aug.-14 46 John offered to buy from L. Urdaniz 2,114 has. adjoining Los Algarrobos to the south, at $65/ha., later $60.  On shares with R. Agar; fell through 26 Mar., 1907.  [JEB]
1907 46 John was a founding member of the Club Social de Bell Ville[CAF]
1908-Mar-13 46 John met with Governor of Códoba province, Ortíz y Herrera, who named him president of the Roads Commission of the Union Department (which contains Los Algarrobos).  After which he met regularly with various government officers regarding the roads in Union.  [CAF & JEB]
1908-Apr.-13 46 In Córdoba city, John received title deeds to land Alfred had purchased from Mauricio Zapata & Mercedes Gonzalez de Zapata.
1908-Apr.-21 46 The rairoad surveyors (FCCO - Ferrocarril Central Oeste) placed their line along north side of division fence between La Minnesota & El Victoriano.  [JEB]
1908-Apr.-23 46 John marked out the location of La Minnesota’s administration building.  [JEB]
1908-Apr.-27 46 Profesor Herbert Mumfort, from the Illinois Agricultural College, visited Los Algarrobos[JEB]  (Note: Likely why John’s nephews Willie & Frank 1-3 years later attended it.)
1908-May-03 46 John received notice from James Agar that El Victoriano was to be sold.  [JEB]
1908-June-9 46 John, with other estancieros, founded the Sociedad Rural de Bell Ville[JEB]
1908-June-24 46 John took out loan to buy land from Gibson (original owners of land offered by Urdaniz?)  Must have fallen through for not heard of again.  [JEB]
1908-July-02 46 John received La Quebrada (aka: El Rincon) for Alfred; paid $2,202.00; began making the road along mountain side above the Cruz Grande arroyo.  [JEB]
1908-July-07 46 Marjorie & daughters sailed for England.  Elsie (14) & Jo (12) to attend school at St. Katherine’s Lodge, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.  [JEB]
1908-Sep.-26 47 John judged cattle at the first show in Bell Ville, organized by the Sociedad Rural Union.  (Did so again: 26 Sep., 1909)  [JEB]
1908-Oct.-02 47 In Córdoba, John was appointed President of the Comisión Departamento de Caminos Punilla (Roads Commission of Punilla), held first meeting on Oct.14.  [JEB]
1908-Nov.-13 50 Marjorie & Marjory-Daw (11) left Engand, arrived BA Saturday 5 Dec., 1908.
1908-Dec.-24 47 Mr. W.H. Warnock died, manager of La Minnesota.  Replaced by Mr. Law on Jan. 16, 1909.  [JEB]
1909-Apr.-29 47 In Córdoba city: (1) Requested permission for Alfred to install a water intake on the Cruz Grande river (above El Rincon); (2) Obtained land titles to La Josefina[JEB]
1909-May-12 47 “William arrived from La California in his 50 H.P. Motor Car. 5 hours.”  Two weeks later John bought a Daimler motor car, 38 H.P. 5 seated.  It arrived from BA on June 2, with a chauffeur who was to stay 8 days; the chauffeur ran it into a gate post + destroyed the car.  Nobody was badly injured, however, the car was sent to BA for repairs.  Then, on July 20, John received a second (replacement?) Daimler in Bell Ville.  On November 4, after dropping John at the Bell Ville train station, his driver (Hector) got drunk and overturned the car.  This second car was also sent to BA for repairs, and did not return for more than a year, not until November 12, 1910.  [JEB]
1909-June-02 47 John bought a farm in Cruz Grande (Chacra Lujan, 8 has.) from Manuela Calanilla de Zapata, $1,800.  See Album 6, photos 84-89. (Titles received July 12.)  [JEB]
1909-June-25 47 At Los Algarrobos, finished building the new galpon (barn), begun July 10, 1908.  [JEB]
1909-July-03   Elsie Macintosh & Marjory-Daw (12) sailed to England; Marjory-Daw to join her sisters at St. Andrew's school.  [JEB]
1909-July-12 47 John received a poder (power-of-attorney) to manage the La Maragarita colony for Mrs. Thume.
1909-Oct.01 48 John marked out a polo ground at Los Algarrobos for a tournament, held Oct.24-26.  [JEB]
1909-Nov.-10 48 John gave (2?) stallions to Santiago (James) Paul when he left Los Algarrobos to join his brother Paul in the Chaco.  [JEB]
1910-Jan.-03 48 Began moving furniture into mother’s new home, Villa Josefina[JEB]
1910-Jan.-06 48 Josephine Kolmer de Benitz’s 80th birthday, celebrated at Villa Josefina – see photo albums.  [JEB]
1910-Mar.-30 48 Inventory of Los Algarrobos livestock: 6,903 head of horned cattle; 518 work horses & mules; 618 mixed breed brood mares & colts; 3,483 sheep; 309 pigs.  [JEB]
1910-Apr.-09 48 John received vaccine for inoculating (vs. TB, aftosa?) all cattle at the 3 estancias.  [JEB]
–May 13
48 John left Los Algarrobos on his way to Chaco province in search of land to buy for the Agars & others.  On 16th was offered 20,000 has. at $14/ha. on the Bermejo River, known as Campo de Araoz.  Inspected it 22nd–24th, offer accepted by telegram on 27th.  In BA on May 2nd, met with notary & Agars re payment.  On May 13th offered to buy an adjoining 5,000 has. at $18/ha.  (John also prepared an offer to buy General Winter’s adjoining 10,000 ha. at $20/ha. – later turned down in London.)  [JEB]
1910-May-19 48 John accepted request he help found a branch of the Banco de Córdoba in Bell Ville; he invested $25,000 & was named a director of the bank.  [JEB]
1910-June-10 48 & 51 John & Marjorie, accompanied by Alfred A. Bz (50), sailed for England on the Aragon.  John took cash & letters of credit for: 100,000 francs & 4,000 pounds.  [JEB]
1910-July-07 48 In London John met with Thomas F. Agar, Malcolm Cross, & Col. J.S. Ruston.  Created The Bermejo Estancia Co. Ltd..  John was given £3000 share with limitations.  Oct. 6:  First meeting of the directors, officers appointed, powers drawn up, John was made responsible for the company in Argentina: to register, hire manager, oversee, etc. (see diary for details).  [JEB]
1910-July-12 48 & John, Marjorie, & Alfred travelled to France.  He & Alfred bought stallions.  [JEB]
to Oct.-14
49 & 51 Returned to London.  John & Majorie toured England, Scotland, & Ireland.  Had their 3 girls out of school, 26 July – 21 Sept.  In addition to several stallions, John bought a Daimler car, grandfather clock, & hackney.  [JEB]
1910-Oct.-14 49 & 51 John & Marjorie sailed from Southampton for BA on the Amazon, ariving Nov. 5.  (Tommy Sympson accompanied them, seven years later he would marry Elsie.)  [JEB]
1910-Nov.-24 49 Directors meeting in Bell Ville of the Banco Agricola Comercial, of which John was president.  [JEB]
1910-Nov.-25 49 John hired a manager for El Bermejo, recommended by Grahame Paul.  [JEB]
1910-Dec.-31 49 & 52 John & Marjorie travelled to Cruz Grande with Harley Storey for the summer.  [JEB]
1911-Mar.-29 49 John took out a loan for $450,000, on a mortgage of Los Algarrobos[JEB]
1911-May-02 49 & 53 The family returned from Cruz Grande to Los Algarrobos.  Dreadful drought.  [JEB]
1911-May-25 53 Marjorie put Johnie (10) & Alfred (8) in school at St. Georges College, Quilmes, BA.  [JEB]
1911-June-17 49 John bought more land (down valley?) in Cruz Grande, from heirs of Manuela Zapata, then traded part of it with Antonia Zapata.  [JEB]
1911-June-19 49 & 53 For trip to El Bermejo with Marjorie, John bought: “a brake. buggy rifle, revolver, ploughs + tools.”  [JEB]
1911-July-08 49 John received a permit to put up telephone posts along road from Los Algarrobos to Woodgate train station.  A telephone line was also installed internally between Los Algarrobos and neighbouring El Victoriano & La Minnesota[JEB]
1911-July-10-25 49 & 53 John & Marjory visited El Bermejo – travelling by river-boat between Rosario & Resistencia (port: Las Palmas) – see photo album: JEB-1.  [JEB]
1911-Aug.-6-8 50 Polo tournament at Los Algarrobos[JEB]
1911-Nov.-2050 JEBz bought lot #8 in Woodgate, on which he had an almacen (store) built.
1911-Nov.-22 50 As the Agars’ agent, John rented La Minnesota to his brother Alfred who also bought all the stock.  [JEB]
1911-mmm.-99 xx Something.  [JEB]
1912-mmm.-99 xx Something.  [JEB]
1913-mmm.-99 xx Something.  [JEB]
1914-mmm.-99 xx Something.  [JEB]
1915 54 John was the first president of the Municipal Commission of Woodgate.  During his tenure, the first primary school, Manuel Belgrano, was founded.  John loaned the school the use of his building in Woodgate[CAF]
1916 54 Woodgate was renamed Monte Buey, at the request of the owners of estancia Monte del Buey who had donated the land.
1916-Mar.-20 54 & 57 Disaster: At Cruz Grande, during the early morning of March 20, a large creciente (flash-flood) broke the retaining wall protecting the house.  Marjorie, sister Elsie, daughter Elsie, & servants were unharmed.  However, a group of seven were washed away: John, daughters Jo & Marjory-Daw, guests Miss Dawney, Mrs. Withington & her daughter Helen, and MacCrae, the chauffeur.  Jo, a strong swimmer, was the only one of the group to survive.
1916-March 54 & 57 John & daughter Marjory-Daw (18) were buried at La California.
1916-mmm.-99 xx After John’s death, Marjorie’s brother Robert P. Macintosh, Uncle Mac, managed the entire Los Algarrobos, until he retired to England.
1910-mmm.-99 xx Something.
1920-mmm.-99 xx Something.
1933-Apr.-01 75 Son Alfred (29) died of typhoid fever at Villa Josefina.  He was buried at La California.
1930-mmm.-99 xx Something.
1945-Dec.-26 83 Marjorie died at Los Algarrobos.  She was buried next to John at La California
9999 99 xxxxxxxx MORE COMMING ABOVE

[CAF] - Carlos Alberto Foglia: “Juan Benitz de California a Woodgate”
[JEB] - John E. Bz diary & notes
[LCD] - Ea. La California day-books

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)