Louis W. Benitz Page last modified:

Louis Benitz  &  Quirina Villegas

Missing portrait.

Louis & Quirina, with daughter Carmelita
c. 1862-1864
(Source: D. Woerner)

Louis was born Ludwig Wilhelm Bönitz on 22 May, 1819, in Endingen, Baden, Germany, a son of master dyer Johann Bönitz and Barbara Herb.  Like most of his siblings, he emigrated to the Americas.  Alexander, Carolina, Karl, Lugarda, and Theodor were founding members of the Colonia Tovar in Venezuela; Barbara emigrated to Texas; whereas Louis and his younger brother Adolphus were miners in the American west during the gold rush era.

From cousin Wilhelm Benitz’s letters (excerpted below) we know Louis and Adolphus roamed the mines from British Columbia, Canada, to Mazatlán, México, and that Louis owned a store in Nevada in the 1850’s; he was the headman at a silver mine in 1863; his wife (Quirina Villegas) was Mexican and they had a daughter (Maria del Carmen, “Carmelita”, born 1848); and he probably settled in México, particularly because he did not like Americans.  In the First Directory of Nevada, 1862, Louis is listed as an “amalgamator” at Crown Point Ravine in/near the town of Gold Hill.

After Louis died, probably before 1868, Quirina moved to San Francisco with her daughter, Carmelita, and husband David Woerner.  Quirina remarried before 1870, to John Dürgin.  She was 72 years old when she died on April 26, 1897, in San Francisco; she is buried in the Woerner family plot in Colma, California.

Excerpts from Wilhelm Benitz’s letters:

June, 1853
[Thadeus Benitz] letter to Louis Benitz has been posted immediately.  I learned from a man named Umbre, from the Black Forest, that Louis is in a town near the mines, where he is got a bakery and inn and is doing well.  The place is called Sonora, Tuolumne County, [about 30 miles north-west of today’s Yosemite National Park, Calif.] I could not help reading his letter too, as it was open and interested me very much.  Louis has never written to me, neither have I received anything from brothers Anton and Xaver.  From our sister and brother in law Mahrer, I have only had 2 letters with the same date.
April, 1854
Louis Benitz has also been here [Fort Ross] for a long time, but went back to the gold mines.  He is married to a Mexican girl and has a daughter 4 years old.
March, 1855
Louis Benitz again went to Mexico last spring [spring 1854], he had about $8-10.000.- with him.  He does not like to live with the Americans as there are very bad people amongst them and their sense of freedom is not really existing.
September, 1858
Adolphus Benitz came to see me last July.  He came from Columbia and the mines.  At the same time his brother Louis arrived from Mazatlán (Mexico) they both went together up to the river Fraser, New Caledonia.  [north of Yale, British Columbia, Canada]
January, 1863
Louis and Adolphus Benitz are also at the mines of Washoo [between today’s Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA], but I don't get much news from them.  Perhaps I will go there myself next spring to buy shares in a few mines.
October, 1863
Louis Benitz and Ziegler went to Sonora in Mexico [per reference to Washoo, more likely Nevada].  Louis is headman of a silver-mine there, which belongs to a German Company at San Fco.  Ziegler sent me a little box full of Washoo minerals he brought from there.  I have heard little from Adolphus L.

Louis & Quirina’s Descendants Tree

1) Louis BenitzF
aka: Ludwig Wilhelm Bönitz (birth, Germany)
b: 22 May 1819, Endingen, Baden, Germany
d: Abt. 1868

+ Quirina Villegas - see photos below
b: Abt. 1826, Chihuahua, Mexico
d: 26 April 1897, San Francisco, California, USA
burial, 1st: Mount Calvary Cemetery, San Francisco, California, USA
burial, 2nd: Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California, USA
m: (Mazatlán, México ?)
(remarried: John Dürgin, bef.1870 - see photo below
  b: New Hampshire?
  d: bef.1880
  occupation: cook )

2) Maria del Carmen “Carmelita” Benitz
b: 1848, Mazatlán, México
d: 21 June 1894, San Francisco, Californina, USA
burial, 1st: Mount Calvary Cemetery, San Francisco, California, USA
burial, 2nd: Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California, USA

+ David Woerner
b: 1833, Würtemberg, Germany
d: 1896 (San Francisco?)
burial, 1st: Mount Calvary Cemetery, San Francisco, California, USA
burial, 2nd: Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California, USA
m: 20 March, 1864, Mazatlán, México (per 25th anniv. gift)

3) Adolph Woerner
b: 1867
d: 1904

3) Gustave Woerner
b: 8 Mar 1868
d: 6 Feb 1951

3) Frederick Woerner - see photo below
b: 3 Jul 1870
d: 2 Sep 1929

3) David Woerner
b: 23 Jul 1872
d: 19 May 1946

+ Mary ___
res: 259 Liberty St., San Francisco, California, USA

4) Davida Woerner
b: 1913
d: 1969

4) Marion Woerner
b: 1915
d: 1972

+ Lewis A. Marsten
d: 1963
res: 9-25th Ave. North, San Francisco, California, USA

5) 3 sons

3) Teresa Woerner
b: Apr 1875
d: May 1927

3) Louis Woerner
b: 22 Sep 1877
d: 20 Oct 1961

3) Lizzie Woerner
b: 1 Oct 1880
d: 26 Feb 1964

3) Charles “Charlie” Woerner
b: 31 May 1882
d: 13 Feb 1954

4) Lorraine Woerner
b: 1910
d: ??

3) Henry Woerner
b: 4 Mar 1884
d: 6 Sep 1936

3) Johny Woerner
b: 26 May 1886
d: 28 Mar 1932

3) Carmelita Woerner
b: 27 Jul 1889
d: 4 Nov 1970

+ Arthur Piper
m: bef.1935

3) Willie Woerner
b: 26 May 1891
d: 10 May 1984

Louis’ Vital Records:

No certificate!

Ludwig Wilhelm Bönitz, 1819
Church baptismal records, 1819 - Endingen, Baden, Germany
(source:James Bell, from: LDS (Mormon) BMD records)

On May 22 at seven o'clock in the evening a boy was born at this location.  He was baptized in the St. Peter’s church on May 23 at ten o'clock in the morning.  He was named Ludwig Wilhelm Bönitz
Parents: Johann Bönitz master dyer and Barbara Herb.
Sponsors: Georg Zingler soap boiler and Franziska Bönitz unmarried.
Witness: Joseph Nägele  [profession unreadable, not “teacher”]
Endingen, May 23, 1819.  The vicar Martin performed the baptism.  Alexander Umber pastor

Quirina Villegas’ Death Notice - 26 April, 1897:

No notice!

(Source: D. Woerner)

VILLEGAS – In this city, April 26, Quirina Villegas, mother of the late Mrs. David Woerner, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, aged 68 years.

Notice of funeral hereafter.

David Woerner & Carmelita Benitz

No notice!

David & Carmelita Woerner
Family, bef. 1889

(Source: D. Woerner)

Per inscription on the 25th anniversary gift given them by their offspring, they were married on 20 March, 1864, in Mazatlán, México.  David Woerner, a cooper from Würtemberg, Germany, founded a large cooperage in San Francisco - see the following short bio.  The business he founded is still operated today by his descendants, however plywood has replaced barrel making.

David and Carmelita had many children, twelve of whom reached adulthood, there may have been others who died as infants - see the above family tree.

Note: William “Willie” A. Benitz from Argentina, a 4th cousin to Carmelita’s children, visited his Woerner cousins in California in about 1935 when touring the US.  See what he wrote about meeting them in his account of his trip.

Brief biography of David Woerner, published in 1892:

(from: Bay of San Francisco, The Metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its Suburban Cities. A History. Vol I. 1892, pgs. 702-3.)

DAVID WOERNER, proprietor of the large cooperage establishment on the corner of Main and Harrison streets, San Francisco, is a native of Würtemberg, Germany, born in 1833. His boyhood was passed in his native land, where he secured his education, and also learned the trade of cooperage and brewing. At the age of nineteen years he started out in life and came to the United States, landing at New York: he then proceeded to Philadelphia where he worked at his trade until 1858, then returning to New York he took passage on the steamer "Moses Taylor" for Chagres, crossed the Isthmus to Panama, re-embarked on the steamer John L. Stephens, and arrived in San Francisco in May of the same year.

As competent men were in great demand in those early days, Mr. Woerner soon found occupation with the Philadelphia Brewing Co., with whom he remained for five years; then going to Mexico he became interested in mines and mining securities and remained for several years. Returning to California he was employed as foreman of the Santa Clara brewery for about two years, and then came to San Francisco and in 1868 started his cooperage business on the corner of Spear and Mission streets, having purchased the property and erected a three-story building 40 x 100 feet. Enjoying a fine trade at the start, he occupied the entire building and employed about sixty men in the manufacture of barrels, casks and tanks for wineries, breweries and distilleries. With the passage of time, his business increased and greater facilities were required. He then purchased his present desirable location, on the corner of Main and Harrison streets, and erected his present building 137 x 137 feet, two stories high, to which he removed in 1881, and has since employed a force of about eighty-five hands. His factory is fully equipped with light and heavy machinery adapted to his particular purposes, altered and improved after his own ideas.

In 1885 he took a trip East to look over similar manufactories to gather knowledge of any desirable improvements which were then in use, but he discovered that his own factory was far ahead of Eastern establishments in machinery adapted to heavy work, which is a specialty with Mr. Woerner, as he manufactures tanks to contain thousands of gallons, and from his factory were fitted up the leading wineries, distilleries and breweries of the State, in tanks, tubs and casks; also manufacturing extensively for the Mexican trade.

He was married in Sonora, Mexico, in 1864, to Miss Carmal Benitz, a native of Mazatlan, but of German descent.  To the union has been added twelve children, nine boys and three girls, all living. Mr. Woerner is a member of the I. O. O. F., the F. & A. M., and the A. O. U. W. He is a Republican in politics, though in local matters voting for men and not party.

Carmen Benitz’s Death Notice - 21 June, 1894:

No notice!

(Source: D. Woerner)

WOERNER – In this city, June 21, Carmelita, beloved wife of David Woerner and mother of Adolph, Gustave, Fred, David, Teresa, Louis, Lizzie, Charles, Henry, Johny, Carmelita and Willie Woerner, native of Mazatlan, aged 46 years.

Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral this day (Sunday), at 11 o’clock, from her late residence, 2908 Washington street; thence to St. Dominic’s Church, corner of Bush and Steiner streets, where a solemn requiem mass will be celebrated for the repose of her soul, commencing at 11:30 o’clock. Internment, Mount Calvary Cemetery.

No stone!

David & Carmen Woerner’s Headstone
Holy Cross Cemetery
Colma, California, USA
(Source: D. Woerner)


  Missing image.

Quirina Villegas (almost certainly)
Age: 40-45, ca.1873
(Source: John C. Benitz
Josephine K-Bz CDV album

Missing image.

Quirina Villegas (almost certainly)
Age: 60±, ca.1890
(Source: John C. Benitz
Josephine K-Bz CDV album

Missing image.

John Dürgen
Bayley & Cramer
San Francisco

Missing image.

John Dürgen
Married Quirina Villegas,
Louis Benitz’s widow.

(Source: John C. Benitz
Josephine K-Bz CDV album

  Missing image.

Frederick William Woerner
(Source: D. Woerner)

Missing image.

Carmelita Piper (neé Woerner)
(Source: J. Bell)


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)