Emigrants to the Americas Page last modified:

Emigrants to Texas & California

During the mid-1800’s, several Benitz cousins emigrated from Endingen to northern Mexico, what is today south-western USA: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, & Utah.  Wilhelm (William) was likely the first to arrive by way of a shipwreck on the coast of Texas (1834-1835); cousin Barbara likely arrived in Texas during the late 1830’s.  Her brothers Louis and Adolphus likely arrived in California during the Gold Rush (ca. 1850) and their niece Rosa much later.

This page includes brief histories of the following persons: (The above buttons provide access to much more detailed information regarding the person whose name is on the button.)

Adolph Benitz (1829 - 1912) — own page —
Born Gustav Adolph Benitz on 8 Feb. 1829, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), son of master dyer Johann Bönitz and Barbara Herb.  He and his older brother Louis were miners in the American west during the gold rush era.  From their cousin Wilhelm Benitz’s letters we know they roamed the mines in the American west, from British Columbia, Canada, to Mazatlán, México.  Adolph Benitz is listed in the First Directory of Nevada, 1862, as a “miner” at Crown Point Ravine in/near Gold Hill.  He later owned a “fashion” restaurant in Gold Hill, before becoming a prize-winning Angora sheep breedes near Verdi, west of Reno, Nevada.  He retired to San Francisco in 1892, where he died, 12 Sept. 1912.  He never married.
Frank Benitz (1816 - 1888) — own page —
Though Franz Xaver Benitz lived many years at Fort Ross (California), we include him with the emigrants to Ohio/Pennsylvania for that is where he married and had his family.
Louis Benitz (1819 - c.1868) — own page —
Born Ludwig Wilhelm Benitz on 22 May, 1819, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), son of master dyer Johann Bönitz and Barbara Herb.  Louis and his younger brother Adolph were miners in the American west during the gold rush era.  From their cousin Wilhelm Benitz’s letters we know Louis owned a store in Nevada in the 1850’s.  In the First Directory of Nevada, 1862, Louis is listed as an “amalgamator” at Crown Point Ravine in/near the town of Gold Hill; in 1863 he was the headman at a silver mine.  He moved to Mexico where he married Quirina Villegas, and later died (b.1868).  Their one child, Carmen (b.1848), married David Woerner and moved to San Francisco, where they had a large family.
Barbara Benitz (1815 - 1872) — own page —
Born Maria Barbara Böniz on 19 February, 1815, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), she was the daughter of master dyer Johann Böniz and Maria Barbara Herb (Texas records have birth as 19 January, 1815).  She very likely emigrated to Texas in the late 1830’s, possibly to join her second cousin, Wilhelm Benitz, who had arrived there in about 1835.  The Harris County (Houston) marriage records show that on the October 30, 1840, a Barbara Benitz married Gustave Erichson (misspelt as: Erickson).  Gustave and Barbara settled in Houston, Texas, where he became a well known and important gun-smith and dealer.  They had 8 children between 1842 and 1856; per census records, they were well-off.  Barbara died in her 57th year, on 17 August, 1872, and Gustave in his 60th, on 5 January, 1874.
Michael Kolmer (a.1805 - 1858) — own page —
Michael Kolmer and his wife Josephine Wagner (Josefa Wagnerin) were both born in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), and were presumably married there; their first child, Josephine, was born there in 1830.  We don’t know much about them during their early years.  In 1833 the Kolmer family emigrated from Germany to North Carolina where they lived for at least three years; their children, John and Caroline, were both born there 1836 and 1838, respectively.  In about 1841, the Kolmer family emigrated west to St. Louis, Missouri; in 1845 they joined one of the very first wagon trains crossing the plains to California.  In 1846 their eldest daughter, Josephine, married William Benitz of Fort Ross; Michael & Josefa moved to a rented farm near of Occidental; in 1851 they returned to a farm in Timber Cove, provided them by William.  Michael died of a stroke in 1858 and Josepha died in 1865; they are both buried in the Benitz cemetery at Timber Cove.
Rosa Hildebrand (1839 - 1892)
Rosa Hildebrand was born the 31 October, 1839, in Endingen (Baden, Germ.), daughter of Rosa Benitz and Joseph Hildebrand.  We know little about her other than that she married Steinmann and their daughter, Freida Albertina Steinmann (28 Feb., 1871 - 4 Feb., 1938) married William George Klippel on 2 June, 1894.  Rosa died in Reno (Washoe County, Nevada) in 1892.
William Benitz (1815 - 1876) — own page —
Born Wilhelm Böniz on 8 February, 1815, in Endingen (Baden, Ger.), the son of Anton Böniz (master cooper) and Maria Anna Wagner.  William arrived in New York on 2 December, 1833; was shipwrecked on the coast if Mexico in 1834 or 1835; served as a private in the Republic of Texas Army in 1836-1837; worked in California for John Sutter in 1843-1845; served as a lieutenant in the Mexican Army in 1843-1844; became a naturalized Mexican citizen, 1844; leased and later owned Fort Ross, Sonoma county, California, 1844-1867; married Josefa Kolmerer (Josephine Kolmer) in 1846 (they had 10 children); was granted Rancho New Breisgau (Shasta co.), 1844; partner in Rancho Herman (Sonoma co.), 1844-1860; moved to Oakland, California, in 1867 where he was listed as a “capitalist” in the census of 1870; moved his entire family to Argentina in 1874 where he founded estancia (ranch) “La California” in 1875.  He died the following year, on 27 June, 1876; Josephine wa 82 when she died 20 August, 1912.  They are buried in the family cemetery on the estancia.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)