William Benitz Page last modified:

William Benitz
References in Newspapers

William is mentioned in a variety of contemporary news articles.  Here are the more significant and interesting articles we have found.  Please search the web for other mentions — and please notify us of anything significant that we have missed.

News articles featuring Josephine Kolmer-Benitz are found amongst our pages dedicated to her.  Click: to see her articles.  (To return here, please use the Back-Arrow.)


The articles about William are listed here in date order.  Please click the Date to see an article.

Date Newspaper Subject
Dec.'50 - Apr.'53 Daily Alta California Potato shipments from Fort Ross.
21 Dec., 1853 Daily Alta California Letter from Fort Ross (by C. Meyer?): Mortality amongst animals, grizzly bears, beached whale, weather.
30 May, 1854 Daily Alta California Survivors of 2 shipwrecks take refuge at Fort Ross (by C. Meyer?).
7 Sep., 1854 Daily Alta California William & others are summoned to the Marin County District Court due to a complaint made by James Black.
25 Sep., 1854 Sacramento Daily Union William was wounded (cheek & nose) by a bullet when riding to Sonoma (town).
1 Aug., 1855 Sacramento Daily Union John A. Sutter, Jr., sells numerous lots in Sacramento, plus the Russian tract (Rancho de Muniz & Fort Ross).
8 Sep., 1857 Petaluma Journal Three indians hanged by residents of Salt Point, near Fort Ross.
24 June, 1859 Sacramento Daily Union Sutter’s land claim to the entire coast of Sonoma county (and more) is based on an unknown agreement between the Russians & the Mexicans.
17 Aug., 1859 Daily Alta California Col. Muldrew encounters trouble enforcing Sutter's land claims upon the owners of the Bodega & Muniz ranchos; & other news.
18 Aug., 1859 Sacramento Daily Union Sutters claim, counterclaim, etc.
30 July, 1861 The Petaluma Argus Jottings by the Wayside - account of a ride up the Sonoma Co. coast with a surprise visit to Fort Ross.
12 March, 1862 The Petaluma Argus Wm. Bennettz, Republican party committee member.
21 Nov., 1863 Sonoma County Democrat Dramatic events in Timber Cove; William loses a mill to fire.
24 June, 1864 Sonoma County Democrat Coal Mine Accident at Fort Ross - 2 badly hurt but all survive. Including related later articles: 1894, 2014.
10 June, 1865 Daily Alta California Fort Ross for sale.
2 July, 1867 Daily Alta California William Benitz, Miss Josephine, & William (jr.) are passengers on a ship sailing to Santa Cruz & Monterey (California).
20 June, 1874 San Francisco Chronicle Across The Bay. — Description of the properties sold by William for over $100,000 to Miller & Heaton.
22 June, 1874 Oakland Daily Evening Tribune Mining Men Again — Miller & Heaton, miners moving to town.
20 July, 1874 Oakland Daily Evening Tribune For Buenos Ayres - An Exodus of Oaklanders for South America — Why did they go?
Aug. 24-28, 1874 New York Times Ship passenger lists of William & family’s Arrival (24 Aug.) and Departure (30 Aug.).
Oct. 24-28, 1874 The Standard (Bs.As.) The arrival in Buenos Aires of William and family.
21 July, 1876 The Petaluma Argus Argentine Republic, described by a former native of Sonoma Co., William is mentioned.


Potato Shipments, Daily Alta California - Dec. 1850 - April 1853

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

The potatoe was one of William’s principal crops at Fort Ross.  In a letter to his brother Thad in Germany, dated 8 March, 1855, he wrote: “My potatoe-crop of last year’s was not very big. I have about 4000 bags of 125 pounds each, which now only sell at 2 c. a lb. ...” That is, his potato crop of 1854 yielded approx. 230 tons, valued at $10,000.

12 Dec 1850:
California Potatoes.—150,000 lbs California Potatoes, being the cargo of the schr Elizabeth B., from Fort Ross; just received and for sale by
 dec11-2 Woodsworth & Morris, Clay st, wharf.


7, 11 March 1853:
POTATOES.—Cargo of Fort Ross potatoes, per schr. Frances Helen, in handsome order.
  For sale by
 mh6 5           Jackson st Wharf.


30 March, 1-3 April 1853:
   200 bags Oregon red potatoes;
   600 bags Fort Ross potatoes;
   500 bags Fort Ross seed potatoes.
All in prime order and just landed. For sale by
 mh28 7        Jackson street wharf

Letter from Fort Ross, Daily Alta California - 21 December, 1853

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

We believe this letter was written by Charles Meyer, at that time William’s partner at Fort Ross.  The author writes of “our retired position”, and his English is fluid whereas we expect William’s English was more formal.

Letter from Fort Ross.

Position of Fort Ross—Mortality among Animals—Whale—Grizzly Bears—Weather—Fogs—Gale.

Fort Ross, Dec, 17th, 1853. 

Our retired position and the small number of persons in this vicinity does not offer much to the chronicler, but having an opportunity to-day to send a letter to the Bodega post office (the nearest one) I will make a beginning of the promised correspondence.

As some of your readers may not be familiar with the location of Fort Ross, I will merely state that it is on the sea shore about 70 miles in a direct line northwestwardly from San Francisco.  It was first occupied by the Russians, many years ago, as a trading post. The history of the settlement I must reserve for another occasion.

One of the most important items of interest here during the past few weeks has been the singular mortality among the sea fowls, more particularly the pelicans and sea gulls.  Great numbers of them have died and are to be found along the shore. The oldest Indians do not remember any similar case.  The chickens seem to be effected in the same manner.  I had thirty hens to die in my coop one night.  Some epidemic, caused by the state of the atmosphere, appears to be raging among the animals.  Even the dogs are sick and some die.  The disease is not confined to this portion of the State if I am rightly informed.

A short time ago a very large dead whale was thrown upon the shore.  Some of the neighbors cut off some of the blubber and obtained several hogsheads of oil.  In the night the grizzly bears came down to feed upon it.

After lying there a few days the neap tide carried off the carcase, the whale bone fell out, the body was torn to pieces among the wrecks, and a few pieces of putrid blubber are all that remain of the leviathan.

The bears are numerous here, and our most manly sport is to chase him, and the most dangerous to be chased by him.  We sometimes have highly exciting adventures with them, some of which I will relate hereafter.  A few days ago, a very large old grizzly, weighing probably a thousand pounds, entered the yard of a farmer, about three o'clock in the afternoon, and went up to within ten feet of the door.  The farmer was not at home, but his wife hearing a noise, called "Come in."  There was no answer, and she opened the door.  The bear rose upon his hind feet, standing higher than a man.  The woman shut the door rather suddenly, and the bear, after hunting for something to eat and finding nothing, went off without doing any damage.

The weather has been quite clear and agreeable, since the heavy gale some weeks ago.  Our climate is very pleasant, at times, but in the fall we have very heavy fogs.  I have more than once seen the fogs so heavy that we would scarcely see the sun for a month.  The gale or storm was more rude here than in your city.  It did a little damage on land and some on sea.  A schooner, the San Diego, was dismasted off in the ocean, but I believe no lives were lost.


Ship Wrecks: Arispe & Donna Maria, Daily Alta California - May 30, 1854

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

We believe this account was, like the above letter, written by Charles Meyer, for it is signed “M.”.  Due to  fog, shipwrecks were not uncommon on the California coast.

Loss of Arispe.

We have received the following letter from Fort Ross, in regard to the loss of the steamer Arispe, bound for Humboldt Bay. We should have received the letter on Sunday night, when it arrived, but by some inexplicable cause, it was kept out of our possession till last evening.

Fort Ross, May 27th, 1854.

Mr Editor — At last I am able to furnish you with some news.  The steamer Arispe, bound for Humboldt Bay, with seventy or eighty passengers on board, was wrecked about sixteen miles to the northward from Fort Ross.  She struck in the night in a dense fog, on a rock off Punta de Arenas, and shortly afterwards commenced filling with water.  In this state she drifted down the coast for about ten miles, the water gaining in her.  The captain intended to run her into a cove close by, but did not succeed; she became unmanageable and got between the rocks, where she sunk.  All the passengers and crew were saved, and came down to our place.  After supper, we were sitting in the room, when one of the men came running in, saying, "Here is another shipwrecked crew!"  Everybody ran out, and actually, there met two shipwrecked parties.  It was the crew of a Russian vessel, the brig Donna Maria, sailing under the Swedish flag, laden with piles, from Vancouver's Island, and bound for San Francisco; had been wrecked forty-five miles to the northward from here.  It appears that she drifted on a rock, the weather being very foggy, and sunk; the crew was saved, but the vessel is a total loss.  You may imagine that the old fort looks quite lively, the whole place is swarming with people that wear all sorts of costumes.  Yesterday I had quite an exciting bear hunt; I went out with an Indian in the mountains, when we discovered at once a shebear and two cubs about thirty yards from where we stood.  I got down from my horse, and as she raised up in order to have a look at the intruder, I shot her in the breast.  She fell against a tree, but immediately got up again and put after us as hard as she could run.  I had fortunately mounted my horse again and got out of her reach.  I was in hopes to capture the cubs, but was disappointed; she carried them in a deep gulch, in spite of being mortally wounded.  A week ago an Indian was killed by a bear and partly eaten up, fifteen miles from here.


————♦ ————

Loss of the Donna Maria.—By the arrival of the schooner Sovereign, we are informed of the total loss of the Swedish brig Donna Maria, Capt. Samson, from Vancouver's Island for this port, which was wrecked on the 23d inst., forty miles south of Cape Mendocino, in a heavy N. W. gale.  Capt. Samson had been unable to get an observation for three days, but had that day sighted the land when he altered his course to S. E. by S., which he supposed would take him clear of the land, but owing to the strong current setting to the N. W., and foggy weather, was not aware of his position until just before striking, which occurred at 9 P. M.; he then cut away the mainmast, to keep the vessel's head to the wind, and remained on board until 4 A. M. next day, when the vessel breaking up fast, he was compelled to launch a boat, and all hands succeeded in gaining the shore in safety, but saved nothing; they were then compelled to walk thirty hours without anything to eat or drink, until they arrived at the ranch of Messrs. Bennett & Myres, with whom they were most hospitably received.  They then started overland to Bodega, where Capt. Fitch, of schooner Sovereign, kindly took them on board and brought them to this port.  The Donna Maria was six days out, and had on board 17,000 feet of piles.

Court Summons, Daily Alta California - Sept. 7, 1854

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

William Benitz (we highlighted Bennett in bold) was summoned, probably as a witness, in a suit brought by James Black on William A. Richardson for failure to make payment on his mortgage.

State of California—County of Marin — District Court of the Seventh Judicial District.—The People of the State of California: To William A. Richardson, Charles Meyers, Lewis Eloubleau, Sherman Peck, William Bennett, Charles Meyers, Lucy Eager, Joachin Gerdet, Jeremiah Clarke and A. T. Ellis, Greeting:—You are hereby summoned to appear in said Court unto the complaint of James Black, filed in our said Court, within ten days after the service of this writ, if served in this county, and within forty days if served in any other county, or judgment by default will be taken against you for the sum of three thousand dollars, or upwards, due on a mortgage executed by said Richardson to the plaintiff, together with costs and expenses.

Witnes, Hon. E. W. McKINSTRY, Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, Marin county, this 26th day of August, 1854.



 In the above cause it is ordered by the Hon. A. J. Barney, Judge of the County Court for Marin county, that service of the summons and complaint in this cause shall be made upon the said Charles Meyers, Louis Eloubleau, Sherman Peck, William Bennett, Charles Meyers, Lucy Eager, Joachin Gerdet, Jeremiah Clark and A. T. Ellis, by publication in the Alta California newspaper, once a week for four weeks; which said publication, when so made, shall be deemed complete upon said parties at the expiration of the time prescribed by the order for publication.

Given under my hand this 26th day of August, 1854.

A. J. BARNEY.   
County Judge, Marin county.


Close Shave, Sacramento Daily Union - September 25, 1854

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

In 1854, William’s life was very nearly ended by a rifle bullet.  During its gold rush era, California was fraught with murders and robberies; and at that time William was one of the largest and richest landowners in Sonoma County.  The unknown shooter could have been a random bandit, someone with a grudge, or simply a chance occurance.  This article about the event was published in the Sacramento Daily Union (Volume 8, Number 1094), September 25th, 1854.

Singular.—  From the Bulletin we learn that Mr. Wm. Benitz, of Fort Ross, whilst on his way to Sonoma on Friday last, in company with J. B. Boggs, Esq., was severely wounded by a rifle-ball.  The bullet grazed his nose and glanced off the right cheek bone, immediately beneath the corner of the eye.  The affair occurred about mid-way between Miller’s store and the town of Santa Rosa.  Search was made for the perpetrator of the outrage, but without success.  As neither of the above named gentlemen have any known enemies, it is supposed the shot was accidental, or, at least, intended for some other person.

Fort Ross Sold!, Sacramento Daily Union - August 1, 1855  (& Sep. 30, 1856)

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

John A. Sutter had transferred ownership of some of his landholdings to his son, John A. Sutter, Jr, while his son was still a minor in Europe; these properties included New Helvetia and Fort Ross.  Sutter Jr. later joined his father in California, and in 1850 founded Sacramento - but not where his father had planned.  Their disagreements caused Sutter Jr. to have problems with his health and he was encouraged to sell and move to a milder climate.

On July 9, 1855, Sutter Jr. sold everything to William S. Mesick, including his claim to the “Russian tract” (Fort Ross & Rancho de Muniz).  However, the Rancho de Muniz was no longer his to sell.  The Mexican grant had been confirmed to Manuel Torrres by the US Lands Commission in December, 1853, and William Benitz now owned it via the promisory note he had with Torres.

Important Conveyance of Real Estate from John A. Sutter, Jr., to William S. Mesick.

Mr. Wm. S. Mesick, of this city, deposited in the office of the County Recorder on Monday, to be recorded, a deed of conveyance of real estate within this city and elsewhere, executed by John A. Sutter, Jr., at Acapulco, on the 9th u!t., and acknowledged on the same day before Charles L. Denman, United States Consul at that point.  The deed is made to Mr. Mesick, and recites, as the consideration therefor, the payment of the sum of $51,500.  We publish below a specification of the lots and parcels of land intended to be conveyed thereby, as enumerated in the instrument, in which there is also a general clause to include in the transfer all the legal or equitable right, title and interest of said Sutter of, in and to any and all lots, pieces or parcels of land within the corporate limits of this city.  By the instrument is also conveyed the right, title and interest of the said Sutter of, in and to the parcel of land lying along and in the vicinity of Russian river, known as the Russian tract, and designated as the “Fort Ross” property, in a conveyance from John Augustus Sutter to said grantor.  The following is a list of the property in this city specified in the deed, to which we understand the grantee intends asserting his claim:

All the lots and blocks, or squares, lying between and bounded by...   [there follows a very long list, see image]

Three Indians hanged, Petaluma Journal - 8 September, 1857

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

The Petaluma Journal reported that an officer was unable to prevent the hanging of three Indians by a group of citizens from the vicinity of Salt Point.  None of the participants are identified, neither the Indians nor the citizens.  Unless he was travelling away from the fort at the time, William, as the most prominent local person, would surely have known of the hanging before it took place.

Daily Alta California, 19 September, 1857:

Hanging of Indians.—The Petaluma Journal is informed that on the 8th inst. the citizens of Fort Ross hanged three Indians, on charges of murder, robbery, etc.  An unsuccessful effort was made, by officer Ingraham, to rescue them from the populace, in order that they might be taken to Santa Rosa for trial.


Sacramento Daily Union, 22 September, 1857:

Hanging of Indians.—The Petaluma Journal has been informed by Mr. Ingraham, of Santa Rosa, that on the 8th Sept., the citizens of Salt Point, in the vicinity of Fort Ross, hanged three Indians.  The crime imputed to them was murder, robbery, etc., committed at various times and places within the last two years.  Mr. I., who happened to be in the vicinity, upon hearing that some Indians were to be hanged by the populace, hastened to the place, and demanded the prisoners as an officer of the law, that he might take them to Santa Rosa for trial.  The reply was, "We have arrested them, given them a fair trial, and found them guilty, and swing they must."  And they did swing, to the limb of a tree.

The Sutter Land Claim at Bodega, Sacramento Daily Union - 24 June, 1859

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

Sutter’s claim, in 1859, to the entire coast of Sonoma county (and some more) is shown to be founded on a supposed grant to the Russian American Company by the Spanish Government in 1812.

The Sutter Land Claim at Bodega.—The Alta has the following scrap of alleged history relative to the above case.  Of its reliability we are without the means of judging.

We announced, a few days ago, that Gen. Sutter lays claim to a large tract of land in Sonoma county, along the ocean shore, under an alleged grant made in 1812 by the Spanish Government to the Russian American Company, which then had a trading and fur post at Fort Ross.  The claim has never been heard of by our public heretofore, and it comes in rather a “questionable shape.”  We have before us now a copy of the complete German works of Adelbert Von Chamisso, a celebrated German naturalist.  The first volume contains his diary while circumnavigating the globe during the years 1815-16-17-18, with the Romanoff Exploring Expedition in the Russian brig Rurik, commanded by Captain Otto Von Kotzebue.  On the 2d October, 1816, the Rurick entered the harbor of San Francisco, and remained a month and a half.  During this time, Governor Don Pablo Vicente de Sola came up from Monterey to see Captain Kotzebue, and they had a diplomatic correspondence about the Russian settlement at Bodega.  At that time, “Herr Kuskoff” was in command at Fort Ross, where he had twenty Russians, fifty Kodiacks, a dozen cannons, a windmill, a number of horses and cattle, and a stock of goods for smuggling.  The Kodiacks took annually several thousand sea otters, whose skins brought from $35 to $75, averaging $60 each, in the Canton market.

Chamisso says that Spain laid claim, and with some show of right, to the land occupied by the the [sic] Russians, and Governor Sola had repeatedly requested Kuskoff to leave the country, and the latter as often replied that he would do so as soon as Herr Baranoff, the chief Russian officer on the American coast, who had sent him there, should order him away.

On the 26th October, there was a diplomatic conference between Sola, Kotzebue, Kusskoff, who came down from Bodega for the purpose, and Chamisso, the latter acting as interpreter and adviser.  Kusskoff is spoken of as a good business man, and familiar with all the duties of his position, but he did not pretend that Russia had any right or laid any claim to land at Bodega; he did not deny the title of Spain, and he expressed his entire willingness to move away so soon as Baranoff would consent.  Sola then requested Kotzebue to break up the Fort Ross establishment by force, but Kotzebue, while not pretending to justify the Russian occupation, said he had no authority to interfere against his countrymen.  Finally a “protocol” or minute of the conference was drawn up in duplicate, one for each sovereign, and that was the end of the diplomatic discussion about the title of the Russians to the land about Bodega and Fort Ross, in October, 1816.

From this, it seems probable that any Russian title pretending to date from 1812 is not worth much, since even the Russian Superintendent at Fort Ross knew nothing of a grant from Spain for a year after.

Letter from Hedgeville, Daily Alta California - 17 August, 1859

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

Colonel Muldrew, an associate of Sutter’s, ran into difficulties claiming lands sold to Sutter by the Russians; an injuction was issued preventing him from selling any part of the Bodega Rancho, and William Benitz knocked down and removed the house he built on the Muniz Rancho (Fort Ross).

Letter from Hedgeville
Smith’s Rancho, Hedgeville,
August 12th, 1859.

The validity of Col. Muldrow's Russian claim is about to be tested.  Tylor Curtis has had an injunction issued to prevent him from selling any part of the Bodega Rancho.  Mr. Curtis says he will sustain his injunction without any trouble, and Muldrow speaks lightly of it, and says he will upset it without difficulty.  The people feel a great interest in the suit.  A son of Mr. Sutter has been here, and he states that his father bought this claim from the Russians, and paid them thirty thousand dollars for it.  Col. Muldrow seems to be incensed at the settlers for not buying of him when he offered his land at $2 per acre; and some of them having censured and calumniated him as coming here to make dishonest gains, he says he will not sell to any one now until his title is settled, and then he will ask all his land is worth.  Col. Muldrow put up a building on Mr. Bennitz’ Rancho to live on while surveying, and as soon as Bennitz learned he was surveying and had put up a house he went immediately with his team, while Muldrow’s posse was absent, knocked down the house, loaded it on his wagon and hauled it, with provisions and cooking utensils, &c., off his rancho to the mouth of Russian river, unloaded them and carefully piled them together.  Muldrow says he will sue Bennitz for $200,000 damages.  The coal that was reported to have been discovered by Dr. J. H. Happey is no longer a matter of doubt.  They have dug in the hill about ten feet and came to a stratum of coal three feet thick.  Mr. Peatross has offered $1,000 for one half of it.  They have ceased work on it until they can form a company.  The Sheriff was deterred from executing a writ of ejectment on the Bodega Rancho, by about 30 Marion Rangers.  If it is the intention of the Marion Rangers to oppose the officers of the law in the execution of his duty they will have to atone sooner or later, to the offended law.  If the rights of the people are violated by law there are means of redress for them without recourse to arms.

A. X.

The Sutter Russian Company Land Claim, Sacramento Daily Union - 18 August, 1859

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)

Sutter claimed all the land on the “coast between Cape Mendocino and Punta Reyes, and running inland three Spanish leagues” (i.e. almost 1 million acres, 400,000 hectares), land which he had bought from the Russians for $30,000.  We now know that this was the second of two sales agreements drawn up on 12 December, 1841, between Sutter and Rotschoff.  The first, intended for presentation to the Mexican authorities, was limited to just the Mexican authorised improvements at Fort Ross and its environs but not the land; Mexico claimed ownership of the land.  The second contract, the one described here, was held in secret by Sutter to be presented to the future authority over California (i.e. Sutter expected Mexico to lose California).

Sutter paid 3¢ per acre (7½¢ per hectare), his partner, Colonel Muldrew, was offering it for sale at $2 per acre, a gain of 6,667%.

Benitz:  In the same newspaper article, at its foot, is the lease agreement reached between Sutter and Benitz on 14 May, 1845, by which Benitz would occupy the Ross establishment as Sutter’s agent; Benitz would keep the profit from any and all crops, but livestock are not mentioned, and what exactly comprised the Ross establishment is not specified.  Meantime, Manuel Torres had already petitioned the Mexican governor for the Rancho de Muniz on 8 October, 1844; it was granted to him on 4 December, 1845.

The Sutter Russian Company Land Claim

A few weeks since we stated that Colonel Muldrow, claiming under a title obtained from Captain J. A. Sutter, who claims to have derived his title from the Russian Fur Company, had laid claim to, and was offering in lots to suit, that entire tract of territory laying along the coast between Cape Mendocino and Punta Reyes [approx. 200 miles, 320 km.], and running inland three Spanish leagues [nearly 8 miles, 13 km]. At the time of making this statement, we announced our knowledge of the affair to rest solely upon mere rumor, and therefore asked for information in the premises. Since then several notices of this claim have met our eye—principally in the Alta, which paper gave quite an interesting translation from Chamisso’s narrative of the Russian exploring vessel Rurik, and which went to show that the Russians never owned this land. In a subsequent date of that paper appears the following extract from Fremont’s Narrative, it being presumed that Colonel Fremont obtained his information from Captain Sutter himself:

A few years since, the Russian settlement of Ross being about to be withdrawn from the country, sold to him (Captain Sutter) a large number of stock, with agricultural and other stores, with a number of pieces of artillery and other munitions of war; for these a regular yearly payment is made in grain.

As an offset to the above, and as partial proof of Mr. Muldrow’s right to the possession of the territory claimed, we will give the following documents, which have been sent us in compliance to the published request for information; merely premising that it is not for us to say in whom the real title to the land was and is invested. If originally in the Russian Fur Company, as their deed or bill of sale to to [sic] Captain Sutter claims, then it now probably rests with Muldrow, Moore, Welty and Sutter, to whom Captain Sutter by a deed bearing date of May 20th, 1859, “for and in consideration of the release of a mortgage on Hock Farm by said Muldrow, and six thousand seven hundred dollars,” sold and conveyed six-eighths, the remainder of which he still holds. This deed is signed by John A. Sutter, Anna Sutter and A. Eliza English, and is recorded in book No. 8 of deeds of Sonoma county, pages 702 and 703. If, on the contrary, the Russian Fur Company had no just claim to the land, but set up and sold to Captain Sutter a claim to land really belonging to another party, receiving therefor the sum of $30,000, then Sutter, Muldrow, and their associates, have been nicely “sold” by these “barbarians of the north.” Of the probable validity of this claim, it is quite possible our fellow-citizen, General M. G. Vallejo, may have certain knowledge. His long residence in this country, combined with his official position, would warrant such a conclusion — indeed, it is said he was at one time contemplating the purchase from the company of Fort Ross, having offered the same amount paid by Captain Sutter.

As an injunction, restraining Muldrow from disposing of certain portions of the claim, has been granted, we shall probably "in the fullness of time," know who is and who is not the real owner. We will therefore close this notice with the following documents:

Translation of the Grant from the Russian American Fur Company to Captain J. A. Sutter.

I, the undersigned, employé of the Government of the Russian Empire, and Commandant of Fort Ross, on the coast, do by these presents certify that the establishment embracing on the north the lands adjacent to Cape Mendocino, and on the south the lands adjacent to Punto de los Reyes or Cape Drake, and extending back from the shore three Spanish leagues, and of which property the Russian American Fur Company has had and held possession from the year A. D. 1812 to the year 1841, or twenty-nine years, has been ceded by said company for the consideration of $30,000 to Monsieur le Captain Sutter, and delivered into his indisputable possession, with all the lands personable, and other immovable property not herein enumerated. Said company relying for their power and right in the premises upon the institutions and spirit of the laws sanctified by Spain and Mexico. The said transfer of the said establishment of Ross was effected during the time that I occupied the position of Commandant of the establishment, and by my own free coöperation, this, the 12th day of December, A. D., 1841.

Alexander Rotschoff,  
Commandant de le fortife.

[A. R.]  Ross Leo’ les Co. etcs de le California.


Know all men by these presents, that we, John A. Sutter and William Benitz, have this day entered into the following contract: John A. Sutter does grant to William Benitz the privilege of occupying the establishment of Ross for such a length of lime as the said William Benitz may desire, together with all the profits arising from the produce, such as grain, fruits, vegetables, or anything which he may cultivate; also, the use of tools and farming utensils, such as there may be there; also, the profits and benefits arising from all the crops now in the ground; and, also, to furnish him, should there not be already sufficient, provisions until the first of July next ensuing the date hereof. William Benitz does agree, in consideration of the above privilege, to be responsible for the property of the establishment, such as buildings, tools, farming utensils, and everything as delivered to him by Samuel Smith, formerly in charge of the establishment.

Said William Benitz does further agree to hold possession of the promises as agent for John A. Sutter, to whom said premises belong, and in no manner to permit any other person to interfere with the management or control of the affairs or business granted to him by this document.

Should the said John A. Sutter be able to send for, or get away from, Ross, a small portion of the fruit of the orchard, not exceeding one-third part, he reserves to himself the privilege thereof. Should the said William Benitz desire at any time to resign the charge of the establishment, he must notify said John A. Sutter at least four months previous to resigning the charge and occupancy of the establishment.

In witness whereof we hereunto set our hands and seals, New Helvetia, Upper California, this 14th day of May, 1845.

John A.Sutter.
William Benitz.

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of J. Bidwell.

The above lease is recorded in Book A, of Powers of Attorney of Sonoma county, page 22.—Petaluma Journal.

Jottings by the Wayside, The Petaluma Argus - July 30, 1861

This is a priceless article recounting a brief unexpected visit to Fort Ross by the editors J.H. McNabb & Samuel Cassiday.  They describe in wonderful detail the conditions and life-style at the fort.

No Logo
Editorial Jottings by the Way-side.

On Wednesday of last week we left this city on a tour of business and observation combined; and as in our rambles we traversed a region out of the range of general travel, we propose giving the readers of the Argus the benefit of our "jottings by the way-side."

Leaving Petaluma in the afternoon, a few hours ride brought us to Bloomfield, where we were greeted by numerous friends; and accepted the hospitality of our old friend W. B. Wood of the firm of Wood & Arther.  It is hardly necessary to inform our readers that this flourishing village is located in the center of Big Valley; and that the valley and upland surrounding it is very prolific in its yield of cereals, ‘spuds’, and Republicans.  A dress parade, in the evening, of a company of youthful zouaves, who marched to music extracted from a tin can, convinced us that the martial spirit of that village was thoroughly aroused, and that with such a home guard Bloomfield can bid defiance to Davis and his emissaries.

At an early hour, in the morning, we were galloping down the valley in the direction of the Bodega Corners.  On either side of the road, and as far as the eye could scan, was one uninterrupted continuation of grain fields, in every stage of harvesting, from the gavels that were dropping from the reapers that were clattering on every hand, up to the shock in the field or the new made stack in the barnyard.  Bodega Corners is on the Smith Grant, and consists of a hotel, two stores, a Catholic church, blacksmith shops &c.  After passing the Corners we were without chart or compass; having entered upon a region, by us unexplored.  For several miles our course lay along Salmon Creek, the road in many places being arched over by the tangled wildwood through which it was cut; then taking a bridle trail leading over a mountain that overlooked the deep blue ocean, we followed its zigzag windings to the Mouth of Russian River.  Here we performed a feat only second to that of Moses and his followers crossing the Red Sea with dry sandals: the sea swell having cast up a barrier of sand across the mouth of the River, forming a bridge upon which we crossed, without our steed dipping his feet in water.  He evidently regarded it as a dangerous undertaking, for every time the surf, after receding as if to gather strength would come rolling up hissing and seething, narrowing the space down to fifteen or twenty feet between the deep river on the one hand and the briny deep on the other; he would attempt to take the back track, apparently having lost all confidence in either our prudence or judgment.  Across the River, our course lay along the coast; and as Fort Ross was twelve miles distant, without a human habitation intervening, we whiled away the hours by noting the ever varying landscape or watching the surf as it broke in a long line of white spray against the rock bound coast; or anon the eye would be relieved by the appearance of a coaster, with full spread canvass, gliding over the billows with the grace of a sea gull.  Passing over a spur of the mountain clothed with a heavy forest of redwood and fir, we entered an opening from whence we looked down upon Fort Ross, on the level plain below.

Before proceeding further, it may not be out of place to inform our readers that Fort Ross was founded some forty years ago by Russians; who settled at that point for the purpose of capturing sea otter; which pursuit they followed for perhaps twenty years.  Aside from the Fort buildings, enclosed by a high and substantial palisade wall one hundred yards square, there was, at one period, some sixty dwellings; but they have crumbled and passed away. After they left this coast, the property changed hands several times; but was purchased by the present proprietor, Mr. Bennettz, eighteen years ago and he has been in occupation ever since.

As we descended the slope toward the Fort we felt as if approaching a spot entitled to a prominent place in the antiquities of our State.  The Greek church of Russian architecture that forms one corner of the quadrangle; the two-story octagonal sentry houses of solid hewn timber, forming the diagonal corners of the palisade, and with loop-holes for cannon and small arms; and the massive gates which protect the front entrance; conjured up to our mind conjectures of the scenes of which it was the theatre, long, long years ago.

Having a letter of introduction to Mr. Bennettz, we dismounted and the ponderous gate yielded to our pressure and swung back creaking upon its rusty hinges.  All the appointments inside, were in keeping with those without; strength and durability predominating over the ornamental.  The substantial dwelling; the out-houses ranged around the square; the well in the centre; the four huge mastiffs of the St. Bernard and Newfoundland breed that fondled around us as we approached the dwelling; completed a picture that came nearer our conception of the surroundings of some of the old Feudal Barons than anything we ever experienced before.  We presented our letter to Mr. Bennettz, who is a very intelligent German, and he at once extended to us the hospitality of his mansion.  Mr. Bennettz lives in a world by himself; having a domain that extends from the mouth of Russian River, eighteen miles up the coast, and untenanted except by his vaqueros, who are stationed at various points to take care of his stock.  His isolated position deprives his children of the advantages of a public school; but to atone for this he has employed a private teacher; competent to impart instruction in both the English and German languages.

Missing map.

(Source: P. Benitz)

Refreshed by our nights [sic] sojourn at Fort Ross, we continued on our journey up the Coast.  The first place worthy of note above the Fort is Timber Cove.  Here, our late fellow townsman Mr. Kalkman, is located, and in company with Mr. Snaple, owns a mill which is turning out about 25,000 feet of lumber every twenty-four hours.  Two schooners were taking in cargoes of lumber for the San Francisco market.  The proprietors have constructed a substantial railway extending from the mill, half a mile up a canon [sic], down which they bring saw logs on a car.

Four miles above Timber Cove we passed Salt Point. Duncan’s mill used to be located at this place; but has been removed to a point two miles distant from the mouth of Russian River; in consequence of which this Point has lost considerable of its importance; as is manifest from its group of tenantless houses; but its quarry of excellent stone, considerable of which is being shipped to the Navy Yard at Mare Island; may give new vigor to the place.

Four miles beyond Salt Point we passed Fisk’s Mill.  This mill cuts about eight thousand feet of lumber daily.  Its supply of timber is inexhaustable; and we hope it’s proprietors may reap the rich reward which their enterprise merits.

By noon we had reached a distance of twenty miles above Fort Ross; and we stopped for refreshments at the Ranch House of Bealer, the claimant of the Gualale Grant.  Here is a stretch of plain extending up and down the coast for ten miles, that is unsurpossad [sic] in beauty of location or fertility of soil, any where between Point Reyes and Points Arenas.  The plain varies from one quarter to two miles in breadth; and with just sufficient incline from the foot hills to the beach to afford a splendid sea view.  The mountains bordering it are covered with a perfect wilderness of forest, of incalculable value.

Ten miles more had to be traversed up the coast before we turned our face homeward; and Cris. Stingle, of the Ranch House, volunteered to act as our guide and companion.  We were soon dashing pellmell over the plain up the coast; Chris. in the meantime entertaining us by relating hunting adventures and pointing out spots where he had killed elk, bear or other game of lesser consequence.  Five miles brought us to the crossing of the Gualale River, where we entered Mendocino county.  Here the mountains closed in upon the beach, and timber stood so close upon the brink that if uprooted it would fall in the surf below.  Up to this point we had found the roads and trails reasonable good; but those five miles from the Gualale to Fish Rock, were the concentrated essence of breakneck roads.  Deep gorge after gorge lay athwart our way; and in many places a false step would have precipitated both horse and rider down to certain destruction. Before reaching this point, we had been so indiscreet as to inform our companion that we had had considerable equestrian experience; and as he took the lead and did not dismount; a sense of honor prompted us to remain in the saddle, even at the risk of our neck.

At Fish Rock there is a mill in process of erection; in which will be placed the machinery formerly used in the Perkins mill, Bodega.  This is a good location; there being an inexhaustible supply of good timber; and a secure harbor for vessels to lay while receiving cargoes of lumber.

We returned to the Ranch House that night; and as tired as we were, we did ample justice to the bachelor fare of Chris. and his two companions.  In the morning we were in saddle bright and early, and accompanied by our companion of the previous day, who accompanied us several miles on our return; started on our way down the coast.  We had rode about two miles, when the practiced eye of Chris. spyed [sic] a grey fox between us and the beach.  It allowed us to approach within forty paces; when a shot from our revolver warned it to seek safety in the chapparel on the foot-hills, half a mile distant.  The chase across the level plain, was spirited and exciting; our horses seeming to enjoy the sport, strained every nerve to overhaul his foxship; and succeeded several times in doing so, and attempted to jump upon him, but with the cunning, characteristic of his tribe, by tacking and doubling, he finally outgeneralled us and reached cover.  So ended our fox chase.  A few miles further on we parted with our companion and continued on our course down the coast alone.  At night-fall we were again welcomed to the hospitality of the Fort Ross mansion.  The next day being the Sabbath, the rest for which it was set apart, was needed by both ourself and our jaded horse; but as circumstances rendered our immediate return necessary; we bid our host and his excellent lady good-by at eight o’clock in the morning, and at eight in the evening arrived in this City, having rode forty-five miles; mostly over a very mountainous country.

At some future time, when we have more space, we shall recur to this subject, and allude more fully to the resources of that portion of our County lying up the coast, and the wants and requirements of the inhabitants of that region.


Missing pic of F.Ross

Fort Ross from the south
(Source: P. Benitz, Dec.2001)

Republican committee representative, The Petaluma Argus - March 12, 1862

Missing article

William represented Salt Point on the Repulican party’s Sonoma county central committee.  Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was president; the US Civil War was in its second year (1861-1865).

Events in Timber Cove, Sonoma County Democrat - November 21, 1863:2

Missing articles

These two articles were published November 21, 1863, in the Sonoma County Democrat.  They describe dramatic events in or around Timber Cove.  William loses a saw-mill to fire [he is in bold for the web].

The Storm on the Coast.-- A friend reports to us that the recent storm caused considerable damage to the shipping and lumber mills along the coast in this county.  At Fisherman's Bay, Salt Point Township, the schooner Martin Elizabeth, was obliged to put to sea with half a cargo to avoid being dashed to pieces by the breakers.  One lighter at Timber Cove was wrecked.


Mill Destroyed.-- On the night of the 9th inst.  the saw mill of William Bennett, at Timber Cove, in this county, was destroyed by fire.  Some fifteen thousand feet of lumber and three thousand red wood posts were destroyed with the mill.  The mill it is supposed was set on fire.  Loss, $4,000.

Coal Mine Accident at Fort Ross, Sonoma County Democrat - June 25, 1864

Missing article

An accident at the Fort Ross [in bold for the web] coal mine - two badly hurt but all survived.

A Terrible Accident.-- Thos. Shone, Alexander Matheson and C. Tempel, engaged at the Fort Ross Coal Mining Company’s mine, in Salt Point township, came very nearly losing their lives on Wednesday, 15th. inst., by premature discharge of a blast. Mr. Tempel informs us that the gentlemen named above with himself were in the mine about 5 o'clock preparing for a blast. The drill had been made and the powder deposited, overlaid with paper, when they commenced tamping, preparatory to the blast. Mr. Matheson was guiding the tamping rod, while Mr. Shone used the sledge, and Mr. Tempel occupied a seat in a car close by. The friction of the rod ignited the powder and the discharge took place while the parties were engaged in the work. Mr. Shone was so severely injured about the eyes that it is feared he will lose his sight, while Mr. Matheson's hand and arm were terribly burned and mutilated. The tamping rod passed within an inch of Mr. Tempel's head and he was struck upon the arm by some flying particles of stone. Mr. Tempel recovered from the shock in a few minutes and soon called in the assistance of some persons residing in the vicinity, and the wounded men were as well provided for as circumstances would admit until medical assistance could be obtained. Of course the suffering of Mr. Shone and Matheson was beyond description. A messenger was dispatched after Dr. Peggett of Bodega, but he did not arrive until the afternoon of the following day, when he rendered every assistance possible to relieve their sufferings. No bones of either party seem to have been broken; and as strange as it may seem, Mr. Tempel escaped without any serious injury at all. Messrs. Shone and Matheson are now at Petaluma, under the treatment of Dr. Voller, and are mending slowly.


Related articles about coal mining at Fort Ross:

California State Mining Bureau,
Twelfth Report of the State Minerologist.

(California Journal of Mines and Geology,
Volume 12, pp. 61-2; published 1894.)


Several seams of coal, varying from 2 to 15 in. in thickness, crop out in the sandstone 8 miles S.E. of Cloverdale.  It is said to be of a fair quality, burning with a good flame; the seams are not worked.  A shaft has been sunk 20 ft. Owners unknown.

Bennet’s Claim.—This is at the head of a gulch about one fourth of a mile from the beach, in the vicinity of Fort Ross, and has been idle for years.  A shaft was sunk 80 ft. deep, from which it is reported that a good quality of coal was obtained but no continuous seams were found.

Hauser’s Claim.—It is 8 miles E. of Stewart’s Point.  No work was being done, and little could be seen beyond some black shales.

Pierson Mine.—This is 5½ miles from Mark West Creek, on the ranch of Mr. Wrighton.  A shaft has been sunk 150 ft., and a bore-hole continued from the bottom for 50 ft., which is reported to have cut through three seams, respectively 2 in., 1 ft., and 4 ft. thick.  One fourth of a mile south from the shaft are several tunnels, mostly caved in.  The uppermost one runs 75 ft. northwesterly to a seam of coal and black shale from 1 to 3 ft. thick.  No coal has been shipped from here, and the mine is closed down.

Website for Antiquarian Booksellers' Assn.
as of 20 Sep 2014; no photo present on site - $300.00


[Petaluma?]: "Journal" Press, [nd, but probably 1863].. Engraved stock certificate, 5 1/2 x 10 inches, small illustration in upper enter. Completed in manuscript, and printed (but unaccomplished) on the verso. Some old light folds. Very good. An attractive engraved stock certificate for this obscure coal mining operation in Fort Ross, in Sonoma County on the California coast north of San Francisco. The company issued 1800 shares of stock, valued at $100 each. The present certificate records the sale of fifteen shares of stock to S. Thompson Huie(?), and is signed by C. Temple, the president of the company, as well as secretary T. Vander Root. The company was incorporated on Dec. 17, 1863, and this certificate was filled out on Jan. 30, 1864. The illustration shows two men with pickaxes mining coal. According to a story in the SONOMA COUNTY DEMOCRAT Temple and two others nearly lost their lives in an explosion in the mine on June 15, 1864. (Bookseller ID: WRCAM 38818)

Fort Ross Rancho - for sale.  Daily Alta California - June 10, 1865

William Benitz eventually sold the major part of Fort Ross in two pieces, the northern half on March 1, 1867, to James Dixon for $30,000, and the shouthern half on April 3, 1867, to Charles J. Fairfax for $25,000.  For further details, please see “Rancho Muniz” in the list of his Sonoma County Real Estate transactions.

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)




Containing 16,000 Acres,



THIS RANCHO BEING THE finest on the Northern Pacific Coast, and bounded south by RUSSIAN RIVER, was selected years ago by the RUSSIANS as the best place for their settlement, on account of several good harbors.  Their old fort, built partly as a protection against the Indians, is yet standing.  The well known harbor of TIMBER COVE is on this Ranch.

About ONE-THIRD is in timber—REDWOOD, PINE, WHITE OAK, CHESTNUT OAK, LAUREL, etc.  This alone, with the facilities for shipping, must in a few years enhance the value of the Ranch immensely; besides, there are over 3,000 ACRES of the finest agricultural lands, the balance is excellent PASTURE LAND; together with the Dwelling House and numerous outhouses, necessary for such an extensive establishment.  These is also a fine ORCHARD not far from the house.

The Rancho is divided by several NATURAL boundaries, each with plenty of water throughout the year.

TIMBRE and STUMPAGE has NEVER yet been cut.  A COAL Mine on this Rancho is in successful operation.  Indications of PETROLEUM are on this place as good as anywhere else, and it is said that CINNABAR has quite recently been discovered.

To capitalists this Rancho offers great inducements.


For map and further particulars, inquire of

No. 210 Front street.

jel0 1m

Passengers to Santa Cruz & Monterey.  Daily Alta California - July 2, 1867

William, daughter Josephine, and son William are passengers on a ship to Santa Cruz & Monterey (California).

Missing article

(Source:California Digital Newspaper Collection)


SANTA CRUZ AND MONTEREY—Per Senator—Mrs E Moore, Mrs E F Newton, M Holland, A Walker, L Amos, P Ryan, C Knapp, S A Van Doran, C Blydenberg, L Powe, H Bristol, William Bennett, Miss J Bennet, William Bennett, Jr, J G Ruggies, Benj Smith, Daniel Rodgers, Miss Olivia Simpson, Francis Doud, Jr, J R Bolton, daughter and son, Miss E Estrado, Capt Thomas Williams and family, Thos Glynn, D S Flagg, J Leland, S B Carr, Wm J Gunn, Miss Jennie Gunn, Miss Mary Morgan, Capt Glidden and wife, Mrs A M Hinds, J A Pendergrass and wife, Margaret Connelly, H A Moses, Mrs H Loenhagen, Miss Mary Norton, Miss Kate Putnam, Mrs R B Arey, F Guard, Jos Delmos, Miss L Alexander.

Across The Bay, San Francisco Chronicle - June 20, 1874

The sale of William’s properties in Oakland was large enough to occassion comment in the San Francisco press.  For maps and photographs of the properties, see the list of William’s Alameda Real Estate.  The following article was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 20th, 1874:

Missing article

Yesterday’s doings in Oakland
and Vicinity.


Important Sale of Oakland Real Estate — The Local Option Conflict — Various Notes in and Around Oakland.

[From the Chronicle’s Special Reporter.]

Messrs. Olney & Co., on Thursday last, closed the sale to Messrs. W.E. Miller and W.D. Heaton of all of Wm. Benitz’s property in Oakland, comprising a lot on the northeast corner of Broadway and Tenth streets, 100 feet on Broadway and 125 feet on Tenth street, with fine brick and iron improvements.  The lot on the southeast corner of Twelfth and Franklin streets, 100 feet on Twelfth and 125 feet on Franklin street, with a two-story house and stable; twenty-three lots in the block bounded by Eighth, Nineth, Webster and Harrison streets, with improvements; lot, 50x75, on the east side of Washington street, 50 feet north of Eighth street, with improvements; lot, 100x75, on the northwest corner of William and Cedar streets, Oakland Point.  The whole realized over $100,000.


Alameda township warming up to the reality of Local Option.  The campaign...

Mining Men Again, Oakland Daily Evening Tribune - June 22, 1874

Missing article

The purchase of William's properties by the miners Miller and Heaton caused excitement in Oakland at the possibility of other rich miners also investing in Oakland real estate.  This article was published in the Oakland Daily Evening Tribune (a free daily), June 22nd, 1874:


A few days ago the Tribune in an article entitled “The Only Active Capital,” referred to the mining element of the Pacific States and Territories as the only one possessed of any particular enterprise; the only men who take any risks toward establishing manufactures of any sort, are those who make their money in mining ventures.  We alluded to the erection of numerous works around the bay for reducing ores containing precious and other metals, thus infusing new life into every other business.  A great cause in the rapid building up and beautifying of the residence feature of this locality, is the successful mining man.  He does nothing by halves.  Oakland has continual accessions of importance from this source, and amonght the last, but not the least, was the late sale by Olney & Co. of the Benitz property for over $100,000.  The purchasers —Messrs. Miller & Heaton— were owners in the Mono mine, near Salt Lake, which lately sold for over half a million dollars.  This investment will cause the expenditure of more cash in the community by the same parties, who are doubtless “well heeled” and energetic fellows who cannot sit down and simply count over their money for pastime.  Their example will be followed by still others on the outside, and that reminds us of a little further information of interest to our community.  Severfal leading merchants of Arizona contemplate fixing their families in Oakland before the end of the year, having made their stake off the mining settlements of that far off region.

For Buenos Ayres, Oakland Daily Evening Tribune - July 20, 1874

Missing article

(Source: C.A. Benitz,
Ea. La California

This article, an interview with William Benitz, appeared in the Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, July 20th, 1874.  The reporter asks why William was emigrating with his entire family to South America.

Here are more than a few very interesting details surrounding that decision:

An Exodus of Oaklanders for
South America.

Several weeks ago we made mention of a large sale of property on the part of Wm. Benitz to some Salt Lake miners.  A little interview with Mr. B. yesterday afternoon, may not be the least interesting reading:

Mr. Benitz has been most pleasantly situated in Oakland for a number of years; in fact, his residence on Eighth street, corner of Webster, is one of the most delightful in this city of choice homes.  The acacia and other foliage lends a semi-tropical air to the place, and the natural question one asks, is how can the occupant desire to leave such a home as this?  As Mr. B. is a man of at least three-score years, the answer is all the more difficult to arrive at.

But such is life — on the Pacific Coast.  This little story is one of almost pathetic interest.  Wm. Benitz is of German extraction — in short, is quite German in looks and accent, though he has been in California for thirty-two years.  Was an active rancher, and with Gen. Sutter somewhat in his time.  Mr. B. left off his old business and came to town, where he says he has been wandering about a sort of lost man.  A brother of his came up from Buenos Ayres about a year ago, and the result is Mr. B. sold his interesting possessions here and will start to that country with his family on the 30th inst.  His brother left this morning by overland train.  The rest of the family will meet him in New York, where they will immdediately re-embark for Buenos Ayres, and high up on the river Plate, the old rancher and his five sons, will commence the work of building a new home.

It seems like a sad commentary on California society or affairs, when whole families are turning their attention to such far-off lands.  Mr. B. says he has nothing for his boys to do here — cannot apparently buy land enough to set them up as he would like, hence he is going where good grazing and other soil can be purchased for from ten cents to one dollar an acre.  There he expects to repeat in a measure his early days in this State.  He has apparently given the subject careful study, and with a fortune to invest, he can revel in real estate to his heart’s content; as Falstaff says — “land and beeves.”

It is safe to say that Mr. B. is not a forty-niner gone to seed in vain — he is going to scatter it abroad in the earth.  Let us hope that his journey may be pleasant and new investment profitable.

But it reminds us of an item two weeks ago, that we forgot to print; — that of a German professor in a University in Buenos Ayres, arriving in California with his family — glad to get away from South America.  So it goes.


Arrival & Departure from New York, The New York Times - August 24-28, 1874

Notice that in the departure list, William’s family has been joined by his brother Frank X. Benitz, and brother-in-law Urban Mahrer and wife (resumably Nany).

The New York Times, 24th. August, 1874 — List of passengers who arrived on the SS Acapulco from Aspinwall (Panama):

Missing list

The New York Times, 28th. August, 1874 — List of passengers who departed on the SS Wesser for Bremen (Germany):

Missing list

Arrival in Argentina, The Standard (Buenos Aires) - October 21-28, 1874

Published from 1861 to 1959, The Standard was for a long time the senior English-language daily newspaper of Buenos Aires.  The other English-language newspaper was The Buenos Aires Herald - founded in 1876, it ceased publication in 2017.  These excerpts from The Standard were very kindly provided to us by Javier L. Maffucci Moore.

The Standard, October 21st, 1874:

“The largest capitalist in the way of an agricultural settler that has as yet alighted on the shores of the Plate has just arrived.  Mr. William Benitez is an old Californian colonist and he has come out here with a family of twelve persons, and a capital of 80,000 patacones.  Mr. Wilcken has recommended him to settle down in the Santa Fe colonies, which, we believe, he intends doing, and we shall, doubtless, soon hear of scientific farming on a large scale up there.  Won’t our friend Mr. William Perkins be right glad to see Mr. Benitez? to whom we wish every success in his new home” [Note: Patacon was the colloquial term for the Peso Duro, 80,000 patacones valued in USD (yr.2000) is approx. 2,130,000.]

The Standard, October 22nd, 1874:

“We had a visit today from Mr. Benitez, the rich Californian, who comes with a large capital to settle in the Plate, he proposes making a trip to the Californian Colony in the Gran Chaco, and having a good look round before settling down”

The Standard, October 28th, 1874:

Rosario, October 27th, 1874 “....Mr. Benitez, the Californian gentleman whose arrival you mentioned in The Standard, has paid us a visit and has already inspected part of the railway lands.  He has returned to Buenos Ayres for his family.  He appears to be favourably impressed with the province of Santa Fe as far as he has seen it...” William Perkins

Argentine Republic, The Petaluma Argus - July 21, 1876

A native of Sonoma county living in Argentina returns for a visit.  William [in bold for the web] is mentioned, with a minor correction: he was in Santa Fé, not Entre Rios.

July 21, 1876
Argentine Republic

We received a call yesterday from Wm. Churchman, who, with his father’s family left this county for South America in 1869.  Mr. Churchman, who is a native of Sonoma Township, and is twenty-six years of age, came back on a visit some months ago, and purposes returning to his adopted country next Spring.  His father, John Churchman, died at his home in the State of Entre Rios, about three years ago.  Mr. Churchman speaks hopefully of the prospects of the Argentine Republic, and thinks that in time it will become a wealthy and populous country.  It is rich in agricultural and other resources, and when the people become thoroughly infused with a spirit of enterprise, such as prevails in the United States, the nation will take on new life and the waste places will be made to blossom as the rose.  The most enterprising people in the country are foreigners, of whom the English are most numerous.  The Americans are, however, the favorites with the natives, and in proportion to their numbers are doing more than others to develop the country.  Manufacturing is carried on to a very limited extent, machinery, agricultural implements, clothing, etc., being nearly all imported.  The largest amount of foreign trade is carried on with England, our country being second.  William Benitz, formerly of Oakland, in this State, is one of the prominent stockraisers of Entre Rios [Santa Fé].

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)