Willie O. Benitz & Clara Allyn Page last modified:

William O. Benitz & Clara E. Allyn
(1854-1911)     (1858-1930)

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William Otto Benitz

(Source: F. Malcolm Benitz)

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Clara Electa Allyn

(Source: F. Malcolm Benitz)

William Otto Benitz was born 22 May, 1854, at Fort Ross, California. Willie to his siblings, he grew up in California; he was 13 when the family moved to Oakland, and 20 upon arrival in Argentina.  He was 22 when his father died on 27 June, 1876.  In early September, Frank (the eldest brother) abandoned the family and Willie (as the next eldest brother) assumed day-to-day management of the family enterprise, estancia “La California”.

Willie was 25 in 1881 when he chased Clara Electa Allyn back to Corsicana, Texas, and married her.  Originally from Rochester, Minnesota, Clara was one of sixty-five school teachers invited to Argentina by President Sarmiento.  Willie and Clara had 8 children.  Their summer home, “Greystone”, in Los Cocos, Córdoba, is a few kilometers north of those of his siblings.

Beginning in 1882, Willie worked for many years as an estancia mayordomo (ranch manager) in Entre Rios.  He and Clara returned to “La California”in June, 1899.  When Benitz Hermanos dissolved, he received the headquarters and surrounding lands of “La California”

In late 1910, in poor health for some time, Willie (with Clara and their older daughters) travelled to the US in the hopes of finding a cure.  He died at the age of 56 while visiting his in-laws in Corsicana, Texas, on 1 April, 1911, and is buried in the Allyn family plot in Corsicana.  Clara lived another 20 years, until 12 October, 1930.  She died in Buenos Aires and is buried at “La California”.

William O. Benitz — Timeline

Note: Clara’s timeline is found on: her page.

Year Age Event
1854 0 May 22: born at Fort Ross, California.
1867-74 13-19 Attended school in Oakland, California.
1874 20 July: Emigrated with his parents & siblings, arriving in Argentina in October.  Accompanied his father on visits to potential land to buy in Entre Rios, Santa Fé, & Córdoba.
1875 21 In March, with his father, uncle, and brothers, set up camp on the land bought by his father 30 km north of Cañada de Gómez, Santa Fé.  It became estancia “La California”.
1876 22 His father died June 27.  When Willie’s older brother, Frank, deserted the family in August, Willie, as the next eldest son, assumed leadership at “La California”.
1 1 1
1881 26 Proposed marriage to Clara E. Allyn, a schoolteacher from Minnesota who was assisting her older sister Franc at the normal school in Paraná, Entre Rios.  Hearing of this, Franc sent Clara back to the US.  Willie pursued Clara to the home of her older brother Charles in Corsicana, Texas.  They were married April 25 and returned to Argentina.
1 1 1
1881 27 After a short time at “La California”, Willie hired on as mayordomo (manager) at an estancia in Corrientes.  It lasted only a few months.
1882-99 28-45 Willie became mayordomo at an estancia belonging to William Hope, married to Katherine Grant, a fellow schoolteacher of Clara’s.  He later became mayordomo at estancia “Rincon de Landa”, on the Rio Uruguay 7 leagues south of Gualeguaychú, Entre Rios, belonging to Ernesto A. Bunge.
1885 1 Clara travelled to the US; visited relatives in Texas for several months.
1897 43 Travelled to England & the US with Clara, their children, and his mother.  Visited Fort Ross.  Clara and the children stayed on in Winona, Minnesota, for two years.
1899 45 June: Willie took over his portion of “La California”, its 2 eastern leagues (5,000 has.) and its casco (headquarters); he & Clara moved into the upstairs family suite of the main house.
1900 July 46 William & son Billy visited Alfred at “Los Palmares”.  William was sick, bedridden for 1-2 days.
1905 50 Willie travelled to the US.
1906 51 Willie & Clara travelled to Europe with daughters Hattie, and Katie (France, Switzerland, Germany & possibly New York).
1 1 1
1909 55 May: For the first time, Willie travels by car (50 hp) from “La California” to “Los Algarrobos”, taking 5 hours.  Johnnie buys a car 2 weeks later (38 hp Daimler).
1 1 1
1910-11 56 Willie had been in poor health for some time when he & Clara travelled to the US in November, 1910, hoping to find a cure.  He died on April 1, 1911, in Corsicana, Texas, at the home of Clara's older brother Charles H. Allyn, and was buried in the Allyn family plot in Corsicana. Per his death certificate, the primary cause was: chronic interstition nephritis (a long-term kidney disorder), with a contributory cause of: hypertrophy of the heart (most likely caused by the kidney disorder).

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)