Ea. “La California” Page last modified:
Missing Litho.

Litho by John Schreiber, 1878
(source: Silvia Ucko)

Estancia “La California”
Las Rosas / SFé

Founded by Wilhelm (William/Guillermo) Benitz in early 1875, 30 km. north of Cañada de Gómez (or: 6 km. south-east of present day Las Rosas), province of Santa Fé, it became the Benitz family’s center of operations and residence for many decades.  One branch of the family still lives there (2020).

When the family first arrived, there was not a tree on the place.  First used for grazing cattle and sheep, with wheat cultivated on Las Tijeras by colonos (tenant farmers), it is today (2010) fully dedicated to corn, soybeans, wheat, dairy, and cattle fattening (grass fed & silage).  The land is flat, slightly undulating with very fertile deep loess soils.  It is some of the best farm land in Argentina.  (The old boy did us good!)

Missing image.

Ea. “La California” - 1875 - 2010
(Source: P. Benitz)

In the News:

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Subject Magazine Brief
Ea. “La California” The River Plate Sport and Pastime (May 4, 1892) Detailed description of the camp, its managment, & operation
Los Benitz Revista de la Sociedad Rural de Rosario (Enero-Febrero, 1955) Inspiring account of William Benitz and his sons

Time Line:

1875 – La California
Purchased 19 February, 1875, by Wilhelm Bz from Carlos Vernet for 16,000 pesos fuertes (426,000 U$D-2000).  It consisted of an east-west strip 1x4 leagues (6,000 x 24,000 varas – 10,800 hectareas – 26,687 acres) in the district of “Los Esteros” (which became the municipality of “Las Rosas” in 1889), approximately 30 km. north of Cañada de Gómez, Santa Fé.  Wilhelm accompanied by his sons and brother Frank moved onto the property on 8 April, 1875 (see John’s 1910 diary, for 8 April).

District of “Los Esteros”, 1872
Wilhelm purchased the bottom row
of 2 Vernet properties above
Martinez de Hoz & Armstrong.

Missing map.

(source: C.A. Benitz, 2010)

Missing map.

(source: C.A. Benitz, 2012)

1876 - La California
After Wilhelm died (June, 1876), the estancia was managed jointly by his oldest sons, Frank J. Bz (very briefly), William O. Bz, and Alfred A. Bz, with the assistance of their Uncle Frank (Frank X. Bz).
1881 – La Independencia
The westernmost league, known as La Independencia, was sold to pay the debts incurred by Frank J. Bz’s failed ventures.  William O. Bz left to become a hired manager and the management of La California fell to Alfred A. Bz and John E. Bz.
1884 – La California & Las Tijeras
Management fell to John when Alfred left to establish camps at “Laguna Yacaré” and later “Los Palmares” (both near Calchaquí, Santa Fé).  Major decisions continued to be made jointly by the 3 brothers: Alfred, John, & William.  The third (& now most western league), known as Las Tijeras, was rented to sharecroppers (colonos).
1896 – La California & Las Tijeras
When Wilhelm's sons divided up their properties, the casco (headquarters) and the 2 eastern leagues went to William Otto Bz (he took over its management June, 1899), the third league (Las Tijeras) eventually went to Alfred A. Bz (he also received the cattle at “Los Palmares”, over 15,000), and John Edward Bz received the recently purchased “Los Algarrobos” (4 sq. leagues, south of Monte Buey, Cba).
Note: per the “La California”; day-books of 1899-1905, Willie managed “Las Tijeras” for Alfred.  It is referenced by name separate from the numbered fields shown in the map below.
Missing map.

Estancia “La California”- ca.1910
5,400 has. - 13,365 acres

Reproduction of the office wall map,
redrawn from photos of original.
(source of original: C.A. Benitz, 2013)

1911 – La California
Upon William Otto Bz’s death, his share of La California was split amongst his many children.  Son William Agar Bz (Willie) inherited the casco and continued to manage the whole estancia as a single unit.
1918 – La California
Willie’s first wife, Flora King, died.  Ownership of her share (by marriage) of La California went to her then infant children Corina, Stuart, and Malcolm.  Stuart died in 1919.
1920’s - La California
The estancia shrank when Willie’s sisters claimed their shares, which they then sold.  With the assistance of his uncle Alfred, Willie was able to purchase (i.e. retain) some of the land put up for sale. (Fields lost: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6(¾), 8, 27, 28, 31, 32, & 33.  Note: as with all inheritances, the size & shape of some fields were adjusted to the shares.)
1937 – Las Tijeras
Upon Alfred Bz’s death his many properties, including Las Tijeras, were inherited by his widow, Olga B. Horner.  (Except the fields of La California that Alfred had bought from his nieces in the 1920s, these went to his nephew Willie.)
Missing image.

Ea. “La California” - 1942 or 1943
Casco / Headquarters

Winter (Paraiso trees have no leaves)
Aerial view, looking SW
(Source: F.M. Benitz)

1947 – El Piquete
F. Malcolm Bz took possession of his share of La California inherited from his mother (3 & 7), naming it El Piquete.
1956 – La California
Following Willie’s death, Malcolm added his share to El Piquete (15 & 16).  The rest of the estancia continued to be run as one unit by Charles A. Bz., with the assistance of the Australian Mercantile Co.
Missing image.

Ea. La California – 1956
(Source: P. Benitz)

La California: Corina and Moyra sold their shares (Malcolm bought Nº20 from Moyra); Charles took full control of his (9-14, & most of 17).
El Piquete: Malcolm sold 15, 16 & 20 to buy one of Corina’s fields (¼ of 6) and grazing land in Corrientes (“La Isleta”, south-east of Curuzú Cuatia).
Today (2010):
La California: The original casco (much reduced) and surrounding land is owned by the children of Charles A. Bz., great-great-grandchildren of Wilhelm Bz.; it is operated as a single unit.
El Piquete: Owned by the children of F. Malcolm Bz, great-great-grandchildren of Wilhelm Bz.; it is operated as a single unit.
Las Tijeras: In 1963, upon the death of Alfred’s widow, Olga Horner, it (and other properties) passed to her brother’s children whom she had previously adopted.  Most of it is still operated by them or their children.
Missing image.

Ea. “La California” - 1875 - 2010
(Source: P. Benitz)

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)