Tuesday, March 23, 2010

La Elisa

In 1891 Philippe Frédéric de Büren left the life he knew for a new one in Argentina. He most certainly heard tales of prosperous Europeans in South America, but it is unclear if he was persuaded by his father to go, or left of his own accord. I tend to believe it was a bit of both. His father only three years before had sold the Château of Vaumarcus with its vast lands, and has moved the family to the manor home of La Châtelaine near Geneva. Philippe who probably thought he would take over the castle for his father now had to come up with another plan.

Thanks to researcher Juan Delius of Konstanz, Germany and his site (www.pampas-cordobesa.de), I now know that in 1892 Philippe purchased 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) in Santa Victoria, Córdoba, near Chazon. He bought this land from Philippe Budin, a Swiss businessman living in Buenos Aires whose family was also from Geneva. Budin had purchased all 10,824 hectares (26,746 acres) of parcel I 76, one of the 100 parcels that was divided from the old Monte Molino ranch land area in Córdoba.

Southeastern corner of Córdoba Province, Argentina

Parcel divisions around the old Monte Molino ranch (shaded parcel 29)

Parcel I 76 purchased by Philippe Budin

Sections of Parcel I 76 purchased by Philippe Frédéric de Büren in 1892 (in red). A very important feature of the property is access to the Villa Maria rail line (at left). Thanks to Juan Delius for the image.

Philippe would take a wife and raise a family on the ranch that would be named “La Elisa” after his first daughter Elisa, born in 1898. Philippe and Louisa Fabrini, his wife, would have 7 children in Argentina and one more when they moved back to Geneva in 1911, presumably for their children’s schooling. In a new bit of information furnished by Mr. Delius, it also appears that Philippe’s brother, Henri Paul lived in Argentina for a while at La Elisa. He would later return to Switzerland as well.

The de Büren children (Philippe, Jeanne, Olga, Elisa, Carlos, Henri and Natalie) with their mother Louisa

Henri Charles Paul de Büren (1867-1943), brother of Philippe Frédéric assisted him at La Elisa for a number or years.

When the children were old enough, it was time to return to Argentina. It seems however, that most of the children were very happy to stay in Geneva. It was up to the first born son, Henri, to return to the ranch. He was sent in 1922 to a Swiss farmer in Fresno, California, to learn how to run a large agricultural operation. The problem was, Henri moved to San Francisco, and never went back to Córdoba in defiance of his father’s will. The task of returning to the ranch fell to the youngest son Carlos, who in 1923 at the age of 17 left Geneva for Argentina. Philippe and Louisa would only return to Argentina in 1928.

Philippe Frédéric de Büren

Carlos (standing at left) working at La Elisa

Philippe Frédéric and his son Carlos

Carlos would stay and raise a large family in Argentina. He would run La Elisa for many years until in the late 1960s when he was pursuaded/threatened/forced by his siblings to partition the ranch and sell the parts belonging to the brothers and sisters. The stack of papers that highlight the back-and-forth between the Argentine lawyers, my grandfather and his siblings over the fate of La Elisa span some ten years and regrettably read like scripts from the 80s TV show “Dallas”.

I hope soon to travel to Argentina and see where my grandfather was born and meet my cousins with whom I have become increasingly close over email. If I my grandfather had returned to Argentina the way his father had intended, who knows, I might have been the one raised in Córdoba.


  1. I enjoy thinking about how different accidents of history have effected where I am today. For instance, my Theriault ancestors are Acadian. When the British exiled my Acadian ancestors, some Theriaults ended up on ships that sank of the Canadian shores, others were deposited off the New England shores, others in France and finally many ended up in Louisiana (they are the Cajuns). Mine escaped into the woods of New Brunswick/Maine and eventually ended up in Quebec.
    So many different destinies.
    Welcome to Geneabloggers.
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. Evelyn,

    Thanks for your post. My mother grew up in Moncton, so I know New Brunswick very well.

    Merci, Jean-François

  3. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of Back to the Homeplace

  4. Let me know when you travel again to Argentina. I am from Switzerland, too. Building with my Argentine spouse and our children a life here with ranching and other entrepreneurial activities. Our family has its origins in Basel (1409), Zurich/Winterthur (engineers and inventors of one of the first cars (Turicum) in Switzerland as well as Oberaargau/Emmental (Berne). good luck



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