The history of San Jerónimo Norte in the province of Santa Fe is different from that of other regions, since when we talk about colonization, it was carried out spontaneously, that is, it was not promoted by any immigration agency as if it happened in Esperanza and other colonies, which were already prepared and organized in advance to receive the settlers.
The colonization of this region was promoted by Ricardo Foster (1808-1865), a Portuguese landowner very close to the government of Santa Fe and who, as president of an Immigration Commission, had a lot of knowledge in the formation of colonies due to his meritorious work with Aaron Castellanos (1799-1880) in the city of Esperanza. Likewise, the performance of Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873), a Swiss associated with Foster, is honorable, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean nine times in search of new families and for the colony to preserve its own existence, at a time when this implied certain risks, with arduous sacrifices and harsh privations.
Bust in homage to the founder Ricardo Foster (1808-1865), placed in 1958 on the centenary of the founding of San Jerónimo Norte, Province of Santa Fe, Argentine Republic.
After the founding of San Jerónimo Norte on August 15, 1858, Foster became the man most closely linked to the settlement of immigrants in that province.
Likewise, he never abandoned the settlers, taking charge of facilitating the provision of tame animals and providing them with valuable aid of various kinds. In addition to preparing the ranches that would house, and defend them from possible attacks by indigenous people.
Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) died of dropsy on December 5, 1865, after being seriously ill since August 1863 and was buried in the Catholic cemetery of the Metropolitan Cathedral of All Saints in La Capital, Province of Santa Fe, Argentine Republic.
The dedication, effort and commitment of so many years will be remembered for generations.
In 1856, Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) had his fields from Santo Tomé to the west and seeing the possibility of expanding his patrimony, he acquired land from the treasury with the idea of forming new colonies, in a province that until then was very poor and sparsely populated. In this expansion project and with the sole idea of seeing the province of Santa Fe grow, he buys a vast piece of land and agrees to measure 50 concessions for the possible formation of an agricultural colony.
Although during those years immigrants arrived in the province due to the news of the newly founded colony of Esperanza in 1855 and with the idea of settling in it, many of them were left without land and without a place to live. Faced with this situation, Foster, being in direct contact, offered them to go to his concessions destined for this purpose, but they, still fearful because of the proximity of a place called "El Sauce", located west of the city of Santa Fe and where there were about 800 Abiponese Indians, it was difficult to decide.
Many of these families were alarmed by the authorities, which only greatly increased the fear in each of them to move to other regions.
Despite the discouragement after the settlers turned down the offer to settle in these concessions, this did not stop Foster from his purpose and prompted him to devise the ambitious plan of populating the colony himself with committed families, instead of waiting for the immigrants to come spontaneously to Santa Fe. And precisely here, at this decisive moment, the providential meeting took place between Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) and Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873), another visionary endowed with extreme patience and a native of the canton of Valais, who, motivated by Foster's desire, decides to travel to Europe in search of immigrants.
From this moment the meritorious action of Bodenmann begins, who after a long series of events that were happening, gave rise to the consolidation of the respective colony. And it is that after his arrival in Switzerland, he began to promote Foster's project and enthused European families with populating the distant colony, returning with new families on several occasions, helping it to grow and avoiding the risk of disintegration.
In 1858 he arrived in Argentina with the first 6 Swiss families and a single man after 3 months of travel.
The departure of the emigrants to America was overshadowed by the conviction that it was a one-way trip, since the desire to reconnect with relatives and get to know the longed-for places of the distant homeland only materialized in a minimal percentage of immigrants and not without first having made a modest fortune, after a few years of hard work. It is that at that time the railways had not yet reached the canton of Vales, much less had the Simplon tunnel been built, a railway tunnel in the Alps that connects the city of Brig in Valais, Switzerland with the town of Domodossola in Piedmont, Italy.
April 17, 1858 was the set date of departure with Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873) and when the expected day dawned, the families of Ignacio Heymenn (1820-1898), Mauricio Jost, Pedro Perrig, Luis Hug, Bartolomé Blatter and Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895), as well as Pedro Bellwald, met in Brig.
Bodenmann, who knew the Valais canton very well, also returns with a brother who settled in Entre Ríos and with the families that later became the first inhabitants of the San Jerónimo Norte colony. However, after the arrival, Foster had to generate tranquility and trust in these families, since many of them still feared what they heard about the indigenous people who roamed the region.
It is surprising how quickly a change of mood occurred in them as great as it was unexpected, after arriving in Santa Fe on the ship Asunción, so that what happened the previous year with the first spontaneous immigrants was about to repeat itself. That is to say, all the effort of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) and the long bustle of Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873) were for a moment before the abyss of total failure.
This disenchantment caused in the Valesan families was due, according to Foster's statement, to the fact that when they arrived in Santa Fe they had "news of the risks they could run" of being victims of the sieges of the Serrano Indians. This grim picture that now presented itself before their eyes was intentionally exaggerated by individuals interested in attracting them to get a greater number of immigrants for their settlement.
The effects did not take long to translate into concrete events when Pedro Bellwald and Mauricio Jost, the latter along with his family, leaving the group, went to settle in Esperanza. Faced with the imminent danger that the group's disintegration would continue until its total disappearance, Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) did everything possible to prevent this from happening. Perhaps the words alone were persuasive, or the Immigration Commission again required the intervention of the governor of Santa Fe.
In any case, and to the great fortune of the San Jerónimo colony, Foster's tenacity finally managed to weather this last danger, getting five families to settle in the colony with a total of 35 people. Bartolomé Blatter (1810-1904), Ignacio Falchini (c.1811-c.1895), Pedro Perrig, Ignacio Heimo (1820-1898) and Luis Hug were the heads of these respective families who arrived at the chosen place after much traveling and leaving behind.
The long road from Santa Fe to Córdoba passed through San Jerónimo del Sauce, Romero and Quebracho Herrado. Through the first section of the same, the typical Creole carts pulled by oxen traveled, in which those five Swiss families undertook their slow march towards the west.
When the carts stopped, the precise place where they got off, according to tradition, was the "Cuatro Montes", 4300 meters south of the city or the wide street of that time. And we know that it was on Sunday, August 15, 1858, when there, in that wide meadow, limited only by the horizon, without notarial deeds or pompous formal ceremonies, the seeds of the robust trees germinated in a natural and modest way, the second colony of the province of Santa Fe in the Argentine Republic.
Foundation of San Jerónimo Norte by Hugo Lazzarini. 1991. Oil painting. This narrative-style painting shows the moment of the arrival of the founding families to the four mounts, on August 15, 1858. Right in the center of the work is María Josefina Durrer, wife of Luis Hugh, pregnant, who the next day would give birth to her little son, baptized six days later in the Sauce chapel with the name of Ricardo, in honor of whom he was the boy's godfather and founder of the colony, Ricardo Foster (1808-1865). Further on, in the foreground, the trunks, boxes and precarious bundles of clothes, keep the belongings of each one.
First Five Families
We can already imagine the difficult situation that the first five European families had to go through at the beginning of the San Jerónimo Norte colony. However, during this time Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) never abandoned the settlers and was in charge of providing them with valuable aid of various kinds and facilitating the provision of domesticated animals. In addition to preparing the ranches that would house, and defend them from possible attacks by indigenous people.
As for what could be around it, it was the vegetation of the scrubland that is espinillo, aromitos or chañares. Another detail to take into account is the immediate help that these settlers received from Lieutenant Colonel Nicolás Denis (c. 1801-1869) and his Lanceros del Sauce, strengthening the affinity and trust with San Jerónimo del Sauce. These difficult beginnings were overcome above all by the arrival of 20 new families from the canton of Valais in 1860, hired by Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873), who acted as Foster's collaborator so that the colony preserved its existence.
When, after long months of sky and sea, the American coast suddenly appeared in the distance, a general feeling of overflowing joy broke out in all areas of the ship, as recounted by one emigrant: "Around 11 o'clock a joyous cry rang out: Land! Everyone still on the tweendeck rushed upward. Everyone gave free rein to their joy and thanked God."
The Perrig family, originally from the town of Ried, district of Brig in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, was one of the five founding families of the San Jerónimo Norte colony. It was made up of Pedro Perrig and his wife Teresa Furrer, who were the father of 12 children: María Teresa, José Antonio, Paulina, Magdalena, Pedro José Fernando, Alejandro, Luis, Ana María, Catalina, Crecencia, Josefina Luisa and María Teresita.
The Hug family, also originally from the town of Ried, district of Brig in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, was another of the five founding families of the San Jerónimo Norte colony. It was made up of Luis Hug and his wife María Josefina Durrer, who were the father of 2 children: Luisa and Ricardo. The latter, named after the founder of the colony Ricardo Foster (1808-1865), who was also his godfather.
Regina Blatter (1829-c.1905), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The Heimen (Heimo) family was originally from the village of Glis in the Brig district, canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Johann Joseph Ignaz Heimen (1820-1898) and Regina Blatter (1829-c.1905) were married around 1850 in Glis and were the parents of 5 children: María Victoria, Gaspar Ignacio, Josefa Filomena Catalina, Ignacia María and Francisca Regina.
The entire Heimo family is descended from the marriage of Ignacio and Regina Blatter, one of the five founding families of the San Jerónimo Norte colony and later settled in the Guadalupe colony in 1871, where some people with the same surname currently live.
Arrived in Santa Fe in 1858, they were driven by order of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) in carts to the place located northeast of the El Sauce indigenous reduction, giving rise to the origin of the San Jerónimo colony.
Johann Joseph Ignaz Heimen (1820-1898), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
According to what was promised, each of the five founding families received a concession of 33 hectares of land, which they could use for their own benefit, without having to deliver percentages of the product to the founder of the colony as ordered in Esperanza and also in San Carlos.
The census prescribed by the Santa Fe government in December 1864 shows that the economic situation of the Heimo family was good: They lived in a house with a roof terrace, they owned a troop of 80 cows, in addition to 8 horses and 6 pigs.
In the course of the year they had sold 200 pounds of cheese and 100 pounds of butter. To solve the problem of the lack of firewood for the kitchen and wood for construction, and poles for the corrals, they had planted 150 trees on their property, presumably paradises.
In the early years, due to the small number of inhabitants and the climate of peace and friendship that reigned in the colony, no one missed the lack of a legally constituted local authority. But, of course, such a situation could not continue indefinitely, mainly due to the gradual growth of the population. Therefore, five years after the colony was founded, in 1863, Governor Patricio Cullen (1826-1877) appointed the colony's first justice of the peace. This honorable designation, at the request of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) himself, fell to Johann Joseph Ignaz Heimen (1820-1898), who, compared to the other residents of San Jerónimo at the time, had received, together with Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895), the best school education.
Two notable events occurred during his candidacy:
- As a result of his negotiations with the provincial authorities, on April 28, 1864, the inhabitants of San Jerónimo were issued the first property titles for the lands that were assigned to them when they settled in the colony.
- The first and decisive steps were taken for the construction of the "Old Church", a memorable building that became the heart and soul of a town. With the same purpose, Heimo was a parallel member of the Parish Council, created in 1865, the main organizer and person in charge of the work.
The justice of the peace had to endure strong opposition from the fraction of residents who were in favor of his replacement by the former notary of Ernen, Mauricio Yost, who, from Esperanza, had just settled in the colony. Heimo, of mild temperament, saddened by the situation created, insistently proposed his resignation from the government, which, he later reiterated, was accepted on June 30, 1864, being replaced by Bernardo Risse.
In 1871 Ignacio went to settle in the Guadalupe colony. The only news about the former judge dates from December 14, 1872, the date on which by government decree the General Superintendency of Schools was created in the province of Santa Fe, a decree that at the same time constituted School District Commissions in the towns, being designated Johann Joseph Ignaz Heimen (1820-1898) to integrate those corresponding to the Guadalupe colony.
Bartolomé Blatter (1810-1904), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The Blatter family was originally from the town of Brig-Glis in the canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Bartolomé Blatter (1810-1904), Glis' carriage maker, and Magdalena Sprung (1820-1906) were married in Brig-Glis on April 15, 1849 and together they had 4 children: Luisa, Luis, María and Pedro José.
As for kinship relations, Bartolomé Blatter (1810-1904) and Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895) were brothers-in-law of each other; Regina Blatter (1829-c.1905), the wife of Johann Joseph Ignaz Heimen (1820-1898), probably had blood ties to the previous two; and, finally, the mothers of Regina Blatter (1829-c.1905) and Magdalena Sprung (1820-1906) had the surname Inalbon, which in turn corroborates the presumption of kinship.
On April 17, 1858, they left for Genoa towards Santa Fe under the command of Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873) and arrived in Argentina after 3 months of travel to become one of the first five families to arrive in San Jerónimo Norte on Sunday, August 15, 1858.
Magdalena Sprung (1820-1906), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The Falchini family was originally from the town of Brig-Glis in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, but with Italian ancestry from the town of Domodossola.
Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895) and Catalina Blatter (1799-c.1890) were the parents of 3 children: Ignacio, Ana María and Julio.
Regarding kinship relations, Ignacio Falchini (1800-c.1895) and Bartolomé Blatter (1810-1904) were brothers-in-law and on April 17, 1858 they left Genoa for Santa Fe under the command of Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873) and arrived in Argentina after 3 months of travel to become one of the first five families to arrive in San Jerónimo Norte on Sunday, August 15, 1858.
He was Justice of the Peace of San Jerónimo Norte from 1868 to 1869 and in this last year he appears as the author of the 1869 census, in his jurisdiction.
Catalina Blatter (1799-c.1890), a member of one of the first five founding families of San Jerónimo Norte in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The year 1865, when the performance of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) and Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-1873) ended and this important demographic growth took place, is like a milestone in the history of the San Jerónimo colony, which marks the end of the first stage and the most important of all by particular nature of the events that occurred, which resulted in two essential realities: the foundation of the colony and its definitive consolidation.
A few new points on the map, and a couple of families who arrived exhausted from their distant Central European mountains to these plains almost inconceivable to their minds, opened the march, already impossible to stop, of the economic, social and demographic transformation of the Argentine country.
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