Immigration Commission 


The Immigration Commission was the name by which a group of owners and landowners designated on July 28, 1857 by the Governor of Santa Fe Juan Pablo López (1792-1886), by regulatory decree in the Argentine Republic, was known.

The objective of this commission was to settle and allow the new immigrants who arrived in the Santa Fe region to find "all possible facilities for their early establishment and suitable land for the exercise of their industry." That is to say, provide them with an adequate settlement and guarantee the practice of agriculture. It was chaired by several members, among them Álvaro José de Alzogaray (1809-1879), Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) and Luis Parma (c.1810-c.1880), who intensively studied the possibility of not wasting the efforts of the new families that embarked to America, seeing the best way to settle them.

Photograph of Álvaro José de Alzogaray (1809-1879) around 1840. Juan Manuel De Rosas y su iconografía.

Photograph of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) around 1856. Gallery of Presidents of the Club del Orden, Province of Santa Fe, Argentine Republic. After the founding of San Jerónimo, Foster became the man most linked to the settlement of immigrants in the province of Santa Fe.

The Immigration Commission functioned between August 1857 and the end of 1860 and resulted in the founding and consolidation of San Jerónimo Norte and a demographic growth of the Santa Fe region. This was made possible by the stubborn and strong desire for progress of these pioneers, who did not rest for a moment until the culmination of their efforts, resulting in the arrival of new immigrants.

Without a doubt, the man with the most experience in immigration and colonization was Ricardo Foster (1808-1865). And the events themselves soon showed that he was at the same time the most tenacious in fulfilling the mission that had been entrusted to them.

The Immigration Commission began to act seriously in August 1857 and inquiries were made in different places: in the surroundings of Esperanza, the only colony that existed then in the province of Santa Fe, and also in some parts of the north and south of it. It's that fertile lands were required for the practice of agriculture and protection against possible incursions by indigenous peoples.

Thus, on August 24, 1857, they informed the government of Santa Fe that between the city of Santa Fe and the Aguiar stream there were "enough publicly owned land, and today completely vacant," to install a colony of 50 families there. For this reason, the government had to order that the pertinent measures be carried out without delay so that the seven families who were already in the province and "those who come from now on" can go and settle there.

Likewise, considering the decree issued by the government of Santa Fe, which referred not to one, but to the founding of several "agricultural colonies of spontaneous immigrants", they again proposed to Governor Juan Pablo López 1792-1886) that, once those 50 concessions were populated on the north side, another colony had to establish itself at another point, that is, ten leagues to the west, next to the road that led to Córdoba, near the reduction of San Jerónimo del Sauce. This region was being occupied by 800 meek Abiponese Indians under the custody of Commander Nicolás Denis and a missionary of the order of San Francisco. And finally, in addition, a third colony, which would be located in the vicinity of another indigenous town, also about ten leagues from Santa Fe, but in a northwesterly direction, called San Pedro, made up of Mocovi Indians.

Three days after receiving the document from the Immigration Commission, the government fully approved the proposals contained therein and authorized the measurement and demarcation of the chosen lands. Subsequently, the engineer surveyor Eduardo de Saint Remy Urban, who was also in charge of the delimitation and measurement of the Sarmiento Park in Río Cuarto, had the essential prior task of measuring and tracing the Foster's fields before the arrival of the immigrants.

He spent five days doing this, traversing the four flanks of that vast terrain, taking measurements and setting down lateral and corner markers in a square area of ​​two leagues per band with a total of 114,000,000 square rods. After the measurement, the engineer Saint Remy Urban proceeded to make the layout of the future colony. It was September 27, 1857.

Everything was correctly directed so that in a short time the foundation of the second agricultural colony of Santa Fe, called San Jerónimo, could be seen.

That same year, Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) acquired four leagues of public lands to the west of his own, with a commitment to assign 50 concessions of 20 blocks each to the extreme west of that space, so that new spontaneous settlers could be established. However, the Swiss families residing in Santa Fe, who were waiting for their location, did not dare to move to these lands for fear of the indigenous people who roamed the area. Faced with this situation, the government of Santa Fe left the problem in the hands of Foster himself, who contacted his collaborator Lorenzo Bodenmann (1802-c.1880), a native of the canton of Valais, Switzerland, and proposed that he travel to Europe to look for families who wanted to populate these land. Consequently, Bodenmann reunited seven families from Upper Valais, with whom he set sail for America in May 1858.

Despite the discontent in the Immigration Commission that previous spontaneous immigrants scorned the offer to populate the new colony, preferring that of Esperanza, it did not stop Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) from his purpose and prompted him to devise this new and ambitious plan: populating the colony himself with committed families, rather than waiting for the immigrants to spontaneously arrive in Santa Fe. And precisely here, at this decisive moment, the providential meeting took place between these two men who were the main protagonists in the history of the founding of the colony.

Despite the initial fear that these Swiss had to settle in these lands, Ricardo Foster (1808-1865), currently honored with a bust in the central square of the city, convinced five of these families, who finally decided to move to the place chosen for their definitive settlement.

Bartolomé Blatter, Ignacio Falchini (c.1811-c.1895), Pedro Perrig, Ignacio Heimo (1820-1898) and Luis Hug were the heads of these respective families, made up of a total of 35 people, who after an extensive journey, managed to reach the place chosen as their final destination on August 15 from 1858. Later, Germans, French and Italians were added for its aggrandizement.

Final Report

Álvaro José de Alzogaray (1809-1879) was an Argentine sailor with an outstanding participation in the Brazilian War, the Great War, the Paraguayan War, and the Argentine civil wars.

He was born in the city of Santa Fe, Virreinato del Río de la Plata, on January 19, 1809 and his education allowed him to handle several languages.

Still young, he joined the squad under the command of Guillermo Brown (1777-1857) was enlisting to fight the army of the Brazilian Empire in the war for the liberation of the Banda Oriental.

Accompanying Brown, he took part in all the combats in which the Republican commander was present (all those that involved the squad), keeping a record that he titled Operations Diary of the Republican Squad, Brazil Campaign.

On November 20, 1845 he fought during the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata, leading the Restaurador battery in the Combat of the Vuelta de Obligado.

His behavior in action against the aggressor powers led Commander Lucio Norberto Mansilla to qualify him as "worthy of renown as an intrepid and serene warrior."

On June 4, 1846, he participated in the Battle of Angostura del Quebracho on the southern coast of the province of Santa Fe, 35 km from Rosario, in which Mansilla's forces caused heavy damage to the allied squad returning to the Río de la Plata forcing her to flee. Until 1849 he was General Commander of the Division Headquarters of the North Department, after which he received command of the steam Merced, the first of the Argentine Navy.

In 1853 he was promoted to captain of the navy. Until 1859 he served as Postmaster of Santa Fe. Reintegrated to the forces of the Argentine Confederation, he acted during the Cepeda campaign as General Commander of the Justo José de Urquiza Army Park. He died in Buenos Aires on July 31, 1879.

A sector of the center of the province of Santa Fe. Here you can see the location of the Aguiar stream, a place indicated for the establishment of new settlers according to the Immigration Commission. Courtesy of Father Macario Chua, SVD.

Geographic location of the San Jerónimo colony, in Santa Fe, Argentina. 

Here you can see on the map the location of the Field belonging to Foster and, at the western end, the strip of land that he donated for the founding of the colony that will be called San Jerónimo. Courtesy of Father Macario Chua, SVD.

Ricardo Foster (1808-1865) was a Portuguese colonizer, landowner, and politician. Founder of San Jerónimo Norte and meritorious in the founding of the city of Esperanza in the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina.

He was born on October 5, 1808 on the Portuguese island of Madera, in Funchal, the center of its capital city, and obtained British citizenship by being his father consul of the United Kingdom.

He was president of the Immigration Commission, Colonization Commission, member of the Consulate Court and president of the Club of the Order of the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina.

He was tasked with pinpointing the lands where colonization would take place; prepare and have the houses built in which the settlers would stay, receive them with their families upon arrival in the respective province, transfer them to the colony after crossing the fords of the Salado River, defending them from possible attacks by the natives, and then monitor during the first years the fulfillment of the conditions and obligations of the colonization contracts.

In 1852, in partnership with Ángel de Arrarte, it acquired a vast area of ​​land and over time it acquired more land with livestock as its main activity. Some time later he was Justice of the Peace and Deputy in the Province of Santa Fe, although the date is unknown. He then acquired the Las Tunas field, which stretched from the north of his fields in Paso Santo Tomé, to El Sauce. Las Tunas and San Jerónimo Norte are there today.

In 1859 he had these lands delineated and there it was the first colony in Argentina to settle on privately owned lands, since the previous ones had been on ceded public lands. In fact, the San Jerónimo Norte land was founded on land donated to the inhabitants, without pursuing any lucrative purpose, as had happened in the previous ones mentioned. He died of severe dropsy on December 5, 1865, after having been ill during his last months.

The Immigration Commission carried out the corresponding investigation for the establishment of new colonies and considered it appropriate to locate one on the north side of the city of Esperanza, another colony at a further point, next to the highway that led to Córdoba, in the vicinity of San Jerónimo del Sauce, and finally a third colony some ten leagues from Santa Fe, in a northwesterly direction. This strenuous effort to settle the new settlers arriving in Santa Fe resulted in a series of events that eventually led Foster and Bodenmann to devise a plan to search Europe on their own for committed families who wished to embark for America.

In recognition of the work carried out and for not having renounced its purpose, the municipality of San Jerónimo Norte, testified its tribute, designating the streets of the city with the name of Ricardo Foster (1808-1865). Also with the surnames Blatter, Falchini, Perrig, Heimo and Lug, who came to these lands from Europe with their respective families.

  • The street that originates from 800 Santa Fe in San Jerónimo Norte, is named after Ricardo Foster.

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