The Colquhouns of Argentina

ColqArgentAfter Argentina gained liberation from Spanish rule in 1816, the country became more settled, though there were still problems with the native tribes. In the colonial period the Spanish explorers and settlers encountered a number of native peoples. Among these were the Diaguita tribes of the Andean Northwest, a town-dwelling, agricultural people who were forced into labour after they had been conquered. They were divided by the Spanish into small groups and were sent to work in Peru and the Río de la Plata area around Buenos Aires. In the 1860s and 1870s foreign capital and waves of European immigrants poured into the country. Railroads were built by the British; alfalfa (a fodder plant) became widespread, better breeds of cattle and sheep were sought after. The landowners began to employ immigrants (chiefly Italians) to cultivate their estancias (ranches), sowing alfalfa for fodder, corn (maize), and finer pastures. They fenced their lands and imported pedigreed sheep and cattle from Great Britain. The southeastern area between Mar del Plata and Tandil, being relatively cool and containing much swampy land, was devoted to the breeding of high-grade sheep and cattle. As late as the 1870s, marauding Indians periodically encroached upon sparsely settled areas. It was to this region that James Colquhoun arrived circa 1874.


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