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No hablo español, pero he utilizado recursos como 'Google Translate' para proporcionar una versión en español de este artículo.
Using newly discovered information on the Internet, I have been able to learn considerably more about the complex life of Wharton Peers Jones who became a part of my family history when he married Mary Owen, the eldest daughter of Rev. Elias Owen. I do not speak Spanish, and, prior to this research, I had very little knowledge of the history involved. I have made every effort to cross-check information but please do not hesitate to contact me, if you find any mistakes, factual or in translation, or if you can add any information. Internet resources have been amazingly productive, but I am quite sure that exploring local resources in Chile could shed more light on some of the more mysterious aspects of Wharton's life; I hope this page might encourage such research.
My interest was re-ignited by coming across an interview with Wharton by Armando Donoso, published in April 1916 in the Chilean Pacífico Magazine, [Ref 1]. I have attempted to put the information Wharton provided into context, to clarify, and, on occasions, to question it. The report is headed, "Recuerdos de un inglés" (Memories of an Englishman). Virtually all the references to Wharton in Chilean publications call him "un inglés" (it was common practice not to distinguish between English and Welsh; for example, all such passengers on British ships were classed as English} but Wharton was "un galés" (a Welshman).
He was born in Wales but went to Chile when he was about twenty years old. Many Welsh people established communities around the world, but they often clung to their native traditions; Wharton wholeheartedly adopted Chile as his homeland, where he became something of a legend in his own lifetime. (For more information about the family of Wharton and Mary Owen, see Mary Owen's pages.)
Through meeting influential people, either by chance or by design, Wharton's life became a patchwork of intriguing episodes. His activities touched the political, social and agricultural history of Chile, and beyond, and, on a more mundane level, he had a profound influence on the lives of those British people whom he encouraged, through his work, to emigrate to Chile.
I have tried to provide enough information for anyone who knows little of Chile or of its history to understand the significance of events and the roles of the people with whom Wharton associated. Before reading on, if you want ready access to a map to enable you to see the locations of all the places in Central and South America mentioned in the text, open the following and keep it open, for reference, while reading through the account on this page. Click here to open the map.
This National Library of Wales site has long been a useful source of information for my genealogical research, and it provided many Welsh newspaper reports about Wharton, when he was working in Wales for the Chilean Government, including letters he wrote for publication. This site, showing old copies of the Santiago newspaper, La Nacion, was also informative, though more problematic to search. (All newspaper references should be available on one of these two sites.) Most of the Chilean records of births, deaths and marriages are available on this Family Search site, run by the Church of Latter Day Saints. It is a non-subscription site but does require registration. Names, unfamiliar to Chileans, were often misspelt or wrongly entered, due to confusion over surname order, by government officials, before being transcribed onto this site so searching can be tricky - 'Peers Jones' has many variants, including 'Bersjone', and the surnames of the parents of Mary and of Wharton were interchanged on their marriage record - but the website is an extremely valuable resource for genealogists. Other information came from Chilean websites to which links (appearing as links) are provided, where possible; a few of the websites are no longer available. Be aware that some reference pages take a few minutes to load and many are in Chilean; English versions are provided, where possible. Page numbers of original texts are not always synchronised with their Internet versions so, a reference link may be followed by e.g. "p135/231", indicating that the material is on page 135 of a 231-page pdf file. If an extract or quotation in this text is unattributed then you can assume it is from the 1916 interview.
In the report of the interview Wharton Peers Jones gave in 1916, [Ref 1], the interviewer, Armando Donoso, added his own comments to the conversation. There are a few obvious errors in the report, some of which could be attributed to a linguistic misunderstanding during the interview (several of Wharton's acquaintances have written about his poor grasp of Spanish). Others could be due to the fact that Wharton was relying on his memory. These could make one question the veracity of more significant events he described in the interview, so I have presented any evidence I have found, so far, to confirm his account. Some of his experiences, such as those involving espionage activity, must, for now, be taken at face value.
Donoso was particularly interested in the long relationship Wharton had with a Chilean political figure called Isidoro Errázuriz. Wharton seemed very much happier talking about their work and public lives than revealing anything about his own private life. The only mention of his family appears to have been to say that he [and Mary Owen] married in England in about 1889. This could be seen as a 'white lie' - implying they had married before the births of their four children - but UK records provide no evidence of such a marriage in England or Wales. In fact, I have discovered that Wharton already had a family back in Chile before he began a relationship with Mary. Wharton was similarly reticent when asked how he arrived in Chile, eventually providing an imaginative but not entirely convincing explanation. Evidence suggests that he probably would have wanted some aspects of his private life to remain private but that his desire for adventure mellowed during his thirties and this led to a more stable private life; he and Mary eventually married, in Chile, in 1912.
The interview reveals an incredible ability Wharton had for befriending influential people wherever he went and for quickly gaining their trust. One can only imagine that personal recommendation from friends or work colleagues facilitated a chain reaction; all the evidence suggests that he was loyal, magnanimous, capable, courageous, personable, and trustworthy as a friend and as an employee. Respect, admiration, and a genuine fondness for him shine through the comments made by Armando Donoso and the wording of his obituary and of other newspaper articles about him. The Chilean newspaper La Nacion published a substantial, commemorative article, in the same vein, on the anniversary of his death.
The 1916 interview introduces Wharton thus:
"Who is Mister Wharton Peers Jones? This is the first thing those who have never heard the name of His Britannic Majesty's most sympathetic subject will want to know. Mister Jones, as those who know him well will tell us, is a typically phlegmatic Englishman, nervous when speaking, thoughtful, energetic, determined to do everything, … The gringo Jones, as the porteños [port city people] call him, is a popular man: his escapades, his friendships, his audacity, are known to all and have created an aura of boldly heroic legend. … During the days of the Pacific War, in the dark hours of '91, during the presidency of Mr. Jorge Montt and Mr. Federico Errázuriz Echaurren, Mr. Jones has served the Government in very delicate, confidential missions"
Wharton appears to have had quite a distinguished lineage, on both sides of his family. He was the son of a surgeon, Price Jones. It is said that Price Jones's father, Peter Price Jones, had inherited the estate and Manor of Yspytty Ieuan, in Wales through his father's marriage to Sarah Price. Prior to that, the Manor of Yspytty Ieuan had been in the possession of the Price family for several generations, one of the past owners being the poet and sea captain Thomas Price (or Prys), whose life story appears to have been as adventurous as that of Wharton.
"Pryce Jones of Rhyl, M.D. … with his father sold all the estate and the Manor [of Yspytty Ieuan] … Dr. Price Jones married a lady from Ruthin, by whom he had a numerous family." [Ref 2, p 25.]
That "lady from Ruthin" was Mari Anne (aka Maria Anne or Marianne) Peers, who was the daughter of Lt. Col. Joseph Peers, a local JP and military man of the Denbighshire Local Militia and the "numerous family" included at least fifteen children.
Wharton's birth appears not to have been registered but he was born on 26 June 1850 [Ref 3] and the 1851 Census includes Wharton Peers Jones, aged 9 months, as a member of the rapidly expanding Jones family, living at a property called 'Ty Gwyn', in Church Street, Rhyl, with three resident servants. While still very young, Wharton had to come to terms with several deaths in the family. He was about eighteen months old when his brother, Kenrick, was born, and therefore of an age to be aware of the sadness and loss felt when Kenrick died, a year later. His paternal grandmother, who also lived in Rhyl, died the following summer and he was only fourteen years old when he lost his father.
By 1861 the Jones family was living at 9 Water Street, Rhyl, and Wharton was attending a local school. Church Street and Water Street are parallel roads, very near each other, and both running off the road along the Rhyl seafront and perpendicular to it. They were still there when his father died on 21 January 1865, leaving an estate valued at a mere £300. By 1871, only the youngest child, Annie (7), was living with her widowed mother and there were no resident servants. Wharton's mother was probably no longer able to support her older children, and they had left home to make their own way in life. Thus, Wharton set out on adult life as a well-bred young man, but with no great wealth.
Growing up in Rhyl, on the north coast of Wales, Wharton would have seen the shipping passing on its way to and from Liverpool and the Mersey estuary, so it is unsurprising that this youth, with a thirst for adventure and travel, should choose to go to sea. In 1866, 'Wharton P Jones', aged 15, was indentured as a merchant navy apprentice to J Heap & Sons of Liverpool, to serve aboard the Lord Clyde, 531 tons [Ref 4]. Presumably, he was a crewman under Captain Murphy, aboard the Lord Clyde, a ship carrying cargo and passengers, when she sailed to New Zealand, arriving at Nelson, on 8 September 1866 before sailing on to Plymouth, New Zealand, arriving on 20 October. A descendant of one of Wharton's siblings told me that Wharton had inherited land in Chile through his father's family. That being the case and his father having died in 1865, Wharton may have thought that being a crewman on a ship could be an inexpensive means of getting to South America. The indenture record shows no indication that Wharton deserted or that his indenture was cancelled (others do) and, since he was bound as an apprentice for 4 years from 9 April 1866, this was probably his occupation up until about the time that he arrived in Chile.
However, in the 1916 interview, when asked, when and how he arrived in Chile, Wharton was initially slow to respond, saying that it was a long time ago. After some thought, he replied: "In the year '66, 1866, I was working in Panama, where I had gone from England to do pearl fishing. There I had a relative, a first cousin, who was a consul in Panama. Well, at the beginning of '66 he gave me malaria and I was quite seriously ill. Then the opportunity presented itself for me to transfer to Chile on the Paita* steamer and I did not hesitate for a moment. I arrived in Valparaíso and immediately transferred to another boat that was going to Puerto Montt, where it arrived without great fanfare or attention. I lived in the home of a Mr. Hoffmann, for a month and a half, until I had completely recovered from malaria. When I went to Puerto Montt I looked like a skeleton, and when I returned to the north, I was already fat and healthy." [* Paita is a port in northern Peru, close to its border with Ecuador.]
Several writers repeat the information that Wharton had passed through Panama and Peru before reaching Chile. If Wharton was anticipating finding a family inheritance in southern Chile, then it is unsurprising that he made this area his goal. However, as regards the British Consuls in Panama, they were Charles Alan Henderson (1860-1868) and Charles Wilthew (1868-1873) and I have found no evidence that either of these gentlemen was a first cousin of Wharton, but Wharton's extended family was large and the relationship may have been more tenuous. In my experience as a genealogist, even when an anecdote is found to be inaccurate, there is almost always an element of truth in it. Given the previous facts, it may be that illness forced his removal from a ship on which he was a crew member, and perhaps the British Consul helped him; we may never know. Incidentally, Wharton was wrong in his assumption that he caught malaria from his host; malaria cannot be caught, directly, from an infected individual.
This site and various other would suggest that Wharton's host was probably Augusto Hoffmann Diettrich (the Chilean name form indicating Hoffmann was his father's surname and Diettrich, his mother's), who had been born in Silesia, Prussia, in 1835 and died in Puerto Montt. in 1906. Several generations of Hoffmans have lived in and around Puerto Montt, including on the Isla Tenglo, just off the mainland, some of them carrying on, to the present day, the family's involvement in horticulture, holiday accommodation and restaurants that dates from at least as far back as the 19th century.
As mentioned earlier, although Wharton lived in Chile, held property there and was involved in politics and with political figures, it seems that he never mastered the Spanish language. The commemorative article written about him a year after his death points out that his excuse for being a poor speaker in his adopted country was that he had spent his childhood elsewhere and his excuse for being a poor speaker of his native, Welsh tongue was that he had lived so long in Chile. In the 1916 article, the Chilean interviewer commented:
Almost half a century Mister Jones has lived among us; but, in spite of everything, he speaks our language with difficulty, very reserved, like any Englishman that has not been here for more than one or two years.
He also wrote: "His language is a curious mixture of English and Spanish, mischievously sprinkled with twists and terms native to this land." One wonders if Mary Owen, twenty years his junior, may have become acquainted with Wharton through helping him to write the letters in Welsh he published in Welsh-language newspapers, and others he must have had to write privately. One wonders, also, how well she mastered Spanish, once she relocated to Chile and became a "stay-at-home wife" who would probably have had less opportunity to converse in Spanish than he did; most of her socialising may have been with English-speaking immigrants and the couple are likely to have spoken English at home. It was noticeable that, in a programme I watched recently about current landowners in Chile, descendants of early European settlers, they still conversed in German when talking to neighbouring landowners of similar descent [Ref 5 (on YouTube)].
Wharton said that, after leaving Puerto Montt, he went to Concepción via Talcahuano (Talcahuano is the seaport adjacent to the city of Concepción and lying on the isthmus stretching north from that city; the two are now merged into one cosmopolitan area), and there he met Mr. Palominos, a photographer, who spoke English and who employed him for six months at his workshop; that workshop was located on Calle del Comercio. Wharton commented: "In those days, the Ferrocarril Longitudinal* was not yet built and it was necessary to make the trips in carriages drawn by six horses." [* Construction of the southern rail network in Chile did not start until the late 19th century; the northern network, to serve the mines and industry, had been constructed from the mid-nineteenth century]
"In the second half of the 19th century, the photographic workshops of Juandela C. Palominos and Valky Carvajal were famous, not only in Concepción, but in southern Chile." [Ref 6, p291/363] It is therefore likely that high ranking military men and politicians would be among the clients of Don Palominos and this enabled Wharton to befriend some of these influential people. On one occasion Wharton specifically states that an introduction was made by Don Palominos.
Wharton said that he became very friendly with a resident of Concepción, Don Pedro del Río Zañartu (left). Don Pedro was ten years older than Wharton, but he appears to have been a kindred spirit and a similarly charismatic person. Both men were far from parochial and sought to take advantage of what the world and life had to offer; both men appear to have been multifaceted, adaptable and capable. Following the death of his wife and children from diphtheria, in 1880, Don Pedro travelled the world, later establishing a museum in his hometown, largely made up of the artefacts he had collected on his travels. He is remembered as being a philanthropist, farmer, industrialist, businessman, owner of mines in the north of Chile and owner of a fleet of cargo ships, which he used for export but also for importing foreign livestock and crops with the aim of improving agricultural production in Chile. Wharton would similarly involve himself in improving Chilean agriculture and, to a lesser extent, industry, in his later years. [see here for more information about Zañartu, or here (in English)]
Wharton stated that, while he was in Concepción, Colonel Balta, brother of the President of Peru, José Balta, visited the town. (The President had two brothers who were military men, Juan Francisco, a member of the Government, and Pedro, who was in charge of the Callao garrison just outside the Peruvian capital of Lima). It is likely to have been Pedro Balta who befriended Wharton in Concepción. Colonel Balta invited Wharton to stay with him in Peru. While they were there, a military coup against President Balta was initiated by four brothers, all colonels at that time, one of whom was the Peruvian Minister of War and Navy; it is known as 'Los Gutiérrez Revolution'.
According to Wharton, Colonel Balta commissioned him to go down to Iquique, a port in Northern Chile, about 1500km south of Lima, "to find all the money possible"; presumably, this was money in bank accounts, because Wharton said that he collected five hundred thousand silver soles which he took back to Callao on the ferry from Valparaiso; Callao was the coastal port serving Lima. [Note: at the start of the 20th century, 500,000 sole = £50,000 (from this site)]
Wharton described a mechanical failure aboard the steam ship that threatened disaster as the ship manoeuvred its way into Callao harbour; "as we approached Callao, entering through the narrow channel of the island of San Lorenzo, an axle of one of the steam wheels broke, thus making us enter the port with a single wheel". This is a coincidence, as he later recounts how the vessel carrying him and Isidoro Errázuriz to Europe suffered a mechanical failure as it neared Dunkerque. Nevertheless, Wharton said that he safely delivered the money, which probably happened on 26 July 1872, because that night they learned of the assassination of President Blanco and, immediately, Colonel Balta told Wharton to go into Lima to inform the late President's friends of his return with the money, so that they could decide what to do with it and what they wanted done about the Gutiérrez brothers. He returned with a sealed letter and the following night, Colonel Balta's forces recaptured Santa Rosa del Callao fort, and, with it, the Gutiérrez brothers, who were then transferred as prisoners to Lima and condemned to death, the ignominious treatment of their bodies serving as a warning to others.
Afraid for his safety in Lima, Wharton returned to Valparaíso on the Panama steamer, thence to Talcahuano. Here, he mentioned that "Mr. Rolfy Slater" was starting to build the railway from Talcahuano to Chillán, but it is likely that he meant John (aka Juan) Slater, an American and one of the two men overseeing this project. Wharton said he was present when the first rail was laid and a huge, 3-day banquet was held at a warehouse in Talcahuano; the building subsequently became the railway station. He then worked for a while on the railway, in various capacities.
Wharton recalled that, one day, a ship called the Talismán arrived to take coal on board, but it also brought the Peruvian, Don Nicolás Piérola to Talcahuano. The Talismán had been bought in Britain by the journalist Guillermo Bogardus with the aim of transporting armaments to Peru for Piérola's intended uprising of 1874. On this occasion, Wharton admits that it was through Señor Palominos that he met Señor Piérola, who invited him to become involved in the revolution he was leading, to oust President Pardo of Peru. Piérola had been an ally of the late President Balta so Wharton's previous activities in Peru would have made him a natural ally of Piérola. He and Piérola then continued, together, aboard the Talismán to the port of Quintero, where Wharton said he carried out several tasks for Piérola. After this coup failed due, Wharton said, to lack of opportunity and to lack of funds, he returned to Valparaíso, where he worked for a while, before moving on to nearby Santiago.
This is one of several occasions when Wharton seems to confuse the chronology of events, if he did become involved in Piérola's so-called 'Talisman rebellion', it was later, towards the end of 1874, which would appear to have been when he was busy working on the Parque Cousiño (see below). From 1868 to 1871 Piérola had served as Peruvian Finance Minister under the above-mentioned Peruvian president, José Balta, but issues arose with Balta's successor, Manuel Pardo, causing Piérola to move to Chile, thence to France. Piérola carried out at least two, unsuccessful, attempted coups, before successfully seizing power in Peru, for the first time, in 1879. When he returned from Europe in 1874, he did indeed complete that journey, via Quintero, aboard the Talisman. After early success, this first coup failed and Piérola fled to Bolivia. [see here, or here (in English), for information about Piérola.]
Incidentally, the relationship between the late President Balta and Nicolás Piérola was familial as well as political; in 1990, Nicolás de Piérola Balta, great-grandson of José Balta and great-grand nephew of President Nicolás de Piérola was a presidential candidate in Peru.
The article [Ref 1] in Pacifico Magazine contains a photograph (centre, above) with the caption, "Mr. Jones durante su estada en el Perú, como agente confidencial de don Niclás de Piérola." (Mr. Jones during his stay in Peru, as a confidential agent of Don Niclás de Piérola.) The photo (left) is of Wharton in about 1867 and that on the right is of Piérola in about 1885. The few other photographs of Wharton without his characteristic hat show him with a side parting, while all photographs of Piérola appear to show he had a central parting. In the middle photograph, described as being of Wharton, you can see that his hair is styled to be very similar to that of Piérola.
Whether or not Wharton was wise to have such a close association with a man like Piérola, the article contains evidence that clearly there was a special relationship between them. It shows a letter, signed by Piérola in May 1894, authorising Wharton to act as a confidential agent, with the power to enter into contracts in Piérola's name. For Piérola to exhibit such trust in Wharton, he must have had considerable evidence of Wharton's trustworthiness and loyalty, which lends credence to the accounts Wharton gave about his activities in Peru and about the assistance he gave to Piérola in the 'Talisman rebellion'. It appears that Wharton used the power granted him in the letter to buy a steamship to aid Piérola's successful coup of 1895 (see below).
Click on the left button, below, to open a new window showing the letter and an English translation. You can use the 2nd button to close that window.
There were several major events that shaped the life of Wharton Peers Jones, and the following sections describe two of the most significant ones. They were his meeting with Isidoro Errázuriz (left), and his management of the construction and early running of the 88 hectare Parque Cousiño, in Santiago. The former dictated much of his political activity thereafter, and the latter made him immensely wealthy, as well as enhancing his reputation in Chile. It enabled him to buy his first farm, fostering an interest in agriculture that would ultimately lead him to play a significant role in improving agricultural development in Chile. As regards the politics, Robert Merino described him as, "a peculiar case of the wandering Englishman who gets involved in the political bustle of remote countries, of which he becomes an unconditional patriot". [Santiago de Memoria, p 136, (Ref 7, p135/231)]
Wharton said he was very friendly with Don Jacinto Nuñez, who owned the Imprenta de la República printing company at 30, Calle del Chirimoyo, Santiago, and owned the newspaper of the same name. He allowed Wharton to contribute articles, unpaid, but working alongside journalists such as Vicente Grez. It was following a conversation with these two gentlemen that Wharton met writer, activist and politician Isidoro Errázuriz, nicknamed "Condorito", who would become both a work colleague and a close friend. Nuñez and Grez told him that Don Errázuriz wanted to acquire one of Wharton's fine dogs, so Wharton sent him one, as a gift. To thank him, Don Errázuriz invited him to lunch and, from there, their friendship blossomed, lasting until Isidoro Errázuriz's death in 1898. [see here, or here (in English) for information about Isidoro Errázuriz]
Armando Donoso wrote in his account of the 1916 interview:
"Talk to him for a moment about Don Isidoro Errázuriz and you will have touched the most sensitive fibre of his affections. For Mister Jones, Don Isidoro has been everything: friend, mentor, counsellor, teacher. Never has a man had such veneration for a friend; there could never be a friend more willing to make the sacrifices that Mister Jones would have made for Don Isidoro. In his moments of sadness, in his days of triumph, in his happy times, in his electoral campaigns, in his travels, Mister Jones was the beneficent shadow of the great tribune. If they both cross the mountain range and Don Isidoro falls behind in the middle of the road, Mister Jones will fly fast in search of aid; If the great public man wishes to transact important business with President Balmaceda, his English friend is there for him, solicitous, cheerful and determined. Wherever Don Isidoro Errázuriz goes, Mister Jones will be there. Fate could never join two men who were more integrated into a perfect whole, in their qualities: Errázuriz, big-hearted, open, generous, spontaneous; Mister Jones, solicitous, tenacious, hard-working, active, energetic, orderly."
Isidoro Errázuriz was fifteen years older than Wharton. He came from a wealthy family, was much travelled, well-educated and politically active. He was also a journalist and had founded several newspapers. He was a lawyer with political aspirations; as well as having a major influence in the overthrow of two presidents, he eventually was given various ministerial roles in government. When he met Wharton, he had already served a term in exile for belonging to a group that sought greater democracy in Chile.
Wharton said he arrived in Valparaiso with a letter of recommendation for Don Vicente Pérez Rosales, who then became a father-figure to him. Don Vicente Pérez Rosales (1807 – 1886) was a politician, traveller, merchant, mine-owner and diplomat. It was he who organized the colonization by Germans and Chileans of the Llanquihue area, where there is now a National Park bearing his name and where Wharton would buy his first farm. Apparently, it was the influence of Don Vicente Pérez Rosales that helped Wharton defeat thirty competing tenders to be awarded the contract to build and to run the vast, prestigious, and magnificent Parque Cousiño in Santiago (it is now called 'Parque O'Higgins'); one source states he won the contract in 1872. Bearing in mind Wharton's experience, one might question his qualifications for such an appointment, but there can be no disputing the success he made of it.
A measure of the significance of Wharton's role in the building of the Parque Cousiño is that he is mentioned in virtually every one of the many Internet references to its construction.
Some months before Wharton won that contract, the then president of Chile, José Joaquín Pérez, had given the military parade ground of Campo de Marte, in Santiago, to the wealthy Luis Cousiño Squella (1835–73) who was prepared to finance its development into his vision of an Arcadia. This became one of several vast schemes that Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna, mayor of Santiago (1872-1875), endorsed, in a desire to improve his city. (In his interview, Wharton implies that the Mayor of Santiago was Don Zenón Freire but his term of office was not until later (1875-1879).) These schemes would be partly subsidised by the increased wealth of Chile, as it became more industrialised and gained income from exporting commodities such as its saltpetre, much in demand, worldwide. Other finance was obtained from wealthy private citizens, such as Don Cousiño. The park was to be modelled on the grand parks of Italy and France. To achieve this, Don Cousiño employed the Spanish urban planner Manuel Arana Borica, and the French landscaper Guillermo Renner.
The vision of what the Park would become was described by Recaredo Santos Tornero in his Chile Ilustrado (1872), pages 19-20, published when construction of the Park was in its early stages:
The most important and beautiful of the walks in Santiago is still in progress. It will not be completed for at least two years: it is the park that Mr. Luis Cousiño is making in the Campo de Marte, destined until now to be exclusively for military reviews. This Park will be a small imitation of the universally famous Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
The Campo de Marte is a rectangle that is six blocks wide and nine long. It is located on the western edge of the southern section of the city, nine blocks away from the Alameda … At its extreme north is the central artillery barracks and the urban prison; at its extreme south is the Santiago penitentiary. The Park, as it has been planned by its initiator, will be one of the most important and beautiful walks in South America. It will consist of a multitude of groves, avenues, hills of various shapes, streams, waterfalls, gardens, etc., etc.
On completion, the Park incorporated:
a network of roads of more than eight kilometres, an artificial lake of more than 30 thousand square meters, with its islands and three bridges, two houses for gardeners and two nurseries, one block each.
In addition, 60,000 trees were planted, including elms, acacias and ash trees, and plants of numerous species ...
The construction of the park continued until 1878. Nine years later, in 1887, in gratitude for his [Don Luis Cousiño's] donation to the city of Santiago, the Municipality agreed to erect a statue in his memory in the same park.
[Un 19 de Mayo de 1873 Falleció Luis Cousiño]
There was also a restaurant, a tram service into the park, and a popular feature was a large, oval, 'promenade' for walkers, riders and carriages. The project was a huge success, and it became both a place for the elite to be seen and for the less wealthy to enjoy.
Don Luis Cousiño Squella did not see his finished work, as he died at the age of 38, in the prime of his life, in Chorrillos, near Lima, on May 19, 1873. The Mayor of Santiago, Mr. Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, received the Park on January 2 of that same year, and, in a municipal session on May 13, six days before Cousiño's death, the Park was given the name of its creator. Ref 8
[See, also, a site in English (about half way down), for background information and plans of Parque Cousiño.]
This nine-year contract provided Wharton with an income of a thousand pesos a year, plus profits from tickets, patents, etc. and, in 1878, with some of the wealth he had accrued, he bought ten thousand blocks of land in the province of Llanquihue, at fifty cents a block. This was his first venture into farming. He managed to obtain a few thousand heifers, which at that time were sold at fifty pesos each, he built a house and worked hard to make it a success.
Llanquihue, is towards the south of Chile, just to the north of where the country narrows, the sea having carved out a long, north-south bay. The port of Puerto Montt, where Wharton stated he had gone, on arrival in Chile, stands on the northern shore of this bay. It is here that many German settlers arrived in the mid-19th century and gradually occupied the Los Lagos Region.
Incidentally, Wharton is credited with promoting the idea, apparently new to Santiago, of gift-giving in public places at Christmas. He invited people to Cousino Parque on Christmas Day, "offering to have [...] a beautiful Christmas tree on which there will be gifts for all those present" [La Época, 24 de diciembre de 1881].
I have mentioned that the existence of a previous marriage might explain why Wharton and Mary Owen delayed marrying until 1912. Wharton implied, in the 1916 interview, that they had married in London, before 1890 - three of their four children were born in the UK in the early 1890s – but there is no evidence of Wharton marrying in England or in Wales.
I had thought that Wharton's previous marriage had involved a lady called Fortunata Reyes but, when Wharton eventually married Mary Owen in 1912, he stated that he was a widower and that his first wife was Petronila Parraguez. There was a child of that marriage, Ricardo Peers-Jones Parraguez, who, according to his death record, was born in about 1874 (see section '1886: Personal Tragedy')
Soon after Wharton had begun to accrue his vast wealth, a lady called Fortunata Reyes gave birth to two children, their father being Wharton Peers Jones. They would have been unable to marry, since Wharton was already married. There was a son, Roberto Peers Jones Reyes, born in about 1878 and a daughter, Adela Fortunata Peers Jones, born in about 1879. The information is taken from the children's marriage records, on which the full names of both parents are clearly stated. I have found no online records for the births of the children but, when Wharton died, the newspaper La Nación carried two announcements of his death, one from "his family" and the other from "his children Adela and Ricardo Peers Jones". Evidence suggests that the children were well-provided for. Information about Adela and her children appears at the end of this page.
While Wharton (pictured, right, in about 1879) was in charge of the Parque Cousiño, he was also working on his farm, and he said he was down there in 1879 (at about the time the photo, right, was taken), when war was declared between Chile and a Bolivian-Peruvian alliance. This war is given many names but is best known as the War of the Pacific, the Pacific War or the Saltpeter War. Incidentally, the warship, the Talisman, that transported Wharton and Nicolás Piérola to Quintero and that, following its capture, had become a Peruvian naval ship, was one of the vessels scuttled by the Peruvians in Callao harbour on 17 January 1881, during the War of the Pacific.
Since becoming independant countries in the first half of the nineteenth century, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina had established some ill-defined stretches of border. There were several disputed territories, one of which was a corridor, stretching either side of the coastal city of Antofagasta, allowing Bolivia access to the Pacific Ocean; Chile's northern border was then well south of Peru's southern border. One issue that brought matters to a head was the discovery of rich saltpetre deposits in and around that corridor. Saltpetre (sodium nitrate) could be used both as a fertilizer and as an explosive and, in those days, this "white gold" was available only from where it was found as a mineral. At the same time that the world demand for saltpeter was rising, Peru found the market for the guano it had been mining, and on which its economy had been dependant, began to decline, much as the demand for saltpetre would decline after 1909, when a process enabling the mass manufacture of saltpetre was discovered.
Wharton felt he had to leave his farm near Llanquihue on the outbreak of war; the regiments were forming up in the Parque before going off to fight and, since he was taking a share of ticket sales, it presented a golden opportunity to increase his income through encouraging people to go into the Parque, to see the military parades; it was also good public relations for him to be seen waving the Chilean troops off to war.
Wharton said that, at that time, Don Aníbal Pinto (1825-1884), the President (1876-1881) (pictured, left), was a frequent visitor to the Parque, and engaged in long conversations with him, as they sat together on its long island. They spoke at length about the war. No doubt Wharton mentioned his previous experiences in Peru and talked about the people he knew there. One outcome was that the President employed him to undertake various secret missions into Peru. Pinto may have discussed the idea with Wharton's friend, Don Isidoro Errázuriz, as Wharton later added that Isidoro acted as go-between, providing him with the details of his next mission. Wharton stated that, in this role, he went to Lima, the capital of Peru, three times, returning with important information for the Chilean government. He not only visited cities but also mixed with the Peruvian troops and with the officers and got close to their superiors, in order to collect the information he was seeking. Late in 1879, he was sent on a secret mission to Antofagasta, situated on the Chilean coast, about midway between Santiago and Lima. This was just prior to the Battle of Pisagua, which took place a few kilometres north of Antofagasta. This battle, in November 1879, involved the Chilean troops coming ashore from ships, possibly the first time such a tactic was used by a military force, and the tactic proved very effective, resulting in a Chilean victory. In fact, the Chilean navy played a major role in Chile's victory over Peru.
All that seems to have occurred in 1879. Wharton then returned to the Parque where he was still responsible for its administration. However, due to the war, he lost 80 workers to conscription and these were replaced by 150 Peruvian prisoners. Wharton mentioned that, at the end of the day, he had to take them to spend the night at the nearby Penitentiary.
Wharton was asked about his other friendships at that time, and he replied: "During my stay in the Parque I had the opportunity to meet Don Eleuterio Ramírez and his family, Colonel Barboza, …. who came to the Park very often to see me and played the guitar very well and he sang very interesting songs, but always with great sadness, because at that time they had promoted another from the rank of colonel, putting off what was due to him. And who would have believed it, the colonel died of grief from that slight, which affected him deeply."
He explained that this Colonel Barbosa was not the more famous General Orozimbo Barbosa Puga. I have not been able to identify this sad Colonel Barboza. The above-mentioned Eleuterio Ramírez (1836-1879) was killed in the War of the Pacific, commanding the 2nd Line Regiment, when the Chilean forces were vastly outnumbered. His courage in this incident earned him the title, "The Lion of Tarapacá".
General Baquedano, during the War in the Pacific, was in command of the cavalry and it was he who had disembarked his troops to take part in the previously mentioned Battle of Pisagua. After the victory over Peru, President Aníbal Pinto's government swiftly recalled the army, including General Baquedano, thus avoiding the expense of maintaining an army of occupation. However, when Baquedano returned to Santiago in March 1881, the administration was happy to lay on an extravagant banquet at Parque Cousiño, at which 500 people honoured the great military leader.
The war dragged on until 1884, and once Peru and Bolivia had been defeated, both lost mineral-rich territories to Chile.
Chilean President Aníbal Pinto had a difficult tenure of office. At the start he had to resolve an economic crisis, then there had been severe flooding, then an earthquake and, finally, this war. He might have been quite relieved to hand over the reins to Domingo Santa María González in September 1881.
Wharton was asked what he thought of the outcome of the war:
"In my opinion, if Don Aníbal Pinto had been one more year in the Presidency and, knowing the plans of his Excellency, today the Chilean flag would be flying in La Paz [capital of Bolivia]. Due to the weaknesses of President Santa María and his advisers, Don Aníbal Pinto's wish was not fulfilled. The victorious army should have gone to La Paz and not to the Chilean Araucanía."
In the interview, Wharton was asked about Isidoro Errázuriz and he talked about Isidoro's writing in newspapers and journals. Isidoro was an elected deputy for various districts from 1873 until he became a Senator in 1888. To reinforce his political influence, Wharton mentioned how, every Sunday and Thursday, Isidoro lavishly entertained friends, deputies, senators, high ranking figures in his palace on the Camino de Cintura. He said that from one of these was born the candidacy of Don José Manuel Balmaceda for the presidency of the Republic
The incumbent president, Domingo Santa María, was intent on contentious major reform to realise a long held liberal desire to secularize society by increasing the authority of the state at the expense of the authority of the church. He did so through devising the so-called secular laws which created a civil registration system to record all births, marriages, deaths and burials. When legislation was before Congress, Isidoro commissioned Wharton to lay on a magnificent demonstration in support of the bill. It was led by two horsemen, holding up a huge banner, that read "Unión Iiberal". They were followed by ten bugle-blowers, then Wharton, on horseback, with ten other riders representing the general staff. They were followed by a troop of a thousand horsemen, four-deep. Once the parade reached the Calle de Bandera, a troop of students, led by the Conservative Deputy for Santiago, Carlos Concha Subercaseaux, began to march ahead of the main parade. As they all reached the Congress, a crowd gathered and this included the playwright and journalist, Juan Rafael Allende, who brought them food and some of the local beer. The demonstration was aimed at intimidating their opponents and word went around that those deputies who did not support the Civil Registry law would have their throats cut.
The shout went up, "Viva el comandante Guatón Pérez Jones [they called him 'Pérez Jones' as a Chilean version of 'Peers Jones'], y que vivan todos los descamisados que lo acompañan" (i.e. "Long live fat commander Peers Jones, and long live all the ragamuffins who accompany him.") When the President of Congress and Minister of the Interior, José Manuel Balmaceda, left the Congress building, the procession followed the carriage, along Calle de la Bandera, to La Moneda, the president's palace, where rousing speeches were made. More speeches were made when they all moved on to the house of José Manuel Balmaceda.
From there they went to the Public Abattoir, where a great banquet had been prepared for the riders, who had spent all day on horseback. It was all very orderly until they rounded the corner into Calle de San Diego where there was a muleteer who was driving about fifty pigs, and this prompted a charge to the abattoir. Wharton anticipated there might be trouble after a boozy feast, so he took the precaution of unsaddling and removing the horses. It proved to be a wise move. Don Errázuriz was so pleased with the success of the demonstration that he gave Wharton a banquet, attended by fifty deputies and public officials who were supporters of the Civil Registry law. The newspaper El Independiente was less impressed with the display and others queried why they had not placed the English flag on La Moneda, since they had allowed an Englishman to lead the demonstration. The opposition failed and the laws were passed.
In 1885, Wharton, travelling as a passenger on the Santiago-Valparaiso railway, performed an incredible act of bravery. During its descent along the 12-mile section of line called the Tabon Incline, the track falls 1,360 feet at an average rate of 1 in 46 and there are many tight curves and rocky cuttings, as well as two tunnels. On this occasion, the locomotive's brakes failed and the train accelerated, unchecked. However, there was a brake on each carriage and Wharton repeatedly climbed outside the carriages to apply these secondary brakes and to bring the train under control. The incident was reported internationally. The Weekly Mail, 2 January 1886 reported the incident as follows:
GALLANT CONDUCT OF A WELSH-MAN
A PASSENGER TRAIN SAVED BY COOLNESS AND PLUCK
The Chilian Times gives the following truly remarkable story:-The morning down express on Wednesday left Santiago at the usual hour of eight a.m., and all went well until the descent of the Tabon incline was begun. Shortly after leaving Montenegro the train attained an unusual velocity for that part of the line, and the speed went on increasing until at length there remained no doubt in the minds of the passengers that the train had, so to speak, taken charge of itself. The driver signalled, without ceasing, "Down brakes," but the speed of the train, instead of being checked, increased in velocity. The cars flew with a terrific swerve round curves, passengers were hurled from their seats and bolted against each other, and everything seemed to presage a terrible catastrophe. Travellers acquainted with the Tabon incline will readily picture to themselves the feelings of the passengers by the express on that eventful occasion when they found themselves careering madly along around curves at 70 miles an hour, and momentarily expecting to be hurled into the frightful abyss below. A passenger tells us that in going round the curves the speed was so great that the air positively hissed as the train clove through it.
The driver kept up an incessant signalling of "Down brakes," but nobody appeared to heed it in the least, as the speed of the train, instead of decreasing, went on increasing. At length, when the Maquis tunnel and bridge were being approached, one of the first-class passengers, Mr. Wharton Peers Jones, comprehended the situation, and at once nobly resolved to risk his life to save the train. Something had happened to the air brake, and it was necessary to make use of the ordinary screw brakes attached to each car. Quickly divesting himself of hat and coat, Mr. Jones descended on to the footboard on the off-side of the car, but, on arriving at the end, he found that the brake was on the opposite side. Realising at once that a moment's delay might be fatal to the train, Mr. Jones, instead of retracing his steps along the platform in order to pass out through a door on the opposite side, jumped, at the imminent risk of his life, from buffer to coupling, and from coupling to buffer, and, after screwing down the brake to its utmost, proceeded to another car, then to a third, on each of which he performed the same operation. The speed of the train commenced to slacken immediately, and the passengers took a long-drawn breath when they recognised that the devotion of one of their number had saved them from the very jaws of death. Encouraged by Mr. Jones' example, the fireman and one or two others of the employees of the train ventured out on to the footboards and applied the brakes, and the train was gradually steadied down to its ordinary speed.
On arriving at Llaillai Mr. Wharton Peers Jones was hailed by all the passengers as the saviour of the train, and he was warmly congratulated by Inspectors Irarrazabal and Arce (who happened to be in the same car with Mr. Jones) on his rare courage, although we see that in the latter's official report of the affair to the Director-General of State Railways he has omitted all mention of Mr. Jones' name.
After the arrival of the train at Valparaiso a number of the passengers sent to the Mercurio an account of the affair, in which the following very significant passage occurs:-"Thanks to the daring and skill of one of the passengers, Mr. Wharton Peers Jones, who rushed to the brakes with which each car is provided (not one of the employees of the train having ventured to do so), an accident which would have been attended with terrible and fatal consequences was averted. We beg to tender to him our most sincere thanks." As soon as the news of Mr. Jones' courageous act became public the Masonic Society for the promotion of efforts to save life held a meeting, and we understand it was unanimously resolved to present Mr. Jones with the society's gold medal and diploma. Mr. Wharton Jones is a brother-in-law of Mr, Coetmore K. Jones, formerly of Wrexham, third son of the late Dr. Price Jones, of Rhyl, and nephew of the late Mr. Joseph Peers, Clerk of the Peace for Denbighshire.
That report fails to mention that Wharton also received free rail travel in Chile, for life. Grateful fellow passengers presented him with gifts and subsequent reports in the Rhyl Record and Advertiser (18 June 1887 and 20th October 1888) provide further details of other gifts he received; the Government of Chile presented him with an address and with a gold medal, sporting a beautiful horseshoe clasp set with brilliants, and the President's wife gave him a handsome jewelled ring. Wharton's bravery received public acclaim both in Chile and in Wales.
Wharton's involvement in Chilean politics had manifestly grown and he and Isidoro Errázuriz began working hard to organise rallies for José Manuel Balmaceda's election campaign. Don Errázuriz felt his candidate should pay off all his debts before the election and, to raise the money, Balmaceda, had to sell his farm, Naltahus de San Antonio. Such apparent worthiness was not reflected throughout the campaign; Wharton admitted there was a little ballot-rigging, though it is doubtful that this altered the final outcome of the election. He recalled the killing of one over-exuberant, and probably drunk, reveller at the election who was shot dead outside the Llano Subercaseaux church, after he had begun to insult the clergy; apparently the shot came from the direction of the church tower. The South Wales Echo of 17 June 1886 reported from Santiago: "The elections, which are just closing, have produced some blood-thirsty rioting. In one disturbance here firearms were freely used, and before the authorities could restore order, 40 men were killed and a large number wounded."
I mentioned, earlier, that Wharton's wife gave birth to their son, Ricardo Peers-Jones Parraguez, in about 1874. Tragically the boy contracted smallpox and died, aged 12, on 4 June 1886. The death was registered at Recoleta, Santiago.
The following records, also from Recoleta, may not involve Wharton but I leave the reader to judge from the facts. A girl, called Blanca Rosa, was born on 18 June 1886, at 5 a.m., the legitimate daughter of "Pedro Peers-Jones, thirty-six years old, English, Merchant, and Rosa Sepúlveda, seventeen-year-old Chilean". The death was recorded of Blanca Rosa Peers-Jones Sepúlveda, who died on 24 September 1866, aged 3 months, from "murió del cerebro" (brain death). There was no Peter Peers Jones amongst Wharton's many siblings, but his paternal grandfather was called Peter. Wharton would have been thirty-six on 26 June 1886.
It is ironic that, almost immediately, Don Balmaceda (pictured right) had taken up office, he upset his supporters, and Don Errázuriz, in particular. The new president followed the maxim, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" but the feeling was that he neglected those who had helped him to high office. Wharton and Isidoro thought that Balmaceda clearly saw Isidoro as a rival and a threat. Wharton mentioned that Balmaceda passed a law that resulted in Isidoro losing a considerable amount of money and then he offered Isidoro the post of Colonization Agent in Europe, which Isidoro saw as a form of exile. Isidoro discussed the matter with Wharton. "In reply, I told him that he was designated as the candidate for the future council of Valparaíso and, therefore, it was difficult for him to leave the country and at the same time I pointed out that there was a year and months left before the said votes, and he might as well accept, for the time being, the position of general agent of colonization." This reasoning may have helped Isidoro to decide to accept the post, but he did so with the proviso that Wharton was to be allowed to accompany him, as his secretary. Isidoro's appointment began in May 1887.
Isidoro did not miss an opportunity for self-promotion before he left; a pamphlet [Ref 9] was produced, containing many pages of tributes and reminders of Isidoro's history of public service. The tenor is set in the introduction:
Isidoro Errázuriz, the eminent parliamentary speaker, the brilliant writer, the inspired poet. and the distinguished public man, is abandoning his country to serve it abroad. After lengthy years of great campaigning, he leaves us and goes to the old world to render his activity and his intelligence to the cause of colonization. Admirers of the outstanding qualities of the statesman and of the noble gestures of the friend, today we perform our duty to wish him all the best on his long journey, success in his enterprises for the benefit of Chile, positive outcomes in his work in favour of foreign immigration and generous welcomes in the towns that he is going to visit.
Wharton related an anecdote about delays in making this appointment official, but evidence suggests those delays concerned his 1889 appointment to Europe, which is where the anecdote has been placed.
Before leaving for Europe, Isidoro and Wharton undertook a journey into central Chile to see for themselves how the colonisation programme was progressing.
In March 1887, Isidoro and Wharton undertook a fact-finding mission into the Araucanian region of Chile, to find out how the settlement plan was going and to see what awaited the European settlers they recruited; this was the region to which many of those settlers would be sent. The third member of the party was Don Martín Drouilly, Inspector General of the Colonies.
Araucania had the potential to be agriculturally productive, so the government were eager to attract settlers with farming experience and with more progressive ideas than most of the Chilean farmers. Don Errázuriz published an account of this visit in Tres Razas (1892), and all the quotations in this section come from that account, unless otherwise specified. The account describes Wharton as "an employee of the Colonization of Chile" and states that Isidoro's appointment as "the General Agent of Colonization in Europe" had been signed in Santiago just days before the mission set off.
As indigenous Mapuche people (there were actually numerous native tribes, including the Mapuche, but they are referred to, collectively, as Mapuche) gradually lost their land, first to the Incas and then to the Spanish, they were forced back until most of them occupied only an area of central Chile called Araucanía. For many decades, Araucanía remained a virtual no-man's-land for many non-natives, dividing the rapidly developing, Spanish-ruled, northern region of the country from the south. After Chile had gained independence from Spain in 1818, the Chilean Government, for some time, ignored Araucanía and there was comparative peace between the territories. However, the desire of the Chilean Government to establish a unified country, coupled with its need for the potential agricultural productivity of Araucanía, led, in the early 1880s, to a bitter conflict with the Mapuches. Almost inevitably, the Government forces were eventually victorious, though the simmering unrest in the region continues to this day.
This trip was undertaken only five years after the signing of the peace treaty with the Mapuches, but some settlers had already been established in the region. What I have learned about the history of the settlements in Chile has been fascinating, and it is tempting to include much more about it here, but I shall restrict myself to writing about those aspects of Isidoro's account that relate to Wharton and to what he would have seen and experienced on the trip. Some of this information may be relevant to Mary Owen's sister, Lizzie, who came to Chile with her family in 1906.
Transport links were still under construction in the region but there was a section of railway line, its main purpose being to transport materials and workers to aid in the extending of the railway. It carried the party of three, very slowly from the town of Angol, to that of Los Sauces, taking two hours to cover the 34 kilometres.
After a particularly dry winter, there was evidently a severe lack of water, so settlers were having to dig wells on dry riverbeds and to carry water long distances to their animals and crops. Isidoro wrote: "Along the way, they saw bare hills for planting, with all their vastness, but with very scarce availability of drinking water, and with no supply of fuel other than that provided by the remote mountains that enclose them on the East and West or the deep, dry bed of the rivers. Here, in summary, is what the disenchanted eye of the traveller finds, when entering the ancient Araucanian territory by rail from Angol to Traiguén, none of the impenetrable and towering jungle, we had seen in our mind's eye and that we had expected to find covered this virginal region."
Isidoro respected the Mapuche people for their past actions in holding back the advances of the foreign invaders but he saw the present generation of their menfolk going much the way of the Chilean farmers, whom he generally viewed with contempt. In his view they were lazy and lived for the present, without giving a thought to the long-term consequences of their actions. He noted that the land was already showing signs of erosion and there was evidence of a rapid reduction in the productive power of the soil, which, if not arrested and reversed would have made it suitable only for sheep rearing. In the south of the region, he was appalled by the extent to which forests had been burned, this action being both wasteful and with the potential to cause long term climatic problems. If the Mapuche were responsible for the latter, then it was probably because they were not forest dwellers and if forced off their traditional open spaces, they would have wanted to clear forest. Their huts (rucas), built like the upturned hull of a ship and always facing in the same direction, easily gave away their presence but, from the train, the travellers saw little evidence of indigenous people or of settlers. Those they saw had made little or no attempt to build irrigation systems and many settlers had failed even in their obligation to enclose their land.
The railway line had not yet reached Traiguén so they had to transfer to a horse-drawn carriage.
"Comrade Wharton P. Jones holds the reins with the same hands that held the 8 a.m. train, when it was rushing down the Tabón descent, and we flew in the direction of Traiguén with a speed equal to, if not higher, than the one used by our train, which must continue, in half an hour more, on its progress to Quilquén.
Water and wood for fuel and for construction would be prerequisites for the settlers and so much of the land was treeless and devoid of water, though a river does run past Traiguén. "After five or six hours in the Chilean desert", the travellers were cheered by "the cries of the sower and the harvester, the noises of the steam mill and the workshop, the blows of the builder and the blacksmith". However, they found that town planners had not taken advantage of the fact there was so much land available, and Traiguén was disappointingly cramped, many of its buildings still being "temporary" constructions of wooden boards.
At their halts along the way, the party set about interviewing settlers, most of whom were European, to assess productivity and to find out how things were going. Several different nationalities were represented so interpreters were often required. The posters that had tempted the settlers to leave their native lands had welcomed "emigration to Chili" for "farmers, farm labourers, agriculturists generally, but with family; no single men accepted." They were promised a free passage, with beds and food: A freehold grant of 100 acres of "good wheat land" plus 40 acres for each male child at least 10 years old: Free housing up to the time they took possession of their land, with free transport to their destination and a daily allowance of 10d for the father and 6d for every other family member: 300 boards and rafters, with nails and other necessaries as building materials, a couple of bullocks and seeds and roots for planting. The landscape the travellers had seen thus far had not shown evidence of the promise of the posters, and, in the fullness of time, the settlers would have had to repay the treasury, at least for the sea crossing. Nevertheless, Isidoro's report indicates that most settlers seemed happy with their lot, had generated a satisfactory yield and their animals were well cared for, despite the fact that few of these early settlers seemed to have had any previous farming experience.
In Traiguén, they met Francisco de Borja Echeverría, who had been appointed as general agent when the General Agency for the Colonization of Chile in Europe had been established in 1882.
After Traiguén, much of their journey had to be on horseback, the transport infrastructure being so underdeveloped that many places were not yet served by proper roads and, in places, where roads had been built, they had been ploughed up. In his account of the journey, Isidoro Errázuriz, commented on how important it was that the settlers had proper transport systems and he foresaw that "the bridge across the Malleco ravine, the superb bridge that will represent the pride of the country" would enable the main railway line to continue southwards towards the Reloncaví Sound, the stretch of water on which lay the town of Puerto Montt, to which Wharton had gone to recover from malaria, when he first arrived in Chile. As anticipated, the bridge was completed within months and was magnificent but, in August 1899, newspapers reported that sixty people drowned when a train left the rails and plunged into the Mapocha river. [Ref 11]
Around Cholchol, were the first clear signs of the land having been divided up into its plots (Hijuela) and these having been occupied. There were more trees there, to supply wood and a machine worked throughout the year, converting lumber into planks. They noted that Cholchol appeared to be the perfect location for colonization, standing at the confluence of the Renaico River and a tributary of the Cholchol River, on an extensive and fertile plain, surrounded by gentle hills and with access to the north, by boat, which was very advantageous in the winter months, when many settlements became isolated.
Isidoro's descriptions of the indigenous people, gives the impression that they shared the characteristics of the lion and lioness; the clothing of the men, often wearing high boots, was grander than that of the women, who usually went barefoot, and it was the women who did most of the work. The men might watch the animals and travel to sell the items made by the women, mainly by weaving, but they did little else. He did note two areas in which the men appeared to excel: procreation and loquaciousness!
As on so many occasions and in so many countries, major problems were created by the clashes between tradition and modernisation and between indigenous people and interlopers. In Chile, it had been the norm for public land to be freely occupied but this had all changed, displacing vast numbers of native Chileans. The natives with no documentary evidence of ownership of the land they had been farming found it being claimed by the government, to be offered to settlers. In addition, Isidoro commented on how some of the worst Chileans had developed such a relationship with the native families that he anticipated they there was a danger that they exploit them and, gradually, take over their properties. Where were these people to go and how were they to exist? Isidoro wrote:
"Remembering that we had previously encountered on the road a small cart loaded with furniture, women, children, animals and domestic service supplies and that a small convoy of this species was once again parading in front of us, I asked where they were going, and I was told that they were families who were traveling to the other side of Cautín, in search of vacant public land to plant. … One of the small carts was stopped near the entrance to the fort. There was a family of fruit sellers, who had been rejected from Angol because of the precautionary measures against cholera adopted there by the local authority."
For those who stayed in the area, coexisting with the influx of mainly Europeans would be challenging. There were significant cultural differences between the polygamous Mapuches and the foreign invaders; for example, the indigenous people had their own way of settling disputes and avenging crimes, without the need to resort to any legal system. Obviously, there were language barriers. It seemed as if a solution had been found when partnerships were established between members of each group, settlers benefitting from the local knowledge of their partner and natives from having an income, but, once the settlers were established, they had no need of such a partnership and the problems returned. The animals of those deprived of land strayed onto the settlers' plots and caused damage. Cases of assault, robbery and even murder, were all too frequent. The interviewer, Armando Donoso, recalls how Wharton was captured by the Indians but managed to escape, though I have found no other mention of this.
In the south the trio's findings around the communities of Carahue, Nueva Imperial and Temuco indicated that it was an ideal area for a new settlement colony and such a scheme was imminent. Carahue had an outlet to the sea and so to the cities and markets of the industrial and more heavily populated north. Further, plans were afoot to construct a canal to extend this access to the town of Nueva Imperial, slightly inland from Carahue. At the time of this expedition, the Cautín valley and the Cholchol valley were heavily occupied by native peoples and Isidoro commented on how the area seemed to have a special significance to these people. The settlers were unlikely to be any more happy than were Wharton and his companions about the open graves containing the bodies of natives, strewn alongside the roadway, their style and markers giving an indication of the standing of the occupant when they were alive; apart from the smell, the flies and the unsightliness of these graves, there was also the risk of disease. All this suggested that the new settlement would require a particularly wise and firm government administrative structure and Isidoro saw no sign of one. He was of the view that it was more efficient to extend the existing settlement colonies rather than creating a fragmented system of small ones.
In the early hours of the morning of March 21, we headed to the riverside, in order to take a look at the site of the future English colony.
At our feet the Cholchol slept, calm, crystalline, and deep as a beautiful lake, and on the opposite bank, beyond the narrow strip of fertile plain, a series of hills rose gently that seem to lend themselves admirably to cultivation.
Wharton must have seen the potential in the area, for it was here, at Carahue, that he would later establish his own hacienda, Wharton Hall. Since the scheme was initially going to be opened up to English settlers, either from other colonies or on the waiting list, to which would be added British families, arriving in the next season, Wharton and Mary would have been surrounded by people from their native land. In addition, the area had a lushness, including forestation, of which they had seen little in the north of Araucania, where the expedition had started.
Subsequently, the trio would meet, in Temuco, a deputy Colonel, Don Gregorio Urrutia, one of the Chileans who was very familiar with that area and was held in high esteem by the Indians. He was living in the capital of the province of Cautín and was occupying himself, away from his military duties, in constructing a canal to provide drinking water to Nueva Imperial and to irrigate a large part of the plain. The colonies needed more men like him, since Isidoro's opinion about Temuco and about the requirements of the local settlements was that "everything is missing and that everything will have to be improvised and that everything will have to be solved or remedied, as well as possible".
This trip lasted eight days and covered at least 360 kilometres. Plenty of information was gathered, only a select part of which Isidoro and Wharton would share with the potential emigrants to Chile. Also, ideas were formulated about what services were required as a matter of urgency. Top priorities included law and order; banditry, and worse, was spreading like a cancer across the region. At that time, a single judge was responsible for a vast area. (This is a subject that will arise again, later in Wharton's story.) Mortality rates had so concerned the Government that incentives had been provided, firstly, to persuade Chilean doctors to join the colonies. When this failed, efforts were made to attract European doctors, with only one notable success. Then there was the need for the supply of good education, at the root of which was the provision of suitable and sound school buildings. Temuco, for example had a leaking, drafty building for the well-attended boys' school, many of them native children, but the disappointingly poorly attended girls' school occupied a much better building.
In summary, a few of the places Wharton and Isidoro had visited had the prerequisites for establishing a colony but others lacked the necessary infrastructure and natural resources. Doctors, schools and an efficient security force were urgently needed. With this knowledge of the scheme's shortcomings, the task of Wharton and Isidoro would be to persuade Europeans, that Chile offered them better prospects than did their homeland; of course, despite the potential hardships, in many instances it might.
There is a very good general paper, in English, about the Chilean Government's colonisation scheme and the issues arising from it; see [Ref 14].
Wharton describes in some detail the long trip across the mountains to get to Buenos Aires, where he and Isidoro were to board a ship to France, landing at Dunkerque. Before leaving, Isidoro was given the inevitable huge banquet at the Central Hotel, Santiago, attended by senators, deputies, friends and politicians; Wharton said that he attended as a correspondent for the Valparaíso magazine "La Patria". At midnight the next day, they set off in Isidoro's carriage, with four changes of horses, to cross the Andes via Los Andes, Puente del Inca, Guarda Vieja, (Juncal), Punta de Vacas, Uspallata, Mendoza, Rosario to reach Buenos Aires. (The route is shown in red on the map you were invited to open, in the introduction.) The mountain stretches required mules.
In Puente del Inca they stayed four days and on the next stretch to Uspallata, they had got about three quarters of the way when Isidoro collapsed, exhausted. Wharton went on to Uspallata and borrowed a farmer's gig from the cable offices there, to carry Isidoro to the town. The next day, Isidoro went on ahead with the muleteers and the luggage and Wharton stayed behind to pay the bill. Apparently, the innkeeper, perhaps because they had ordered champagne the previous evening, tried to overcharge them and refused any payment in Chilean notes. Wharton admitted to hitting him so that he fell onto his back, and then Wharton set off to catch up with Isidoro. The innkeeper sent two men in pursuit, but they backed off when Wharton threatened them with his revolver. The two travellers then joined the train from Mendoza to reach Rosario, where they had a small detour north, as Isidoro had to review and report back to the government on the state of the colonies at Santa Fe.
From there they went by train to Buenos Aires, where Isidoro was feted everywhere he went and received enthusiastic press coverage. At this point, Wharton refers to Isidoro's ability to look suave, elegant and unruffled, in any situation. He also hints – the only time he did so during the interview - that Isidoro was something of a ladies' man and quit Buenos Aires in quite a hurry, leaving behind broken hearts. (Roberto Merino's description of Isidoro's marriage [Ref 7, p 133 (p 132/231)] concludes with: "While Isidoro quenched his thirst for erotic adventures outside the home, Virginia [his wife] was consumed with jealousy indoors.")
Wharton and Isidoro sailed on the Porteña bound for Dunkerque, a journey that would take forty days. Two days out from Montevideo, Wharton tried to show off by speaking French, his failure causing much amusement. This illustrates that Wharton was not afraid to tell a funny anecdote, against himself, although it was swiftly followed by another anecdote, that demonstrated his enterprise. As they approached Dunkerque, a shaft housing in the workings of the ship broke, incapacitating the ship. Repair required metal and, at Wharton's suggestion, this was obtained by melting down some of the ship's cutlery. In gratitude for his help, he was given a gold watch and refunded the cost of his ticket.
At this point, I should outline the work that Isidoro and Wharton were to carry out. The headquarters of the Chile Colonial Office was in Paris but there were representatives in many European countries.
The main functions of the agency were to implement and regulate colonization projects based on government laws and political interests of the time; spread and propagate the "benevolent" conditions of the colonization projects; manage foreign policies with foreign governments; send subagents to search for potential immigrant families; hire immigrants according to the required social profile; manage and organize the transfer of immigrants to the colonization territory; and, to monitor and organize the installation of the new settlers in the agricultural centres. [Ref 12] (in English)
For its activity, the immigration and colonization agency employed subagents who were persons appointed to "procure" emigrants in different European countries. … The subagents and secondary agents were essential in the operation of the agency, therefore, they remained on the payroll for a defined time. They were paid a specific salary and sometimes, depending on the project, they were paid correspondingly for each emigrant embarked. Sometimes they had both incomes. The salary could vary between 250 or 500 francs and the commission from 10 to 20 francs per adult and in proportion for children, except for those under 3 years of age for whom nothing is paid. [ibid]
Another aspect of Wharton's work appears to have been to try to encourage foreign financial investment in Chile. With regard to such investment in the southernmost area of Chile, Tierra Del Fuego, it was pointed out that "Wharton Peers Jones in Paris" struggled to procure investment, largely because of the political unrest in Chile, though he did manage to get further investment from the Waldron & Wood group. [Ref 13, p 35]
Whatever Wharton's official title – Isidoro, in Tres Razas, described him as an employee of the Colonization of Chile – he did the work of a subagent in Britain, advertising in newspapers, taking opportunities to spread the word and making travel arrangements, etc. for those who had been tempted by the opportunities he presented to them.
The problems for both Isidoro and for Wharton were that governments and individuals were beginning to put obstacles in their way.
The new agent had to face recruitment bans in Switzerland. in 1887, as a result of problems raised by the claims made by Swiss citizens injured during the War of the Pacific. It was also affected by the suspension of shipments according to government instructions of April 1888. In May 1889 the shipment of settlers was permanently suspended, by which date the position of agent was in the hands of Francisco Gandarillas, Errázuriz's replacement from November of 1888. [Ref 15, p 116]
In addition, the Chilean government was extending the conditions that potential settlers had to satisfy; they now had to bring a certain amount of capital with them. An additional problem was that negative reports were filtering back from the settlers in Chile, concerning lawlessness, climatic problems, water shortages, etc.
In this regard, a Swiss settler declared in 1887: "Misfortunes after misfortunes have befallen me; I have been robbed constantly. I had prepared about four thousand adobes [clay bricks] to build this house: One night the boards that protected them from the rain were stolen and I lost them all. That's why my construction was delayed a season. I had bought sixty francs of potatoes that I wanted to plant, they were stolen from me in the field as well as the vegetables. Inside the house they robbed me while I was absent. Later a pair of oxen. Then it was the turn of my two horses that I had paid for eight days before ... Chile is undoubtedly a country of the future. The terrain is excellent, everything is great and I would have been successful like the others, if it had not been for the robberies of which I was a victim."" [ibid, p 117]
In his 1916 interview, Wharton explained how he found a Chilean national, in Paris, to act as Isidoro's secretary, to take his place while he was "going to be in Scotland, Wales, England giving lectures and signing up emigrants to Chile".
The Rhyl Advertiser of 18th June 1887 published an article about Wharton's arrival in the town, under the heading "RETURN OF AN OLD RHYLITE":
We are pleased to announce the return to Rhyl of Wharton Peers Jones, Esq. (son of the late Dr. Price Jones, of this town), who is now staying at the residence of his mother in Water Street. During an absence extending over fifteen years Mr Jones travelled a great deal, and at present occupies an influential position in Chili, his present visit to this country being in connection with his duties as accredited agent for the Chilian Government. … We understand that our respected visitor intends spending twelve months with us, and we trust he will enjoy a pleasant time of it.
The gap in the above report was where Wharton's heroic act of stopping the train was repeated. In fact, Wharton had brought with him some of the items given to him by passengers, in gratitude for saving their lives, which the reporter says that he was shown. Publicity was just what Wharton needed to promote his work. During his stay in Wales his name appeared in reports of social functions in Rhyl, some of which were also attended by Mary Owen's uncle, Timothy Morgan Owen and his wife. On several occasions, the list of donors to Queen Victoria's Jubilee Fund appeared in the newspapers of 1887 and it included Wharton – more good PR. In addition, he placed regular advertisements in Welsh newspapers, promoting emigration to Chile and telling people to contact him at his mother's address if they were interested. These appeared, almost without interruption and particularly in Welsh language newspapers, from mid-June 1887 until the end of November 1888.
Clearly Wharton's location meant that his efforts were concentrated in Wales, but he also travelled around, selecting some targets, opportunistically, as in this example, reported in The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, October 12, 1887:
THE LATE STRIKE ON THE MIDLAND RAILWAY.A crowd of 200 or 300 persons gathered on Friday morning week et the Midland Railway Station, Nottingham, to witness the departure for Chili of some half-dozen Nottingham engine-drivers, until recently employed by the Midland Railway Company. It will be remembered that upon the conclusion of the late strike on the Midland Railway a number of men, more particularly goods train engine drivers, found their occupation gone. Employment upon other lines seemed as impossible as under their old masters, and consequently, when Mr. Wharton Peers Jones, a special commissioner from the South American Republic, visited Nottingham about a month ago, he found willing listeners to his words. Engine-drivers, he said, might ﬁnd work, and there were many other directions in which good earnings were obtainable. On behalf of the Chilian Government he offered all who wished to leave the old country a moiety of their passage money, amounting to 12l. 10s. [i.e. £12.50] In a few weeks hence it is expected that another contingent will follow the example of those who went on Tuesday, for a communication has been received from the Chilian Government, stating that more men are needed as machinists, ﬁtters, blacksmiths, boilermakers, engine drivers, &c., for which employment and remuneration of 5 dols., or 18s. a day in offered. It is proposed that, by-and-by, when the men get settled in the new country, their wives and families shall follow them. The crowd on the platform was very orderly, and consisted, for the most part, of the relations and friends of the travellers. When the train made a start a trio of cheers was raised for the men, and there was also a satirical call for "Three cheers for the Midland Railway Compony.
DEPARTURE OF MEN FOR SOUTH AMERICA.
Wharton's advertisements were reinforced with occasional letters to the newspapers. A typical one appeared in the Welsh language newspaper Baner ac Amserau Cymru, 28th December 1887, where he reminded farmers that a married couple would get a "gift of one hundred acres of land, ready for the plough. … All the colonists need to do is to build a house on the plot and to enclose it with rails or ditches; and when that is done, his copyright, or deeds, are conferred upon him by the government". He assured them that they would quickly become much better off in Chile's "Promised Land" than they would be if they stayed in Wales. He suggested that they need take only some of their produce to market as much of it could he sold from their farm, so great was the need for good dairy products. He extolled the mild climate in Chile and the fact that it makes animal husbandry so much easier. One can see how such comments would tempt impoverished tenant farmers to leave their native land, but as with those who emigrated to Australia, reality seldom lived up to the dream.
Advertisements promoting emigration continued throughout 1888, though Wharton may have spent much of this time abroad, presumably leaving others to cope with any prospective emigrees. In mid-January he was advertising the sale of a "Park Phæton and Mare, ... two Sets of HARNESS, Rugs, &c. … on account of going abroad" [Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 14 January 1888].
That same newspaper [20 October 1888] carried two reports about Wharton. The first mentioned that he had attended Ebury College prize day (the chair was taken by Mary Owen's uncle, Timothy Morgan Owen) and the second read as follows (the section reiterating the story of Wharton's heroism in saving the train in Chile has been omitted):
DEPARTURE OF MR. WHARTON PEERS JONES FOR CHILI.
It may interest many of our readers to known that our distinguished fellow townsman Mr Wharton Peers Jones, the son of the late Dr. Pryce Jones of this town and a nephew of the late Mr Joseph Peers, formerly Clerk of the Peace for the County of Denbigh, and who has resided at Rhyl for the last I8 months, has this week left for Chili, South America Mr Jones, while in this country, held an official appointment under the Chilian Government, as special emigration agent for Chili, and has fulfilled his mission by establishing nine sub agencies all over England and Wales and through his instrumentality has been the means of sending out a large number of English Emigrants to Chili. …
Mr Jones has taken with him from his native country to the land of his adoption, two young men from amongst us, Mr Walter John Cooke, the son of the Principal of Ebury College (the Revd. H. J. Cooke, M.A.), and Mr Robert H. Browne (well- known in local cricket and football circles), the son of our respected fellow townsman, Mr Peter Browne, ex-Chief Constable of the county. Mr Jones departed with his young emigrant friends by the 10.30 train on Tuesday morning last for Liverpool, the station being crowded by their relatives, friends, and well-wisher bidding them a final adieu. The same evening Mr Jones entertained a large and select party of ladies and gentlemen whom he was taking with him abroad, and their friends, to a dinner at the Compton Hotel Liverpool. The following morning, the party embarked on board the Galicia," one of the fine fleet of steamers belonging to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, and set sail at 10 o'clock, en route for Valparaiso, Chili.
We are sure that many of our readers will join with us in heartily wishing them "bon voyage," and that a happy and prosperous future may be before them in the land of their adoption. We are asked by Mr Jones to state that those friends he has not bad the opportunity of saying good bye to, will take the wish for the deed.
However, it would appear that Wharton did not travel with them all the way to Chile, since that same newspaper stated [6th October 1888]:
DEPARTURE OF MR. WHARTON PEERS JONES.
Mr Wharton Peers Jones departs from England on the 17th inst., having spent about 15 months between visiting his friends at Rhyl, and attending to his official duties as Special Emigration Agent to the Chilian Government in Great Britain. During that time, we are informed that about 19,000 have left Great Britain for Chile. A permanent emigration office has been established in England, and Mr Peers Jones' mission ends.
Presumably, he did leave then, although his newspaper advertisements continued until the end of the following month. He may have returned via Paris but it is more likely that he went directly back to Chile. His sister, Hesse Louisa, who was married to George Shepherd (1838-1892), a professional landscape artist (see some of his work), had died two and a half years earlier and I believe that Wharton's sixteen-year-old nephew, Alfred Thomas Sheffield, stowed away on that 1888 crossing. I am told that Alfred remained in Chile, that he and Wharton lived somewhere south of Temuco (that could have been at Wharton's farm at Llanquihue), and that Wharton eventually settled money on him to enable him to become independent and to buy his own land, in Victoria, Araucania; Alfred spoke only English and Mapuche.
Before leaving the question of this aspect of Wharton's work, it is worth considering some of the negative feedback from the settlement programme that was beginning to be reported.
British newspapers carried stories of murders, riots, thefts and other criminality and published letters that were also aimed at warning people of the dangers. Here are two examples, the first of which was aimed at warning the citizens of Wharton's hometown (Note: £1 = 20s. (shillings), 1s = 12d. (old pence) so £1 = 240d.)
BRITISH EMIGRATION TO CHILI-A WARNING.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE RHYL JOURNAL.
SIR,— I venture to hope you will find space in the next issue of your paper to bring the following facts before your readers.
The British Minister at Santiago, in a report just issued by the Foreign Office, earnestly "warns British men and women against so-called free emigration to Chili". From the correspondence contained in the report, it appears that an arrangement has been made with a Brussels firm, by which the latter undertakes to recruit and send to Chili 25,000 Emigrants during the current year, and that the Chilian Government is specially anxious to take German and British colonists. Mr Kennedy, the Minister, was preparing a report for Lord Salisbury on this subject when the arrival of one batch of British Emigrants and the knowledge that 600 more were on their way decided him at once to call attention to the subject. The emigrants complained to him of the delusive language held to them by the sub-agents of emigration, and also of the misleading information contained in a pamphlet supplied to intending emigrants by the Brussels firm already mentioned. He points out that the statements made there as to Chilian money and the rates of wages are utterly misleading.
"As regards Chilian money, gold and silver are practically unknown. The only money in circulation consists of "pesos" (paper dollars) which at the present time are worth 25d., English money, and which, during the past six years at least, have never been higher than 29d., and have been as low as 21d.; so that emigrants should be told that the average value of the dollar in Chili is 25d., and not 48d., as is suggested in the pamphlet. Besides the pesos or dollars, there are nickel pieces of 5, 10, and 20 cents. I would here mention, as a result of my own observation, that owing to the depreciation and fluctuation in the value of the paper dollar, and to the high price of import duties, more articles of ordinary use, such as clothing, furniture, &c., can be bought for a shilling in England than for a dollar in Chili. As regards the table of salaries and wages, the same error occurs, because the wages are evidently calculated on the basis of 4s. to the dollar. Consequently the amount given for wages may be halved, and even then the amounts are too high. The wage given for farm labourers is stated in the pamphlet to be from £7 to £10 per month, whereas the ordinary wage is practically from Is. to 1s. 6d. per day. These farm labourers are lodged in mud cabins thatched with bulrushes and receive beans, bread and water for daily food. Of course, good agricultural labourers from England or Scotland, or men acquainted with dairy work or cattle farming, who are willing on first arrival to submit to the discomforts of bad food and lodging and small wages may hope within two years, or even sooner, to rise to a position of comparative ease. But as a general rule I would not encourage British subjects to try emigration to Chili; they are at a great disadvantage at first as compared with Italians or Spaniards, or even Frenchmen who pick up the language quickly and accommodate themselves more easily to the customs and system of life of the natives."
Mr Kennedy has succeeded in getting a promise from the Chilian Foreign Minister to suspend this free emigration from Great Britain and to revert to the system by which emigrants are taken out under certain conditions, and are provided with land, a horse, and a yoke of oxen, &c.
There is further a report from Mr Thomas, the Vice-Consul at Santiago, on the same subject, in which he mentions the complaints and losses of British emigrants to Chili, and in conclusion he urges upon Her Majesty's Government the necessity for taking every possible means to prevent British emigration to Chili for the present.
In conclusion, Mr Editor, I can only add it is my sincere hope that the foregoing facts will not only be a warning to intending emigrants, but will suggest to those who have friends or relations out in Chili the desirability of assisting them to return.—I am, &c.,
W. E. SCOTT-HALL.
March 29th, 1890. [Rhyl Journal, 29 March 1890]
The second is about the experience of some Scottish emigrants:
COLONISATION IN CHILI.
The recent riots and destruction of property at Valparaiso may lend interest to the following facts. On October 11, 1889, a party of ten relatives left Greenock for Santiago, and their subsequent history may prove instructive to young Scotchmen who contemplate settling in the Republic. As is well known, the coastline of Chili now extends for some 2000 miles through Patagonia to Cape Horn. Going south from the capital, the country becomes less and less civilised, till, at a distance of 600 miles, a condition of lawless barbarism prevails. The houses there are mud cottages, thatched with bean straw, and the townships few and far between. The leader of the party of 10 endeavoured with the aid of his son to run a small farm with a small capital, had some of bis best animals stolen, and has failed to make a living. His wife and two daughters ran a store. All went well here, until one fine day the mother discovered a native stealing wood from the compound when she remonstrated, he administered to her a sound thrashing. Shortly afterwards the store was fired by natives at midnight. The screaming women rushed helplessly about in their deshabille; no native would lend a hand, but an English doctor assisted them to save a couple of boxes, all else being destroyed. Next, owing to native malice, they were hauled before the local judge, and but for the intervention of the doctor, would have all been imprisoned. A larger store was then opened, but the malarial fever of the country, which has since their arrival attacked the whole party, seized upon the girls. The brother-in-law of the farmer got employment on the morning of his arrival, obtained work at a large factory in Santiago, and being familiar with all the phases of house decoration, has earned 12 dols. per week. equal to about 25s. of our currency. His two boys have also done well in the city offices. Living they have found cheap and good, and they would have saved a little but for repeated sickness. The practical lesson of these episodes are that mechanics can get good work at moderate pay, also lads, but that the opening up of the recently-acquired districts is perilous. The party had nothing but praise for the management of the Chilian Government both during transit and upon arrival. They were allotted cabins in a new vessel lighted by electricity; they dined at the saloon table and enjoyed every comfort. Report says, however, that they were favoured in these particulars. [The Aberdare Times, 27 Sept 1890]
Reportedly, Wharton had left the UK on 17 October 1888. This was a month after the news had reached Wales of the sudden death in India of his eldest brother, Price Jones, on 10 September. Price had been living in India, where he had been working as a civil engineer.
Wharton left Isidoro in Paris and returned, briefly, to Chile before heading off to India to sort out some issues following his brother's death. A copy of the passport for this trip was printed with the report of the interview in El Pacifico Magazine and was signed by the then Minister of Foreign Relations, Worship and Colonization (April 1888 to April 1889), Demetrio Lastarria Villarreal; it was dated 28 December 1888.
Wharton (pictured, right, in 1889) did not much enjoy the trip and made that clear in an account he wrote for the Valparaiso magazine "El Patria", which he called "Viaje por la India Oriental, o sea seis semanas entre el cielo y el infierno, desde el 1.o de marzo al 31 de abril de 1889" ("Journey through Eastern India, that was six weeks between heaven and hell, from March 1 to April 31, 1889."). It included the statement, "In my view, the Taj Mahal is not worth a hundredth of what is said of it" and he wrote at some length about the baseness of white men he had watched, staring at naked, native bathers washing off their sin.
Wharon's work activities, on returning from India, involved unspecified missions he carried out in Argentina and in the south of Chile.
Click on button to see the passports for the above trip & for the following trip. The window can be closed by clicking on the 2nd button.
Isidoro had served his year as Colonisation Agent in Europe and in 1888 was replaced by Francisco Gandarillaz, who would hold the post until 1893. The extravagance of Isidoro has been mentioned several times and he had lost money through a change in the law, instigated by President Balmaceda. He was being chased by a bank to settle a debt of 80 000 pesos and by a UK supplier of paper for the printing of his magazine, "La Patria" of Valparaíso, to settle a further debt of 600 pounds. He failed in an attempt to get help from Balmaceda and was afraid that his financial predicament could end his political career. However, to prevent any news of this potential scandal coming out, Wharton brokered a deal with a man sympathetic to Isidoro's cause and sold Isidoro's villa and palace to him for two hundred and fifty thousand pesos.
Isidoro returned the favour to Wharton by arranging with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Wharton to be appointed as an emigrant embarkation inspector, giving him a letter to that effect to take to the above-mentioned Don Francisco Gandarillas. This meant that Wharton would be based in Europe and be nearer to Mary and his new family.
Wharton had described some of the political manoeuvrings which he said delayed, for some time, the signing of the decrees, to confirm his and Isidoro's appointments in Europe in 1887. He explained how this led to the Foreign Minister being sacked and replaced by Juan Castellón Larenas, who immediately signed the necessary decree. Don Larenas first served as Foreign Minister from 23 October, 1889 so this anecdote must relate to this second appointment in Europe; it was simply a memory lapse.
Thus, Wharton's appointment must eventually have been confirmed in October 1889. A passport document for Wharton to travel to Paris was printed alongside the interview article in El Pacifico Magazine and this appears to be dated 1891. It was signed by Victor Manuel Prieto, "secretario"; Prieto worked for the Ministerio de Relacione Esteriores in various capacities over several decades.
Although Wharton's association with the Parque Cousiño had finished about a decade earlier, in view of his and Isidoro's relationship with President Balmaceda, I was intrigued to come across the following story. In the summer of 1889, an unfortunate incident occurred in the Parque Cousiño involving Pedro Balmaceda, son of the president. Pedro was an eminent intellectual, writer and journalist but had suffered from health issues from babyhood, culminating in the development of a serious heart condition. When some rather grand floats were going to parade around the elliptical roadway in the Parque, in honour of his father, Pedro took it upon himself to go to the Parque every morning to supervise the training of the teams that would be towing the floats. One day, his concentration wandered, and he was struck by one of the horse teams, which caused him to run in panic. This over-exerted his weakened heart and led to his death shortly afterwards, at the age of twenty-one.
Wharton, in the 1916 interview stated that, on his return from India, he went to London to get married and returned to Chile, leaving his wife in England. In the interview he had already covered events from this period, so this comment was added as an afterthought. (Could Mary have prompted him to add this?) It was the only reported mention Wharton made of his family. However, no such marriage was registered. It should have happened, to legitimise the three children that Mary produced in the early 1890s and a further child born to Mary in Chile. In fact, as mentioned previously, it is probable that Wharton could not have married then, since he was already married and, in a Catholic country such as Chile, divorce would not have been a simple option. It may be that Wharton was carrying on a double life, running two families, simultaneously, though this seems unlikely.
The birth of Wharton and Mary's first child, a boy who was named after his father, was registered in Bangor in 1890; it suggests Mary returned to the area where her family had lived either for the birth or soon after it. She appears to have lived in the southeast of England for the next few years, at first in Hillingdon, Middlesex, then in Kent and, lastly, in Surrey.
Wharton was twenty years older than Mary. They may have met through the Morgan Owens, while they were living at Rhyl. Newspapers reported several local events at which Wharton and Mary's uncle, Timothy Morgan Owen, and his wife were present.
A year after the birth of Wharton and Mary's son, Wharton Peers Jones, Mary gave birth to a daughter, Emily. Both children were christened at Harlington, Hillingdon, Middlesex, Wharton on 3 April 1892 and Emily on 8 May 1892. Their sister, Dolores Mary Peers Jones, was born on 22 September 1894. Her birth was registered at Elham, Kent, and she was christened at St Michael and All Angel Church, Pirbright in Surrey. In each case, Wharton's occupation was given as "Attaché, Chilian Legation".
Don Isidoro Errázuriz, having returned to Chile, held the position of Minister of Justice and Public Instruction under President Balmaceda, for three months. At the same time, he was busy rallying and organising support against Balmaceda, whom he had grown to dislike both personally and politically. Matters came to a head in the Revolution of 1891. Wharton may have been hundreds of miles from Chile, but he played his part in this revolution. Armando Donoso wrote, "in the days of the 91 revolution, he was commissioned with delicate missions in Europe, where he lived for many months, rendering valuable services to the revolutionary cause." Wharton elaborated on several of these missions during the interview.
After seven months I received a letter from Don Isidoro, in which he asked me to find, on my travels, where to buy modern weapons: rapid-fire cannons, rifles and ammunition: The prices and payment conditions. Then, on one of those trips, I discovered a large shipment of armaments that the Boers were preparing at the Cape of Good Hope. Many of these armaments were later bought for Chile through Domingo Vega and others. At that time, I had no idea that a revolution would break out in Chile: … Suddenly a cable was received ordering the suspension of emigration to Chile. So, I was in fact suspended from my government mission. A few days later we had news that the revolution had broken out in Chile, …. Then I received another letter from Don Isidoro, in which he told me to put myself under the orders of Don Augusto Matte and to help with all his efforts to ensure that the French Government did not accept Don Joaquín Godoy as representative of Chile, as he had credentials to represent Chile for all European governments. At that time M. Rìbot was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in France. After our making some representations to the French Government, it decided that he would be recognized as Chargé d'Affaires, while the revolution lasted, the first secretary of the Legation, Don Victor Manuel Prieto, and I remaining as attachés of the Legation of Chile in Paris. …
Two days before the revolutionaries took effective possession of Iquique, there was a need for money to pay some bills on the armaments that were being acquired. Matte's reply was: "I do not give any penny or help in any way as long as the congressmen are not in charge of the nitrate works.
From 1888, Augusto Matte Pérez was Minister of Foreign Relations, Worship and Colonization. He was in Paris as an extraordinary envoy and plenipotentiary minister when the civil war broke out in 1891. Fundamentally, the Revolution was between Congress and the President and my understanding of the last sentence in the above quote is that Matte, a supporter of Congress, would not send money to Balmaceda until Congress had control over the valuable saltpetre workings. That Wharton had been told by Isidoro to take orders from Matte, indicates that Matte's sympathies lay with Congress, unlike those of Godoy, who supported Balmaceda. Congress wanted to do all in its power to stop supplies, particularly armaments, reaching Balmaceda's forces. For the same reason, they also wanted to prevent money and any other form of foreign aid from reaching them.
Events in Chile were followed closely by many of the British public and reports were syndicated in most local newspapers. A flavour of how events in Chile were being interpreted is captured in a report from a Times correspondent, as reproduced in The Pontypridd Chronicle and Workman's News, 23rd January 1891. This condemns Balmaceda for abuse of his constitutional powers: "It is difficult to believe that all these arbitrary acts and outrage; are not told of the Sultan of Morocco, but of the constitutional President of a civilised and progressive Republic, which has hitherto been held up as a model to the other States of South America." It cited the assassination of one of Balmaceda's opponents at a public, protest meeting: "members of his party were for the time being placed everywhere in power throughout the provinces to coerce the electors and render the new electoral law not merely a farce but a sanguinary one": "The right of public meeting was arbitrarily prohibited". There was an interim Commission of the Chambers, to govern while elections were taking place and the President treating it with contempt and ignoring its decisions. Some of its comments were:
The impression produced in the Republic by the deplorable action of Balmaceda and its fatal results, coming on the top of other outrages upon the liberties of the citizens, was that of profound indignation, which has culminated in an appeal to arms, which, if such can ever be justified, appears to be so in the present instance. For some time the breach between Balmaceda and the people had been widening apace. …
Some of the leading Generals have expressed their strong disapproval of President Balmaceda's course, and one of the oldest and most respected is said to have wept over the body of young Ossa, who belongs to one of the leading and wealthiest families in Chili. Those who know Balmaceda well affirm that he is vain and irascible to an extraordinary degree, and if roused capable of going, as he has gone, to any length to cover a weakness of character which makes him the tool of others abler and more unscrupulous than himself, who obtain their ends by pandering to his vanity. The unscrupulousness of President Balmaceda and his friends in electioneering matters was further shewn last year when Balmaceda stumped the country making propaganda against all foreign interests in Chili, and his friends subsequently instigated and fomented riots in the nitrate districts, to the destruction of English property and gravely endangering the lives of many English subjects, with the sole object of making a political diversion.
The above image shows two entries for payments to Wharton in the Chilean Government accounts from January to August 1891, It is a compilation of images from different pages of those accounts, the heading indicating that Wharton was working for the Colonization section of the Chilean Foreign Office. Thus, in that six-month period, Wharton was being paid 775 (presumably pesos) in gold, as an assistant at the French Legation, for keeping Plymouth under surveillance (almost certainly allowing him opportunities to be with Mary Owen in England) and, in addition, he was paid 170 (presumably pesos) in gold, as an immigration inspector and for service expenses between 15 June and 1 August. [Ref 16 (Warning: Very slow to load)]
There was quite a famous incident involving two cruisers, the Pinto and the Errázuriz (warships named after former Chilean presidents). Wharton was in Wales in 1887, when Balmaceda gave the order for these vessels to be built in France. Once the revolution was under way, Congress, which controlled the Chilean navy, did not want Balmaceda to obtain these ships and various "incidents" prevented them from getting to Chile until after the Revolution. One delay was caused by the Pinto being run aground when she was launched. Wharton said that he was sent to take charge of the beached ship and to organize the freeing of it. One assumes that, as a supporter of Congress, he would not have wanted to rush this process. Wharton said that he was ideally suited for the job since he had been an officer in the English navy ("yo había sido oficial en la marina inglesa") In fact, he had merely been a crewman in the merchant navy and, seemingly, only an apprentice. This is one of several minor, apparent inaccuracies, but, cumulatively, they risk bringing Wharton's general credibility into question.
As stated, control of the seaways was important in the Revolution, no more so than when the navy subsequently blockaded the Chilean port of Iquique in January 1891, to telling effect.
Another anecdote concerned three banker's drafts that had been sent by Balmaceda to Don Joaquín Godoy, relating to about fifteen thousand pounds deposited in the City Bank of London; Godoy had not dealt with them and only about a month remained before they expired. Once the revolution had ended and the Government of President Balmaceda had fallen, Don Agustín Ross* informed the City Bank that, the money deposited there belonged to the Chilean nation, so Balmaceda's Government had no right to the funds. Thus, when Godoy went to collect the money, he was denied access to it. Wharton was given the task of tailing Godoy, to establish, in each case, exactly where the money had been deposited and how much was involved. He made it clear that this was the least enjoyable of his secret missions.
[* Agustín Ross Edwards (1844 - 1926) was a Chilean politician, diplomat, and banker, of Scottish descent. He was partly educated in Scotland. He worked in banking and became a private agent in London of the Government Junta of Iquique in 1891. He became Chilean plenipotentiary minister in Great Britain, the following year.]
Wharton described how, back in Paris, news of the result of the decisive Battle of Placilla in the Revolution was, at first, confused. Godoy received a telegram wrongly announcing a win for Balmaceda's forces, so he promptly organised a banquet at a restaurant on the Champs Elysees. Augusto Matte did not read his telegram until the following morning, though it did say, correctly, that it was a decisive victory for Congress.
The Evening Express (21 June 1892), subsequently reported that "bands of armed men are attacking and robbing the farms in the vicinity of that city [Santiago]. They are ex-soldiers of Balmaceda's army and have committed many brutal murders when resisted."
The Aberdare Times, 5 September 1891, was sarcastic about the instability of political regimes in South America:
... where to-day you may be a member of a much belauded party and to-morrow may be blown up for not belonging to the other faction. They seem, in fact, down in that quarter of the world to be very fond of playing skittles with their leaders, their governments, and their representatives of all kinds. … Senor Balmaceda, their president, not pleasing them, they proceeded to turn him overboard, and they have done the business so completely that he will not show his head even. The battle in which the insurgents overthrew their government was no half-and-half, gim-crack affair. It was a battle worth fighting and leaving behind it a roll of killed and wounded of which any country in Europe would have been proud. … It is a melancholy spectacle, whether it be at Chili or whether it be at the other end of the world to see people of one country setting up and barbarously butchering each other, all over the question of government.
At this point in 1916, Wharton has become tired, and the interview ended.
Incidentally, Isidore Errázuriz benefitted, politically, from the Revolution. In August 1891, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Relations, Justice, Worship and Public Instruction by the Council of the Iquique Governing Board, in which capacity he subsequently conducted important negotiations on behalf of the Chilean Government, for example, signing an Agreement with the United States, a year later, over the compensation rights of citizens of either country against the government of the other country. He was also, briefly, under President Jorge Montt, Ministry of Industry and Public Works, and his last ministerial post was as Minister of War and Navy, in 1893.
Wharton provided various photographs and documents, which were reproduced in the El Pacifico Magazine report of his interview by Armando Donoso [Ref 1]. Most relate to what was discussed, with the exception of the letter from Piérola, which gave Wharton the power to act as a confidential agent on Piérola's behalf.
Click on the left button, below, to open a new window showing the letter and an English translation. You can use the 2nd button to close that window.
The interview had terminated before the questioning got as far as 1894 so we are given no further explanation as to what actions Wharton undertook on Piérola's behalf. However, it appears that he did help his friend Piérola in his coup of 1895 and one task appears to have been to purchase a ship for him.
A steamship reported as being suspicious, was anchored off Coronel, a port just south of Concepción, and it had become the subject of rumour. It prompted Wharton to write a letter for publication in the Chilean newspaper, Los Andes, 3 September 1894:
ABOUT THE SUSPECTED SHIP
Mr. Wharton Peers Jones sends us the following letter, regarding a dispatch from our Correspondent in Valparaíso about a suspicious ship drawing near to Colonel.
Dear Sir, In the correspondence from Valparaíso, dated 9 of the present, it is said that a suspicious ship has arrived at Coronel, claiming that it may well belong to Don Nicolas de Pierola.
As a gift of truth, I must tell you that this ship, whose name is "Stella", is my property. I bought it in Buenos Aires on June 16 of this year, for the sum of £3,000.
The intention I had when buying the "Stella" was to establish a fishing business, in order to supply fresh seafood to the cities of Valparaíso and Santiago. I subscribe to you as a chronicler. S.A.S.
Wharton Peers Jones
The original assertion was not unreasonable and would appear to be correct. Peru had entered yet another political crisis, with accusations that the president, who had just won power, had achieved this by fraudulent means. The interview article carries a photograph of "Stella", which bears the caption, "The steamer "Stella" bought by Mr. Jones in Buenos Aires for the Piérola-Billinghurst revolution against Cáceres. Said steamer made the voyage commanded in person by Mr. Jones." History shows that Piérola's supporters removed the president the following spring and Piérola became president.
At some point Wharton, Mary and their three children sailed to Chile, where they settled; there is a suggestion that this journey could have been in about 1896.
The new century appears to have marked the end of much of Wharton's adventuring and he appears to have settled into farming and into organising events to further the advancement of agriculture in Chile. During this later period of his life, various properties were in the ownership of the family. Those I know of are "Wharton Hall" at Carahue, near Temuco, and the hacienda "Las Mercedes" on the Maipo River. Either Wharton or his son owned another property in Peumo Negro, east of Talco. When Wharton died, he was living at 609 (possibly 509) Avda José Domingo Cañas, Ñuñoa, Santiago. In addition, after Mary's death there was a sale of her possessions at 690 Avenida Vicuna McKenna in Santiago and an article about the splendid building, La casa Flores, at Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, states that the large plot of land on which it was built was originally owned by Mary. Two of Mary's siblings, John and Sally, stayed at "Wharton Hall" and Sally's daughter said that it was a 30,000 acre ranch, at Carahue.
Wharton probably attended the weddings of the children of his other family, Roberto and Adelo, just before and just after the turn of the century.
He continued, occasionally, to promote Chile as a place to which to emigrate. For example, the Rhyl Journal, 7 April 1906, reported that it had received a pamphlet from Wharton saying how he thought settlement in Chile favoured the English and Welsh "as against those of the Latin race".
One wonders if Wharton had anything to do with the deals that resulted in many thousands of tons of coal being transported from South Wales to Chile in the early twentieth century.
His Parque Cousiño continued to be a huge success. Apart from the public simply enjoying the design of it and its facilities, events were held there on a regular basis.
To enter the enclosure, in 1900 they [the public] had to pay forty cents. Riders paid twenty and pedestrians entered free. The poet Pezoa Vélíz was one of the latter. He was ever seen watching some unattainable beauty, who was moving away from him in her coupe leaving him wrapped in a cloud of dust. In 1906, Zig-Zag proposed Cousiño Park as an excellent summer alternative. All the stragglers from Santiago, according to the magazine, enthusiastically welcomed the idea of spending the nights "on the quiet beaches of the park's lagoon, under the lighting of fifty large electric moons. Afterwards, a moment at the restaurant in search of a drink such as a champagne cocktail or a sandwich, served by the madam, who encourages the customers with her spicy Parisian talk, her open and contagious laugh ". [Ref 7, p 136, (p135/231)]
So far, it would appear that Wharton's professional life had moved inexorably onward and upward - hardly surprising, since much of the information was provided by the man himself. His Chile was emerging as a successful industrial nation and there were many, particularly in the north of the country who looked forward to the 1900s with optimism. The picture was very different elsewhere. The problems encountered by the settlers, who arrived in Chile in vast numbers during the second half of the nineteenth century, have been discussed at some length, in the account of Wharton's 1887 trip around Araucanía and with regard to his work recruiting settlers. One of these was getting considerably worse around the turn of the century and that was criminality - drunkenness, banditry, violence, murder. It was pervasive in the region, particularly towards its southern border, and, in places, small-time crime had developed into organised crime, controlled by mafia-like bosses.
I was completing my research into Wharton's life when I came across an article by the Chilean historian, Leon Leonardo [Ref 17, pp. 163 - 182]. It mentions Wharton (probably senior but, possibly, junior) twice, and one reference suggests Wharton either belonged to the policing force that had been set up under Hernán Trizano, or that he tried to influence it. Trizano was based at Temuco, about 50 kilometres east of Wharton Hall, Carahue, where Wharton, Mary and their children were living.
Trizano has been much criticized, in retrospect, for the way he dealt with the criminality in Araucania and in his treatment of the native people. One imagines that the way the policing was carried out at that time was little different from the treatment of native populations by colonialists in many parts of the world during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. As a military man, Trizano was prepared to use violence to suppress criminality but evidence suggests his methods were also illegal and unjust. Such an approach may have produced short-term benefits, but it made finding a long-term solution to what was, already, a complex problem, very much more difficult. The roots of the problem were deep-seated and were the almost inevitable result of the way the settlement scheme had been implemented, causing hardship to the many who had previously inhabited the land and a deep-seated and entirely predictable resentment that continues to be felt to this day.
The extract that shows Wharton in a very unfavourable light is from the 1904 testimony of two rural policemen. They stated that: "On various occasions, the aforementioned Peers Jones ordered them to go out to stop passers-by, ... they were to destroy fences owned by third parties and arbitrarily apprehend indigenous people, immediately to flog them and to subject them to torture." [Ibid. p 173, Extrajudicial statement of the policemen Guentealba and Benavides, Temuco, 19 January, 1905", in Hernán Trizano Archive, Vol. 5, p. 152.]
One wonders if Wharton (father or son) had been severely provoked, personally, to have made such an improper suggestion or, knowing something of the ruthlessness attributed to Hernán Trizano, if Wharton was an officer of the Cuerpo de Gendarmes and merely passing on a directive from his superior. Such as approach appears to have been typical of that used by Trizano, but, whatever the history behind that remark, nothing can justify it.
The picture of Wharton Peers Jones (above) appears with the information:
Wharton Peers Jones was a British citizen who lived in Chile for over 70 years. In the political history of our country he was an outstanding figure. Despite his relentless adventurous spirit, he settled for a time in Osorno, whereafter he held this region in great affection. He held the position of honorary captain. Ref 19, p 26]
Wharton (senior) held honorary positions within agricultural organisations but might he have held one within the Cuerpo de Gendarmes.
I am now looking into this issue and I hope to discover if it was father or son and the role either or both of them might have played in law enforcement. I would be grateful to receive any further information on this matter.
I have mentioned the Mapuche continue to feel considerable resentment, mainly towards the Government but also towards the descendants of those early settlers, the taking of the land being one of several areas of contention. The problem has not gone away, and there is a revealing analysis of the recent situation in Ref 18, pp. 275 - 507.
In 1906, there came sad news:
DEATH. The "Star of Chile," just received, records the death "at Wharton Hall, Carahue, at 11.15 a.m. on the 3rd of May, of Emily Peers Jones, eldest daughter of Wharton and Mary Peers Jones, aged 15 years." The young lady was grand-daughter of the late Rev Elias Owen, Vicar of Llanyblodwel, and of the late Dr Pryce Jones, Rhyl, and grand-niece of Mr Morgan Owen, J.P., Penbryn Hall, Monts, and Bronwylfa, Rhyl. [The Rhyl Journal, 14th July 1906]
The registration of her birth [Hackney 1891, 4th qt] would indicate Emily was fourteen when she died. Unfortunately, I do not have access to any information about the circumstances of her death.
I have found only one other occasion when mention was made that Wharton had married into the Owen family and it was when Y Cymro, 13th April 1893, stated, in a report of the St David's Day celebrations at Buenos Aires, that Mr W. Peers Jones was the son-in-law of Rev. Elias Owen.
'Wharton Peers Jones' and 'Mery Pierce Owen' (her name and other information on the marriage certificate was recorded incorrectly) married at Moneda, Santiago, Chile, on 11 May 1912. That order of their names was wrong, according to the Chilean system, so the surnames of each mother and father were interchanged.
For many years, Wharton was involved in agricultural societies and with organising their agricultural shows.
Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna, who, as mayor of Santiago (1872-1875) had done so much to improve that city, including helping to instigate the creation of Parque Cousiño, also worked to improve agriculture in Chile. In 1869, he was the secretary of the first agricultural show, organised by the National Agricultural Society (SNA) in Santiago, and he maintained an involvement in these annual shows thereafter.
La Sociedad Agrícola y Ganadera de Osorno AG was founded in 1917 and held the first agricultural and livestock show in the south of Chile, on 30 November that same year. As its first General Commissioner, Wharton had the responsibility of managing this show. It, too, became an annual event and Wharton maintained an involvement in its organisation; he was still working on an upcoming Osorno show the day he died.
La Sociadad de Fomento Agricola Temuco A. G. (SOFO) was founded in 1918 and held its first show the following year, with Wharton, again, being the General Commissioner. [Ref 20, pp 120-123]
These events became social occasions but primarily served to educate, to present new technologies, techniques and treatments, to promote new breeds, to promote and advance local agricultural interests, and, as well as showing the public the sources of their food, they also demonstrated to the authorities the degree of organisation within the industry, giving a greater voice to the societies running them.
The link, below, which provided much of this agricultural information, shows two newspaper clippings. The first reports that, in 1919, the Osorno society opened a registration book for animals; it became a genetic record and SAGO keeps it updated. The second, from 1926, illustrates how the show soon became an opportunity to promote a wide range of products, including English cigars. The associated article describes a promotional offer of a pack of cigarettes to every attendee at the show. In those days, attendance on Sunday alone was estimated at 20,000.
[Ref 19, pp 26-29]
At some point between 1906 and 1916, Wharton and Mary relocated to the hacienda Las Merecedes, which they were occupying at the time of the 1916 interview. A later newspaper report, and the fact that Wharton continued to be involved in the shows put on by the above societies, suggests that the Carahue property may have stayed in the family's ownership.
The marriage certificate of Wharton's son, in 1912, stated that Wharton and Mary were living at Melipilla. Melipilla is the capital city of the province of the same name. The province lies in the Santiago Metropolitan Region and the city stands on the north bank of the Maipo River, about 40 kilometres WSW of Santiago and about 30 kilometres from the coast.
Before beginning to recount the interview, Armando Donoso wrote:
His [Wharton's] current life is the quiet existence of a modern farmer, enthusiastic, industrious, indefatigable. He lives all year round on the Las Mercedes hacienda, a beautiful farm on the banks of the Maipo River and occupying the slopes of the hills on its shore. Among flowers, among trees, near the rustic peasant people, devoted entirely to agricultural tasks, cultivating the fertile land; there we find this curious Englishman, who seems to deny his native people in the love he has shown for another nation that is not his.
One of these warm, early autumn afternoons we have gone to surprise him in his rustic corner. The railroad has taken us to his home, and … we have started to cross fields, and estuaries, and streams and stony roads. Near the hills, we follow the course of the Maipo, leaving fertile and flowery fields to our left, and gradually going in through the central valley; here we arrive at the picturesque and alluring retreat of Las Mercedes. A small shack, as obscured amid orange trees; a stream of clear water running past; fresh groves and vast paddocks where patient herds and spry old horses frolic: …
But this is not all: if you rummage through their rooms, … it will touch you, deep inside your Chilean heart: in the dining room the first thing you notice is a Chilean shield and then a phonograph, on which the record to be played is the National Anthem. Because Mister Jones's love of this dark trans-Andean land, can only be matched by his love of his wife and his children, here he has had the good fortune to find tranquility, honest hearts, well-being, and faithful friends.
The comments by Donoso seem to imply that the hacienda Las Mercedes lies adjacent to the River Maipo, in which case its exact location is unknown. However, there is another hacienda Las Mercedes, also in the Maipo Basin and in the province of Melipilla, which I thought likely to have been the one owned by Wharton. Further research may determine if it was. It is near Casablanca, some distance from the river and up in the hills, [New Map], and much of the following information comes from [Ref 21, p 141-143, p 167-169]
That hacienda Las Mercedes, near Casablanca, stands in the middle of the Maipo river basin, where landowners have included at least two past presidents of Chile, Manuel Montt and José Manuel Balmaceda. The presidency of Montt precedes Wharton's arrival in Chile, but it was then (1851-1856), that he owned Las Mercedes and he and other landlords created the Las Mercedes canal project, which planned to take water from the Mapocho river, a tributary of the Maipo, to irrigate the north-west region of Santiago. It came about as the result of cooperation between landowners to get the project accepted and realised, and it involved innovative techniques, such as building tunnels to carry the irrigation canals through mountain chains. The Las Mercedes canal project is admired to this day and recognised as being a great achievement in the history of irrigation systems. Balmaceda joined the project, and the Las Mercedes canal finally became operational in 1884, shortly before he won the presidency for which Wharton and Isidoro campaigned.
In those years, the Mapocho river was already becoming polluted by sewage, mainly from Santiago, but the farms benefitted from the added fertilisation in the water. At that time the wasteful method of irrigation was simply to flood the fields. Unfortunately, as industry developed, the river became increasingly polluted by industrial waste. This situation lasted until 1990, when countries to which produce was being exported insisted that clean water be used to irrigate the crops. In 1965, Las Mercedes, then a hacienda of 1019 hectares, was bought up and became part of a CORA cooperative. Progress!
It is not clear to which Wharton the following news reports refer; Wharton (segundo) had also married in 1912, when his occupation was given as 'farmer', but, according to the report of his father's funeral, he was an engineer.
La Nacion (17 January 1927) reported that "Mr and Mrs Wharton Jones" were leaving Santiago for a stay at Carahue, which suggests that Wharton may still have owned Wharton Hall in Carahue. The following is the only reference I have found to indicate that father or son owned a property in Peumo Negro, less than 20 km east of Talca; it seems likely it was owned by the son:
Another British citizen dedicated to the agricultural sector, in cattle ranching and pastureland, was Wharton Peers Jones, who in 1920 provided 400 blocks of pasture with clover on his Peumo Negro farm. At the same time, he performed the administration of the Lircay irrigation canal. [Ref 22, p 74 (p 41/57)]
The following report almost certainly refers to Wharton (junior):
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE PANAMA RAILROAD CO.
The superintendent of the Panama Railroad Co. Mr. Peers Jones arrived at this port yesterday, from Callao, on board the "Teno". [La Nacion, 5 March 1926.] (Note: Callao is Peru's main seaport and serves the capital, Lima)
Although Wharton was so much older than Mary, he outlived her. His obituary indicates that she died in 1927, as did their son, Wharton. despite searching all the available pages of the daily newspapers, La Nacion, for that year, I have found no further information as to the circumstances. (See Mary Owen's pages for more information about her.)
La Nacion, 16 September 1928, carried a report that Wharton was ill, at home. Wharton died a few days later, on the 20th. In his last years he had been very much involved in organising the regular agricultural and industrial shows at Temuco, near his Carahue ranch, and at Osorno, 200km south of there, as well as elsewhere. He was working on the next Osorno show up to the day he died. He is buried in the General Cemetery, Santiago. His home address in Santiago at that time was Avda José Domingo Cañas 609, Ñuñoa, Santiago. This is almost in the centre of Santiago and is less than a kilometre from where the sale of household furnishings and books owned by his wife, was held, following her death the year before. As well as obituaries and other articles about him in the newspapers, there were two announcements of his death in La Nacion; one was from "The family" and the other, with a misprint, was entered as "Walter Peers Jones", and was from his children, Adela and Ricardo.
The report of Wharton's death in O Jounal, 22 Sept. 1928, p 18, of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, describes him as "un explorador", the most likely of its meanings, here, being "trailblazer".
The column inches devoted to Wharton on his demise matched those of some politicians and military leaders. He was much loved by the Chilean people and I finish this account with some of the words of Paul Vérité's obituary in La Nación, 29 September 1928:
You have to believe in death, since Wharton Peers-Jones has just died after eighty-plus years defying all known rules of health preservation: bullets and bad weather, rain and ice, Tropical fevers and runaway trains. In all that, this wonderful pioneer laughed, staring at the danger with his steely eyes. And after so much pirouetting around the eternal abyss, without ever falling into it, Wharton Peers-Jones had come to convince us that he had leave to be like this, from the depths of the ages, and thus he would live until the end of time, unchanging, with his stout pointed beard and his upright air. ..
His grey hat, round like a mushroom and flat-brimmed, was popular throughout Chile. All eyes converged on him in the great days of industrial livestock shows or whatever. Peers-Jones had a curious instinct for order, organization, and command; he, who made his own life a mess for more than 80 years. He was also a hero. A true hero with medals and everything. His audacity once saved an entire train, full of people, that was crashing down with broken brakes from the top of the Tabóa slope. …
He was like this, providential and audacious, on many occasions in his life. Sometimes he filled the grey dome of his hat with formidable secrets. Things, momentary concerns, which History does not record but which are immense at the particular moment. Those were the times when Wharton Peers-Jones was a hard rock of loyalty, self-denial and firmness. And all this - such a curious genre of mankind - out of sheer enthusiasm, for the pleasure of doing great, daring, dangerous things, at the end of which he knew that neither gold, nor applause awaited him. Because he loved the country where so many of his projects had germinated, and where his children grew up.
Rest in peace Wharton Peers-Jones. I know that he did not want this rest, bitten by the inexhaustible restlessness to see and to create. On his coffin, like a trophy, like the weapons of the warriors, this unique round hat should go, a witness to the history of Chile over three generations.
After Wharton's death, La Nacion newspaper published several articles about him. The first two artcles appeared the day after his death (a report on the Society Page and his obituary). The third article, the following day, reported his funeral and the last, published on the anniversary of his death, was "In Memory of Wharton Peers Jones". Each article has a link to the next one. You can close that window by clicking on the 2nd button.
I had hoped the Parque Cousiño (now renamed Parque O’Higgins) might retain its beauty and some of its grandeur and stand as a memorial to Wharton and all those involved in its creation as well as providing a peaceful haven for residents of the modern city of Santiago – but apparently not. Joaquín Edwards Bello, in his Andando por Madrid y otras páginas, (1969), describes the modern park as being an under-used, barren terrain, a skeleton without its features such as its lake and restaurant, standing in a run-down area of the city. In his acerbic opinion, it had no appeal to the modern generation, and, even if it were renovated and cleaned up, it could never recapture its former glory. Perhaps so, its decline may have been signalled, even before Wharton was laid to rest, but nothing can take away the success it enjoyed for a good half century and the pleasure it provided in its heyday.
Since I make every effort not to include information about living people, this section about the descendants of Wharton Peers Jones and Fortunata Reyes is short. Information about the descendants of Wharton and Mary Owen appear on Mary Owen's pages. Information about other children are mentioned only in the previous section about him.
Wharton and Fortunata had two children who survived into adulthood. The parents' names appear, in full, on the children's marriage certificates and the two children placed a notice in La Nacion newspaper on the death of their father, ending "From his children Adela and Roberto".
Adela Fortunata Peers Jones (de los Reyes) was born in about 1879. The record of her marriage, on 26 July 1898, states she was aged twenty and that her parents had lived at Temuco for six months. (Information on UK marriage records, particularly about age and residency, can be unreliable and the same may be true of Chilean marriage records.) The bridegroom was Abraham Oscar Opazo Toro, aged twenty-three, the son of Juan Opazo and Leonarda Toro. The home of Wharton and Mary, Wharton Hall, was located in Carahue, which is about 40 kilometres west of Temuco. They would have gone to live there at about the time of the wedding, if not earlier. In 1896 Wharton gave his address, on the English christening record of his daughter, Dolores, as Wharton Hall and Mary and their three British children had definitely joined him in Chile before 1902.
La Nación (25 December 1930) reported that "Mr. Abraham Opazo Toro has undergone a delicate operation by doctors Seaman and Ortiz."
Perhaps his treatment in hospital prompted him to speak out against Government austerity being held responsible for unnecessary deaths in hospital. An extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies, 7 October 1931, heard evidence about the death of a Temuco man, which included a report in the newspaper, "Diario Ilustrado" of 11 August 1931. This described the protests that were sparked by his death; Abraham was mentioned as one of those who made a speech at a gathering of hundreds of protestors.
In another extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies in 1907, convened to discuss the eligibility of a candidate in a recent election, the broad discussion suggested that administration of the Cautin area, which includes Temuco and Carahue, had been somewhat chaotic in the preceding period and witnesses hinted at fraud in the recent election. The name of Adela's husband was brought up:
Among many curiosities that I have brought from the province of Cautin, I have a piece of paper that says:
"Abraham Opazo Toro. - Dear friend: The bearer [of a message of introduction] Don Querubin Soto is recommended by a responsible person. He is a man of trust and offers thirty cavalry and a good number of voters. Get the Ud. to cooperate with him and arrange and treat whatever is necessary.
Your good friend, Anibal Letelier"
On the reverse, in a different handwriting, which I presume is from Mr. Opazo Toro, the following is said:
"It will require ten determined men with Señor Trizano's caballos; but determined people and willing to do anything." [Ref 23, p.1166]
[Note: Anibal Letelier was a Liberal Democrat Deputy at that time.]
This suggests that not only was Abraham politically active but that he worked hand-in-hand with the security force run by the often ruthless and single-minded Hernán Trizano, who appears to have adhered to the philosophy that the ends justify the means; evidence suggests that his father-un-law, Wharton, worked closely with those same security forces.
In April 1911 a report was presented to the Minister of Colonization [Ref 24, p.26] concerning land. Amongst other things it lists properties and offers for those properties, though I have not yet established whether this was money actually paid to the land owners. The list shows that Abraham owned two plots of land in Cautin of approximately 369 and 400 hectares and the associated offers were 9200$ and 14000$.
Chilean birth records show that Adela's first three children, all boys, were born at Temuco. Sadly, the first son, born in 1898, was stillborn. However, Oscar Enrique Opazo Peers Jones arrived on 28 Sep 1899, and Julio Orlando Opazo Peers Jones on 16 September 1901. Olga Estela Opazo Peers Jones was born in Temuco on 11 July 1903. She died on 17 March 1941, and is buried Cementerio General de Santiago. These are the only birth records I have found but I am led to believe that Abraham and Adela had eight children, which may include the following:
I had deduced that the eldest child, Oscar Enrique Peers Jones, married Olga Barry and a daughter was born in January 1940, as well as a son and possibly more children, but the "Family Search" website shows his marriage to Alicia Taito Schneider (24 July 1909 - 7 August 1986) by whom he had two children, Enrique Oscar Opazo Taito (pictured, left), born in Temuco on 14 November 1927, and a daughter, who was born in Santiago on 19 June 1941. Both children, when aged about twenty, appear to have spent some time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The second eldest child, Julio Orlando Opazo Peers Jones, may have married a lady with the surname Ordenes, in which case there is at least one son living in the United States.
The death of Adela Fortunata Peers-Jones de los Reyes, a widow aged 79, was recorded as having occurred on 15 July 1959 at the hospital de carabineros in Santiago. She is buried in the General cemetery, Santiago.
Wharton and Fortunata's son, Roberto Peers Jones Reyes, was born in about 1878. Roberto, aged twenty-four, married Carmela Luisa Incandina Gaete Reyes , aged twenty-three, on 27 August 1903 at Almendral, Valparaíso; she was the daughter of Jose Emilio Gaete and Orosia Reyes Roberto's parents, were, apparently, living at Valparaiso at that time.
The social page of La Nacion (20 April 1927) reported that "Mr. Roberto Peers Jones, his wife and family have established their home at Avenida Holanda", in Santiago, and La Nacion (27 Sept. 1938) lists him as owner of a property, probably a holiday home, in the seaside resort of Cartagena, Valparaiso, but I know nothing more of what became of them.
Of those descendants of Wharton Peers Jones that I have found in these branches of his family, including those who may still be living so are not mentioned above, there is evidence of their being well educated - several were university graduates. Many held investments in companies and some resided in expensive areas, which suggests they were financially secure. Further, the careers of those I know about appear to have been very successful. The inference is that Wharton probably ensured that Adela and Roberto had a good start in life and were well provided for. The fact that these two children wanted to be seen to be remembering him at his death suggests that they had a good relationship with their father. One wonders how well Wharton's two families knew each other and how well they may have got along.