In the Name of Power
Culture and Place Names in Venado Tuerto

Page 2

Nevertheless, ten years after the foundation of Venado Tuerto, there was a plan to change its name. Leoncio de la Barrera, journalist and historian, refers to this episode in his book The True History about the Founder and the Date of Foundation of Venado Tuerto. [3] The neighbours wanted to use the founder’s name Eduardo Casey instead of Venado Tuerto. They wrote: 'We countrymen and foreigners in the name of the Provincial Constitution (Article Seven) address Your Excellency to express the following. The denomination Venado Tuerto has nothing to do with the historical and geographical realities of the Province or of the Republic. Additionally the denomination does not refer to the fantasy or popular feelings. It is in some way the Indian remains of some tradition of the Indian population that inhabited the place. Our demand is to name it The Colony and Town Eduardo Casey, since this Argentine man was the founder of these populations. He was driven by patriotism and not by money interests. We owe Mr. Casey the transformation of these areas taken away from barbarians and from the savageness that reigned in the south of the Santa Fe province. Presently, there exists in the town of San Urbano a fortress in which the inhabitants of the place observed the devastating Indian raids.’

This petition was signed by the first inhabitants (Alejandro Estrugamou, Ramón Urteaga, Pedro Iturbide, Ramón Mariño, Higueras, Ponciano Belén y Francisco Echeverría), as well as by members of the Irish community (Turner, Maxwell, Cavanagh, Downes, and Howlin). There were a great number of Italian and Spanish immigrants who arrived almost at the same time and who supported the petition. After some time these two latter groups became majority.

Country party (circa 1915). Some of the families present at these parties were Kenny, Downes, O'Farrell, Chapman, Orr, Guerlach, and Dallegri
(José Brendan Wallace collection)

The Mapuche toponym expresses the memory of the land, and as such impressed Eduardo Casey. But a decade later it did not show any reference to the geographical history of the province. Concepts like ‘Indian countries’ were closely related to the ideas and policies of the Argentine government. Less than twenty years had passed after the military campaign against the Indians. However, even though a petition existed and that it was followed by its subsequent committee debate, the decision to change the name was not adopted. Some of the concepts in this debate, included those by MPs Lubarry and Lucero, expressed that ‘the denomination Venado Tuerto is ridiculous, it does not say anything, it has no historical tradition’ (Lubarry). Lucero said that he was 'going to back up the resolution of the committee, [but] I think that we must preserve those names attached to a tradition. If they are to be changed, they should be replaced by historical names that relate geography with the history of the country. The name Venado Tuerto has a tradition. This is why Eduardo Casey did not want to change the name. The original place names in the department of General Lopez (south of Santa Fe province) have an important historical tradition. It was in those places that civilisation succeeded over barbarism. These are very simple historic references and that is why I insist it is a duty to take them into account when there is a need to give these lands a name' (Lucero).

Eduardo Casey (1847-1906)
Born 20 April 1847 in estancia El Durazno, Lobos. Son of Lawrence Casey from Co. Westmeath, and Mary O'Neill from Co. Wicklow. In 1878 Casey owned a farming agent company. He
was the first exporter of bovine cattle on the hoof to England, and one of the founders of 'La Blanca' cold-storage plant. He also served on the board in the Western Railway Company and the Buenos Aires Provincial Bank. His most successful affair was the purchase of 72 leagues of land (130,000 hectares) in Venado Tuerto to sell parcels to farmers. Also, in 1881 Casey acquired 100 leagues of land in Curumalal, Coronel Suárez. The crisis of 1890 seriously affected Casey's investments and ultimately led him to bankruptcy. On 16 June 1906 he died in an accident on the railway tracks. Some historians argue that he did not commit suicide.

The coincidences and differences between these two MPs are significant. As a consequence of the campaign against the Indians the frontiers disappeared, the landscape changed, and technology left behind desert and barbarism. There was no possibility of a social encounter between Europeans and Indians. But there was disagreement between geographical and historical facts. According to Lucero, the original names should be preserved without barriers between past and present, even though this could influence the official history. But his petition was not accepted due to arguments of historical character. [4]

The name of the city reflects the origin of these lands. But the names of streets, parks, and places followed a different pattern, with the exception of one street that in the last decade was known as Hinojo in reference to a lagoon recorded in 1806. This name was used by Bartolomé Mitre (President in 1862-1868) to designate a fortress in 1864. However Casey followed a different model to project his town.


[3] Barrera, Leoncio de la, La verdad histórica sobre el fundador y la fecha de fundación de Venado Tuerto (second edition, 1933).

[4] Leoncio de la Barrera, op. cit.




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Last Update: July 2004


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