Gaspar de Santa Coloma was born in "Casería de la Campa" (today, Campijo), a town in the Álava Region of the Basque Country, Spain. He arrived at the Río de la Plata in 1768, and in 1781 he married Flora de Azcuénaga y Basavilbaso, daughter of Vicente de Azcuénaga and granddaughter of Domingo de Basavilbaso, all of Basque origin.
Gaspar de Santa Coloma was one of the most important merchants in colonial Buenos Aires. However, his most important work, probably unique in the Americas, it is made by the register of his letters and memories. A very interesting description of the work, life and views of Gaspar de Santa Coloma can be found in “Buenos Aires Colonial”, by the Argentine historian Enrique de Gandía, book based entirely in Gaspar´s memories. These memories were made available to Gandía by María Antonia Goycoechea Santa Coloma, granddaughter of Francisco de Santa Coloma y Azcuénaga; she was married to Federico Santa Coloma Brandsen (descendant of Coronel Brandsen; see Federico de Brandsen). María Antonia was descendant from the family branch founded in Argentina by Gaspar de Santa Coloma y Sollano, and Federico Santa Coloma from the branch founded by Tomás de Santa Coloma y Loizaga, both originated in Arceniega.
In Gaspar’s memoirs, important details regarding the life in the colonial Buenos Aires can be found. Also regarding the British invasions of the Río de la Plata, the important role of Martín de Álzaga in that events, and also some references of the May Revolution, histories very well compiled and related in “Buenos Aires Colonial” by Enrique de Gandía. María Antonia later gave these memoirs (14 books) to Enrique Williams Álzaga (Argentine historian, descendant of Martín de Álzaga), who later donated them to the Argentine National Museum of History.
Gaspar de Santa Coloma was married to Flora de Azcuénaga y Basavilbaso. Although there are no known descendants of these Azcuénaga, their legacy survived in the Presidential Residence (Quinta de Olivos), as well as in the two columns of the “Quinta San Antonio”, at the Vicente López Partido train station, in the Province of Buenos Aires; they survived the passage of time possibly because these two columns were located between the railway and the street, away from development.
The history of the Quinta de Olivos Presidential Residence has been published under the sponsorship of the Vicente López County. Vicente de Azcuénaga and Manuel de Basavilbaso had two farms aside in what today is Vicente López, as can be seen in the map made by José Custodio de Saa y Faria. In June 1794 Miguel de Basavilbaso died, leaving only debts and a single daughter, Justa Rufina de Basavilbaso y Garfias, that was then protected by Gaspar de Santa Coloma. Soon, by influence of Gaspar, Justa Rufina married her cousin Miguel de Azcuénaga, brother of Flora de Azcuénaga and brother in law of Gaspar de Santa Coloma. The farm of Manuel de Basavilbaso was inherited by Justa Rufina (it ultimately became the Quinta de Olivos, in 1918). The farm of Vicente de Azcuénaga was inherited by Flora de Azcuénaga and gave origin to the Quinta San Antonio of Vicente López, between the streets Roca and San Martín, today gone, and only survived the two columns already mentioned, that belong to the entrance, and that are located at the end of the train station of Vicente López, in the way towards San Isidro. Apparently, the land belonged originally to Juan José de Vértiz y Salcedo.
From the Azcuénaga nothing was inherited by the last generations of the Santa Coloma's, except an old umbrella, enough broken, perhaps forgotten in San Antonio in a rainy day, that can certify that in those times of May Revolution the umbrellas actually exist, something that time to time was questioned; it even has a very sophisticated mechanism with springs. In its ivory grip can be read "M. Azcuénaga de O.F", since it belonged to Manuela Azcuénaga, daughter of Miguel de Azcuénaga, married with her brother cousin, Jose Antonio de Olaguer Feliú y Azcuénaga, son of Ana de Azcuénaga and the Viceroy Olaguer Feliú. Manuela was the only one of four brothers with descendants.
The son of Miguel de Azcuénaga, Miguel José, commissioned the present building of what is today the Presidential Residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires Province, in 1851. This building was the first work of Prilidiano Pueyrredón as an architect (he was better known for his oil paintaings). Miguel died old and without children, in Chile, and made a will in favour of his nephews the Olaguer Feliú Azcuénaga. Then, Antonio Justo Olaguer Feliú inherited the Quinta. He did not have descendants, reason why in 1903 inherited the Quinta its nephew, Carlos Villatte Olaguer; Villatte Olaguer ultimately donated it to the National State, with the condition to be always a residence for the President of Argentina.
Gaspar de Santa Coloma, besides lodge and educate several nephews, he did the same with a great protagonist of our history, Martín de Álzaga, hero of the fight against the English invasions. Álzaga was sent to work and to be educated with Gaspar from very young. It was only 12 years old when he arrived from the Basque country, knowing only a few words of Castilian (he spoke only Basque language). There are not references on the reasons by which he was sent so young to Gaspar. But it was common at that time to send a boy to learn some office. The merchants usually choose some young boys for training, that in the future could be a prospective sun in law, and teach them the merchant practice. Regarding Martin, it is only known that his uncle was the Captain of the ship that brought him, who probably made the adjustments with Gaspar, and it is also known that the economic situation of the Álzaga in the Basque country was not good; there are no many more data. Perhaps to send Martin to Gaspar as merchant apprentice was a solution for the future of the young Martin, as indeed it was. In fact, the life of these two Basques is full of mysteries, from the intrigue in the Royal Palace of Spain that forced the emigration of Gaspar de Santa Coloma to the Río de la Plata, for which nobody was fearless enough to give details and therefore are lost forever, until the idea of Álzaga to restore a monarchy. Gaspar of Santa Coloma wrote in its memories, regarding the English invasions and the participation of Álzaga against them:
Ah Cabildo of Buenos Aires! Ah, don Martín de Álzaga, Mayor of First Vote, how much that night it was worked, how everything was arranged so that our enemies did not enter!
Álzaga remained with Gaspar from the age of 12 to 22, when he became independent, and with Gaspar’s help (5000 pesos), established his own commerce -Álzaga and Requena. According to Gaspar himself, Martín was much more efficient as a merchant. Martín de Álzaga had indeed a very important participation in the commerce of the Virreinato, arriving to be one of the richest men of that time. Martín de Álzaga, as Spaniard and rich, was not well seen by the Mayo revolutionaries. He managed to save his life in one first opportunity at 1809, because it had a right trial, where Gaspar of Santa Coloma declared in his favour. Nevertheless, two years later, on July 4, 1812, Martín was again detained probably under false accusations and witnesses, and was shot that same day. He was order to die without a trial and without a lawyer, by the First Triumvirate (Argentina), formed by Manuel de Sarratea, Feliciano Chiclana and Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, who in that year replaced the former member Juan José Paso. Bernardino Rivadavia was Secretary of war of this Triumvirate, and was actively involved in his sentence to death. Gaspar of Santa Coloma, on the other hand, could save his life, at the cost of its fortune, destroyed due to the continuous withdraw from the revolutionaries. Also, and most likely, because his brother in law was Miguel de Azcuénaga, a member of the Primera Junta with strong influence among the revolutionaries. We will never know with certainty the details of which it happened, since little they left writing from fear of retaliation. Without a doubt, someone powerful as Álzaga was a threat for the Triumvirate. For that reason they did not leave any margin for defence or appeal, and was shot immediately. Only Gaspar de Santa Coloma, and his friend José Martinez de Hoz, dared to accompany his rest.
Gaspar educated Álzaga, as well as prominent journalist and writer Esteban Echeverría, and several nephews, among them Juan Antonio of Santa Coloma. Gaspar was also in charge of all the members of the Azcuénaga family, including Miguel de Azcuénaga, who had been orphaned from very young. He did likewise with his family in Spain and helped his neighbors in Arceniega. He donated in its testament 60,000 reales to its nephew Vítores Gutiérrez Santa Coloma (about 100 pays of teacher of that time). Vítores lived in Arceniega, in Casería de la Campa (today Campijo), where Gaspar was born. Gaspar had ordered to Vítores the construction of a school, the repair of a Church and the maintenance of a teacher, Juan Antonio de Palacio. Vítores fulfilled the order of Gaspar so well, that the teacher Palacio continued receiving its pay after 1880, that is to say, more than 65 years after the death of Gaspar; its pay had increased of 700 reales to 1500 reales during that lapse. Towards 1880, apparently the teacher lost the memory and nobody knew in Arceniega or in the government of Álava, from where the legacy came. It is not know either what happened finally with the goods of Gaspar in Arceniega. Another important branch of the Santa Coloma’s in Argentina was originated in Vítores Gutiérrez Santa Coloma, that began with its son Juan Domingo Julian Gutiérrez Santa Coloma, nephew grandson of Gaspar of Santa Coloma.
After the May Revolution of 1810 (the origin of the Independence of Argentina from Spain) Gaspar lost his power and properties; his fortune was taken by the government in many opportunities. After being one of the most influent, powerful and reach personages of that time, he died on January 31, 1815, leaving a few properties to his wife Flora and his only son Francisco.
Gaspar de Santa Coloma and Flora de Azcuénaga had four children, but only Francisco de Santa Coloma y Azcuénaga survived and had descendants. His son Francisco de Asís de Santa Coloma y Azcuénaga was married with Rosa Pascuala de Azcuénaga y Núñez (brother cousin) and had to Francisco de Santa Coloma Azcuénaga (born in San Isidro, 1818), married in Buenos Aires in 1851 to Antonia Armesto y Avellaneda.