“ Article 1 - This Company has the sole purpose of firstly establishing the harmony and cordiality that should exist between neighbors, and secondly, assisting the members who constitute it in case of illness, this company being alien to any political issue. ”


It was a town in Tierra de Campos, languishing after a more buoyant past, with a majority of its inhabitants dedicated to the primary sector, specifically rainfed agriculture, either as farmers, or as servants and day laborers; with complementary sheep farming that employed dozens of shepherds and some orchards and gardens that took advantage of irrigation with wells that were taken care of by market gardeners, generally for rent, who sold their products.

The secondary sector was made up of a flour factory owned by D. Luis Trabadillo, inaugurated in 1912, which employed several workers, and small crafts for local consumption: carpenters and blacksmiths who made cars and farming tools, tailors, confectioners...

And another part dedicated to services: domestic servants, merchants, barbers, a Civil Guard barracks, two priests, two doctors, two apothecaries, a veterinarian, farriers...

       In the population in fact ascended:  

























Swaroop Index 45








Four. Five




Map of the urban area of ​​Villafáfila in 1913

Of the 278 children born in the five-year period 1911-1915, 66 died before their first birthday.

As we see a population with slight annual vegetative growth, with a progressive population structure, which had many children and few old people. The demographic surplus could not be absorbed by the town's economy and there was a trickle of emigration, a good part of which went to Argentina.

The government of Spain was in the hands of the Liberal Party, chaired by the Count of Romanones, after the assassination of Canalejas in November of the previous year.


The origin of the Society dates back to 1913, which is when its statutes were drafted (March 11) and presented to the Civil Government for approval in accordance with the Associations Law of 1887, in force, (March 12). The population of Villafáfila popularly calls it "La Benéfica".

Meetings of the promoters of this project had already been held previously, probably throughout the previous year. 

We are not aware of the intervention of the priest in the promotion of society, but this type of association and the agrarian unions were originally influenced by the social doctrine of the church.

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Original Regulations Villafáfila Workers' Benevolent Society of 1913

Articles 1913

The promoters gathered an assembly on Three Kings' Day and agreed to the constitution of the society and sent a letter to the Bishop of Astorga (January 9) informing him of it and asking him to accept the honorary presidency.

DOCUMENT: In sewn loose sheets, the statutes and the letter to the bishop 

His Excellency and Illustrious Bishop of Astorga and his Diocese.

Ilmo. Mister: 

Marcelino Barrera Díez, of legal age, married, and a resident of Villafáfila (Zamora), a worker and on behalf of another hundred or so workers and industrialists, with all submission and respect we address our Most Reverend Prelate, in order to inform SI: That this number of workers meet in order to organize a society whose motto is charitable, artist?, worker, with the sole purpose of contributing funds to it and these funds are dedicated to meeting the needs of a disease that any of the partners suffer, helping them with a peseta a day for a certain amount of time, and that these funds will be acquired in the following way: the founding partners will give one peseta down and twenty-five cents a month.

By virtue of this, meeting on the day of the Holy Kings, and with the permission of the local authority, unanimously, we agreed, driven by our good desire, to organize the aforementioned company to which several taxpayers will be associated, that with the character of protective partners will give impetus to it, likewise it was agreed to name SI Honorary President so that with his correct and abundant advice we are well and Christianly directed and with his support give the greatest impetus to this society and waiting for SI to accept the position of president and for which we thank you in advance, waiting for YES to answer us as soon as possible so that we can appoint the Board of Directors and organize the Statutes by which this company will be governed.

      God keep YES many years for the good of his diocesans.

     Villafáfila January 9, 1913.

     Ilmo. Mister

     Signed: Marcelino Barrera

Letter to the Bishop of Astorga Reply from Mr. Bishop

From this writing we can already deduce the Christian inspiration of the beginnings of the company, the number of founding members, more than one hundred, and the existence of protective members, later called honorary members, who contributed but did not receive benefits.

 The prelate did not take long to reply:

Astorga March 1, 1913.

In view of the foregoing exposition and Regulations governing the "Sociedad Benéfica Obrera de San Isidro Labrador" that is to be established in the parish of Villafáfila of this our bishopric, and taking into account that the aforementioned regulations are drawn up in in accordance with the purposes of this class of associations and that contains nothing that opposes the Catholic legacy and sound morals, by virtue of the present and for what concerns Us, we grant our approval to the aforementioned regulation provided that article 1 of the same the following is added: "being this society foreign to any political issue, be it of a local nature, be it of a general nature".

We gladly accept the appointment of honorary president of the aforementioned Charity Society that is offered to us.

 We ask the associates to always work within the Regulations to promote as much as they can the goals of the society with which the bonds of union between the neighbors of that parish will be tightened more and more without distinction of social classes.

 He decreed and signed SE Ilma. The Lord Bishop.

 Julian bishop of Astorga.

 By order of HE Ilma. the bishop, the lord

 Dr. Augustine……

  Reg F1 241.

The Board of Directors consisted of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer or Depositary, and 4 collector members, one per quarter. In order to be elected, you had to be over 25 years old, have been a member for at least one year and be able to read and write, with the positions being mandatory, honorary and free.

 A standard-bearer was also chosen to carry the banner and a bailiff-crier.

       The society had a chest with three keys to store money, debt obligations and documents, which remained in the possession of the depositary. He had to give a detailed account to the president, and every two months to the board of directors and every 4 months to the general meeting of the state of the funds.

       The directives were elected on the last Sunday of December for the following year. Sometimes positions could be reelected in consecutive years.


Trumpeter of the Charity Society, for the proclamations.

 The first session of the Company was held on March 21, 1913 and the Company was declared formally constituted in accordance with the current Associations Law.

 Board of Directors is elected:

 President: Domingo Ferrero Rodriguez

 Vice President: Felix Alonso Carneros.

 Secretary: Basilio Rodríguez Robles.

 Custodian: Marcelino Mateos Osorio.

 Members: 1st Manuel Zamorano de la Figuera.

2nd Candido Fernandez Medina.

3º Fernando Legido González.

4th Pablo Garcia Rodriguez.

On April 13 they were sworn in, and it was decided that the term to enter with the entry fee of one peseta and 25 cents a month, as founding members without age limitation, was over. Those who entered from then on would have to pay 2.5 pts. The fees are charged at home and those of number at the collector's house.

 The purposes for which the Society is created are to help members in situations of illness up to a maximum of 30 days, (it began by paying 1 peseta per day). If the partner renounces the subsidy, it will be communicated to the general meeting for its recognition. To receive the subsidy, it had to be requested within 15 days from the start of the leave (one month if they were out).

 The second purpose for which the Society is constituted is to accompany the corpse of the partners to the cemetery and provide relief to the widow, which varies over the years, corresponding to the burial expenses, basically the coffin.

 Attendance at general meetings was mandatory. As well as accompanying the corpse of the deceased members to the cemetery, in correct formation, under a fine of 2 pesetas the 1st time, 4 the second and expulsion the third.

 Both the penalties and the subsidies were updated over the years.

 The registered office is provisionally set in the town hall, due to lack of premises.

 In the first session it is agreed to "choose from among the members personnel suitable to represent a drama or zarzuela whose representation will take place on May fifteenth, the feast of San Isidro Labrador, patron saint of this society, its purpose is to give this function to contribute funds to this society ”.

 Likewise, it was agreed to “ establish a consumer cooperative for the members ” 

 The first year, Don Luis Trabadillo, Don Ramón Costilla and Don José Santiago, the three rich neighbors of the town, already entered as protective partners.

 Two evenings of the play were held, on May 15 and 16, and 80 pesetas were collected.

 In May there were 116 partners up to date with their payments, and 6 who had not paid.

 On June 18, another function was performed, represented by various residents of the town, and 21 pesetas and 25 cents were collected.

 Mr. Saturnino Fernández Rodríguez, secretary, certifies that in a session held on June 18, 1914, it was agreed:

  “ not to give aid to any of the partners who suffer erosion, injury or contusion; and yes, only those who fall ill with natural illnesses and this disregard of the regulations are informed to the governor of the province for his approval.

 Likewise, it was agreed that the member who is sick informs the Board of Directors for its approval ”

 It was already stated in the first statutes that the subsidy would not be paid " to those who fall ill due to quarrel, due to drunkenness, due to excess in the life regimen or due to immoral vices "

 From that moment, when a member requested help, he had to present a doctor's certification.

 The patronage of San Isidro Labrador is established, and already in 1914 the cost of mass and wax for the day of San Isidro is recorded.

 In 1915 an alarm clock was raffled off for 25 pesetas and 53 pesetas were collected.

In 1916 a proposal was received from the bishop for the society to adhere to the Diocesan Council of Social Works that operates in the city of Astorga. A commission was appointed in accordance with the parish priest, of which the president and Fernando Legido were members. By oral tradition it seems that it was not decided to adhere to it due to the requirement to contribute half of the monthly installments.

 That year the obligation to attend the function of San Isidro to all the partners is decreed and a drummer is hired.

 It is agreed to print the regulations so that each member has one, paying the corresponding cost. 200 copies are printed at Gráficas Unidas de Benavente at a cost of 14 pesetas.

Cover of the Regulation

Regulation Articles

 That year is the first time that a loan of 250 pesetas for 3 months to Placido Pérez has been approved, giving sufficient guarantees. Money advances were charged 0.50% monthly

  They agree to ask the Ministry of Public Works for a subsidy of 2,000 pesetas to meet the most urgent needs of this poor society. At the General Meeting of February 1, 1917, in order to access this subsidy, it was approved to modify article 1 of the Regulation:

  “ This Society has as its object the creation and promotion of a mutual aid fund in case of illness of the partners, and to ensure the harmony and cordiality of the neighbors, dispensing with political factions ”

 He presented himself to the Civil Government on February 13, 1917. 

 In an effort to raise funds for the box, they raffled a toquilla, from which they obtained a profit of 13 pesetas.

 It is agreed to buy 4 wax candles to accompany the deceased at their burial.

 On January 17, the dues were collected from 76 members (possibly some would have been discharged), and that same month several members joined: the two doctors, the priest and other fees, another 5 joined in March.

 Until 1918 the members were called brothers, which implies an idea of ​​brotherhood.

 It is established that so that the partners find out when one of them dies, 12 chimes of the town hall clock will be played, in addition to making the proclamation.

 In 1919 they agree to subscribe to the Iris de Paz [1] and Igualdad newspapers.

Iris of Peace Newspaper

 Sessions are held at the girls' school. On May 8 of that year, the president, Félix Centeno, resigned, and Pablo García Rodríguez was appointed.

 They received a circular from the Zamora Workers' Federation asking them to send them a list of partners to record in the federation's books. It was agreed that Vicente Fernández would take her. It seems that the adhesion to this federation of socialist ideology was not carried out.

 In 1920, the expulsion of Marcelino Barrera, who had been president and founder of the company for three years, was remembered, due to the costs that he had caused the company by having to legally demand the payment of an obligation.

 1921 on the occasion of the visit to the town of the deputy to Cortes Teodoro Seebold y Zarauz (liberal deputy for the Villalpando district from the 1920 elections until the Primo dictatorship) agree to go out to welcome him with the flag and launch rockets for the benefits that he has made the people and this society. In the end, the cost of the rockets was paid by Mr. Luis Trabadillo. For this reason, they named him Honorary President “ such a proposal being received with joy and approval by all the members in general ”.

 The deputy made a donation of 100 pesetas to the Society.

 1922 Until then, 15 pesetas were paid for each coffin, from then on 30 pesetas were given.

 Don Luis had 50 pts. from Deputy Seebold for society alms, and he gives another 10 pts.

 1923 Visit of the Bishop of Astorga: they agreed that the day before the members should be notified by proclamation that they should all present themselves to receive him.

 1924 they agreed that members over 50 years of age would pay 5 pesetas to enter and those over sixty 10 pesetas and would not be entitled to relief the first year

 That year the society attended the cantamisa of Manuel Montero, son of Sandalio Montero, founding partner, and he gave 10 pesetas to the society.

 1928 The member who leaves and wants to re-enter who pays 5 pesetas and does not have the right to relief for 1 year

 1929 it is agreed to make some medals or badges on one side will be the Sociedad Benéfico-Obrera de Villafáfila and on the other side San Isidro Labrador. They cost 120 pesetas.

Pin of the Workers Benevolent Society 1913

Pin 2001 Workers Beneficial Society

Pin of the Centenary of the Workers Benevolent Society 2013

 In the accounts of that year they appear as an expense of some rockets to give to Father Benjamín Carballo, 7 pesetas.

 1930 the daily sickness benefit is raised to 1.5 pesetas.

 In 1931 the republican management committee of the City Council met in its first ordinary session:

  “ This commission agrees that since the Working Beneficial Society of this town holds its sessions in the assembly hall of the town hall, as many events as the Society of Various Professions and Trades needs to hold, especially when it does not have capital, as long as that it is allowed to make loans to its associates .”

 The new council elected on May 31, with a majority from the right, agrees:

 “It was also agreed that the Sociedad Benéfica Obrera and others should not convert the halls of the town hall into their registered office... (NO) sessions may be held by such private entities in said halls of the town hall .”

 The purple cloth is put on the flag of the society.

 That year meetings began to be held in cafes: in Baldomero Alonso's in 1931 and 1932, in Teófilo de Santa Cirila's in 1932, 33, 34. They were charged 5 pesetas per session.

During the years of the republic, the festival of San Isidro is maintained, as approved in 1934:

 “ Let the festivities be held like other years, such as going to mass in correct formation under the direction of the president… buy a few dozen rockets and the drummer and a sung mass forcing all members to attend under a fine of two pesetas as stated has done since the society was founded .”

 The practice of lending money to members was common from the beginning of La Benéfica, but in 1935 the name of the members was written down to whom 104 pesetas were distributed from January 1 to September 15. For forty they give 104 pesetas and half for two. Since that year, part of the funds they had left over have been systematically distributed among the partners.

 They set the registered office of the company at the house of Teófilo de Santa Cirila in Plaza de la República nº 6.

Seal of the Villafáfila Workers' Benevolent Society   

 That year they spend 6 dozen rockets and one bomb, and hire a dulzain player and a drummer for the party.

Macario Durantes Valverde, Manuel Rodríguez Tejedor and Sixto Valverde Rodríguez are expelled for not paying the loans that the company had granted them and for having had to go to court.

 They are distributed in January of the year 36 to forty-four partners at 104 pts. each until September 15.

 That year is celebrated in May, San Isidro like other years, we do not know how the growing political tension of those months was affecting society.

 La Benéfica continued with its routine and an ordinary session was held on June 28 and was chaired by Esteban Alonso García.

 The arrests of August 36 fully affected the board of directors and several members of the society: the president, the treasurer Gregorio Gallego, Leónides Manteca, Porfirio Rodríguez, Ricardo Lorenzo, Florencio and Gervasio Barrera, and Santiago Fernández, were arrested in the town hall, then transferred to Zamora, submitted to a court-martial and executed in December. 

The next session of the board under the presidency of Emiliano Robles.

 “ Accidental president by superior order, it was unanimously agreed to transfer the coffer of the funds of this working-class charity from the house of Mr. Gregorio Gallego Marcos, treasurer of this society, because he is currently absent, this board of directors agreed to transfer it to the domicile of the Secretary Eusebio Caldero provisionally ”.

 Extraordinary session on October 11 at 5 p.m.:

  “ When the general meeting was convened by the President of the Civil Guard post, he proposed to appoint Mr. Isidro Zamorano as president of this company and Mr. Fernando del Río as treasurer, unanimously agreeing to take charge of one of the three keys and the same of the cloths of the flag with national colors as well as the insignia in case of formation ”

 On October 5, they commissioned Doña Amparo Ovejero to reform the flag as appropriate, admit again the partners Domingo Chimeno, Nicomedes Alonso and Manuel Alonso, who had been expelled (I don't know if with some political nuance), deliver 200 pesetas for the army and proceed to the blessing of the reformed flag.

 At the general meeting of December 27 to elect the board for 37, it was agreed:

 “ Being the origin of this company truly Catholic, the President proposed to the attendees that no non-Catholic partner being able to belong to this company and asking everyone three times, they all agreed to be all Catholics, warning them that in order to further demonstrate being Catholics in this company that they would proceed to print a regulation that this company had to be a working charity catholic as well as forcing all the partners to comply with Easter on the day of San Isidro, patron saint of this company, justifying with the supporting document of the priest and if he does not do so, he will be considered dismissed from this society ”

 The new flag was blessed in San Isidro del 37 and that year Inocencio was expelled from Teso Zamorano for not complying with Easter. And the sessions happen to be held in Mariano Ortiz's room.

Various moments of the commemoration of the festivity of the Sociedad Benéfico Obrera, with its flag.

1939 the entry fees are updated: between 18 and 30 years 10 pesetas; between 30 and 40, 15 pesetas, and more than 40 will not be accepted.

 In 1940, each partner paid 75 cºs per month, and 3 pesetas were given as a daily subsidy. and it is agreed that between 18 and 40 years old pay 3 pesetas up front, and those over 40 years old will not be admitted.

 That year they return to Teófilo's room and alternate with Mariano's depending on the year.

 In 1950 they spend 9 dozen rockets and one bomb and the maximum age of entry is changed again and number members are admitted from 18 to 45 years, at 10 pesetas, the fees can enter at any age.

 Accompany the funerals in formation behind the private staff.

 Surcharges are established for negligence in quarterly payments 2p, for not attending the general meeting 5, 1st list 1p, 2nd list 2p. and miss the funeral 25p

 Pastors and barbers are excluded from meetings but not from funerals.

 Those absent from the town, both civilians and military, cease to belong, and when they return they re-enter free of charge.

 A monthly fee is charged, and 6 daily sick pay is paid for a maximum of thirty days

 Then the agreement that barbers were not exempt from meetings was rectified.

 In 51 it is agreed that members over 65 years of age who are covered by the national old-age subsidy will be paid a single month's total relief, and those who are not covered will continue to be paid according to the regulations.

 1952 the Archconfraternity of the Heart of Mary invites the society to the religious acts that are celebrated on May 22, it is agreed by a majority of the general meeting (president Luis Gallego) that all the partners will attend under a fine of 5 pts.

 The money was lent to the members who required it with a small interest, but from January to December, and the following January the loans were renewed again, practically becoming a life loan.

 It is agreed to pay all members over 65, sick or not, the amount of 180 pesetas every year, as if they were sick for a month.

 In 1957 the Sociedad Benéfica Obrera is registered in the Special Register of Montepíos and Mutualities of the Ministry of Finance, as a mutual entity with the capacity for social security and financial aid to its associates. That year, invitation expenses for musicians, directors and partners were already recorded at 70 pesetas and fees were raised to 10 pesetas per quarter and the subsidy to 12 pesetas per day.

 New regulations are printed at the Pertejo Printing House in Zamora.

Cover of the 1957 regulation

1957 regulations

 1958 they buy 2 kilos of sweets, a tin of biscuits and two bottles of anise and cognac at David's house. For the mass of San Isidro, 25 pesetas are paid to don Camilo who donated them to the society, and the society gave them to him for the Eucharistic Congress

 1959 the entire meeting is extended, that year it is approved to make a small refreshment for all the partners who wish to attend.

 On March 31, 1964, the Board of Directors agreed that the festival that had been taking place on the day of San Isidro would be moved to the day of San José Obrero with the same uses and customs that had been taking place. The partners ratified it in assembly.

 Quotas of 5 pesetas per month, a fine of 75 for those who do not attend funerals and assistance of 20 pesetas per day, maintaining as always the ratio of 4:1 between the daily assistance and the monthly fee.

 From 64 to 68 musicians' expenses are not recorded. As the Brotherhood of Farmers and Ranchers celebrated the festival in San Isidro, and they brought an orchestra, La Benéfica stopped doing it. They did reappear in 1969 and 1970, when the Bretó musicians came for 1,500 pesetas and 250 maintenance.

 In 1967 it was agreed that whoever died and had not received a subsidy a year before, would be given a monthly payment of 600 pesetas (corresponding to one month of subsidy).

 In 72 the quota is raised to 30 pts. fees at 25 pts. the fine for missing meetings is 25, and for funerals 180p, delays in payment are penalized with 10 pesetas and patients are paid 180 per day.

  Since 1975 I have not obtained the minute books.

 The strong emigration of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century produced a notable decrease in the number of ordinary members, leaving mainly the older ones who did not emigrate, and few new members joining.

1976: 24 full members and 38 honorary members appear in the accounts, and that year the flag was changed, a subscription was made for it among the members who put 100 and 200 pesetas for its acquisition.

1978 there are 22 numeraries and 43 honoraries

 In 1981, the expense that there was with some musicians from Villalpando was recorded again.




























        In 1989, when Jesús Rodríguez de la Granja was president, the Company was dissolved and administratively liquidated as a Social Welfare Mutual Fund. In a general process of dissolution of numerous entities created since ancient times for the same or similar purposes as the charity. On February 20, 1990, an Order of the Ministry of Finance revoking the administrative authorization, dissolution and administrative intervention in the liquidation of the entity called "Sociedad Benéfica Obrera de Villafáfila" (MPS 2392) is published in the BOE. . A State Comptroller is appointed who carries out the appropriate procedures.

 Still in 1992, nine partners had 10,500 pts on loan from the company. each.

 In 2001, under the presidency of Agapito Ovejero, new statutes were drawn up, in which all partners are now honorary.

2001 regulation cover Articles 2001 Regulations

        In the list of partners of 2005 there are 83 members

        2006 only 63 fees are charged and 55 attend the meal.

       The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the constitution of the Society, where the partners celebrated the anniversary with a charanga, a mass presided over by the Bishop of Zamora, the brotherhood meal of partners, a conference given by Mr. Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez on the history of the charity, and exhibition of documentation, and refreshments for all members.

Poster of the celebration of the Charity Society. Partners of the Charity

Author - Text:

Elijah Rodriguez Rodriguez.

History of the Sociedad Benéfico Obrera, “La Benéfica”, Villafáfila 1913-2013 I Centenary.



Elijah Rodriguez Rodriguez.

Jose Luis Dominguez Martinez.


Transcription and montage:

Jose Luis Dominguez Martinez.


All text, photographs, transcription and montage, their rights belong to their authors, any type of use is prohibited without authorization.


All text and photography has been authorized for storage, treatment, work, transcription and assembly to José Luis Domínguez Martínez, its dissemination on villafafila.net, and any other means that is authorized.

[1] I think it was a Catholic-inspired magazine promoted by the Missionaries Sons of the Heart of Mary (Julio de la Cueva and Ángel Luis López: Clericalism and Catholic Associationism in Spain. 2005