Among European and American emigres in Guatemala it was relatively common to purchase and develop land for coffee plantations (fincas). With land and labor cheaply available, many foreigners with the necessary capital invested in the Guatemalan coffee trade: Miles Rock was no exception. In 1890, according to the records of his daughter, Amy Rock Ransome, Miles Rock paid $12,200 in American gold to Julio Beteta for Setzimaj, a farm in Alta Verapaz, north central Guatemala. One of Rock’s primary motivations for turning to plantation agriculture was the frequent difficulty he encountered in securing his salary from the Guatemalan government for his work on the boundary commission. When Miles Rock passed away in 1901, his son Alfred Mayer Rock (1877-1907) briefly managed the plantation. When the Guatemalan coffee market substantially contracted during World War I (1914-1918), Rock’s daughter, Amy Rock Ransome, sold Setzimaj to the American firm Kensett Champney & Co. in 1926. Kensett Champney himself would later earn a reputation for labor abuses, and exploitative foreign-owned agricultural concerns from the fincas to the United Fruit Company, would later become a particular focus of Guatemalan reform and revolution.
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