The following article appeared in the "Athens Messenger" January 23, 1951
VISITS TO LITTLE-KNOWN AREAS OF SEO DISTRICT (Benton Township) Jan 23, 1951
Indian tradition located rich silver mines within the borders of Hocking Country’s Benton Township and in 1878, there was much excitement when a supposed find of silver was made on the Moody farm. Early writers told of the reputed veins of silver in the Benton area and also of the veins of iron ore, lead deposits and coal in immense veins.
However, the region of Queer Creek, in Benton Township, with its rocky bluffs and varied scenery, have proven more profitable for its land owners and interesting to visitor than all its mineral wealth.The wonders of the Queer Creek area have been heavily capitalized upon.
Benton is one of the original townships of Hocking County.More than a century ago, Dr. S. P. Hildreth, Marietta’s famous early historian told of the deep ravines along Queer Creek and of the high cliffs.He said that on a huge beech tree near the outlet of the valley was once found the inscription. “This is the road to hell, 1782,” probably cut there by an unfortunate prisoner of the Indians on his way to the old Indian town at Chillicothe.
Dr. Hildreth said this region afforded some of the wildest and most picturesque scenery in Ohio, and that it was once the favorite haunt of bears which denned in caves and grottoes.These caves, he said, provided saltpeter from which early hunters made gunpowder.
The Marietta historian also told of Ash Cave remarkable for the amount of ashes it then contained and also told of Cedar Falls and Black Jack Falls.He said that the white pioneers had been told there were lead deposits in the Queer Creek region where the Wyandote Indians once made their rendezvous and took refuge during the ancient wars between the Indian tribes.One writer told of visiting Ash Cave in 1837 when he found hundreds of bushels of ashes, all dry and clean as the day they were burned and speculated they might have been left by gun powder makers.He found the cave to be 600 feet long, 90 feet deep and about 90 feet high, and marveled at the lofty cliffs of the valley in which the cave is found.
Christian Eby is credited with being the first white settler in Benton Township, having built his cabin where South Bloomingville stands.George Starkey and Moses Dolson were other early settlers.
Eby erected the first mill on Queer Creek.The first church was built by the Methodist at Bloomingville which was laid out on land owned by John Chilcote and the Ebys were the pioneer merchants.The first postmaster was Herschel Sanford, who had the office in his home a mile east of the settlement.
Dr. P. J. Green, who once practiced in Benton Township, was born in Ireland.He was educated to become a Catholic priest but turned to medicine.He was a clerk on a Mississippi River boat for a time and was on a vessel which was blown up in a gunpowder explosion.He also spent some time in Cuba a century ago, later taught school and 102 years ago settled in Hocking County.
Dr. Emery Redfern, also of Benton Township, enlisted in the Union army when 20 years old, took part in 21 battles and marched with Sherman to the sea.