Doc Benton

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The Doc Benton Story is an oral tradition that has been in the Dartmouth Outing Club for decades. The story revolves around Doctor Thomas Benton, a historical resident of the Mount Moosilauke area. The story is meant to be passed down as a oral tradition from generation to generation of Dartmouth Students, and has been told during DOC First-Year Trips for many years.


From Walker Weed ‘40:

You’ve all heard some version of the story. I heard it many times while on the Moosilauke Trail Crew based at the Summit House in the summer of 1938. I can picture evenings in the west room – campers sitting with firelit faces listening intently while a hutman unrolled the tale, the owl-shaped andirons with sinister glass eyes assisting the build up. Then, at the climax when the audience was properly tensed up, one of us would fire a Big Bang carbide cannon in the hall, confident that anyone who climbed the mountain had a strong heart.

I have lived for 45 years in an old house by Moose Mountain that was built by Stephen Benton who came from Coventry, CT to Hanover as an early settler in 1767. I’ve often wondered whether Stephen had any kinship with “Doc”. Recently I Googled “The Doc Benton story” and found that “Doc” Thomas Benton was born in Coventry, NH in the mid 1700’s and that Coventry, NH, granted in 1764, was so named because Coventry, CT was the place from which so many of its settlers had come. The town, which includes Moosilauke, was renamed for another Benton 75 years later in 1869. The “Doc” Benton story was acquired by Dartmouth students in the 1920’s’ but there is no information about how they came by it.

Stephen Benton was born in Coventry, CT in 1741/2 and died in Hanover in 1814. He was a contemporary of “Doc” Thomas and had the same roots. They were probably cousins and conceivably uncle and nephew. In any case there’s a Benton ghost here, and my house has become a bit more spooky at night.