Doctor Benton, more commonly referred to in the shorthand "Doc Benton", is a cryptid/urban legend local to the Mount Moosilauke area of New Hampshire. He appears as a tall figure shrouded in a black cloak, with long white hair, and is said to move with great speed. He is considered responsible for strange mutilations that have occurred in the area over time.
There are multiple variations to the legend, although this version is the most generalized one:
According to legend, Thomas Hart Benton was born in Benton (then-named "coventry"), New Hampshire, USA sometime between the beginning of the 18th century and the end of the 19th Century. A bright although poor boy, Thomas was later sent to Germany to study to study medicine and become a doctor. While studying abroad, under the mentorship of one professor Stockmeyer, Thomas developed an interest in taboo maters such as alchemy, and the secret to Eternal Life. Upon returning from his studies, Thomas became the village doctor and was well-respected, establishing himself in a cabin in the woods. However, some sort of tragedy struck when either someone close to Doctor Benton (his parents, wife and/or children) suddenly died, or he was rejected by a love interest, or he psychologically snapped for no reason. Whatever the case, he was said to have become mentally scarred, and Doctor Benton entered a self-imposed isolation in his cabin. Supposedly, it was during this time that he began/resumed experiments relating to the alchemical matters he had originally learned about in Germany, perhaps with the aid of tools he had inherited from Stockmeyer.
Soon, a series of animal deaths occurred around the town and farms nearby; Dead cows, horses and sheep began to be found amongst the hills, barns and stalls, and they all shared a particular trait - a fresh wound behind the left ear. The wound was red and swollen, with a tiny white pinprick in the center. Not long after the animals were found dead, a corpse had gone missing from the back of an Undertaker's wagon. The body was later found discarded in some bushes of a warren with another corpse next to it. Much like the animals, each body had the same wound behind the left ear.
Confused by these sudden events and unusual markings, a small group of people traveled to Dr. Benton’s shack to ask about the oddities, but the shack was abandoned. They searched for him, through the woods, in the village, about everywhere they could reach, but he had all but vanished.
Months later, people began to see him in the wooded parts of Moosilauke area. He was always seen wearing a black cape, with long white hair, and was said to move fast.
- November, 1825 – A Benton woman hears her daughter scream. Upon investigation, she sees a black caped figure carrying the girl into the woods. The woman's husband and some neighbors gather and follow the footprints to “Little Tunnel Ravine,” from which there would have been no escape, yet the footprints abruptly end. From above they hear laughter, looking up to see Dr. Benton, somehow having ascended the cliff with the girl in arms. Her father begs for her return, and the Doctor does so, by hurling her off the cliff. No one could catch her, and she died.
- 1860 – Two loggers vanish from the mountaintop. Only one is found, dead, bearing the same wound as the animals and corpses.
- 1901 – Mr. Tomaso, a Brakeman, is found dead beside a logging railroad track. The only mark on him is the infamous wound.
- 1970- A Dartmouth hiker goes missing in “Jobidunk Ravine.” He is found in shock, aimlessly wondering. He is taken to the Ravine camp, where he is then moved to the hospital in Hanover. He has cuts, bruises, and a fractured skull. He tells one of his friends that he was climbing a ledge when a hand shot through an opening in the rocks and shoved him.
- 2002 – A hiker finds an old-style boot print in the mud of an unused trail.
- While the town of Benton was indeed renamed from Coventry after a Thomas Hart Benton in 1840, he was a Missouri senator and not a local doctor. Nor did he or any relatives before or after him have any history related to the study/practice of medicine in Germany. The possible explanations for this are that:
- The figure is real, but his true identity is forgotten/lost. Therefore, the identity of "Thomas hart Benton" is a pseudonym used for sake of the legend
- Doc Benton never actually existed, but some other creature may perhaps be responsible for the mysterious deaths and markings.
Today, it is tradition for people to tell the story of Doc Benton at the Dartmouth Lodge in New Hampshire, to a crowd of soon-to-be college freshmen to scare them. He also had gained enough notoriety to be portrayed on the TV show Supernatural by the late Billy Drago.
- "Dreadful Doc Benton" from Weird New England by Joseph A. Citro, 2005