Ohio History Journal

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Secretary of the Richland County Historical Society.

The Bentley Lake, seven miles east of Mansfield, was created

in 1846, and had a peculiar origin. In 1821, Jonas Ballyet

entered the northwest quarter of section 15, Mifflin township,

Richland county, and near the center of this tract there was

a circular marsh of eight or ten acres, surrounded by a rim of

elevations of gentle slope, giving a bowl-like appearance in

the place. At the east side or end there was a depression in

the rim, as though the marsh had at one time been a lake, and

that this depression had been its outlet to the Blackfork of the

Mohican river, a mile distant. Between the marsh and the river,

and extending from the one to the other, is a stretch of boggy

land called the "Black swamp," lower than the marsh. And

"Uncle Jonas" Ballyet theorized that to cut a ditch through the

depression would drain the marsh through the swamp to the

river, and thus add to the tillable acreage of his farm. The

theory seemed so plausible that men were employed to dig a

trench, the bottom of which was six feet below the surface of

the marsh. The job was completed July 25, 1846. Through this

ditch water flowed quite copiously, and the prospects seemed

to be favorable for the marsh to be drained in a short time. But

a condition existed which "Uncle Jonas" had not considered in

his philosophy, for beneath was a lake, and the marsh was but a

fenny cover - the accumulation of a century - over its deep

waters. The night after the opening of the ditch, the waters

underlying the morass having been lowered about six feet, the

cover sank, and the next morning a lake was seen where the

marsh had previously been.

The sinking of the bog-covering caused the earth to quake

and tremble for miles around, and alarmed the people, some think-

ing it was an earthquake, others that "the end of the world" was

coming, as had been prophesied by the Millerites.

The time set by the Rev. William Miller for the "second

coming of Christ" was the year 1843, but as it did not occur at