Old Ben Coal Corporation (Ill.) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
In 1900, DeWitt Buchanan expanded Wilmington Star Coal Company to acquire the largest continuous block of bituminous coal reserves in the vast Illinois Basin Coalfield. These reserves were thick, high quality reserves in Franklin County and totaled more than 76,000 acres. In honor of Franklin County and Benjamin Franklin, Buchanan renamed Wilmington Star to Old Ben Coal Company and proceeded to develop it into one of the nation's largest coal producers. The corporation was sold in 1968 to Standard Oil Company (Ohio).
John Edward Jones was a major figure in the field of coal-mining safety in the United States. He served as an Illinois Stae mine inspector from 1915 to 1917 and as a safety engineer for the Old Ben Coal Corporation from 1917 until his retirement in 1952. He pioneered the practice of rock dusting in US mines early in his career at Old Ben.