Benoni’s inauspicious beginnings were in 1881 when then surveyor-general Johan Rissik found it difficult to assign title deeds to all unclaimed state property. He named a piece of land in the area Government Farm Benoni, after the Hebrew name (meaning "son of my sorrow"), given by Rachel to her son (who later became known as Benjamin) in the biblical Book of Genesis. In September 1887,gold was discovered and the Chimes Mine was established by Cornishmen. The village became known as “Little Cornwall” for a time.
Sir George Farrar, the chairman of a mining company, undertook the planning of the rapidly growing mining town in 1904. A river was dammed to create a series of reservoirs for mine use. Today the reservoirs remain and are populated with fish; recreational activities, including boating and picnicking, are enjoyed by many people.
Thousands of trees were also planted in the new mining district and it was declared the township of Benoni in 1906. Most residents were British miners followed by a strong Jewish population who had suffered anti-Semitism in eastern Europe and lost all their possessions.
In 1907, the first synagogue and the Benoni Race Track were opened. This horse-racing track was breathtaking by its sheer size as compared to the small mining town in which it was situated. The first race was run on Saturday 7 December 1907 and was won by a pony named Fusy owned by John (Jack) William Travis, a Jewish farrier on the gold mines who had come from England. Two unusual prizes were awarded for that first race, a mounted golden whip for the jockey and a gold medal for the owner of the pony. John William Travis imported the first race horses from England for Benoni racing.
In 1922, the Rand Revolt (or 1922 Strike) broke out throughout the mines on the Witwatersrand and thousands of white miners went on strike. The strike was partly led by the South African Communist Party and was not well received by the South African