Simon Kenton

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Simon Kenton
Engraving of Simon Kenton, by Richard W. Dodson, after Louis M. Morgan.jpg
Portrait of Simon Kenton from life.
Born(1755-04-03)April 3, 1755
DiedApril 29, 1836(1836-04-29) (aged 81)
New Jerusalem, Logan County, Ohio
Resting placeOak Dale Cemetery, Urbana, Ohio
Simon Kenton Signature.png

Simon Kenton (April 3, 1755 – April 29, 1836) was a United States frontiersman and soldier in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. He was a friend of Daniel Boone, Simon Girty, Spencer Records, Thomas S. Hinde, Thomas Hinde, and Isaac Shelby. He served the United States in the Revolution, the Northwest Indian War and the War of 1812. Surviving the gauntlet and ritual torture, in 1778 he was adopted into the Shawnee people. He married twice and had a total of ten children.


Family and early life

Simon Kenton was born at the headwaters of Mill Run in the Bull Run Mountains on April 3, 1755, in Prince William County, Virginia to Mark Kenton, Sr. (an immigrant from Ireland) and Mary Miller Kenton (whose family was Scots-Welsh in ancestry). In 1771, at the age of 16, thinking he had killed William Leachman in a jealous rage (the fight began over the love of a girl named Ellen Cummins), Kenton fled into the wilderness of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, where for years he went by the name "Simon Butler." After learning that his victim had lived, Kenton took back his original surname.

Noted activities

Site of the village of Chillicothe, where Kenton ran the gauntlet Old Chillicothe Site.jpg
Site of the village of Chillicothe, where Kenton ran the gauntlet

In 1774, in a conflict later labeled Dunmore's War, Kenton served as a scout for the European settlers against the Shawnee Indians in what is now West Virginia and Kentucky. In 1777, he saved the life of his friend and fellow frontiersman, Daniel Boone, at Boonesborough, Kentucky.

The following year, Kenton was rescued from the Shawnee in Ohio by Simon Girty. He had survived many days of running the gauntlet and various other ritual tortures that usually caused death. He was later taken about 50 miles for more torture at Upper Sandusky. There he was saved by Pierre Drouillard, an interpreter for the British Indian department and father of explorer George Drouillard. [1] The Shawnee respected Kenton for his endurance; they named him Cut-ta-ho-tha (the condemned man). He was "adopted into the tribe by a motherly squaw whose own son had been slain." [1]

Kenton served as scout on the 1778 George Rogers Clark expedition to capture Fort Sackville during the American Revolution. Independence did not mean an end to warfare; in 1793-94 Kenton fought in the Northwest Indian War with "Mad" Anthony Wayne.

Kenton started exploring the area of the Mad River Valley of Ohio and making claims as early as 1788. Kenton first saw the area a decade before while he was held as a prisoner with the Shawnee and vowed that if he survived he would return. In April 1799, Kenton and his associate, Colonel William Ward, led a group of families from Mason County, Kentucky to an area between present-day Springfield and Urbana, Ohio. [2]

In 1810 Kenton moved to Urbana, Ohio, where he achieved the rank of brigadier general of the state militia. He served in the War of 1812 as both a scout and as leader of a militia group in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. This was the battle in which the Indian chief Tecumseh was killed. Kenton was chosen to identify Tecumseh's body but, recognizing both Tecumseh and another fallen warrior named Roundhead, and seeing soldiers gleefully eager to carve up Tecumseh's body into souvenirs, he identified Roundhead as the chief. [3]

A large boulder located on the west side of the Ritter Public Library in Vermilion, Ohio, discovered in 1937 on a farm a few miles to the south, is inscribed "1784 S. KENTON," and tradition has it that it was carved by Kenton himself while in Indian custody. Documentary evidence, however, shows that Kenton was not in Indian custody in 1784, was not near Vermilion in 1784 and did not learn to write until 1785. [4]

Marriage and family

Kenton married Martha Dowden and they had four children together. [1] After she died in a house fire, the widower married Elizabeth Jarboe as his second wife. He had six children with her.

Previous to his first marriage, Simon's first son (Simon Ruth Kenton) was born to Christina Ruth in 1773.

Kenton died in (and was initially buried at) New Jerusalem in Logan County, Ohio. His body was later moved to Urbana.

Later his widow Elizabeth Jarboe Kenton and a number of their children moved to northwestern Indiana, to an area straddling Jasper, White, and Pulaski counties. It was heavily settled by families who migrated from Champaign County, Ohio, where Kenton is buried.


Simon Kenton is the namesake of Kenton, the county seat of northwestern Ohio's Hardin County. [5]

Kenton County, Kentucky is named for him, [6] as is Simon Kenton High School in Independence, the county seat. A statue honoring him was erected in Covington, Kentucky's Riverside Drive Historic District, overlooking the Ohio River.

Simon Kenton Elementary Schools were named in Xenia and Springfield, Ohio.

Singer/songwriter Tyler Childers wrote the song Middle Ground in reference to Kenton and his expeditions.

Simon Kenton Post #20 in Elsmere, Kentucky of the Kentucky Department of the American Legion is named in his honor.

Simon Kenton Road is a residential street at the base of Bull Run Mountain in Prince William County, Virginia.

The Boy Scouts of America have the Simon Kenton Council, a division covering Central Ohio to northern Kentucky.

In the Frontiersman Camping Fellowship of the Royal Rangers, Indiana is designated the Simon Kenton Chapter.

The Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge is a suspension bridge built in 1931 that crosses the Ohio River and connects Maysville, Kentucky and Aberdeen, Ohio.

Ohio's [[Simon Kenton Trail] is a 32-mile multi-use path that stretches from Springfield to Bellefontaine.

The Simon Kenton Pub is a small bar located in the Water Wheel Restaurant at The Inn at Gristmill Square in Warm Springs, Virginia.

The Simon Kenton Inn is an 1828 Historic House with five guest rooms and The Pub restaurant, located near Springfield, Ohio, on land deeded to Simon Kenton by the U.S. Government circa 1800.

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  1. 1 2 3 "Jean Backs, "Simon Kenton-Frontier Hero"". Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. Retrieved 2014-03-29., Explore, Fall-Winter 2003
  2. Writers' Program (Ohio) (1942). Urbana and Champaign county. Urbana, O., Gaumer publishing company. pp.  15.
  3. Eckert, Allen W., The Frontiersmen (Bantam Books, Little, Brown & Company, Inc., 7th Printing, 1980), pp. 687-90.
  4. "Tuff Stuff". Vermillion Views. n.d. Retrieved February 3, 2017..
  5. Overman, William Daniel (1958). Ohio Town Names. Akron, OH: Atlantic Press. p. 69.
  6. The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. pp.  35.