|What's In A Name?
Simon Kenton, famous woodsman, and army scout is part of the history of Kentucky and Ohio. Born April 3, 1755, in Fauquier County, Virginia, he was the son of Mark and Mary Miller Kenton, the seventh of nine children. His father was Irish, his mother of Scotch-Welsh descent. The Kentons were poor tobacco farmers.
Simon hated farming, loved hunting, fishing, and roaming the woods. His Uncle Thomas Kenton, trader with Indians, told Simon exciting stories of the buffalo herds, salt springs, and distant prairies the adventurer could not forget. In 1771 when Simon was 16 years old and over six feet tall, he was among the first to set out beyond the Appalachians into the unknown wilderness called Kentucky. Through the years he experienced the dangers and hardships of life on the frontier. He devoted himself to making the Ohio Valley safe from Indians and free of British dominance. By the time he was 21, his exploits had become legendary throughout Kentucky.
In 1774 Simon served his country during Dunmore's War, where he came to know such men as George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, and Simon Girty -- the infamous renegade. In 1777, risking his life, he saved the life of Daniel Boone during the siege of Boonesboro. In 1778 he became a scout for the George Rogers Clark's Illinois campaign against Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes, Indiana driving the British back to Detroit.
Returning to Kentucky with the news, he and two other men were sent by Col. John Bowman to spy on the Shawnee stronghold of Old Chillicothe in Ohio. After the three stole a few of the Indian's horses, the Shawnees at the Ohio River captured them. One man escaped, another was killed, and Simon was taken prisoner. For several days Kenton was compelled to run the gauntlet in Shawnee towns. Trying to escape several days later, physically enfeebled, he was struck down by an Indian's pipe tomahawk. He would have been burned at the stake had Simon Girty not interceded for him. While he was being taken north, the Mingo Chief and General Benjamin Logan, offered to help get him released. Between Girty and Logan, the captive was finally placed in the custody of the British in Detroit, from whom he escaped, making his way back to Kentucky.
Again, Kenton was a scout for General George Rogers Clark, this time in the Miami Valley expeditions, after which he was a guide for General Logan's campaign, as well as a spy and scout for General Anthony Wayne's exploits. He fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, when Indian opposition was put down until the War of 1812.
In Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, Kenton acquired thousands of acres of land, but with them came many problems involving land claims and notes cosigned for friends.
In 1787 Kenton married Martha Dowden. The couple had four children. In 1796 their beautiful brick home near Washington, Kentucky., burned, taking the life of Martha. In 1798 Simon married Elizabeth Jarbo. They moved to Ohio where they lived near Springfield, a community he named Lagonda, and finally Urbana.
During the war of 1812 between the United States and England, Kenton, 57, accompanied his old friend, General Shelby, to Canada, as his advisor. In 1813 Kenton was in the Battle of the Thames in Ontario where the Shawnee Indian chief Tecumseh was killed.
The Kentons moved to a farm near Zanesfield, Ohio, in 1819. The walls of a stone barn Kenton had built are still standing. At last, during the 1820's the Kentons moved to the farm of his daughter and her husband north of Zanesfield. Simon died on April 29, 1836, at age 81. His grave is in Oak Dale Cemetery, Urbana, Ohio.
Simon Kenton, frontiersman, has been honored and continues to be honored in many ways. His story is told in scores of books. An outdoor drama, "Simon Kenton, Our Mason County Leviathan", by Anne Parker, has been produced. Kenton kin have frequent reunions and celebrations. There have been bus tours of Kenton sites in the Simon Kenton historic corridor in Champaign, Logan, Clark, and Greene Counties of Ohio. Route 68, which crosses the Ohio River between Maysville, Kentucky and Aberdeen, Ohio, has been named the Simon Kenton Memorial Highway. In Urbana, Ohio, there is a statue of Simon Kenton, a legend in his own lifetime.
The founders of Kenton Group are fourth and fifth generation descendants of Simon Kenton.