Ohio History Journal








There are Homeric men in every age, men filled with the

spring of life superabundant, a perpetually flowing fountain of

youth, men whose every action attracts the attention of their

fellow men, and whose lives count for human progress.

Simon Kenton was such a man Tradition, as well as his-

tory, has placed him among the strong, the swift, the brave; an

explorer of hitherto unexplored regions and a pathfinder for the

advancing civilization of mid-western areas. He was more

than a wilderness Mazeppa, strapped upon a wild horse, more

than the Leather Stocking of Kentucky and the valley of the

Ohio. He was an individualistic embodiment of the expanding

spirit of the American border.

Fate used Kenton as an instrument to open the doors of an

empire state; to find a promised land for the struggling pioneer

where he might rear his family and in the end leave them a

competence. He was bruised and beaten by the savage inhabi-

tants of the western wilds while engaged in his self-appointed

task of rendering assistance to the scattered settlements in the

land he had first explored, and in protecting them in so far as

was possible from the savagery of the red allies of, the British

north of the Ohio.

It has been the custom of historians in the past, to point to

Marietta as the guiding star of all Ohio. This is incorrect; the

settlement of western Ohio, following Kenton's pioneering in

Kentucky, was established after Wayne's Treaty with the In-

dians in I795, by hardy, and in many cases, well-to-do immigrants

from western Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and Kentucky.



SIMON KENTON                     47

The westward path of empire was the Ohio River from its

forks at Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) in its downward course to

the Mississippi. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis

in the lapse of years became the great ports of entry to the west,

northwest and southwest. The great rivers were the earliest

highways of the western wilderness. At Cincinnati the Ohio

was met by the Licking River from the south, and the two Miamis

from the north; farther down are the Kentucky, the Wabash

and other streams. The dug-out and the canoe were the auto-

mobiles of Kenton's days.

Follow Kenton down the Ohio, and one follows the settle-

ment of the West in its wildest extent. His life epitomises his

time and his people; he was the arch type, the forerunner, a

born guide; his feet trod the path of empire, but not by chance.

Destiny was his guide.

From a military standpoint, Kenton was a secondary char-

acter, a youth serving under older and more highly favored

masters--George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone. In western

Ohio his name was a household word, and the suffering and abuse

heaped upon him by his savage foes were well known to all.

The Kenton Narrative.

General Simon Kenton was a native of Virginia and was

born near Hopewell Gap in Fauquier County (then Prince Wil-

liam), April 3, I755. His father, Mark Kenton, born in Ireland,

March I, 700o, emigrated to Virginia in young manhood. After

living some years in Culpepper County, he removed to Fauquier

and made his home on a farm lying at the foot of Bull Run Moun-

tain, not far from what is now the village of Hopewell. Kenton's

mother, whose maiden name was Mary Miller, was of Scotch de-

scent. Their oldest child, William, as born September 20, I737.

Benjamin, the second son, was a soldier in the Revolutionary

War, and died in Philadelphia, before the war ended. Mark,

the third son, was also a Revolutionary soldier. He died in

1785, at the age of thirty-six years. John, the youngest son,

was born in I757. He and his eldest brother, William, emigrated

to Kentucky in I783.




Simon's parents were poor and their home in what was then

the backwoods, was an humble one. Here his boyhood was

passed amid surroundings that in a degree fitted him for the

hardships of the life he was to live in the wild regions west of

the mountains. When sixteen years of age, Kenton was a man in

size and physical strength, and yet, owing to a lack of school

facilities, he could neither read nor write.

It happened that at this period of his career there lived in

the neighborhood of the Kenton home, a young woman who

numbered Simon and a man named William Veach among her

suitors. Veach was a man of mature years and became, eventu-

ally, the accepted suitor. In the course of a party given at the

bride's home after the wedding, Simon entered the house in no

gentle frame of mind and boldly took a seat between the newly

wedded pair. This led to a fist fight between the groom and his

youthful rival, in which the latter was worsted.

Some months later, Simon was sent by his father to the

Veach home to borrow a cross-cut saw. The elder Veach was

engaged in nailing clapboards on his house when Simon arrived

and made known the object of his visit. Told that the saw was

to be found in the woods where the clapboards were made,

Simon went on toward that place. On the way he met his late

antagonist, bringing a load of clapboards to the house.

Then and there Simon, who had been greatly humiliated over

his earlier defeat, challenged him to another fist fight. Veach

demurred, but under Simon's persistent demands, consented.

The fight was a terrific one, as they were evenly matched physi-

cally. At first Veach had the better of the fight. When both were

on the ground, Simon managed to wrap Veach's long hair about

the base of a stout bush. Rising while Veach was held down

by the bush, young Kenton beat him so severely that the breath

seemed to have left his body. Simon was now thoroughly fright-

ened, and believing he had killed Veach, immediately fled without

the saw for which he had been sent, and without returning home

to bid farewell to his father's family or his friends.

His flight was westward over the mountains. Traveling by

night and hiding during the day, he arrived after some days at


SIMON KENTON                     49

the Isle Ford, on the Cheat River. Having changed his name to

Simon Butler, to avoid pursuit, the fugitive made the acquaint-

ance of a man emigrating west from New Jersey. The two, driv-

ing a pack horse before them, traveled together to the Mononga-

hela River, which they reached about the latter part of April, 1771.

Parting from his companion, Kenton made his way to the

near vicinity of Pittsburgh, then a village of twenty-five or thirty

log houses. Here he remained a short time and formed the ac-

quaintance of Simon Girty, who later became the notorious white

renegade who turned against his own race, becoming more

vicious and more bloodthirsty than the Indian savages among

whom he lived. In the years that succeeded, this acquaintance

with Girty proved to be a most fortunate one for Kenton.

Through the pleadings of Girty, Kenton, who was to have been

burned at the stake at the Indian village of Wapatomica, near

the present town of Zanesfield in Logan County, Ohio, was saved

for the time being, and was taken farther north where he finally

made his escape.

For lack of time and space, the years that intervened be-

tween the fall of 1771 and October, 1774, must be passed over.

These were doubtless the happiest years of Kenton's life, as they

were spent in company with men of the woods, hunters and trap-

pers. It was an easy, pleasant life in the main. During this time

he and a few chosen companions made a number of trips down

the Ohio River, and back to Pittsburgh, or towns in the vicinity,

going at one time as far down as Cincinnati.

On October IO, I774, occurred the battle of Point Pleasant,

in what is known in history as Lord Dunmore's War, in which

Kenton and Girty were employed as scouts by this British gover-

nor of the colony of Virginia, to watch and report the movements

of the allied tribes of Indians in the vicinity of Chillicothe, against

which Lord Dunmore was moving his army, while a second

division was moving toward Point Pleasant. The battle at the

latter place was one of the bloodiest ever fought against the

Indians. They retreated to the Ohio encampments and upon the

approach of Dunmore's army, sued for peace, which was granted

and the war ended.



Kenton and Girty were discharged as scouts and the latter

made his way to the scattered settlements that had been estab-

lished in Kentucky, all of which he visited and assisted during

the years of 1775 and 1776, not only by helping provide food and

aiding in the matter of strengthening the stockades, but also in

conducting desultory warfare with the Indians that came from

the Ohio country. As the War of the Revolution was now on,

repeated raids were being made on the Kentucky settlements,

with the help and encouragement of the British commander at

Detroit. These raids did not occur until the winter and spring of

I776, and at first were limited to the stealing of horses and the

murder of a few isolated settlers.

The first settlements were Boonesboro, Harrodsburg, Mc-

Clellands, now called Georgetown, a fourth was Hustons, now

Paris, and the fifth Hingston Station, afterward called Ruddells

Station, or Ruddles Mill. In the spring, of 1776, the dark clouds

of Indian warfare began to gather about these scattered stations

or settlements. The American Revolution was now in full swing.

The Battle of Lexington had been fought April 19, I775. On

June 15, George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief

of the Continental Army by the Congress then in session in

Philadelphia, and two days later the Battle of Bunker Hill was

fought. Meantime Lord Dunmore, the last British colonial gov-

ernor of Virginia, had been compelled to take refuge on a British

ship, the Liverpool, which had arrived in Virginia waters, and in

retaliation had ordered the bombardment of Norfolk.

News of these happenings was slow in reaching the Kentucky

settlements. The British, who claimed the territory northwest of

the Ohio, were forming alliances, at their headquarters for the

West, Detroit, with the Indian tribes around the Great Lakes,

the upper Mississippi, and along the Big Miami (now, the Mau-

mee) and down the great Miami to the Ohio River, and with

the larger number at Piqua on Mad River, five miles west of the

present city of Springfield. These tribes were largely furnished

with arms and encouraged to set upon the defenseless settlements

in Kentucky and destroy them.

The Shawnee in particular were not slow to take advantage


SIMON KENTON                     51

of the opportunity given them, and during the spring and summer

of 1776, and the year 1777 and the early part of 1778, made

numerous raids upon the settlements south of the Ohio. The

last invasion in force, in 1780, was led by ten British officers, a

company of regulars and four hundred Indians, all commanded by

Captain Henry Bird, a British officer from Detroit. More than

three hundred men and women were killed or taken captive and

taken to Detroit by forced marches. Many died on the way, or

were tomahawked.

In October, 1778, Kenton with two companions approached

the Indian village of old Chillicothe (Old, Town) by night for

the purpose of recovering horses that had been stolen from one of

the settlements in Kentucky, and doubtless, also, for retaliation

by carrying off some of the horses of their enemies. They

secured a number of them and fled to the Ohio River, well

knowing they would be pursued on the morrow. Reaching the

river, they found it much swollen by recent rains. A strong

wind blowing created great waves, with the result that they were

unable to get the horses to attempt to swim across the river.

With a lack of judgment that no one familiar with the incident

can account for, they turned the horses loose to graze, while

calmly waiting for the wind to die down. This did not occur

until the morning of the second day. Meanwhile they were

being tracked by the Indians, who, coming up them suddenly,

killed one of Kenton's companions and made Kenton prisoner.

He was tied upon one of the wildest of the horses in such a

way that he could not protect his body or his face from the

underbrush and limbs of trees, and in this position the horse was

driven back to their village of Chillicothe. Approaching the

village, the Indians gave the peculiar halloo denoting the capture

of a prisoner. Instantly the whole village, warriors, squaws and

dogs came out to meet them heaping taunts and abuse upon the

unfortunate Kenton. When he was released from the back of

the horse, Blackfish, the chief of the village, gave him an un-

merciful beating with a stout switch, exclaiming, "Steal Indian's

horse, will you?"




The morning after his arrival, the Indians compelled him to

run the gauntlet by forming two long lines about six feet apart,

and leading to the council house. All were armed with sticks,

clubs, tomahawks, and some with hoe handles. Through this

line he must attempt to run, with each man, woman and boy

privileged to strike him. If he survived the blows and reached

the council house, he was safe for the time being.

Realizing that this would be a race for his life, Kenton

quickly formed his plan for reaching the haven of safety. His

youth and outdoor life stood him in good stead. Summoning

all his strength, he jumped into the space between the lines, and

knocked over two or three of the Indians before they could pre-

vent him. He then struck out at right angles to the line, thus

drawing the savages after him in a wild race. Doubling back

and forth, and dodging his pursuers, he reached the door of the

council house. Here, however, stood an Indian on each side of

the door. Both Indians struck him a severe blow as he entered.

He was now safe from immediate death, and his clothes, most of

which had been taken, were returned to him, greatly to his relief.

A squaw soon appeared with food and drink and a few hours'

respite was granted.

Another council was held to determine his fate, and it was

finally decided that he should be taken to the Shawnee village of

Piqua, on Mad River, and from there to Wapatomica, an Indian

village a short distance south of the present village of Zanesfield,

in Logan County, for burning. A large number of Indians,

members of several tribes, were living in and about this village

and in the upper Mad River Valley, thus affording opportunity

for a large number to witness the manner of his death. Stopping

at Piqua, and at a small village on the Macochee, near the present

town of West Liberty, they arrived at Wapatomica during the

second day of their march.

A third council was held, while Kenton waited under a close

guard on the outside of the council house. The white renegade,

Girty, was in the village, and approaching Simon, whose fate was

being decided, began to question him as to the circumstances under

which he was captured, and finally asked his name. The reply


SIMON KENTON                     53

was "Simon Butler," that being the name by which he was still

known. Upon hearing this, Girty became much agitated for he

knew that his former friend was to be burned at the stake. He

told Kenton he would make every effort in his power to save him

from his impending fate.

Going into the council, Girty asked to be heard, and upon

being granted leave, requested the life of his former friend and

fellow scout, reminding the Indians that he had never before

asked them to spare the life of a white man, but on the other

hand, had been foremost in their forays upon the settlements

and their destruction. Finally, seeing that all his arguments were

useless, he suggested that the prisoner be taken to Upper San-

dusky, where a larger number might witness his death. He did

not want to see his former friend suffer, and may have thought

something might occur there to mitigate his sentence.

Five warriors were appointed as an advance guard to take

their prisoner to the appointed place. On their way northwest,

these warriors with Kenton in charge, arrived near evening, at

the cabin of Logan, the former chief of the Mingo tribe, who,

until his family had been murdered by the whites, had been a

friend to the settlers. He was now a broken man, and his

thirst for revenge had been appeased by the death of more

than thirty white persons at his hands. He invited the In-

dians to stay at his cabin until morning. He gave them food,

and after learning the object of their journey northward,

questioned Kenton as to his name and the circumstances of his

capture. As darkness came on he secretly sent a messenger

to the British officer in charge of the trading post at Upper

Sandusky. Pierre Druillard, the trader, was a man of great

influence among the savages. From him they were able to

secure such supplies as they required: arms, ammunition,

rum and such simple tools as were needed by their squaws in

raising corn and vegetables. When the Indians and their

prisoner departed, Logan said good-bye to Kenton, but gave

no hint as to what he had done or what his sympathies were.

The arrival of the party at Upper Sandusky, caused a
















great commotion, as the fame of Kenton as scout and white

warrior had preceded him. A council was again called, and

when the commandant of the post learned what the nature of it

was to. be, appeared in the full regalia of his rank as a British

officer, and asked to be heard. This was granted. He began by

recounting the friendship of the British for the Indians. He re-

minded them that the British and the Indians were allies, and

that both were now at war with the Americans; that Kenton

was from Kentucky and was familiar with conditions there, and

knew how many men were under arms, where they were located,

and who their commanders were, in short, that he possessed such

military knowledge as would be exceedingly valuable to their

British father at Detroit, and if the Indians would let him send

Kenton to the fort at that place, the commandant would be able

to secure information that would not only be advantageous to the

British, but to the Indians themselves.

The officer then offered to pay them one hundred dollars in

rum, and certain supplies if they would deliver the prisoner to

the British at Detroit. To this the Indians finally consented, with

the provision that Kenton was to be returned to them for pun-


Arriving under guard at Detroit, Kenton was confined for

some time within the fort as a military prisoner. Here he was

closely questioned as to the military forces in Kentucky, but of

these Kenton professed to have little knowledge, and such infor-

mation as he gave was worth little to the British. After a time

he was allowed to live outside the fort, but was obliged to report

daily and was restricted to certain conditions.

Here he remained from October, 1778 until June, 1779,

during which time he recovered from his injuries at the hands

of his captors, and was well treated. During the spring of 1778,

a number of prisoners were brought into the fort; among them

were Captain Nathan Bullitt and Jesse Coffer, former companions

of Kenton in Kentucky. Kenton now planned to escape and took

the other two men into his confidence. They were four hundred

miles from Louisville, their objective point, and were without

guns, ammunition, or food supplies. Kenton had made the ac-


SIMON KENTON                       55

quaintance of an Indian trader and his wife, who seemed friendly.

He had heard the trader remark in a casual way that if he were

to attempt to escape from Detroit, he would strike westward,

beyond the trails of the Ohio followed by the Indians on their

raids into Kentucky. Without evincing any interest in the re-

mark, Kenton determined to follow this course.

Harvey, the trader, was absent much of the time, trading

among the various tribes around the lakes, and after much de-

liberation, the three prisoners decided to confide in Mrs. Harvey

and if possible secure her help. She had shown a friendly interest

in them, and when appealed to, agreed to assist them in their

attempt. Accordingly, she cautiously secured and hid a supply

of food to last them several days, and bided the time when she

might secure guns and ammunition. The opportunity came when

a large band of Indians came to the fort and stacked their guns

and ammunition near her dwelling, proceeding to have a hilarious

time by getting drunk on the rum furnished them by the British

commander of the fort.

When darkness came on, Mrs. Harvey selected three of the

rifles that had been stacked near her house, and took also the

ammunition that belonged with them. These she hid in her garden,

which was surrounded with a high picket fence. She then placed

a short ladder on the outside, at the back of the garden, and told

Kenton he would find the guns hidden among the pea vines, and

the food in a certain hollow tree outside of the camp.

The guns, ammunition and food were quickly secured by

the three men who struck out westward, determined to put as

great distance behind them as possible before daylight. Hiding

by day and traveling by night, guiding their course by the stars,

they reached the Falls of the Ohio during the latter part of July,

1779, without having been discovered by the Indians, although

there were some narrow escapes.1

The small quantity of food which they took from Detroit did

not last many days and they suffered much from hunger. They

1 John McDonald, Biographical Sketches of General Nathaniel Massie, General

Duncan McArthur, Captain William Wells, and General Simon Kenton: Who Were

Early Settlers in the Western Country (Cincinnati, 1838), 235-89. This story of

Simon Kenton's escape differs materially from that given by Edna Kenton, Simon

Kenton, His Life and Period, 1755-1836 (New York, 1930), 187-42.



did not shoot game for fear it would bring their enemies upon

them. At last, however, when nearing the Ohio, they killed a

deer, and appeased their hunger of many days.

Upon an island at the Falls, opposite the present site of

Louisville, Kenton and his companions found General George

Rogers Clark, who had come down from Pittsburgh during the

spring of 1778. With about two hundred enlisted men, and a num-

ber of adventurous families, who were on their way to complete

a stockade fort, they prepared for an attack upon the British posts

at Kaskaskia and Cahokia, on the Mississippi, below St. Louis.

Clark, who had known Kenton as an intrepid Indian fighter and

scout, was rejoiced to have him join the expedition. The War of

the Revolution was now in its third year, and the western Indians,

hostile to the American cause, were being fitted out at the French

town of Vincennes with arms, ammunition and supplies by the


Kenton's own account of his capture and escape, from a

manuscript2 found by relatives, says nothing about his abuse by

the Indians, but gives the following:

When I got to Detroit in 1778, I found a Capt. Renew    [Ler-

noult] commander at that place, and I was given into his hands as a pris-

oner. He told me that I was to remain there under his directions. Peter

Druyere [Druillard] requested Renew to let him take me with him, and

at night we were to return to him to get orders, and we did so; and

Capt. Renew told me I was to go to Capt. McGregor--and when I went

to him, he told me that I might go and work where I pleased, so that I

was there every Sunday morning to answer to my name--and I did so


I continued there from, that time until the Spring of 1779 and then I

returned to the Falls of the Ohio.

I immediately sent on to Gen. Clark, giving him my opinion of De-

troit, stating to him that Depeyster was at Mackinaw  [Mackinac], 300

miles off from Detroit, and that I thought if he could get there, to the

Detroit settlement, that Renew would surrender to him [Clark].

Within a few months after the capture of these posts (Kas-

kaskia and Cahokia) had been effected, Clark learned from some

of their French inhabitants that General Henry Hamilton had ar-

rived at Vincennes from Detroit, with a number of regulars and

Indians, and had retaken the town.

He at once summoned Kenton and sent him with two com-


2 Simon Kenton MSS. (in Draper Collection, State Historical Society of Wis-

consin, Madison, Wisconsin).


SIMON KENTON                      57

panions back to Vincennes to ascertain and report the number

of troops and Indians that were at the post, what new fortifica-

tions had been erected, and what old ones repaired, the number

of cannon and how placed, and such other military information

as he might be able to secure.

Arriving in the vicinity of the post, Kenton and his com-

panions disguised themselves as Indians, and entered under cover

of darkness. Mingling freely with the inhabitants, and exercis-

ing extreme caution, he was able to send to his superior officer a

full report of the military occupation of Vincennes. After send-

ing this information to Clark, Kenton proceeded to Kentucky,

probably with dispatches, and joined with Boone in the Paint

Creek expedition of August, 1778.  He was not to remain idle,

however. In the spring of 1780 occurred the invasion of the

Kentucky settlements, previously mentioned, by Bird with a con-

tingent of British soldiers from Detroit, and a large number of

Shawnee and other Indians from the territory which later be-

came the State of Ohio. After the departure of the invaders

with their prisoners, word was sent to Clark who was at

Vincennes, asking for help. Clark, as military commander

of Kentucky County and the West, ordered all able-bodied

men in Kentucky to meet at the mouth of the Licking River

with such food supplies and horses as they could bring with them.

Going himself to Fort Nelson, which he had established on the

island opposite the present city of Louisville, he loaded a number

of boats with ammunition, arms and supplies, including also

about one hundred of his own men. Sending scouts along the

banks of the river on each side, to keep pace with the boats, Clark

arrived without delay at the point designated. Here he found one

thousand Kentuckians, and among them, as a matter of course,

his friend and scout, Kenton.

Crossing with his army to the present site of Cincinnati,

Clark built two small log structures in which were placed a

reserve supply of food and ammunition. The objective of

Clark and his Kentucky volunteer army was the punishment

of the Indians and the destruction of their villages on the



Little Miami and Mad Rivers. The northward march began

on August 3, 1780,  with Daniel Boone and Kenton as guides.

Both had been prisoners at the village on the Little Miami,

now known as Old Town, and at Piqua on the north bank of

Mad River, and were therefore familiar with the Indian trails

from the mouth of the Licking to these Shawnee villages.

Clark took the precaution to divide his force into four

sections with a space of forty yards between the lines, and issued

specific orders for a defense in the event of an attack from the

Indians while on the march. Much of the way had to be cleared

of obstructions to the line of march, but in four days the army

arrived in the vicinity of the village of Chillicothe. They found

it deserted and almost wholly destroyed with fire, as the Indians

had been warned of their approach, and had retreated to their

village of Piqua, twelve miles to the northwest.

Stopping only long enough to set fire to the remainder of

the village, and to destroy all the standing corn, excepting a

small area, which was reserved for feed for the horses upon

their return, Clark and his army started on the afternoon of

August 7 for the village on the north bank of the Mad River.

As they neared the river, a rainstorm came up which halted

the army for the night. None of the men excepting the offi-

cers had tents or other shelter. Consequently, it was difficult

to keep their guns and ammunition in fit condition for use.

After the rain had ceased, Clark ordered the men to discharge

their guns in squads, each squad reloading before the next one

fired. Thus the army was prepared against a sudden attack

of the enemy. The Indians on the north side of the river

heard the sectional firing and fully comprehended the reasons

for it.

It is not the purpose of this paper to describe the battle that

took place next day, August 8, 1780,  as such description

properly belongs to a narrative of the exploits of Clark.

Suffice it to say, the huts of the Indians were demolished by

the fire of the six-pounder cannon that Clark had brought

from Fort Nelson, and the Indians were defeated and com-


SIMON KENTON                     59

pelled to flee to the northwest, where they established an-

other village upon or near the present city of Piqua, on the

Great Miami River.

After burning what remained of the village and destroying

the corn and the growing vegetables, the army started on its

return to Kentucky on the afternoon of August 9, and after

reaching the mouth of the Licking River, was disbanded, each

man going to his own home. In 1782 Kenton was again called

on by Clark to aid in dispersing the Indians at Upper Piqua, on

the Big Miami, and in 1786 he acted as scout in General Benjamin

Logan's attack on the upper waters of the Mad River, and in the

Macochee Valley, where eight years before he had been a prisoner

of the Indians and in imminent danger of death at the stake and

from which he had been saved through the interposition of the

renegade Girty and Logan, chief of the Mingoes.

Returning to Kentucky again, he was married at the age of

thirty-two to Martha Dowden, on February 15, 1787.  To

this union were born four children. Nancy, the eldest, born

October 11, 1788, married William McCarty, and died in Sep-

tember, 1817. John Kenton, born December 11, 1790, when

grown, was sent to Texas by his father to enter lands, and did not

return. It has been said that he went to Mexico and died there

but this is not certainly known. Simon Kenton, jr., was born

February 8, 1793. He lived for some years in West Liberty,

Ohio, and died in November, 1844. Sarah Kenton, the youngest,

was born May 18, 1795. She married John McCord, in 1812,

in Urbana, Ohio, where both were living at that time. She died

some time prior to 1862, the exact date not being known. During

life she was familiarly known as "Sallie McCord." All the

children had been born in Kentucky, their mother, Martha

Dowden Kenton, dying there December 13, 1796. Her age

and place of burial are unknown. Mrs. Charles F. Downey,

her son Charles, and her brother, Joseph Kenton Cheetham,

are direct descendants of Sarah Kenton McCord, and are now

(1929)  living in Urbana, Ohio.

Left a widower with four small children, it was imperative

that Kenton should marry again. This he did. Rev. Samuel



W. Williams, a pioneer Methodist preacher, who preached on

the Mad River and Xenia circuit in 1817-1818, and who was well

acquainted with Kenton and his family, in writing of pioneer

Methodist women, gave to his readers a glimpse of the courtship,

marriage and domestic life of this hero of western adventure and

the companion of his later years, who became a sainted foster

mother to the motherless children of Kenton's young manhood.

He says:

Elizabeth Kenton was the daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth (Clelland)

Jarboe. Her father was a native of France, who came to this country and

settled in Maryland. Her mother was a well educated woman, deeply

pious, and a communicant in the Presbyterian Church. When Elizabeth was

seventeen years of age, her parents moved to Mason County, Kentucky.

This was in the year 1796. Here she became acquainted with General

Simon Kenton, who was then a widower, with four children. General

Kenton admired her personal bearing and appearance, and loved her. She

on her part, like Desdemona, listening to the adventure of Othello the

Moor, was fond of hearing the general tell the story of his exploits; and

when he proposed marriage to her, she accepted his proposal, and they

were married at Kenton's Station [in Bourbon County, Kentucky] by the

Rev. William Wood, of the Baptist Church, in 1798.

It was a great undertaking for young Mrs. Kenton to take charge

of a large family at the very outset of her married life, but she was equal to

the task. Pioneer women were competent for anything. Their life in the

wilderness was never one of luxury or of ease, it was one of labor and

hardship; yet they endured, having the promise of the life that now is,

and many, like Mrs. Kenton, having also that of the life to come. She

had been trained in all domestic duties by her parents, and she had been

taught the elementary branches of learning. She knew how to read and

write and cipher well--beyond which few girls, and boys, too, in the new

settlements were able to go. Her husband had no schooling whatever,

except that he could read and write a little; but he was a man of wide

observation and . . . practical knowledge, which he turned to the best

account in his expeditions among savage tribes and through the untrodden

forests of the West.3

A few months after their marriage, Kenton and his wife

removed to Cincinnati, which then consisted of a few scattered

log houses and a log fort garrisoned by a company of United

States troops. Here they lived until the spring of I799, when he

piloted a colony of eight families (including his own) from

Mason County, Kentucky, to what was known as the Mad River

country, in Ohio.

They settled at first on a spot about two miles west of the

present city of Springfield, where a stockade was built and


3 Samuel W. Williams, Pictures of Early Methodism in Ohio (Cincinnati, 1909),



SIMON KENTON                      61

within which were built fourteen log cabins, such as the

settlers had been accustomed to seeing in Kentucky.

This number was necessary for the reason that they had

brought with them a number of colored people who had been their

former slaves. Finding there was now no danger from Indian

attack, they did not remain very long. The land had not been

surveyed as yet, and they occupied the position as squatters.

This location was about four miles east of the site of the former

Shawnee village, where Kenton had been a prisoner of the In-

dians, and which he had helped destroy, when he had been a

captain and guide in Clark's army, nineteen years before.

After living in the stockade for a brief period, Kenton

settled with his family on a tract of land four miles north of

Springfield. Here he built two log houses, one for his own

family and one for the widowed mothers of his two wives, who

were sisters. He also built a cabin for the colored people he had

brought with him from Kentucky. The latch string to his own

cabin was always out, and he and his good wife dispensed hos-

pitality to all who came. Their home was at the intersection of

the Springfield and Urbana highway and Jarboe's Run, the latter

being a small stream formed by springs in the hills to the east.

A large spring near Kenton's cabin also emptied into it, and it

was bordered by a thick growth of willow and other bushes.

It was while living here that several incidents occurred

worthy of note in a history of Kenton. Though peace had been

declared between the Indians and General Anthony Wayne, at the

Treaty of Greenville in I795, still a number of small bands

of red men roamed about, some of whose numbers visited

the home of the Kentons. On one occasion one of these In-

dians came to the door asking for whiskey. Being refused,

he lurked about, and watching his opportunity, while Mrs.

Kenton was temporarily absent from the house, snatched her

sleeping baby from the cradle, making off with it through the

woods. The mother's feelings can be imagined. When the

kidnapper brought the babe to his camp near by, the other

Indians of his party immediately sent word to the mother
















asking what punishment should be inflicted on the culprit.

She required nothing except that she be protected against

such an outrage in the future. It can readily be surmised

that the child's father was not at home when the kidnapping


On another occasion, a tap was heard on the cabin door

after night had set in, and when Kenton demanded to know

from the inside who was there, the voice of a friendly Indian,

speaking in low tones, told him not to open the door as an enemy

Indian who had come up from Kentucky was near by, waiting to

kill him. The next morning Kenton rose early, and told his wife

that after waiting a short while, she should open and close the

door leading to the spring, making much noise. He then took

his rifle, leaving quietly by the door on the opposite side of the

cabin, and circled round to a tree from which he had an unob-

structed view of the bushes bordering the run.  When Mrs.

Kenton opened and closed the door as directed by her husband,

the Indian in waiting, cautiously raised up to look for his in-

tended victim. At that instant the crack of Kenton's rifle was

heard, and the Indian fell with a bullet through his head.

At another time Kenton's home was visited by a small band

of savages, among whom he recognized one who had abused

him, while he was a helpless prisoner in their hands. Cutting a

stout hickory switch, he gave the Indian a severe whipping.

This aroused the wrath of the band, but Kenton, after explaining

the cause of his action, invited all of them to a feast at his cabin

the next day. All came, good cheer prevailed, and the incident

of the whipping was passed over.

As a farmer, Kenton was not a pronounced success. While

living in Kentucky, he had entered much land, and had a large

farm upon which he built a good brick house, and cultivated the

land with slave labor. Owing to faulty descriptions of his land

entries and the dishonesty of land sharks, he lost one piece after

another, until no land was left to him which he could call his

own. Several years after he had settled on Jarboe's Run, the

United States Government offered thirty acres of land for a mill

site to any one who would build and operate a grist mill in or


SIMON KENTON                      63

near a frontier settlement. Kenton decided to take advantage of

this offer, and entered the thirty acres, now included in the

present site of Lagonda village, two miles east of Springfield.

He dug a mill-race and built and equipped a small log mill a few

rods west of the bridge over Buck Creek, on the New Moorefield

Pike, in the village. To do this he was compelled to borrow

money and being unable to repay it when the loan fell due, the

patent to the land was issued to the lender, and once more Kenton

lost his land. After having conducted his mill from 1806 to 1810,

during which time he lived in a house he had built near the

mill, the family moved to Urbana, Ohio, where they resided

until I8I9. They then removed to a tract of land which Ken-

ton purchased on the head waters of Mad River, three and

one-half miles north of the present town of Zanesfield, in

Logan County, and about five miles to the north of the old

Indian town of Wapatomica, where he was a prisoner of the

Indians in I778, and where he narrowly escaped burning at

their hands, through the interposition of Girty.

Here in a secluded spot in the woods, within a few rods of a

large spring which still exists, and which pours its waters from

an upright section of a hollow sycamore tree, into the waters of

Mad River, Kenton built a cabin home, in which he lived until

his death, April 29, I836.

He was buried on high ground, a short distance to the

south, and within sight of his home. Two corner stones still

mark the site of his cabin. Upon one of these, a stone with a

smooth oval top, is the following inscription, placed there by the

Logan County Historical Society: "The corner stone of the

house in which General Simon Kenton died April 29, 1836. Do

not remove it."

On November 30, I865, his remains were disinterred and

removed to Urbana, Ohio, where services were conducted over

them in the Presbyterian Church by several ministers. The body

was then buried in Oakdale Cemetery, one mile east of Urbana. In

1884 the State of Ohio, at the solicitation of Kenton's friend of

many years, Judge William Patrick of Urbana, erected a hand-



some monument over his grave. This monument was designed

by the celebrated sculptor, J. Quincy A. Ward, of New York,

who was born and had spent his boyhood days in Urbana. The

small headstone that had marked Kenton's grave in Logan County

was placed at the foot of his final resting place in Oakdale Ceme-


The following is the first verse of a poem on the death of

Kenton, from the pen of William Hubbard, a newspaper editor of

Bellefontaine, Ohio:

Tread lightly, this is hallowed ground;

tread reverently here;

Beneath this sod, in silence sleeps the

brave old pioneer,

Who never quailed in darkest hour, whose

heart ne'er felt a fear;

Tread lightly, then, and here bestow the

tribute of a tear.

In 1819, Kenton and his family attended a camp meeting on

Mad River, where they met Rev. Robert W. Finley, whom they

had known in Kentucky, but whom Kenton had not met for

several years. He became an interested listener and observer of

the services and taking Finley into the woods for a private inter-

view, he unburdened his heart. At the suggestion of the minister,

both kneeled beside the log on which they had been sitting, and

here Kenton became soundly converted, and ran shouting into the

camp where a great crowd gathered about him to hear the story of

his conversion. He joined the Methodist Church, of which he re-

mained a member during the remainder of his life. Mrs. Kenton

had been a consistent member of the same church since 1808.

Jacob Burnet, an eminent attorney and United States Dis-

trict Judge in pioneer days, writing of Kenton, said:

When Mr. B urnet, the author] first became acquainted with him

[Kenton], at Marietta, in the fall of 1796, he was attending the General

Court of the Territory as a witness on behalf of a young man who had been

indicted for the murder of a Mr. Miller. He was then possessed of a large

estate--and a more generous, kind hearted man, did not inhabit the earth.

His door was always open. .. Travelers of every grade were received with

kindness, treated with hospitality, and pressed to stay. His residence was

in Kentucky, in the vicinity of Washington, where he cultivated a thousand

acres of land, equal in fertility to any in-the world.

In 1797 Mr. B. on his way from Limestone to Lexington, stopped

a day at his house, to redeem a pledge he had given him at the Marietta


SIMON KENTON                            65


court, in the fall of the preceding year; and partook of his hospitality

with great satisfaction.4

Governor Joseph Vance of Ohio was a warm friend of

Kenton, and when he was in the United States Congress, suc-

ceeded in getting a bill through the House of Representatives in

1824, granting this highly meritorious pioneer a pension. When

Burnet and Vance met in Washington in 1826, the former a Sen-

ator and the latter a Representative, they determined to make an-

other effort in Kenton's behalf. With the aid of General William

Smith, a Senator from Baltimore, they succeeded in having the-

bill passed. The act was made retroactive, and the pension of

twenty dollars per month was made to begin when the bill was

first introduced in 1824. The pension was paid during Kenton's

life, and aided greatly in sustaining him during declining years.

In the year 1832, Robert C. Woodward, then a young man

and in the later years of his life a librarian of the Warder Public

Library in Springfield, entered a north bound hack at the National

Hotel in Springfield. He wrote:

My first visit to Springfield and the Mad River country, was in Oc-

tober in the year 1832. I took lodging with Col. Werden--then keeper of

"the National"--for the night, and the next morning continued my journey-

ings northward. When I entered the two-horse hack for Urbana in the

morning, I found already seated therein a very elderly and dignified gentle-

man, who at the first glance commanded my respect; by his side sat a

lady much younger in appearance, with an animated countenance, an in-

telligent eye, and pleasing manners. We three formed the load. As we

wheeled by the old residence of the late Maddox Fisher, now owned and

occupied by Wm. Rogers, Esq., on Limestone street, the lady directed my

attention to it as the most beautiful place in the town, and the one she

always most admired. This led into a running conversation, and I found

her to be a very agreeable and companionable traveler. Among other facts

she told me that SPRINGFIELD was so named AT HER SUGGES-

TION, on account of the many delightful and valuable springs, within and

around the plat located for the town. While we chatted about as freely

as strangers generally do on first meeting, the old gentleman sat in silence;

and as his grave appearance was not of a character to invite to conversation

a young and bashful man, I had to be content, for the while, with looking

at him, and wondering who he was! At length, however, when he came

into the neighborhood of Maj. Wm. Hunt's, I ventured to ask him if he

were "going far north."  He said, "No."  The lady then said they were

going to their home near Zanesfield, in Logan county. This question

happened to break the ice a little, and the gentleman became somewhat

talkative--in a slow way. He told me he had been to Newport, Ky. to

attend a meeting of pioneers appointed fifty years before, but that the

4 Jacob Burnet, Early Settlement of the North-western Territory (Cincinnati,

1847), 466.












cholera had thwarted the meeting. He pointed out along the verge of

the road nearly opposite the Half-'Way House the path along which the

Indians had once escorted him, a prisoner, on the way to Zanesfield,

to make him run the gauntlet; and gave me sundry snatches of detail as

to his early hardships in the backwoods, and adventures with the Indians;

so that by the time we came to Urbana we had all become quite free

talkers. All the time I did not take any hint as to who he was, though I

tried hard to study him out, and though I had been somewhat familiar

with his history from my boyhood. When we landed at Urbana, at the

house kept by Daniel Harr, Esq., the people collected pretty freely around

the hack, all anxious to see and speak to who [sic] I now became convinced

was a man of eminent distinction. On eager inquiry I soon learned that

I had been traveling with him whom I had, till then, known only in history

--the celebrated pioneer SIMON KENTON, and his excellent lady.5

For more than thirty years Kenton participated in the war-

fare between the pioneers of Kentucky and Ohio and the Indians.

He was with Clark at Vincennes, Kaskaskia and Cahokia, on the

Mississippi, and at the Battle of Piqua on, Mad River, in Ohio;

with Wayne at Greenville, and Fort Recovery, Ohio, and at the

Battle of the Thames, where the Indian chief, Tecumseh, was

killed in Lower Canada. In most of these conflicts he served as

scout and guide, with the rank of captain; about the year I805, he

was commissioned as a general of militia, and from that date

was known as General Kenton. Under this title, he assisted

Logan in the destruction of eight Indian towns on the Macochee

Creek, in Logan County, and on the head waters of Mad River,

including Blue Jacket's town, on the present site of Bellefontaine.

and Solomonstown, four miles north.

In  1812, while a portion of Brigadier-General William Hull's

army was in quarters at Urbana, a band of friendly Indians

camped for protection in the southern part of the town. Some

of the revengeful members of these troops planned to kill the

Indians. Kenton heard of the plan and tried to dissuade them

from their purpose, but to no effect. Finding they would not

listen to reason, nor heed the dictates of humanity, he told them

he would place himself in front of these Indians who had placed

themselves under their care, and would kill the first man who

attempted to harm them. This ended the plot, as they knew that

Kenton would certainly execute his threat.

The following description of this remarkable man was writ-

5 Robert Christie Woodward, Sketches of Springfield . . . (Springfield, Ohio,

1852), Appendix.










SIMON KENTON                          67

ten by John McDonald, who on numerous occasions shared with

Kenton the dangers of warfare in field and forest:

General Kenton was of fair complexion, six feet one inch in height.

He stood and walked very erect; and, in the prime of life, weighed about

one hundred and ninety pounds. He never was inclined to be corpulent,

although of sufficient fulness to form a graceful person. He had a soft,

tremulous voice, very pleasing to the hearer. He had laughing, grey eyes,

which appeared to fascinate the beholder. He was a pleasant, good-humored,

and obliging companion. When excited, or provoked to anger (which was

seldom the case) the fiery glance of his eye would almost curdle the blood

of those with whom he came in contact. ... In his dealing, he was per-

fectly honest; his confidence in man, and his credulity, were such, that the

same man might cheat him twenty times; and if he professed friendship,

he might cheat him still.6

Second Marriage Family.

Simon Kenton and Elizabeth Jarboe were married at Ken-

ton's Station, Kentucky, by Rev. William Wood, March 27,

1798. His wife, Elizabeth, was born September 13, 1778, and

died at the home of one of her sons-in-law, John S. Parkinson,

in Jasper County, Indiana, in January, 1843. Their children were:

Matilda, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 23, 1799, married

John S. Parkinson. She died in 1858. Elizabeth, born Decem-

ber 6, I8oi, died in Urbana, Ohio, October 27, 1810. Mary,

born March 3, 1803, married Daniel Murray, and in 1851 was

living in Monong, White County, Iowa. William Miller Kenton,

born February 12, 1807, married Mary Ann McCullough, April

29, 1832; resided in 1851 near Monticello, Iowa, in White

County. Elizabeth C., born May 29, 1811, married first Jacob

Myers and then Madison Thornton; resided in 1851 at Mo-

nong, White County, Iowa. Ruth Jane, born January 19, 1816,

married James Brown; died in White County, Indiana, in April,

1851. Her husband preceded her in death. The mothers of

Kenton's first and second wives were sisters, and were the daugh-

ters of Thomas McClelland. They came with their father and a

number of families to Kentucky from Virginia in 1783, brought

by William Kenton, eldest brother of Simon. In 1807, William

Kenton and his family with a number of other families came to

Ohio and settled a few miles west of Urbana. A number of the

descendants of William Kenton are still living in the western part

of Champaign County.

6 McDonald, Biographical Sketches, 266.