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Kenton, Simon

Kenton, Simon

KENTON, SIMON. (1755–1836). Frontiersman. Virginia. Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, on 3 April 1755, Simon Kenton fled across the Allegheny Mountains when he was 16, believing he had beaten to death the boy who had married his girlfriend. Under the assumed name of Samuel Butler he hunted, explored, and fought Indians along the Ohio River. He acted as a secret agent in Dunmore's War in 1774, and as a scout he got to know Simon Girty and Daniel Boone. He joined George Rogers Clark and took part in the capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes in 1778. He accompanied three expeditions against the Shawnee encampment at Chillicothe: Boone's in 1779 and Clark's in 1780 and 1782. After the first of these, Kenton was captured by Indians, sentenced to death, saved by Girty, again condemned, saved once more through the efforts of John Logan (Tachnedorus, a Native-American leader), and sent to Detroit as a prisoner. He escaped in July 1779. Learning that his boyhood "victim" was alive, he resumed his family name and returned to Virginia. In 1783 he brought his family to settle at Kenton's Station, Kentucky. From 1786 to 1794 he led a group of scouts and spies known as Kenton's Boys, serving with General Anthony Wayne's army in the campaigns of 1793–1794. He moved to Ohio in 1810, constantly acquiring large land holdings, but through ignorance of the law he ended up destitute in his last years. Saved from poverty by a pension from Ohio in 1827, he died in Zanesfield, Ohio, on 29 April 1836.

SEE ALSO Chillicothe, Ohio; Logan.


Eckert, Allen. The Frontiersmen: A Narrative. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1967.

Jahns, Patricia. The Violent Years: Simon Kenton and the Ohio-Kentucky Frontier. New York: Hastings House, 1962.

Kenton Papers. Madison, Wisc.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Draper collection.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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