Simon Kenton, Frontiersman
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Simon Kenton was born in 1755, in the Bull Run Mountains of Prince William County, Virginia. We don't know a lot about Simon's parents' early life. We do know his father, Mark Kenton, Sr. was born in Ireland (presumably County Down), his family was known for their political activism. Simon's mother Mary Miller Kenton was apparently born in Virginia, but her family was of Scotch-Welch ancestry. Simon had a fairly uneventful youth but was intrigued by stories of the Kentucky wilderness until one day he was forced to flee to the frontier at the age of 16 under unusual circumstances.
Like the glowing iron straight from the coals to the anvil, Simon's later teen years forged a character that caused him to be respected for his knowledge of the land and competence as a woodsman by pioneer and indian alike. His courage under fire was legendary, tested again and again. Kenton was a key figure in opening up and keeping the frontier safer for all of north and central Kentucky.
A big man in stature and strength, his stamina was often tested as he endured the worst that was known to the frontier. During the winter of 1773, Simon and 2 companions were attacked around the campfire as they were drying their wet clothes. Yeager killed, the other two barely escaped naked. They finally met some longhunters on the banks of the Ohio River after a week of hunger and barefoot wandering in the Kentucky wilderness.
In September of 1778 Simon was captured by Shawnee Indians. He was tied, his hands bound, to a wild horse galloping through the trees. He was forced to run the infamous 1/4 mile "gauntlet" (which killed many prisoners) nine times. After the sixth, while attempting escape, had a hole hammered in his skull and was unconscience for two days. With a war club and axe, his arm and collarbone were broken. The indians called him "Cuttahotha" which means "condemned to be burned at the stake" which they attempted 3 times. Finally in June 1779 he was able to escape from Detroit. After a 30 day march he made it back to the American settlements.
Joel Collins, who was a young boy in 1782, has left a vivid description of the young captain as he looked when marching through Lexington. [Returning from Blue Licks.] "He was tall and well-proportioned," says Collins, "a countenance pleasant but dignified. There was nothing uncommon in his dress; his hunting shirt hung carelessly but gracefully on his shoulders; his other apparel was in common backwoods style."
The Indians also knew him as "The man who's gun is never empty" for his skill of running and reloading his faithful flintlock at the same time. He heroically risked his life to save many future Kentuckians not the least of which was his lifelong friend Daniel Boone. Another good friend and fellow soldier was George Rogers Clark.
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