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.

List of Kenton historic sites/markers!

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.

in Historic Washington, KY!

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.

Simon Kenton appears regularly in Washington, KY!
(at the Simon Kenton Harvest Festival)

Some Kenton Images

More on Simon Kenton's Kentucky life

Simon Kenton was a frontier military officer as well. He achieved the rank of General.

Simon's older brother Corporal Mark Kenton, Jr. fought for 7 years under Henry Lee III "Light Horse Harry". Contracting tuberculosis during the Revolutionary War, Mark was able to visit KY only once in the summer of 1784. He died the following year back in VA. Among the early pioneers, his daughter Sarah's Collins descendents are still found in the area.

(Click on the sketch for a more detailed version.)

1872 Gold Bond of the proposed Kentucky and Great Eastern Railway.
Central vignette is drawing of the "Rescue of Daniel Boone".

Simon settled in his beloved Mason County and travelers and residents alike experienced his benevolence. The historian Lyman C. Draper visited the Kenton family and documented Kenton's Station near Washington, KY. The bridge over the Ohio River at Maysville is proudly called the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge.

Clift in his "History of Maysville and Mason County Kentucky" recounts:
'Kenton spent most of his time at the mouth of Limestone Creek where boats were appearing daily. He knew the trails of his beloved country, the distances and dangers: it was his self-appointed duty to guide, warn and welcome the various parties that edged their cautious ways into the creek that was beginning to be known at Fort Pitt as "the landing port" of northern Kentucky.'

Simon's first wife was killed in a house fire and in his later years he moved extended family to Champaign County, Ohio. There in Urbana, he is buried under a newly dedicated monument with an extensive history of its own.

'Only a few white men were ever as good as the Indians at the Indian game. Boone and Kenton were...' - Frederick Palmer Clark of the Ohio (1929)

The Frontiersmen is a novel about Simon Kenton and the Kentucky/Ohio frontier. Buy a copy online at

Ray Crane - Author, Simon Kenton biographer & Kenton Family Friend

Kenton Family Genealogy

Kenton genealogy in text form

A NEW Kenton Database!

Simon Kenton's Family Bible

Some early Kenton marriages.

JOIN the Kenton Family Discussion group!

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Introduce yourself and your KENTON question or connection!

If you're interested in joining, go to Rootsweb and sign up for the Kenton Mailing List.

Search for "Simon Kenton" in the Nat. Lib. of Congress

Old Northwest Historical Society

Simon Kenton Bike/Hike Trail


The memorial sculpture for Simon Kenton's monument at Oak Dale Cemetery in Urbana was dedicated on July 4, 1997. Your contributions were much appreciated! The original artist J.Q.A. Ward's small bronze sculpture was enlarged to the proper size (approximately 6 feet tall). During the ceremony, the completed full size bronze sculpture was placed on top of the granite base that has been at Kenton's grave for so many years. Additional funds received will be used to promote the Simon Kenton Legacy.

Monument Ready to Go - February, 1997!

Some Links of Interest:

Full of Honors, Full of Years

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