More on Simon!

Simon Kenton was born in 1755, in Prince William County, Virginia. and entered the frontier at the age of 16. Respected for his knowledge of the land and competence as a woodsman by pioneer and Indian alike, 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 huntimg 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 who lived on Simon's property in his later years.

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's descendents are still found in the area.

Simon settled in his beloved Mason County, KY 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.

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KENTON Family Reunion

KENTON FAMILY REUNION -Descendents of Irish KENTON immigrants of which the Frontiersman SIMON KENTON was a member. This appears to include about every Kenton/Kinton in Virginia and Pennsylvania in the mid 1700's. Also, all Kentons who pioneered early Kentucky and Ohio. The reunion is in association with the Simon Kenton Festival held Sept. 20-21 in 1997 in "Old Washington" near Maysville, Mason County, KY. The Festival will feature Pioneer encampments and craft demonstrations, historic buildings, genealogy research, muzzle loading competition and more. Festival info:606/759-7423 or Contact Yvonne James-Henderson 703-239-9469

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Announcing the Dedication of the Simon Kenton Memorial, Urbana, OH, July 4th, 1997

The Following Article REPRINTED, WITH PERMISSION, FROM THE COLUMBUS (OHIO) DISPATCH. Copyright (c) 1997 The Dispatch Printing Co.

By Rita Price Dispatch Staff Reporter Sunday, February 9, 1997

Sculptor Mike Major, right, and his business partner, Dave Martin, strap the Simon Kenton statue into a pickup.

Photo by John F. Martin

URBANA, Ohio - Unlike his better-known contemporary Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton never sought the sort of notoriety that inspires art. And yet, there he was yesterday, captured in an 820-pound bronze likeness and hoisted into a sculptor's pickup. ''Frankly, I think he would be a little embarrassed to be such an outstanding figure today. But he deserves it,'' said Springfield, Ohio, resident Ray Crain, a Kenton expert. ''Boone had his own press corps following him around, but he was a loner. If people got very close, he'd get up and move. Kenton was exactly the opposite,'' Crain said. ''He stayed in the background, but he was outgoing, helpful and did anything he could for people.'' The life-size statue of the frontiersman, more than a century in the making, was completed recently by local artist Mike Major. The Simon Kenton Historic Corridor raised $30,000 for the project and commission, allowing Major to pick up where famed American sculptor and Urbana native John Quincy Adams Ward left off in 1863. Although Ohio legislators had warmly received Ward's offer to create a bronze of Kenton, funding dried up at the outbreak of the Civil War. A fund-raising campaign launched later - featuring penny collections from Ohio schoolchildren - covered only the pedestal's cost. ''Ward said it would be up to future generations to finish it, and that's what has happened,'' said Major's business partner, Dave Martin.

During ceremonies July 4, Kenton's 6-foot-1 figure will be placed atop the pedestal at his grave in Urbana's Oak Dale Cemetery. The rugged Indian fighter, who died in 1838, spent 36 of his 81 years in Ohio. Crain, historian for the Kenton corridor committee, said the statue is glorious. ''Mike Major is a perfectionist. I don't care whether it's a painting, pen and ink or what,'' he said. ''He just does a wonderful job. We were fortunate to have the original drawings.'' Ward had created a plaster image of Kenton. After Ward's death, his wife had it completed as a 27-inch statuette. The piece is housed in the Champaign County Library and served as Major's model. The Kenton project is easily a favorite, Major said. ''I was excited, so I worked kind of quickly. The work was just about mentally finished before I laid my hands on it,'' he said. ''I got to complete a 150-year-old dream.'' Major used a welded steel frame to support the clay he would transform into the burly, redheaded Irishman. The facial characteristics dictated by Ward are, admittedly, kind. ''Kenton was kind of dented up from tomahawks, and he had a hooked nose,'' Major said. ''His face was not much.''

Kenton was more noted for his strength. Crain said Indians forced him to run a gantlet four times, a feat few survived even once. In 1777, Kenton saved Boone's life.

The bronze, which was cast in Pennsylvania, drew more than a few comments on the ride to Ohio in Major's truck. He expects more when the statue travels to Cincinnati this week for temporary display. ''I get into a lot of cultural discussions at BP stations,'' Major said with a smile. ''Outside of this area, Kenton is not real well known, so lots of people ask who it is. ''That's the great thing about figurative sculpture. If this had been an abstract piece, no one would have said a thing.''

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EXCERPTS:

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.'

'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)

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Some Books in Publiction on Simon Kenton

The Frontiersmen, Narratives of America, Book 1 - Bantam Books, Allan W. Eckert

Simon Kenton, The Great Frontiersman - Ray Crain

Simon Kenton, His Life and Period, 1755-1836 - Edna Kenton

Simon Kenton, Kentucky Scout - Thomas D. Clark

The Life and Times of Col. Daniel Boone, Hunter, Soldier and Pioneer - With sketches of Simon Kenton, Lewis Wetzel and other leaders in the settlement of the west Philadelphia, Porteer & Coates [c1884] Call # B B724e - Edward S. Ellis

Be sure to visit:

Simon Kenton's Birthplace

Bull Run Mountain Tales

Early Mason County, KY

KENTON KIN


Contact Yvonne James-Henderson for KENTON KIN newsletter information

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