The Kenton Connection (genealogy)

As many of you who are family know, we Moores are related to the famous Kentucky pioneer, Simon Kenton, through his sister, Jane, who would be my generation’s four greats grandmother.  Both Simon and Jane were born in Virginia, near Bull Run Mountain, in Farquar County.  They were the children of John Kenton/Kinton, most generally thought to be from Ireland, and Mary Miller, who was born in Virginia as far as can be told. John and Mary were the parents of the following children:

William, born 1737;Mary, born 1740; Jane, 1742; Frances, 1744; Mark Kenton, Jr. born 1749; John Kenton, 1751; Simon, 1755; Benjamin, 1757; Nancy, 1759.

Simon Kenton, as he grew to manhood, was well over six feet tall, with red hair and great strength and endurance.  When he was sixteen he got into a fight with another man over a girl.  Simon knocked the man out and thought he had killed the man, so he ran away from home, and took himself into the vast, mostly uncharted and unpopulated lands west of the Allegheny Mountains, into Ohio and Kentucky, about the year 1771,  He already had skills as a frontiersman and he honed those skills even more by his years spent in the wilderness before the American Revolution. At that time the Shawnee was the principal tribe in central and southern Ohio, and Simon came to know them perhaps better than any other white man of the time, unless it was Daniel Boone.  During this time in the wilderness, Simon took the name Butler as his last name, and the native tribes respected him for his courage, strength, and frontier skills.  During the course of his time spent in the wilderness, he was taken captive several times and made to run the gauntlet (which is really gantlet, but I can’t convince people to say it correctly, as a gauntlet is long cuffed glove, which was usually thrown down rather than run).  Most men who ran the gauntlet, which involved making one’s way down down the center of two lines of yelling, screaming Indians, many of them women, who did their best to impede your progress by beating you with various instruments, tripping you and otherwise harrassing you.  And, oh yes, I forgot to mention, you had to do all this naked.  If you made it, you gained  the respect of the tribe and were shown favor.  I once read that Simon Butler/Kenton was so successful at running it the Indians would make him run it as a show piece for visiting dignitaries from other tribes, etc.

It was Simon’s knowledge of the Indians and the frontier that made him so valuable to men like Jim Harrod and Daniel Boone in the early years of Kentucky’s settlement.  He was present at the Siege of Boonesborough in what became known as the year of the Bloody Sevens, 1777, and saved Boone’s life when an Indian shot Boone in the ankle, breaking it, and making him unable to run back into the stockade to escape the attack.  Simon Kenton simply ran over and picked Boone up (probably over his shoulder in some fashion) and carried him back inside the fort to safety, while the Indians continued their assault.  Many historians have said that Simon was probably the greater frontiersman of the two (Kenton and Boone) but that because he had kept a low profile under an assumed name, Boone was able to garner much of the glory that Simon deserved.

Sometime around 1780 Simon Kenton was making his way through the wilderness and came upon a camp of men who invited him to share a meal with them and spend the night around the campfire.  During their time together, one of the men mentioned that he had come west to find his brother who had left home some years before under the mistaken idea that he had killed a man in a fight over a girl.  Simon listened to him talk and after assuring himself that the man was indeed one of his brothers, identified himself in such a way that the man believed him, and they had a great reunion.  (I am not certain which brother it was, but I think it might have been Mark Kenton, Jr.)  Shortly thereafter Simon decided to return to Virginia to see his family, and to bring as many of them back to settle in Kentucky as he could get to come with him.  By that time, Simon had acquired land both in what would become Mercer County, Kentucky, and up around Limestone, on the Ohio River near the present site of Maysville. 

When Simon returned home alive and well his family was, of course, happy to see him, and many of them took him up on his offer to return to settle in Kentucky on his lands.  One of those was his sister, Jane Kenton Owens Laws, the widow of Jeremiah Owens, who had remarried Thomas Laws.  She and Thomas and their Owens and Laws children took Simon up on his offer, and 1783 left with him for Kentucky.  There were other family members and friends on the flatboat trip down the Ohio, including his parents.  Somewhere along the river journey, Mark Kenton, Sr. died, and they buried him where he died.  His wife, Mary, went on to Kentucky and lived until 1808.  When they reached Limestone, Simon found too much Indian sign, and so he took his party on farther south to his lands in Mercer County, and that’s how the Owens/Laws merger got to where they needed to be for our family genealogy.

Jane’s eldest son, Jeremiah Owens, Jr., was married twice, first to Sally Moss and then to Margaret Pittman.  It is the second marriage, to which was born one Nancy Jane Owens, that is of interest to us.  Nancy Jane Owens married William St. Clair Moore, my generation’s great great grandfather, and it is their house that sat on the hill above the Salt River in what is now Boyle County, for many years, until some idiot razed it and build a McMansion.  There was a family cemetery nearby which was read a long time ago, but I don’t know what happened to the stones from it, since there were some. Jeremiah and Margaret are buried in another cemetery and I have pictures of their tombstones as well as Margaret’s parents, though whom comes the Abraham Lincoln connection, if you believe one set of facts, or not, if you believe another.  And that, my dears, is The Kenton Connection.


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