Simon Kenton
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By Dan Beard

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Simon Kenton's Wild Ride

0ur buckskin knight, General Simon Kenton, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, on April 3, 1755, and died m Logan County, Ohio, of old age, in 1836.  He was one of the most generous, lovable, mild mannered, dare-devil pioneers of the old frontier.

The killing of the relatives of the great Mingo chief, Logan, and some other Indians by border ruffians brought on what is known as Lord Dunmore's War.  When Dunmore reached Pittsburgh with his band of Virginians, on his way to attack the Shawnees and Mingoes, he had with him some very great characters, among whom were George Rogers Clark, Kresap, Simon Butler (Kenton), and Simon Girty--the latter is the man who afterward became the notorious renegade but who at this time was a loyal and useful scout.

I am telling this incident because it was here that Girty formed a warm attachment for the big, blond hero of our story; it was this friendship on the part of Girty which afterward caused him to rescue Kenton from the torture stake.

Colonel Bowman sent Kenton on a scouting expedition to an Indian town on the Little Miami River; along with Kenton were Alexander Montgomery and George Rogers Clark-three as daring and brave men as ever wore moccasins.  Their scouting expedition was successful, but the Indians possessed some fine horses and the backwoodsmen saw no occasion for walking home, so they captured seven horses and with them the three men started on a forced march to the Ohio River.

The Indians soon discovered their loss and found no difficulty in following the white trail.  When the three buckskin men reached the Ohio River they found that the river was not only high but that a strong wind was blowing and they could not force the tired animals to take to the water.  They knew the Indians were on their trail; nevertheless they would not abandon the "critters," so the men staked out the horses and went into camp for the night.  The next day the Indians overtook them, killed and scalped Montgomery, and captured Kenton, but George Rogers Clark got away.

The Indians have never been noted for their gentleness toward prisoners, and, after kicking and pummeling Kenton until they were tired they forced him to lie down on his back, stretch his arms out full length, and after placing a stout sapling across his breast they fastened his wrists to each end with thongs of buffalo-hide.  Next they drove stakes at his feet and fastened his ankles with thongs of buffalo hide to them.   Then they tied a halter around his neck and made the other end fast to a young sapling, and finished by lashing his arms and elbows to the stick which lay across his breast; thus he was bound "spread eagle," so that he could move neither head, hand, nor foot.  In that position he spent the night. 

In the morning the Indians evidently thought that our hero must have become stiff from his night's experience, so they devised the following plan to limber him up: First they bound his hands securely behind his back with buffalo thongs; then they mounted him upon a fiery, unbroken colt and lashed his feet securely to a thong that went under the belly of the horse.  The animal had never been ridden before and objected vigorously to the burden, and, greatly to the delight of the "simple-minded red men," the horse went bucking, rearing, and plunging through the brush until, tired of its efforts, it fell in line and followed the other horses along the trail to the Shawnee village of Old Chillicothe, an Indian settlement near the present town of Xenia, Ohio.

Just before reaching the village, the Indians came trooping out and gave Kenton another terrible beating, but our hero was a husky youth, six feet one inch tall, broad shoulders, as straight as an arrow, and without an ounce of fat on his body, and he tipped the scales at a hundred and eighty or ninety pounds, so while the mauling he received was very cruel and painful it did him no permanent injury.  Not content with inflicting this punishment, as soon as he arrived at the village the braves, squaws, and children armed themselves with sticks, clubs, switches, tomahawks, and knives, formed themselves into two lines facing each other, and between these lines Kenton was made to run.

It was such a run as no half-back ever had.  As he rushed along the lines of his tormentors each one tried to strike him.  This was called running the gantlet.   The wonder is that it was possible for a man to come out at the other end of the line alive, but he did, and ran the gantlet again at Piqua, and once more at Macachack; and again at Wapatomica he went through the terrible ordeal.  In spite of all the ill treatment he had received, at Macachack he broke through the lines and almost got away.  

At Wapatomica (which was just below the Zanesville of to-day, in Logan County, Ohio) he came out of the ordeal bruised and battered.  His face was now painted black, a sign that he was to be killed, but while the council was deliberating upon the manner of his death an Indian, John Ward, James Girty, and his brother Simon Girty, the notorious renegade, entered the council room.  They brought with them seven scalps and eight captives.  Simon Girty threw a blanket on the floor and ordered Kenton to seat himself upon it.  Naturally, Kenton was a little stiff by this time and did not move with alacrity.

This made the brutal Girty very angry, and roughly grabbing Kenton by the shoulders he slammed the poor fellow down on the blanket with a thud, but later when, upon questioning the prisoner, he learned that he was the Simon Butler with whom he had shared his blanket in Lord Dunmore's campaign, Girty's whole manner changed.  Before the assemblage of astonished Indians Girty sprang forward and lifted the prisoner to his feet and gave him a grizzly-bear hug of welcome, after which, with the aid of the Mingo chief, Logan, and the French Canadian, Peter Druyer (then a captain in the British army), he not only saved Kenton from the torture stake but was ultimately the cause of his escape.

Simon Kenton, a Boys' Game

The Boy Pioneers






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