County Named, 1840

Historical Marker #1168 commemorates the namesake of Kenton County, General Simon Kenton, who was an explorer and pioneer of early Kentucky.

Born in Virginia on April 3, 1755, Kenton received no formal schooling as a boy, causing him to remain mostly illiterate for the duration of his life, learning only to sign his name.

When Kenton was sixteen years old, he knocked a man unconscious during an argument over a girl. Fearing that he had killed the man, Kenton fled from Virginia and changed his name to Simon Butler. His travels led him to Pittsburgh, where he met adventurers who convinced him to travel the Ohio River with them. Reaching Kentucky, Kenton finally settled in Mason County in 1775.

Over the next several years, Kenton traveled across Kentucky, exploring with the likes of George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone, whose life was once saved by Kenton during an attack by Native Americans. Kenton's reputation as an Indian fighter and his knowledge of the landscape made him a successful military man. Despite his lack of formal schooling, Kenton rose to the rank of general after fighting in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and other small skirmishes. In 1782, Kenton discovered that the man he had presumably killed as a teenager was still alive, which allowed him to return to his true identity.

Toward the end of his life, Kenton lived in Ohio for several years. He died there, in Zanesville, Ohio, on April 29, 1836.

In 1840, the Kentucky legislature created Kenton County out of the western part of Campbell County, naming it in honor of the general.