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William M. Kenton Excerpts From: A Standard History of White County Indiana, Volume 1 Illustrated, Under the Supervision of W. H. HAMELLE, Published by The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1915. William M. Kenton (Pages 110-112)

Mr. Newell was succeeded by William. M. Kenton, son of the famous frontiersman and Indian fighter of Kentucky and himself one of the largest landowners and most prosperous cattlemen in the state. In his youth he had been well educated at West Point, married early and soon afterward brought his wife and child from Logan County, Ohio, to what was then Big Creek Township, Carroll County. That was in the fall of 1832, and Mr. Kenton selected for his homestead a tract of land three miles west of the present site of Monticello. In 1851 he moved to Honey Creek Township, where he died, April 30, 1869, his widow following him on the 3d of July, 1881. They were the parents of ten children and many of their descendants of the third and fourth generation are still living in the county. Mr. Kenton was a man of far more education and dignity than his predecessor in the probate judgeship, although most of his life since his youth had been spent amid outdoor scenes of primitive life in what was then the western frontier. But he tired of his judicial dignities in about a year and returned to his farm a few miles west of the Tippecanoe River. It was while living there that Mr. Turpie met him, not long after locating at Monticello in 1849. The best known citizen of the county at that time,Ē he says, was William Miller Kenton, a son of Simon Kenton, the far-famed Indian fighter and hunter of Kentucky. His early youth had been spent on the farm and in attending his father in his numerous excursions in search of lands and game. The Indians where they lived then gave them little trouble. After the age of sixteen, the friends of his father, who were quite influential, including all the elder congressmen and senators from his state, procured for young Kenton a commission in the navy. Disliking this employment, after a brief service as midshipman with the home squadron in the gulf, he resigned. The same friends obtained for him an appointment to the military academy at West Point, then a very primitive institution. Young Kenton here excelled in the drill and manual of arms and in all athletic sports and exercises; but with books he failed, not from any lack of mental ability, but from his innate aversion to regular study and application. After a certain time spent at the academy, he was honorably relieved from further attendance, went home, married and, with considerable means derived from his parental estate and other sources, removed to what was then Carroll, and later White county, bought large tracts of government land, and was among the first settlers of the Grand Prairie. When I first knew him Kenton lived on a farm of a thousand acres on what was called the range Line, in the open prairie about four miles west from the Tippecanoe River, and owned another plantation of two thousand acres not far away. His house was a large one, a frame of two stories. Here he dispensed a profuse hospitality; no one was ever turned away from his door. Whites and Indians were equally welcome. His Indian visitors were frequent, for he had settled in the county some time before their removal by the government to their new home in the west. Some of these guests had seen and known his father; they loved the son for the father's sake, yet their attachment may have been partly due to the well stored pantry and kitchen which ministered to their wants. Besides farming, Kenton was largely engaged in rearing cattle and livestock for the market, and among other things he gave much of his time and attention to the prosecution of certain land claims in Kentucky, which he had inherited from his father's estate. The younger Kenton was a man of considerable reading and information, fond of the chase. A notable wrestler, runner and boxer, surpassing most of his contemporaries in these exercises; but he was a person of exceeding equable temper, and resorted not to force or violence save under extreme provocation. He, like his father, had lived in his youth so much among the Indians as to have contracted somewhat of their habits. He was of a firm step, with a decided military bearing, yet inclined to the Indian gait. His eyes were large and brilliant, constantly in the attitude of expectancy, as if watching or awaiting some one. He was in politics a zealous Whig, a personal friend and steadfast adherent of Henry Clay, who had also known and befriended his father in days of yore. As the representative of a district composed of a group of our northern counties, of which White was one, he had served, with much acceptance to his constituents for several sessions in the general assembly; he was a close friend and ally of Albert S. White, and in the Whig caucus, it is said, had placed that gentlemanís name in nomination for United States senator when he was chosen to that position. Kenton's conversation was very interesting, especially when it related to the life and adventures of his father. Mr. Kenton was a very careful herdsman and feeder, a better judge of live stock than of the market. He often made unfortunate sales, and as his transactions were on a large scale, met with serious losses. Toward the close of his life, in his old age, he fell into some pecuniary embarrassment. His creditors came in a cloud, all at once, to summon him with writs of indebtedness. The old pioneer made a gallant fight. Some of them he paid, with others he settled, many of them he defeated, and two or three of the most insolent claimants he literally whipped into terms of submission. He saved a large portion of his real estate and, though he did not long survive his campaign in the courts, spent his last days in comfortable competency and died in peace with all the world. His memory is yet highly respected, even fondly cherished, by the descendants of the friends and neighbors with whom he formerly associated, and whom he had often aided in the struggles of their early life on the frontier. With most of his family he was buried in the old Kenton graveyard. About five miles southwest of Monticello, but about thirty years ago their remains were disinterred and deposited in the old cemetery at Monticello. The old-fashioned tombstones were left in the original burial ground, where they may still be seen. The Jail and Its First Prisoner (Page 70-71) The jail, which had been projected about the same time, was erected by William M. Kenton on the east side of Illinois street near Marion, and was completed in the fall of 1838. Mr. Sill's description of that fearsome edifice and his account of the first desperado incarcerated therein leaves nothing to be desired for completeness and picturesque ness and are therefore reproduced: The jail was built of hewn logs, one story in height, twenty by forty feet, divided by a partition near the center into two rooms; The front room designed for delinquent debtors; for a man could then be imprisoned for debt; and it is the opinion of many now that the act ought never to have been repealed, but instead amended so as to apply to those who could pay their honest debts and will not, and also for milder offenses against the law. The rear room was designated the dungeon, and was intended for the incarceration of prisoners charged with the perpetration of higher crimes. The front door was constructed of inch plank running diagonally from one corner across to the corner on the opposite side, and four inches thick, bolted together with iron bolts passing through the planks and riveted on the opposite side. There were two doors to the dungeon, the first similar to the front door and the second of iron bars riveted together in such a manner as to form an opening between of three inches square. A short chain was riveted on the side of this door about halfway up from the floor, and a staple driven in the door frame over which it passed, a common padlock passing through the staple to secure it. The wooden doors were also provided with locks of huge size made especially for them, with a key for each lock half as long as a manís arm and weighty enough to worry a small boy to carry. The object in having the two doors to the dungeon was, in the event of the imprisonment of a desperate criminal, to protect the jailor, who could open the front door and take a view of the inside through the grated iron door before he entered with food and water for the prisoners. Singular as it may appear, the first person to occupy the new jail was a school teacher, who was guilty of unduly chastising one of his pupils, Erastus Gray, for an infringement of his rules. He whipped the boy with a rawhide until the blood streamed down his body and stood in pools on the floor of the school room. Without any doubt Erastus deserved some punishment, for he was not a model of good behavior and the parents universally believed in the use of the rod; but the majority of them thought the boy had a little too much, and so the teacher was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to one hour imprisonment in the county jail. He was not without friends, however, who justified his action, and one of them went with him and kept him company during his incarceration. His school was broken up shortly after this, and the talk of tar and feathers, and a free ride astride a rail, became a subject of every-day gossip until he finally abandoned his charge and left for parts unknown. First War Sacrifice (Page 178) One of the first to enlist was a young man named John Brown, a grandson of Gen. Simon Kenton, the famous Kentucky frontiersman. While the regiment was en route to Indianapolis, somewhat more than a week after the fall of Sumter, young Brown was killed by the cars at Clark's Hill - the first war sacrifice by the people of White County. The corpse was brought back and buried near Miller Kenton's residence, three miles southwest of Monticello. The Old Kenton Grave Yard (Page 200) In some ways that is quite a historical spot, as the grounds doubtless contain the grave of the first white person buried within the limits of White County. The epitaph reads: John W. E. Rogers, son of Nathaniel and Rachel Rogers. Died May 18, 1833, aged 18 years. 11 mos. and 7 days. In this same deserted country grave yard were also buried William M. Kenton, son of Simon Kenton, the famous Kentucky frontiersman, and four of his children. About thirty years ago his son removed the remains to the cemetery north of Monticello, but left the tombstone standing. William M. Kenton died April 30, 1869, in his sixty-third year. First Events in the Township (Page 208-209) The first white child born in the township was John Wilson, son of James K. and Nancy Wilson (nee Clayton), whose birthday was June 1, 1834. During the year 1835 the following were born in the township: Lavinia Lowther , Margaret Bacon, Dennis Blake, Elizabeth Wilson and Clarissa Barkey. The first death was that of Mrs. Thomas Wilson, in the fall of 1834. James Harrison and Elizabeth Ivers were the first to be married in Monon Township, about the year 1838. In the following year, Amos Cooper and Mary Edwards were wed, and about the same time, Benjamin Ball and Martha Kenton. Simon Kenton's Daughters and Grandchildren The last named was a granddaughter of Simon Kenton, the famed Indian fighter and frontiersman. Three of his daughters were also early settlers of the township. They married Daniel Murray, Jacob Meyer and James J. Brown, and all died within the limits of the township. Mrs. Murray and Mrs. Meyer were interred in the cemetery at Monon Methodist Episcopal Chapel, about three miles northeast of the village. Jacob Meyer died at an early date and his widow married Matthias M. Thornton, dying herself without issue. Mrs. Murray had a large family, and five of her sons served in the Civil war, their records being such as were a credit to the family name. Lewis Murray rose to the rank of lieutenant in the regular army and died in the service at Indianapolis. The first religious organization in Monon Township was probably the Presbyterian Society established at West Bedford in 1839. Reverend Williamson was its first pastor and the early members were Thomas Downey and wife, William Wilson and wife, and Mrs. Kepperling. West Bedford also had the first schoolhouse in the township, built in 1840. Salome Bentley was the teacher of this pioneer school and was succeeded by Michael Berkey. The second schoolhouse in the township was erected, about 1852, at Cooper's Mill. Transcribed by Rayburn Killion Petaluma California

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