Biography of William Miller Kenton

William Miller Kenton first came to Kansas nearly forty years ago, acquired an interest in a homestead in Rice County, and by his subsequent exertions had developed a large amount of fine farming land and is one of the leading men of affairs and citizens at Chase.

Mr. Kenton was born in Bracken County, Kentucky, October 4, 1850. His Kenton ancestry goes back to the earliest period of colonization of the Kentucky country and the name of Kenton is a famous one in old Kentucky, and doubtless there is some relationship between this branch and the noted Simon Kenton, one of the greatest scouts, frontiersmen and Indian fighters in American annals. The first American ancestor was Marcus Kenton, who came out of Oxford, England, and settled in old Virginia. This Marcus Kenton was early attracted to the Virginia possessions west of the Allegheny Mountains in what is now Kentucky, and his death occurred in Pennsylvania while he was en route from his Virginia home to the place known as Limestone, now Maysville, Kentucky. This Marcus Kenton married a member of the Cleveland family, and some of the later generations more or less jokingly referred to her as a connection of the President of the United States. Marcus Kenton, the immigrant, had a son who bore his name and who came into possession of 18,000 acres of land in Kentucky, lying south of Licking River and extending in the direction of Millersburg. This was acquired from the Federal Government in consideration for services rendered during the Revolution. This Marcus Kenton in his will remembered his brother Philip C. Kenton, giving him 1,000 acres in the vicinity of Blue Licks. Philip Kenton, a son of the original immigrant and great-grandfather of William Kenton of Chase, was born in Virginia in 1759. After acquiring the land above mentioned from his uncle he conceived the idea of manufacturing salt from the portion known as “Blue Licks.” He was thus one of the pioneer salt manufacturers of Kentucky, also farmed, and did duty as a guardian of the frontier against the Indians.

Thomas Kenton, grandfather of William M., and a son of Philip, was born at Danville, Kentucky, in 1792, and died in Bracken County, that state, in 1887. His father, Philip, died in Bracken County in 1855. Thomas Kenton was a small boy when his father went to Blue Licks. At the age of six years he was sent to school, his first teacher being Amos Boyle, a harsh and very cross old gentleman, very prone to chastise his pupils. For not more than a year he attended school, but in spite of lack of early advantages he became a good reader and wrote a fair hand. Thomas Kenton was a soldier in the War of 1812, being with Shelby’s Kentucky Rangers who marched north across the Ohio into what was then the western wilderness and fought at the battle of the Thames, where the great Tecumseh was slain. Thomas Kenton married Angie Collins, a native of Kentucky and a niece of Judge Lewis Collins, who wrote one of the first standard historics of Kentucky.

George W. Kenton, a son of Thomas, was born in Bracken County, Kentucky, January 30, 1826. He grew up and married there, became a farmer, and in December, 1879, came to Kansas and in Raymond Township of Rice County homesteaded and with his son, William M., bought 160 acres including the southwest quarter of section 2. Later he traded his half interest in that homestead for another eighty acres on the road three miles north of Raymond, and he occupied and farmed that place until his death on October 4, 1907. He was a loyal democrat, and a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Christian Church. In his early youth he volunteered for service in the war with Mexico, but his regiment was never called to fight the troops in the southern republic. George W. Kenton married Almira Burden. She was born in Nicholas County, Kentucky, near Blue Lake Springs in 1833 and died on the Rice County farm in May, 1909. William Miller Kenton was their oldest child. Sarah E. is the wife of B. F. Chisholm, a farmer in Hodgeman County, Kansas. Thomas is employed in a hardware and harness establishment in Little River, Kansas. Martha married Mark Moody, a farmer at Topemish. Washington. Mary E. owned the old home farm in Rice County and lives on it with her husband, J. W. Nolan. Joseph, the sixth child, died at the age of eleven years. Ed is connected with the Beet Sugar Company at Garden City, Kansas. Blanche, living at Little River, married Orville Cook. Beatrice, whose home is in Spokane, Washington, married W. F. Hathaway. Fannio, the youngest child, is the wife of William Munson, in the stock business in Iowa.

William Miller Kenton was born in Bracken County, Kentucky, October 4, 1850, and spent his early life there on his father’s farm. He attended the rural schools, and afterwards gained a liberal education and for a number of years was a successful teacher. For two years he attended school at Farmington, Illinois, spent two years in Illinois College at Jacksonville, and one-summer in the State Normal at Normal, Illinois. He did his work as a teacher in Illinois, from 1873 to 1875 and from 1876 to 1885. During an interval in this educational work he came to Kansas in 1879 and with his father bought the homestead of 160 acres above mentioned. He still owned this quarter section, but that is only one of a number of farms under his ownership and management. Another also of 160 acres is a mile south of the homestead in Raymond Township, and he owned eighty acres west of the original quarter section. In Pioneer Township of Rice County he had 160 acres, and at his residence adjoining Chase on the north he had a well equipped little farm of forty acres. Mr. Kenton was for fourteen years chairman of the board of the Chase Grain and Supply Company, but recently sold his interest in that business.

A number of years ago, when the populist party was strong in Kansas, Mr. Kenton rendered some good service as a representative in the State Legislature. He was elected on the populist ticket in November, 1890, and served through the session of 1891. He was a member of the railroad and other important committees and introduced a bill which passed in the House fixing freight rates. This measure failed of passage because of opposition encountered in the Senate. He was also assigned to the investigation committee which looked into the affairs of Stevens County. At the present time Mr. Kenton is independent in his political action. He had served on the local school board and is now treasurer of Consolidated Union District No. 3, being in his second term as treasurer and for three previous years was clerk. Mr. Kenton is a member of the Christian Church and is a Royal Arch Mason, his local affiliation being with Chase Lodge No. 247 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

In Center Township, Rice County, December 23, 1897, he married Miss Katy B. Cox, daughter of J. Y. and Louise (Dunlap) Cox. Her mother lives at Chase and her father, deceased, was a farmer and stockman. Mr. and Mrs. Kenton have five children, all of whom are attending school. Their names are Louise, Ruth, William, John and Phillip. Louise and Ruth are both in the high school, the former a senior and the latter a freshman.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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