Born: 1790-05-31 Suffield, Connecticut
Died: 1862-03-01 Blacksburg, Virginia
Flourished: Winnebago County, Illinois
As a young man, Kent left his native state and moved to Virginia, and later to Huntsville, Alabama. He engaged in business with James G. Birney in Alabama. On June 7, 1827, Kent married Arabella Amiss in Blacksburg, Virginia. He returned to his business in Alabama where he purchased an enslaved teenager named Lewis Lemon in 1829. In 1833, Kent and his family traveled to Galena, Illinois, where his brother was a Presbyterian minister. On his way north, in St. Louis, Kent and Lemon entered an agreement through which Lemon purchased his freedom over the next several years. Kent certified Lemon's freedom in 1839, and had it entered in the county commissioners' court records in 1842. In 1834, in company with Thatcher Blake, Kent located a good site for a settlement at the junction of Kent's Creek and the Rock River, where he built a saw mill. The site later became Rockford, Illinois. In 1838, Kent served alongside Abraham Lincoln in the Illinois House of Representatives, representing Jo Daviess, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson, Ogle, and Winnebago counties. In 1843 or 1844, Kent returned to Blacksburg, Virginia. In 1850, Kent was working as a merchant in Blacksburg, owning $1,400 in real property. Kent's wife died in 1851, and nine years later he was still in Blacksburg, where he remained until his death.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 5; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Blacksburg, VA, 59; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Blacksburg, VA, 150; The History of Winnebago County, Ill., Its Past and Present (Chicago: H. F. Kett, 1877), 224-25, 280-81, 386; Charles A. Church, History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois (Rockford, IL: W. P. Lamb, 1900), 26, 31.