Keener Partners With Local Historians to Memorialize Native American Woman

MOUNT VERNON, OH – Central Ohio has long been a crossroads for different people from all races, faiths, and backgrounds. Rachel Konkapot, a young pregnant woman of the Stockbridge Tribe, would meet her untimely death on a journey across the central Ohio frontier. Little could she have known her story would span the centuries, uniting a small community with its past.

In September 1819, a party of about twenty individuals from the Stockbridge Nation traveled through Knox County just northeast of the recently established Columbus, Ohio. This group had traveled repeatedly after having been ousted from their native land in the 1780s. At the border of Licking and Knox Counties, a man named John McLean shot Rachel Konkapot with no provocation. He lost a card game, and this was the penalty.

Rachel, however, did not die immediately. She clung to life until December, creating an opportunity for her to share her faith, bravery, and forgiveness. During that time, Rachel became a focus point for the community of Mount Vernon.. She convalesced in a few different locations near downtown Mount Vernon and birthed a daughter who survived named Mary. The City of Mount Vernon did what they could by providing care, lodging, and eventually a casket.

Time passed, and Rachel’s story was forgotten; buried as she was without ceremony or memorials. Her original grave was even possibly moved in the middle of the 19th century. By then her story was nearly forgotten. Without family in the area to watch over her gravesite, it was lost in the move to the new city cemetery at Moundview. Until now. Recently, Michael Sherfy and Heidi Smith, brought their historic research to fellow historian and City Councilwoman Amber Keener in an effort to rally the community once again to provide Rachel with a gravesite and a headstone which will be designed by the tribe.

After hearing the extensive research which Sherfy and Smith had done to trace Rachel’s story, Councilwoman Keener set to work establishing an account for donations from local community members who once again hope to do what they can for Rachel. “I knew there would be an outpouring from our community for Rachel. We pride ourselves on cherishing our local history. This project allows us to recognize an unfortunate event of the past while strengthening relationships in the present. It feels like a perfect conclusion to this story.”

        If you would like to make donations toward this project please make a check or money order payable to the City of Mount Vernon, and mail to 40 Public Square, Suite 206 Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050. Please indicate Cemetery donation on the check.