The Tener Family

This is a journal kept by Dennis Holmes and friends concerning the Tener Family.
The links below will take you to the "Tener Blue Book" - "TENER: A History of the Family in France, Ireland and America"; and to a Finding Aid.

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Sunday, August 01, 2004


From: Vol. 3  'Pittsburgh of Today, its resources and people' , by Frank C. Harper, pages 4, 5, 6;  originally published New York, The American Historical Society, inc.  1931-32

       - A figure of national prominence and reputation, John Kinley Tener has devoted himself to many fields of useful service. First as a pioneer baseball player, later as a public official and Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and finally as an able and successful business man he has won his way to the position which he now enjoys.

       It is characteristic of Mr. Tener that prominence came to him, as it were, unsought. He was concerned only with performing well the immediate tasks with which he was confronted, but in so doing he set so high an example both of distinguished and unselfish service and of effective utilization of native ability, that his many accomplishments have seemed a fitting crown to his career.

          Governor Tener was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, on July 25, 1863, a son of George Evans and Susan (Wallis) Tener. The ancestral line of the family is thus recorded: William Tener, the first of whom there is definite documentary testimony, lived in the South of Ireland. He married and was the father of William (2) Tener, born in 1719, who later migrated to the Province of Ulster. Among his sons was Robin Tener, born in 1770.

       Robin Tener had a son, John Kinley Tener, born in 1801. He lived at "Moree", a beautiful place near Dungannon, Ulster, and was the grandfather of John Kinley Tener of this record. Next in line is George E. Tener, born in Ulster in 1824. His home was an imposing country house of white stone, containing twelve rooms and located on a large estate a short distance from Dungannon, bearing the name "Cloughbane".

       In 1851 George E. Tener married Susan Wallis, born in Nottingham, England. Her father was James Wallis of Nottingham, and one of the founders of the English branch of The Disciples, or Christian Church, a denomination which spread rapidly throughout the United States, as a result, principally of the efforts of Alexander Campbell.

       James Wallis was editor of the "Christian Standard", a publication in Nottingham devoted to the Disciples Church. He was a prosperous draper and ammased considerable wealth, much of which was devoted to his church.

       George Evans Tener was a farmer by occupation. He and his wife were the parents of ten children: 1. Roberta, widow of James Smith, of Pittsburgh. 2. Maude M., widow of William H. Johns, of Pittsburgh. 3. George. 4. Frank. 5. Robert. 6. Wallis. 7. John Kinley, of this record. 8. Stephen. 9. Edward. 10 Susan, wife of Theodore E. Hopkins, of Springfield, Massachusetts.

          George Evans Tener died early in the year 1873, and soon afterwards his widow came to the United States with her ten children. Her death occurred there in August of the same year, and thus John Kinley Tener, subject of this review, was left an orphan at the age of ten.

       He attended the public schools of the city of Pittsburgh, and following graduation from high school also completed a course at business college. Then he entered the employ of Lewis, Oliver and Phillips, iron and steel manufacturers, with whom he remained for five years. In the meantime, however, he became very much interested in athletics as a means of recreation and relaxation, and at a time when sports were by no means so common as they are now, he preached and practiced the sportsman's life and code.

       Mr. Tener was particularly interested in baseball, and with his natural physical endowments, developed great ability in this sport. So proficient did he become that he was induced, at length, to enter the professional ranks, joining the Haverhill (Massachusetts) team. In 1886, when he became secretary and paymaster of the Chartiers Valley Gas Company, he continued during this period to play baseball, winning wide reputation as a pitcher. Finally, in 1888, he joined the Chicago National League team, and for two seasons was a star pitcher with one of the greatest teams in the country.

       During the period of his connection with the Chicago team, he was a member of the historic party which, under the management of A. G. Spalding and the leadership of Captain Adrian Ansom, made a trip around the world. They introduced baseball into many lands which had never seen the game played, and brought to the people of many far away cities a novel and interesting sport, as was the case of the city of Sydney, Australia. They played in the shadow of the pyraminds of Egypt, on the island of Ceylon, and in other Oriental countries, and then travelled on through Italy, France, England, Ireland and Scotland, where they excited great interest, the game being witnessed by the nobility as well as the common people.

       In the year 1890, however, Mr. Tener resigned from the Chicago club and severed his connection with professional baseball, to resume his career in the world of finance and affairs. In the following year he came to Charleroi as cashier of the First Natioanl Bank, and this was the beginning of his connection with an institution which has owed much to his services through the years.

       In 1898 Mr. Tener became president of the First National Bank, and from that time onward has occupied the chief executive position of the bank, guiding its affairs with every success. He also organised the Charleroi Savings and Trust Company, of which he became secretary and treasurer, and the Mercantile Bridge Company, of which he became president. This latter organisation built the bridge between Charleroi and Monessan.

       Mr. Tener is now a director of the Mercantile Bridge Company, the Webster Monessan, Belle Vernon and Fayette City Street Railway Company, and the Westside Street Railway Company.

       At all times he has given his generous support to every worthy movement in the public interest, whether in public of in private life, and the city of Charleroi and its people owe much to the constructive influences of his career.

          In politics, Governor Tener has always been an active Republican, supporting its principles and candidates and working vigorously for the promotion of party progress. It was natural that, in the course of time, his party should desire to avail itself of his recognised ability and strong position as its standard bearer in an election, and accordingly, in 1908 Mr. Tener was nominated and elected to the Lower House of the United States Congress. The confidence reposed in him by the people of his district was not misplaced. His record in office was one of constructive achievement, and brought its reward in renomination for the following term in 1910.

       In the same year, however, he was nominated for the Governership of Pennsylvania. Mr. Tener was duly elected, and in January, 1911, resigned his Congressional seat to assume his duties as chief executive of the sovereign State of Pennsylvania. He served as Governer for four years, his term expiring in 1915. The period of this service was especially noteworthy for the many constructive and progressive measures which were inaugurated and put into effective execution under his guidance. In particular, Governor Tener is credited with securing the passage of the following legislation: the creation of Pennsylvania's present system of highways and Statewide road building program; the school code; the State's great public utilities act; the purchase of Capital Park Extension; the reorganisation of all departments of the State Government; the passage of many humanitarian measures, including legislation to secure pensions for widows, and others of similar nature.

       Governor Tener signed the present charter of the city of Pittsburgh, and appointed the first city council under that charter. All in all he left behind him a record of constructive achievement which secures for his name a lasting rememberance among the great governors of the State of Pennsylvania.

          After his retirement from the Governor's chair, Mr. Tener served as president of the National League of Professional Baseball clubs for four years, and thereupon returned to his business interests at Charleroi. He returned with the honour and respect of all who knew him. "Governor Tener's administration as governor," as a previous biographer has written, "was marked by wisdom and discretion, faithful and conscientious performance of the duties of office and an insistent regard for the best interests of the people of his State, that earn for him a reputation as one of the best governors the State of Pennsylvania has ever had."

          Mr. Tener is a member of many social and civic organisations and many clubs, and the range of his associations extends to many fields. He is affiliated fraternally with the Charleroi Lodge No. 615 of the Free and Accepted Masons, and with Charleroi Lodge No. 494, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. For many years he has taken a very active part in the work of the Elks. After passing through the chairs of Charleroi Lodge, he became a member of the Grand Lodge, of which he was elected Grand Treasure in 1904. Three years later he was elected Grand Exalted Ruler. Mr. Tener was at the head of the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters Commission; was chairman of the Elks War Relief Commission during and after the World War, and during the World War was associated with Herbert Hoover in the department of food conservation.  He is a member of the Duquesne Club, of Pittsburgh; the National Republican Club of New York City; the Nemacolin (?) Club of Washington City, Pennsylvania; and others.  He worships in the faith of the Protestant Episcopal Church, being a member of the local church of this denomination at Charleroi.

       On October 29, 1889, at Haverhill, Massachusetts, John Kinley Tener married Harriet Day, who was born and passed her early life at Havershihll, attending public schools and completing the high school course in 1887.  She is a daughter of John W. and Dona Day.  Mrs. Tener like her husband, is an active member of the Charleroi Protestant Episcopal Church.

       Although Mr. Tener's accomplishments have been of value to the entire State and have brought him national fame, the Pittsburgh district and particularly the City of Charleroi are proud especially to claim him as their own.  He has always put the claims of public interest above mere selfish or private gain, and with high courage has manifested invincible loyalty to the ideals and principles by the light of which he has shaped his life.  It has been the great good fortune of the people of Pennsylvania, that they have been privileged in such large part to share in the accomplishments of his career.

(**This book and about 500 others are digitally available, including being searchable through a website -

(This transcription was completed for this site by a Tener descendent - (from the line page 73) -  of Matilda Tener and David Galbraith.)

August 1, 2004   Dennis Holmes