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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Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Hampden Frost TENER died Englewood, Florida on April 19, 1985.  Hampden was the grandson of Hampden Evans Tener and Eliza Frost Tener of Moree House, Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone, Ireland. 

His direct family lineage can be summarized as follows:
Hampden Evans I (1836-1910) & Eliza Frost TENER (1844-1916) - father of
       Robert William TENER (1876 - 1955) & Gertrude BAILY (d. 1941) - father of
       Hampden Frost (1907-1985) & Virginia Letson TENER (1908-1995)

Hampden Frost TENER had led an interesting life.  He was raised in the Sewickley - Coraopolis, and Coraopolis Heights areas of Pennsylvania. .   When he was about 70 years of age a good friend of his, Mrs. Betty Shields , asked him to write about his younger days, and what it was like growing up in the area.  After some cajoling, he acquiesced to writing.
In his following writings he remembers the gas chandelier lighting, the natural springs on the homestead property.  He recalls the brutal winters - snow ball fights, skiing, flooded creeks, and shoveling snow.  He recalls riding ponies, camping with his friends, and of sneaking into town "for a 15 cent soda".  He fondly recalled vacations, and the vacation related activities.  He wrote of the Great Depression - and of the 1936 Floods.  He wrote of friends, and neighbors.  He wrote of fruit and vegetable stands, of split rail fences.  He wrote of the travails of getting to school - driving, riding horses, and of fighting past the bullies!
He includes some comments upon his varied employment; upon his retirement; upon his moves, and upon his love for log houses!  He concludes with some comments, and observations on 'Family'.
Sit back and enjoy!  What follows are the computer-scanned pages from his own pen (typewriter?).

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By Hampden F. Tener

In the early 1900s, land in the country sold for roughly one hundred dollars an acre, and there was a lot of it on the market. My family purchased theirs in Moon Township rather than another property in the area because it fronted on the Beaver Grade Road, the only hard road in the Township in 1901. This road, known as a Pinchot road after Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, ran from Route 30 in Robinson Township to Carnot, where it became the Brodhead Road, then unpaved.
One mile from our place, the Beaver Grade Road was met by the Coraopolis Road. It also was a hard road and important because so many of the men, who lived on Coraopolis Heights, commuted to Pittsburgh. They had to get up early and drive a team hitched to a buggy or surrey -- complete with leather seats and fringed top -- to the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station in Coraopolis, then took the trolley across the Smithfield Street Bridge to their offices. Of course, a return trip was made each evening. In my father's case this round trip was five miles each way in all kinds of weather.
The lighting at our house was with gas chandeliers; cooking was done on a huge, cast iron gas range; heating was by individual open gas stoves in each room plus the great open log-burning fireplace in the living room.
Water was always a problem and the family was always drilling a well on the place. The under laying clay would carry off the rainwater and not allow it to accumulate on the property. Although there were several wet-weather springs, our farm was even then known as "the dry farm." We were all very careful of water especially in August.
Compensating for the lack of water was the fact that there was a gas lease and Purdy Bros. gave us all the gas we could use for three dollars a month. We even pumped the well water with a Ryder-Ericson gas-run, hot air pump.
We children went with Dad the first mile to the Coraopolis Road and then walked two miles to school at Carnot. After school we walked the three miles home. Again, this was in all kinds of weather but we went prepared.
Everybody had a transportation problem. Later they allowed my oldest brother to drive without a license by ignoring him but not the Sewickley police. Therefore, he drove us to Coraopolis in a Model T and Dad paid Pete Petrie to drive us to Sewickley.
Our family was not alone in this style of life. Many young families were doing the same to get out of the dirt and smog of the valley and to breathe fresh country air.
H. F. TENER, 1983


Seventy years ago there was some traffic on the Coraopolis and the Beaver Grade roads, hard Pinchot roads, but not very much. It was only a mile from our place to the Gardners' and usually we would ride the berms of these roads. One day, however, we were riding our ponies on the Thorn Run and I asked Kirt whose Shetland pony it was in a field we were passing. He told me that it was Henry Curry's and informed me that he, Henry, went to the Sewickley Public School the same as we did. The next day the three of us got together in the playground at recess and this was the beginning of a lifetime friendship.
Henry was the oldest of the three and went on to Shady Side Academy and then graduated from Williams College. I was next and went on to Miss. Munson's, Kiski Prep, and Amherst. Kirt went to Shady Side, Williams and a further two years at Lehigh University's School of Engineering.
In those early years we were almost inseparable, riding our ponies and, later horses, all over the back country lanes, swimming, camping, playing tennis and golf.
I don't think any of us will ever forget those country dirt roads. When they were wet, they were mud--unbelievable muck. If one of the ponies got ahead in a race those behind got plastered and when we got home our families threw up their hands in horror and made us change our clothes on the porch or in the basement. If a vehicle went by in the wet season there was no way to escape a splattering on these narrow roads that were, for the most part, single lane.
In dry weather there was the dust--clouds of it. It was bad enough for the riders of horses, but even worse for those in the old open cars. Those in cars were usually attired in better clothes. In the dry weather, the township would drag and scrape these dirt roads into a smoother surface but as the season went on they became washboards when the ruts reappeared. The people came up to a slower vehicle with a sinking heart, because they knew that they were stuck in its dust until a turnoff, or for the duration.
I am retired now and again live in the country. I am conscious that country dwellers have always contended with mud in wet seasons. Now that I look back, I recall that the homes of country people have mud rooms outside the kitchen entrance for boots, shoes, and wet coats.
As a young man commuting to an office, I remember our unpaved lane to the garage and of wearing overshoes to protect my dress shoes from the mud between the house and the garage. Then we had cinders; today gravel has made a difference.
H. F. TENER, 1983


The family bought the old homestead on the Beaver Grade Road, Moon Township, in 1909. I remember them saying that it was then a choice between it and the one we came to know as the Bell Farm, which became the foundation of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The deciding factor was that our homestead was then on a hard road and the Bell Farm property was not. Also, our property was more than a mile closer to Coraopolis and the P&LE Railroad, and, although not critical, it was important at the time.
You see, in 1909 the first automobiles were a luxury and not dependable. People, as they had done for all time before that, depended upon the horse for transportation. In my father's case, he used a team of Shetland ponies that could trot the entire five miles each way to the station and back every morning and evening during those first years. One of my earliest recollections is seeing him arrive home on a bitter cold winter evening with his visor hat, designed much like the present ski-mask, covered with white frozen vapor from his breath. He used several laprobes. One was of buffalo, a holdover from the many made when the great herds were hunted in the west in the late 1800s. They also used heated bricks in a tin box to keep the feet warm.
By 1912, the automobiles came more into use and, here again, the fact that our property was on a hard road was a blessing. I don't think anybody today can imagine the condition of back country roads in the
spring of the year after the frost had gone out from under it. The cars then were open with canvas tops. There and carbide gas lights.
"Dependable" was the slogan of the Dodge, but the cars were not. It was a sales point for the Franklin that it was air-cooled and would not freeze in cold weather. Also, I recall the Franklin had a laminated wood frame, supposedly stronger than steel, and a heater wire that ran from the inside direct to the manifold. I also recall that it was years after World War I that a tire was created that would get more than 5000 miles and cost only $80. All in all, those were the days to forget
H. F. TENER, 1983