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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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Chestnut Hill, SC - The Hampden E. Tener home

I thought I’d provide you all with a little story about a home where Hampden and Eliza Tener retired to – for a few years.

As you know, or at least may surmise, I make frequent efforts in tracking down Tener descendents – using the Tener Blue Book as a starting point. In February 2004, I made contact with an East Coast branch of the Tener family. Following an exchange of letters, and e-mails, I was sent on-loan a package of papers, notes, and newspaper clippings regarding the Tener Family.

Among the papers, and it took me a few readings to specifically note this, there were seven words that led me to this story! Within an abbreviated one page family tree with comments, I noticed these seven words under Hampden Evans Tener Esq. These seven words, “retired to Chestnut Hill, Brevard N(orth) C(arolina).” were written by A.L.T. on October 15, 1968. This one page family tree with commentary was written I believe by Alan L. Tener, TBB page 78, to be shared through his son with relatives listed on page 75.

This became very interesting to me at least for a number of reasons. First, this was “new” information to me. Since I began researching the Tener Family, starting in late 2001, I had not known Hampden and Eliza had ever lived in North Carolina.

In my early research, which included on line research into the U S Census images and data bases, I had located Hampden and Eliza living in Pittsburgh after their immigration in 1884. A Pittsburgh City Directory listed them living at 1429 Bluff in Pittsburgh in 1993. In a 1897 Pittsburgh Directory they were listed as living at 5110 Harriet.

In the June 1900 U S Census, they were listed as living at 301 Wombiddle (?) St. The copy was not very good, and the handwriting was very hard to read – so the street name spelling is of questionable accuracy. And, further, there is both an East and a West prefix for the street – both of which have a 301! However, through the Census document, we can surmise that they were still living in Pittsburgh, PA – absent evidence to the contrary.

Then, according to a transcribed document that I received from Homewood Cemetery, he is listed as dying on June 20, 1910 “at home” in Pittsburgh at 6916 Thomas Blvd. He reportedly died of “carcinoma of the stomach”. He was buried at Homewood Cemetery on June 22, 1910.

In all of the documents research and viewed, mentioned above, there was no mention of his living in Brevard, North Carolina.

Here I would like to interject another piece of this puzzle! Over these many years with my lovely bride, she has told me that when she was a little girl she attended a summer camp for girls at Brevard, N.C. The internet is a wonderful place – and there I located a web site for Rockbrook Camp for girls. They have an informative web site: . And, it turns out; my wife told me that her mother also attended this camp when she was a young girl.

I learned that Rockbrook Camp was established in 1921, and I believe it was run for many, many years by the Carrier family. (** Incidentally, in October 2004 I asked my mother in law about the camp. She had very vivid and fond recollections of the camp, and the Carrier’s. One story from her recollection will appear below.) I had asked of all of the camps in Virginia, why go to North Carolina: and there had not been an answer until I found out about Chestnut Hill.

After reading Alan Tener’s note about Hampden and Eliza “retiring” to Brevard, I conducted a Google search, seeking information on “Chestnut Hill” in Brevard. And, what to my surprise, I located information that the National Register of Historic Places listed a “Chestnut Hill” property in Brevard, N.C. Now, my genealogy mentor has told me often how ‘lucky’ I was, and keeping with tradition, on the very next line of the Google return, information about a bed and breakfast, called “Chestnut Hill” also in Brevard!

I located an e-mail address for the property and asked the current owners about whether or not they had information on a prior owner – Hampden Tener. I received a lot of information about the property, including their acknowledgement that their records reflect previous ownership by Hampden and Eliza Tener.

I received two pictures of the home – one from before the restoration and one after. I understand that the current owners spent two years in their effort to restore the property, and then they applied to list it on the National Register of Historic Places.

The brochure for the Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast tells us, “Built in 1856, the Hanckel-Barclay House is significant as one of the rare remaining examples of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival style frame houses.” The proprietors as of early Fall 2004, Mr. & Mrs. Morris are very helpful. (**If I might advertise for them, even though I have never met them; the property can be reached at (828) 862-3540.)

The property is also called the “HANCKEL-BARCLAY HOUSE”. And here is why – although we could ask why not the Hackel-Tener home?

The house was built circa 1856 for use as a summer residence by the Reverend James Stuart Hackel. Later, the Barclays would become the family that lived at the home the longest; first using the home as a summer home coming down to the property from Pennsylvania – then moved in full time. The house was lived in full time until 1949.

James Stuart Hackel initially purchased 53 acres of land on July 30, 1856. And, it is surmised Hackel build his home on the land between 1856 and 1857. Rev. Hackel lived in the home, according to the 1860 census records, with his wife and eight children – five daughters and three sons, the children ranging in age between 19 years and 9 months.

In December 1860, Hackel bought and added an additional twenty acres. They lived in the home until 1875, and then they sold all seventy-three acres to Jesse and Hester Hollis. The Hollis held the property until 1890 – at which time a mortgage company foreclosed on the property.

In 1891 a Thomas C, Gower purchased the house and property – for $1,671. Mr. Gower was a successful man who had at one point been elected to the office of mayor in Greenville, SC in 1870. In 1892 T.C. Gower sold off some of the land (about 31 acres), along with some that he had added to the home, to “Sallie M. Gower, apparently his second wife.” Total acreage at this time was about 130.5 acres.

On October 23, 1894, Mr. Gower, “…tragically, he drowned while bathing in its cold waters.”

Sallie M. Gower owned the house and land until 1900, when she sold all “five tracts to H.E. Tener of Pennsylvania.” This is according to the Transylvania County Deed Book 16, 525, February 24, 1900. Then in 1901 H E Tener purchased an additional tract of land – about 25.28 acres.

Hampden and Eliza Tener sold all six tracts of land to a Thomas W. Stephens of New Jersey on July 16, 1907. Only four months later, Stephens sold the property to a development company – who sold the property to their treasurer in June 1908. The treasurer – Hilary B. Brunot was the father of Melusina Barclay, and he held the property until his daughter and her husband could move to the mountains.

Melusina’s husband was Joseph K. Barclay, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. This community is located near Pittsburgh, and I am prone to wonder if there was any connection between he and the Tener family? Joseph Barclay was an officer with Barclay Bank. The Barclay Bank dissolved in 1903, and became the Barclay Trust Company. In 1908 Barclay Trust Co. became Barclay Westmoreland Trust Co. The property stayed in the Barclay family until 1996. In 1998 the current owner acquired the house and just about 22 acres. She then began the two year task of restoring it.

My wife’s mother recalled visiting the property, Chestnut Hill, as a little girl when she was in Brevard for camp. She also offered a story that she recalled her mother telling her.

My wife’s grandmother had one sister, and no brothers. Their father had died when they were very young. There was one story where the two little girls were visiting the home and they shooed the chickens out of the chicken house, and the little girls tended the eggs so the mother hens could enjoy a little respite!

And, there may have been a friendship relationship between the Tener’s and the Carrier’s – who later would develop the girls camp, because the two houses ‘faced’ each other – although quite some distance apart.

(*December 16, 2004)