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Finding Aid For The Tener Collection

January 30, 2004

Also See: The Tener Book

Below is the finding aid for the Tener collection-it is primarily focused on John K. and Mary Frances Tener, but it should give you a better idea of what is in the collection. I'm not sure if this material was used in the research for the book you mentioned (The Tener Blue Book), but it is mostly original material, along with some photocopies of original material - all of which would be considered a primary source.

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center Library & Archives
1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 412-454-6364
Library Hours: Tuesday -Saturday 10:00- 5:00

Tener Family, Papers, 1844-1949
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania Archives MSS# 25
Two boxes (Box 1-2); .75 linear feet

Biographical Sketch of the Tener Family

The Tener family has along and prosperous history that is easily traced back to the 14th century and covers family in France, England, Ireland and the United States. John Kinley Tener I (1802-1879) and his wife Mary Frances (Evans) Tener (1799-1863) (Another one of those "official errors').

John Kinley Tener was a surveyor for land agents and also played a prominent role in the religious life of Ireland. Tener and his wife, Mary Frances Tener, had a family of six boys and lead a comfortable life. Mary Frances Tener was continually of poor health and suffered from chronic bronchitis, which grew worse in 1863. She died from shock and exposure following a minor fire in the Tener household.

Among her children was George E. Tener (1824-1873), who married Sarah Wallis of Nottingham, England and lived in County Tyrone, Ireland. Just before Mary Frances Tener's death in 1863 (1864), Sarah Tener gave birth to their first of ten children, John K. Tener (1863-1946). Nine years later in 1872, George Tener died and the family immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the Tener's had family. Soon after they arrived in Pittsburgh, Sarah Tener died and John (with an unclear number of his siblings) moved in with his aunt Maud in Pittsburgh.

John Tener was the 26th Governor of Pennsylvania, a member of the United States Congress, a professional baseball player and a prominent citizen of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. After gearing his education at the Pittsburgh public schools towards business, he was first employed at age 17 as a clerk for the iron firm Lewis, Oliver and Phillips. Always having an interest in sports, Tener played sandlot baseball and was signed to a minor league contract for 1885 to pitch for the Haverhill, Massachusetts Club in the New England League. While playing for Haverhill, Tener met Harriet Day, who he married in 1889. In the early 1900s, Harriet died and Tener married Leone Evans, a former Charleroi resident living in New York. Tener played major league baseball with the Chicago National League Club (White Stockings) starting in 1888. He played various positions and pitched in two seasons for the White Stockings and accompanied A. G. Spaulding, Cap Anson and the rest of the Chicago White Stockings on a world tour from 1888 ? 1889. During this tour, the White Stockings traveled west to San Francisco and played baseball exhibitions against a team known as the AII-Americans in Australia, Ceylon, Egypt and Europe. Tener had moderate success with Chicago as he compiled a record of 22-20 with the White Stockings.

At the end of his second season with the White Stockings, Tener became the treasurer for a gas firm in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Possibly in an effort to play baseball close to his new business venture, John Tener took advantage of the mobility afforded him by the creation of a new league, the Players League, and left the White Stockings to play for the Pittsburgh Players League Club in 1890. Tener had a poor season in the Players League, going 3-11 with an E.R.A. of 7.31 as a starting pitcher in 14 games (with 13 complete games). When the league folded at the end of the season, Tener retired from baseball and focused his attentions on commerce and banking.

After his playing career, John Tener became the cashier and later president for the First National Bank in Charleroi. He also served as an officer for numerous Charleroi businesses including the Charleroi Savings and Trust Company, Mercantile Bridge Company (which erected the Charleroi ? Monessen Bridge), and the Monessen Southwestern Railroad among others. Tener was a charter member of the Charleroi Lodge of the Elks and was named to numerous posts in that organization including Grand Exalted Ruler in 1907. Tener's close attachment to the Elks throughout his life was recognized with the 1949 placement of a plaque honoring Tener at the Elks headquarters building in Chicago, Illinois.

Tener left the First National Bank in 1909 when he successfully ran as a republican for the United States House of Representatives. Tener represented the 24th Congressional District, which included Washington and Greene Counties. He served in the United States House from March 4, 1909 through the end of the 61st Congress in 1911. When it became apparent in 1910 that the Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Edwin S. Stuart, was poised for defeat in his reelection bid because of a political scandal, state wide Republican turned to Tener. Known commonly as "Popular John," Tener easily led the Republicans to victory in the 1910 gubernatorial contest over two candidates.

His term, which ran until 1915, was marked by pioneering work for women's rights, road construction and other reform measures. The Sproul Highway Bill, passed in his administration, was a major step in improving the state's roads. Also during his term as governor, Tener lead the way for the establishment of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission and a statewide commission to supervise labor and industrial affairs. In 1913, Tener was asked to serve as President of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Tener served as National League president without pay until his term as governor expired on January 15, 1915, and led the League unti11918. His only other direct involvement in professional baseball after that was as a director of the Philadelphia National League Baseball Club in the 1930s.

Tener served with Herbert Hoover in the United States Commerce Department after World War I in their work to provide assistance to the war torn European Continent. Upon his return to Charleroi, John Tener assumed a number of commercial roles, most notably in the insurance field, where he remained until his death, at age of 82 in Pittsburgh on May 14, 1946.

Scope and Content Note (of the papers on file at the History Center)

The Tener Family Papers are housed in two archival boxes and are arranged alphabetically by folder title. These papers include biographical information, correspondence, printed material, speeches, news clippings and other sundry material. These papers document John Tener's career in politics and in professional baseball and also document Mary Frances Tener's life and family in Ireland in the mid-19th century. (These are the Mary Tener letters that I am trying to get scanned, and formatted, to share by Christmas 2004)

Material relating to Tener's role as governor primarily includes published speeches and invitations along with a small amount of personal and official correspondence. Of note are two letters written to and from President Warren G. Harding in 1922 on the matter of collective bargaining and the role it could play in the hostilities brought out by the United Mine Workers.

Material relating to John Tener's role in baseball includes Tener's correspondence to his family while in Haverhill of the New England League in 1885 and with Chicago of the National League during the 1888 season and the around the world trip of 1888-1889. This correspondence covers living conditions and activities of the players, and the activities while on the club's world tour. The news clippings haw been arranged chronologically and include material relating to all of his activities. Very little material included documents his life and career in Charleroi, Pennsylvania.

Mary Frances Tener's correspondence includes transcripts of nearly 300 letters written in Ireland from 1844 until her death in 1863 to a close fried, Mrs. Cole. All of these letters were saved by Mrs. Cole and presented to the Tener family after Mary Frances' death. Most of the correspondence deals with Mary Frances' personal life and includes discussions of her health and family as well as providing vivid portraits of life in mid-19th century Ireland. Only one original letter is included with these papers. The whereabouts of the other original letters is unknown. (These are the Mary Tener letters that I am trying to get scanned, and formatted, to share by Christmas 2004)

Provenance: These materials were received in one accession.
Acc# 1969x Gift of Miss Roberta T. Johns, (papers. Miss Johns was the niece of John Tener and transcribed all of the material compiled on Mary Frances Tener, her great-grandmother.)

Restrictions: None.

Separations: To the photographic collection, one folder of photographs has been separately arranged as MSQ# 25. These photographs include one image of John Tener, c1910, and photographs of his tombstone and memorial plaques, c1949.
To the oversized collection, one folder has been separately arranged as MSO# 25. These oversized materials include Tener's naturalization papers, a map of his ocean voyage while on the baseball tour of 1888-1889 and government proclamations on Thanksgiving Day 1914 and upon his death in 1946.

Catalog Entries: The following entries have been made in the Library and Archives catalog.
Main entry: Tener Family.
Subject: 1. Baseball.
Entries: 2. Baseball Players.
3. Ireland-Social Ute and Customs-19th century.
4. Irish Americans-Pennsylvania-Pittsburgh.
5. Minor League Baseball-Massachusetts-Haverhill.
6. Pennsylvania-Governors.
7. Pennsylvania-Politics and Government-1865-1950.
8. Sports.
9. Trade Unions-Miners.
Added: 1. Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. entries
2. Harding, Warren G. (1865-1924).
3. Tener, John K. (1863-1946).
4. Tener, Mary Frances (1799-1863).
5. United Mine Workers.
Processor: c1969; Original inventory probably by John Harpster. June 1, 1993; Papers rearranged and inventory rewritten by Corey Seeman.
Container List:
Box 1 Folder 1 Family Biographical Material Tener, John
Folder 2 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks 1945-1949
Folder 3 Correspondence 1874-1949
Folder 4 Financial Material (Estate) 1946-1953
Gubernatorial Material
Folder 5 1910-1914 Folder 6 1915-1916
Folder 7 News Clippings 1912-1946
Folder 8 Speeches and Writings 1920-1940 Tener, Mary Frances
Folder 9 1844-1848
Folder 10 1849-1853
Box 2 Folder 1 1854-1857
Folder 2 1858-1863

Posted on February 12, 2004