JOHN KINLEY TENER was born in County Tyrone, Ireland and at the age of ten moved with his family to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he attended public schools. After working as a clerk for a number of years, he became an officer in the Chartiers Valley Gas Company and later worked for the Chambers & McKee Glass Company. In 1891 he moved to Charleroi, becoming President of the First National Bank there. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1908, serving until he was elected governor. During Tener’s four years as governor, major advancements were made in state administration. The state highway system was modernized, the Public Service Commission was created to regulate public utilities, vocational training was introduced into the public schools, a new agency was established to oversee labor and industrial affairs, provision was made for holding statewide primaries to nominate candidates for all public offices, and laws were enacted to protect the quality of food, to provide mothers’ pensions, to reform prisons, and to create the Pennsylvania Historical Commission to chronicle the state’s history. A professional baseball player in his youth, Tener served as President of the National Baseball League for five years beginning in 1913 when he was governor. He was also President of the W.J. Tener Insurance Company and of Tener, Lowry & Company of Pittsburgh.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. E. New York: James T. White & Company.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress