The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan



Thaddeus D. Seeley, History of Oakland County, Michigan, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago (1912), Vol. II, pp. 505-506

RUFUS TENNY AND JESSE TENNY.  Among the pioneers of Oakland county were Rufus Tenny and Jesse Tenny, who settled in the southwestern part of Highland township, in the Tenny neighborhood, in 1833, although it was not known by that name until after they settled here.  They came directly from Monroe county, New York, to this state, making the long journey with teams, and bringing all of their household goods and their families with them.  Bravely they dared all the hardships and privations incidental to life in an undeveloped country in order to pave the way for those who followed, and to establish homes where their children and their descendants might enjoy the comforts and even the luxuries of life without the labor and toil which they endured.

Rufus Tenny married, in Monroe county, New York, Eunice Mudge, who proved a true helpmate to him in the making of a home in the wilderness, doing her full share of pioneer labor, and in common with her neighbors living in a primitive manner, cooking by the open fireplace and carding, spinning and weaving the homespun in which she fashioned the garments worn by the family.  Of their children, eight grew to years of maturity, although none are now living, their names being as follows: Edwin, who settled in Milford as a cabinet maker; Trumbull, who was for many years a jeweler in Milford, Oakland county; Monroe, whose daughter, Mrs. Beckwith, owns the old home farm; Henry, who was a mechanic; Mary, who married John C. Wood and died in middle life; Ann Eliza who, married Henry Nelson, and removed to the South, where she died a few years later; Clinton, who died at the age of sixty years; and Rufus, who lived but twenty-one years.

Monroe Tenny, the third son in succession of birth of Rufus Tenny, and his brother Clinton remained on the home farm where both were reared, Monroe having been a boy of ten years when he came from Monroe county, New York, his native place, with his parents, and as Clinton Tenny had had the misfortune to lose a leg when young, the farm work devolved largely upon Monroe.  Monroe Tenny subsequently spent a year in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was married several years before he went to Cleveland, but his wife was a Cleveland girl, and on his return to Highland township the farm was divided, he taking one half and Clinton the remainder.  Monroe Tenny immediately began adding to the value of his farm by inaugurating substantial improvements, in 1866 erecting the house that now stands upon the place, it being the home of his daughter, Mrs. Beckwith.  On August 28, 1872, while standing near a threshing machine on the farm of his uncle, Jesse Tenny, the engine of the machine exploded, killing Mr. Monroe Tenny, his cousin, Edson Tenny, and two other men, one of whom was Mr. Odell, a neighbor, a tragedy not yet forgotten.

Monroe Tenny married in 1848, Eliza Morgan, a Cleveland girl, but their marriage took place several years before Mr. Tenny went to that city.  She survived him many years, passing away in 1905, at the venerable age of eighty years.  She was the mother of eight children, namely: Morgan, who died at the age of twenty-one years, in 1870: Julia, wife [Begin Page 506] of George Hedden, of Highland township; Rufus H., a bookkeeper at Fenton, Michigan; Frank M., who spent his entire life on the home farm and died in 1900, aged forty years; Mary, who married Mart Tunis, of Brighton, Michigan, died in 1886; Cora, who died in infancy; Nellie, wife of W. H. Ike, of New York, died in 1897; and Mabel, who owns the old homestead property, and is now the wife of Fred Beckwith.  Mrs. Monroe Tenny assumed the management of the Tenny homestead after the death of her husband, being forced while rearing her family to look well after her financial affairs.  Her two older sons, sixteen and eighteen years old when their father died, assisted her in tilling the land, while her eldest daughter, who soon began teaching school, turned her wages over to her mother.  She completed the house which Mr. Tenny began to build, and subsequently added to it, at the same time further improving the property as her means allowed. She was a woman of much force of character, and a valued member of the Highland Baptist church, which was organized in the old log house belonging to Jesse Tenny, and of which the Tennys were prominent supporters.

Mr. Fred Beckwith was born in Plymouth, Wayne county, Michigan, in 1869, and since his marriage with Mabel Tenny has devoted his time and energies to the care of the old Tenny homestead, as a general farmer being quite successful.  Mr. and Mrs. Beckwith have five children, namely: Bernice, Clare, Herbert T., Flora A. and Walter. Mrs. Beckwith is also a member of the Baptist church.

Jesse Tenny, the pioneer, married Thankful Blackmer, and to them eight children were born, as follows: Alonzo, who married and died in early life; Adeline, who inherited the old Jesse Tenny homestead, married John C. Morse, and their son, Seymour Morse, lives at No. 1025 Vaughn street, Ann Arbor; Seymour, who engaged in mining in Australia as a young man, married there, wrote home to his family after he had been there sixty years: but he never returned to this country, dying in Australia in 1910; Sarah died in childhood; Edward, for many years had charge of the Baptist church at Holly, and his daughter married Dr. McDonald of Holly; Edson was killed by the explosion of an engine, as previously related; William left home when a young man, and was not heard from for many a long year and never returned home; and Wayland, who was killed while serving in the Civil war.


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