Dr. Jerome B. Tenney

Company B, 2nd Illinois Volunteer Cavalry

Article From April Issue of "Tenney Times"

Written and submitted by Della Tenney

Tenney Times Newsletter – April 2001

Now, in this issue of the Tenney Times, you will learn about Dr. Jerome B. Tenney, (1822-1907) the brother of Marcus de Lafayette Tenney. It is quite amazing how this story came into our possession. On April 2, 2001, a small neatly wrapped package arrived from one of our TFA members, Ramona Miles of Miles City, MT. The package contained not only this story, but also a small album of historic photographs relating to the descendants of Marcus and Jerome Tenney. Ramona also included genealogical information that she had assembled, along with the following newspaper story, published sometime after April 24, 1907.

The daguerreotype collection was identified as having been found in Topeka, Kansas in the early 1960’s by Patricia Tinney of Paradise, UT. Patricia later sent the historic photos intact to TFA member Marilyn Tenney of Riverton, UT, a descendant, (who, in turn, passed the album to Ramona Miles for additional research). The story we published about Marcus inspired Marilyn and Ramona to share this additional information about Dr. Jerome Tenney and to donate the album itself to the Tenney Family Association, where it will be safely kept within its treasured archives. So our gratitude and thanks to all who have contributed: Geil Wiggins, The Kansas Historical Society, Patricia Tinney, Marilyn Tenney, Ramona Miles, and to the unidentified newspapers that printed details relating to Dr. Jerome Tenney’s life and death. – Della Tenney, Editor.


…A Profile

Jerome B. Tenney, son of Daniel G. and Sarah Tenney was born December 1, 1823 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire. He married Martha Ellen Britt on May 10, 1849. Martha Ellen Britt was born 14 April 1831 in Todd County, Kentucky, the daughter of Jefferson Britt and Mary Morton North.

Jerome and Sarah were the parents of four children, Emma, Cassius Clay (who died at only four days of age) Laura, and Ella. According to records, Jerome, Marcus de Lafayette and his parents left New Hampshire early in his life and moved to Atlanta, Illinois. He was living there when the war broke out and was one of the first to enlist in the Union Army, enlisting in 1861 and left for the front on August 11, 1861 as a second lieutenant in Company B, Second Regiment of the U.S. Calvary. He was afterward promoted to First Lieutenant and at the three days' hard fought battle of Pittsburg Landing was in command of his company, in the absence of its Captain, Major Larison.

He fought with his regiment at Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, Corinth, Vicksburg, Iuka, and in other major battles. At Corinth, he was tendered a captaincy but refused it and resigned as lieutenant to accept a position as surgeon on the hospital staff, where his services were much needed.

April 14, 1862 he was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh, an injury that disabled him from further combat. He continued to serve by practicing his profession as an Army surgeon, and was soon promoted to Chief Surgeon of the Western Division of the Union Army.

His sympathetic and unselfish character is depicted by an account that eloquently describes his actions during a critical and stressful episode. While lying wounded and suffering with his entire stomach open and his intestines bared, along with hundreds of others of both armies who had been put on a flat boat and were being sent up the river for hospital treatment, his attention was arrested by the groans and intense suffering of a confederate soldier who lay dying from the loss of blood, having just lost a leg.

Dr. Tenney, realizing that if the man’s life was to be saved, he must have immediate attention, managed with great difficulty to tear his own shirt from his body and make it into strips with which he bound the wounded limb. Not having the strength within to bind it tight enough, he used the ramrod of his musket to twist the bandages to stop the flow of blood, after which he himself fainted from sheer weakness, being in the most horrible condition. When at last a physician came to administer to them, he found him still lying unconscious but tightly holding the ramrod, which had done its work well. The man whose life he saved was General Houston, of Texas.

Such were his administrations to all suffering humanity. After the war, Dr. Tenney settled in Atlanta, Illinois where he became prominently connected with the social and business life of the city, becoming an important part of the town’s early history, and praised by many for his medical skill and aptitude.

He later moved to Clearwater, Florida where he lived for about 25 years and served until his death on April 24, 1907. The obituaries praise his devotion to his patients and described him as having "made a wide circle of friends and admirers, administering to the wants and needs of those in distress in a most unpretentious manner." The article goes on to say, "Always jovial, he shed a ray of sunlight wherever he lent his presence and his familiar figure will be greatly missed upon the streets and in our homes."

Events leading to Dr. Tenney’s death were described thusly in a local Florida newspaper:

On Wednesday about noon as he was preparing his mid-day meal, he discovered that the upper part of the house was afire caused from a defective flue. He went outside and ascended to the top of the house by means of a ladder, at the same time, crying loudly for help. Mrs. DeLong, a nearby neighbor who had been confined to her bed by illness for about 10 days, and who was at home alone at the time, heard the noise. She realized immediately someone was in distress, so she arose quickly and from her door could see the house in flames. She quickly threw on a skirt and slippers and ran to the scene. Seeing that Dr. Tenney was in danger of burning, she begged him to descend, which he finally did, but made an attempt to go up again, at which time Mrs. DeLong pulled away the ladder and fought with him for possession of it, finally sitting upon it. Dr. Tenney then made his way around to another door and entered the house, by now nearly all ablaze, supposedly to save important papers and a small amount of cash which constituted about all of his worldly possessions, aside from his home, which was now going up in flames and striking agony to his heart as to drive him almost insane. Waiting for a few minutes, Mrs. DeLong feared he would be burned in the building, and being unable to make him listen to her calling, she wet a towel and put it over her head and entered the house, going through the flames to find him lying insensibly on the floor. She dragged him, as best she could in her weak condition, down the steps and into the yard, where consciousness returned and he asked her to save his papers, directing her to them, in a drawer in a certain room, which she found with great difficulty and danger to her life. She took them safely out, but found her skirts ablaze when she reached him again.

A mattress was lying near one of the doors and during the excitement; one of them had thrown it into the yard. On this, Mrs. DeLong managed to drag him for some distance toward her home, resting at intervals, and finally with a determined extraordinary effort, Dr. Tenney arose and walked with Mrs. Delong’s aid the remaining distance to her house where she made him as comfortable as possible and quickly summoned the aid of physicians.

Upon a thorough investigation, it was found that he was burned beyond all hopes of recovery and opiates were administered to relieve his sufferings, which ended in death at noon yesterday, after 24 hours of intense suffering relieved only by unconsciousness.

His daughter, Mrs. Turner of Illinois, who spent most of the winter here, was communicated with by telegraph, but could not reach here in time to be of service so requested that his body be sent to her.

The Atlanta, Illinois obituary added the following information:

The body arrived here (Atlanta, Logan County, Illinois) Monday on the Vandalia, having been delayed en route, and was taken to the home of his daughter, Mrs. C.H. Turner, from whence it was taken to the Atlanta Cemetery for burial at 2:00 p.m.
Displayed upon the caskets of Dr. Jerome B. Tenney and Mrs. R. T. Gill, both of whom were coincidentally buried in the Atlanta Cemetery on that particular Monday afternoon, was a time worn silk banner inscribed, "U.S. Co. B." This flag had been presented by the Ladies of Atlanta to Co. B, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, when the soldiers left Illinois for the front in 1861. Mrs. Gill had been one of the principal movers in purchasing the material and making the flag.

Dr. Jerome B. Tenney is the great-great-grandfather of TFA member, Ramona Miles.

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