When Russell Elmer (or Elliot) Tenure was born on October 24, 1893, in Nyack, Rockland County, New York, his father, William Tenure, and his mother, Marietta Charters, were both 22. He had one brother, Percy, who was 2 years older.
On July 4, 1902, when Russell was 8, he badly injured himself experimenting with fireworks. Refusing to learn from that experience, Russell experimented with dynamite the following year, badly injured both his hands and blew a 2 inch hole in his leg.
Tragically, Marietta died in 1905 [Update: Etta left the family but didn't die], when Russell was 12 and William moved his family to New Jersey. Uprooted from his home and friends, his mother gone, his father working long days, Russell tried to build relationships with the boys on his baseball team by buying them new equipment and treats. Unfortunately, the Tenure family was not wealthy and Russell obtained the funds for this generosity through a late night burglary. Alas, Russell was not a gifted thief and the police quickly arrested him.
Raising the two boys was too much for William Tenure and he sent Percy to live with his wife`s family back in Nyack. After paying his dues with the New Jersey legal system, Russell left New Jersey and his family and moved to Corry, Pennsylvania, where, after lying about his age, he found employment as a paperboy and boarded with Nellie Durham and Hannah Canning, 2 elderly widows.
Russell moved to Manhattan, New York City sometime between 1910 and 1912 to live with his brother Percy, who worked as a chauffeur, at 845 Columbus Avenue, 2 blocks west of Central Park. On December 18, 1912, Russell enlisted in the New York National Guard. Russell worked for a while as a clerk but eventually followed his brother and found work as a chauffeur. He worked for a wealthy New York playboy, sometimes finding dates for his employer.
In 1915, Russell met Mildred Tabor, the daughter of William Tabor and Sadie Simons. Mildred's father had died when she was 8 and her mother worked as a dressmaker. He married Mildred on August 21, 1915. He later described this as a forced marriage and since their first child, Ethel Elizabeth Tenure, my wife's grandmother, was born March 6, a little over 7 months after their marriage, its possible that their union was the result of the pregnancy.
Over two years later, on October 15, 1918, Russell and Mildred had a second child, Franklin, named after Mildred's brother. On February 23, 1921, their family was complete with the birth of Edith.
Soon after Ethel was born, Russell was called up into National Guard service. Angry at American involvement during the Mexican Revolution, Mexican units had raided across the United States border and attacked a military base. The United States responded to this attack with an invasion of Mexico in mid-March of 1916. President William Taft was also worried about further Mexican raids on U.S. soil so ordered the mobilization of National Guard units across the country, including New York. On June 28, Russell was mustered in the New York 12th Regiment. After only a few weeks, the war was over and Russell returned to civilian life.
September 28, 1929 he then married Rose Ethel Blausten in Long Island City, New York. However, he was still married to Mildred, was convicted of bigamy, and served a 5 year sentence in Sing Sing State Prison. After he was released, he married Augusta Galmabertz. He died on April 25, 1954 in Rosendale, New York, at the age of 61, and was buried in Tillson, New York.