The Tinneny Family History Site


Biographies of Our Forefathers

      Catherine 'Kate' Tinneny H27

Catherine Tinneny was the first child of Patrick "Yankee Pat" Tinneny and Margaret Malloy.  She was born in Greenock, Scotland on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 1877.  While growing up in Greenock Kate attended Saint Mary's Primary School where she completed six years.  She was said to have been very bright and talented.  She played the mandolin and enjoyed singing and dancing throughout her life. 

There are two stories concerning Kate being in Ireland, at the home of her grandmother Tinneny, Margaret (McAdam) the wife of "Big John" Tinneny of Goladuff.  The first of these was recounted by Kate's daughter Margaret to her niece Charlene Sickinger Snyder.  Margaret told Charlene that Kate's mother, Margaret Malloy, was visiting the home of her mother in law, "Yankee Pat's" mother, in Ireland when Kate was born.  However, a check of the 1891 Census of Scotland, which lists Patrick and his young family, lists Kate and all of the other children as being born in Scotland.  There are numerous other sources that also dispel this family story.

The other story was provided to me by Catherine's sister Rose's daughter Jeannie Yeakle.  Jeannie remembers hearing that when her Aunt Kate was a young girl, in Greenock, she had visited her Grandmother Tinneny on her farm [Goladuff] in Ireland.  Although neither of these accounts can be confirmed, the fact that there are two stories about her being in Ireland, from different sources, leads me to believe that Kate probably visited her grandmother Tinneny at Goladuff sometime prior to 1893. 

In April 1893 Kate left her parents, brothers and sisters in Greenock and traveled to America by ship.  She arrived in the United States on May 5, 1893.  The ship probably landed in New York and traveled to Philadelphia by train.  Kate's mother had a sister, Agnes Malloy, and other relatives living in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia at the time.  It was probably these relatives that attracted Kate to America and to Philadelphia.  She is believed to have lived with Agnes Malloy when she was first in America. 

Like all of her sisters would later do as they reached the age of employment, Kate worked in the textile mills, which were located on Main Street along the banks of the Manayunk Canal in Philadelphia.  In a letter to her cousin John McColgan, dated June 29,1988, Kate's daughter Margaret wrote of her, "mother working in the Mills in Manayunk to bring the whole family to the USA." 

Kate was introduced to a young man named Michael "Mike" Sickinger by her Aunt Agnes Malloy.  Mike was the third of six children.  His father was born in America and served and was wounded in the American Civil War according to Kate's daughter Margaret.  His grandparents were born in Landstuhl, Germany.  The Sickingers were from Berg Sickingen in Landstuhl, and have traced their family back to 1481.  The names of Mike's brothers and sisters were Paul, Anthony, Hermine, Rosalie and Barbara. 

The courtship that followed their introduction culminated in Kate and Mike being married on February 21, 1900 by Father Murphy in Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Manayunk. 

As newlyweds, Kate and Mike lived at Sydenham Street in Philadelphia.  Their first child Francis Michael Sickinger was born there on January 18, 1901.  The couple then moved back to Manayunk and rented a house at 4646 Mansion Street where their first daughter Margaret Mary was born.  They next lived at 4416 Mansion Street where their second daughter Hermine Barbara was born.  Sometime following Hermine's birth the family moved into the home of Kate's parents at 182 Baldwin Street before finally settling into their own home. 

They obtained a piece of property at 132 Maple Avenue in west Manayunk, across the Schuylkill River and just outside Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.  Mike built a small wood frame house on the property.  It was here that their last child, Marie Veronica, was born.  The Maple Street home was located high above the west bank of the Schuylkill River close to the home of Kate's sister Rose. 

Mike worked with metals as a moulder and did ornamental work.  His decorative aluminum and iron fence works were used throughout Roxborough and Manayunk.  Many of his decorative castings could be found as grave markers in the cemetery of Saint Mary's Cemetery in Roxborough.  As of 2006 only a handful of the markers survived in the cemetery.

Photos of surviving grave markers made by Mike Sickinger – Courtesy of Danny Tinneny

Kate and her family were somewhat estranged from her brothers and sisters according to her niece Helen McKenna Gillard.  Helen said that there were always problems between Mike Sickinger and his brother in law Pat Tinneny [the son of Yankee Pat] over money that was allegedly owed Mike by Yankee Pat.  Helen said that this was the reason that the Sickingers were not close to the Tinnenys. 

In a letter written in 1988, Kate's daughter Margaret mentioned that her mother was a very good violin and mandolin player and that she taught music to the children of Saint Mary's School in Manayunk. 

All of Kate and Mike's children attended Saint Mary of the Assumption School in Manayunk, which was located on the other side of the river from where they lived.  This meant a daily trek by foot down from the hills on the west bank of the river, across the Green Lane Bridge, then walking up Green Lane on the east side of the river and over to Conarroe Street to the school.  

Since her husband was German the family belonged to Saint Mary's Church.  Manayunk at the time, and to a lesser degree today, was a cluster of small ethnic communities with each having it's own Catholic Church and School.  Saint Mary of the Assumption Church was the German Church, thus Mike and his family were members there. 

There were many happy days at the Maple Avenue home.  Kate's granddaughter Charlene Snyder and her grandson Bob Sickinger remember Kate, with her Scottish brogue, singing dancing and playing music during their visits.  Charlene described Kate as a happy, joyful, good looking, gray-haired tiny (under 5 feet tall) lady who was good at knitting, crocheting and other crafts.  She remembered frequent lunches that she, and her sister Patricia had with their grandmother.  She told of how Kate would make rose flowers out of radishes to dress up the meals.  Kate also made and gave the girls rag dolls.

Photo: The Sickinger home.                 

Her grandson Robert recalled how Kate was a conservationist of sorts.  He described how she would salvage and reuse the water from the kitchen sink by boiling it and using it to wash the dishes.  He also recalled that she was an excellent cook, but with typical Scottish frugality, the portions of meat that she served with meals were very small.   He also said that his grandmother Kate was very religious and that it was his understanding that she had a mental condition involving religion. 

Before World War II Kate worked, as a domestic housekeeper for a time, for a wealthy German family in Philadelphia by the name of Bergdal. The Bergdals had a mansion in downtown Philadelphia near Girard Avenue and another home in Broomall, Pennsylvania not far from Philadelphia.

Photo: Catherine and child, possibly her daughter Marie. Courtesy of Bob Sickinger. 

Mike worked with his son Francis in the very successful trucking business that the younger Frank had established prior to World War II.  Mike had a falling out with Frank and for many years wouldn't let Frank or his family into his house nor would he visit Frank's house.  This must have been very painful for Kate since she cared for her grandchildren very much.  In spite of Mike's edict, Kate would have her grandchildren, Frank's children Charlene and Patricia, visit her when Mike was away at work.  During one such visit Charlene remembered that she and her sister were eating lunch with their grandmother Kate and her grandfather came home unexpectedly.  The two girls had to climb out the back window of the house and walk all the way back across the river and up the steep hill to their house in Roxborough.

In her mid 50s Kate developed some type of disorder associated with menopause and was admitted to Norristown State Hospital.  The hospital was located not far from Philadelphia in Norristown, Pennsylvania.  Kate became a permanent resident there and never returned home.  She was eventually assigned a cottage of her own at the hospital.  She was visited frequently by family members including her grandson Bob Sickinger.  Bob and other members of the family recall visiting her in her cottage at the hospital and noticing that all of the doctors, nurses and patients seemed to love Kate. 



Photo: Daughter Marie, Catherine, daughter Margaret, holding granddaughter Pat Sickinger Snyder. Right side daughter in law Charlotte in front of Catherine’s daughter Minnie on the porch of Catherine’s home, West Manayunk.

Courtesy of Bob Sickinger.

In her later years Catherine, as did her sister Rose, suffered from diabetes and is believed, by her granddaughter Charlene, to have died of that illness at the hospital on August 21, 1949.  She was buried in the Sickinger plot at Saint Mary of the Assumption Cemetery in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia with her daughter Marie Veronica who had pre deceased her.  Catherine’s husband Mike continued to live in the house on Maple Avenue while Kate was in the hospital and until his death on August 25, 1953. 

Note:The descendants of Catherine Tinneny and Michael Sickinger include: All of their Sickinger descendants and Snyder, Fazzi, Stebenau, Dease, .

Update January 17, 2021
Copyright  R. Tinneny,  All Rights Reserved, 2002-2021