The Tinneny Family History Site

Biographies of Our Forefathers

Mary Jane Tinneny

Mary Jane Tinneny as a young girl. Courtesy of Joyce Roff. 

Mary Jane Tinneny was the fourth child and third daughter of Patrick Tinneny and Margaret Malloy.  She was born October 20, 1882 in the family home at 17 East Shaw Street in Greenock, Scotland. On October 22, she was baptized in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church at 14 Patrick Street in Greenock.  Her godparents were Mary Jane Duncan and James Malloy.  Mary Jane was raised in the family home on Shaw Street and attended school and church at Saint Mary’s.  Like her father and others in the family, Mary Jane played a musical instrument, the accordion.

Extract of Mary Jane's Birth Registration.

Mary Jane came to America aboard the S.S.  Pennland.  The ship’s manifest shows that she boarded the vessel at Liverpool, England on June 7, 1899 and arrived in Philadelphia on June 19, 1899. The entry describes her as a 15-year old of Scotch nationality, occupation servant and that she could read and write. Her last residence was Greenock, Scotland with her final port being Philadelphia and the final destination being her sister Katherine Tinneny’s residence at 131 Pensdale Street in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia.  She declared that her sister paid for her passage ticket #8568 and that she had no money with her. She also indicated that she had not been in the United States previously.  

Post card of the U.S.S. Pennland from the Internet.

By June of 1900, Mary Jane was living at 125 Pensdale Street in Philadelphia.  On June 14th of that year her father, Yankee Pat,  travelled from Glasgow to New York then on to Philadelphia.  His stated reason for entering the country was to visit his daughter Mary Jane at the Pensdale Street address.

125 Pensdale Street.  

Mary Jane’s older sister Kate and older brother Johnny were also living in Philadelphia.  She and they had come ahead of their mother, brothers and sisters who remained in Greenock until December 27th that year.  Mary Jane’s grandmother Malloy and some of her Malloy aunts were already established in Philadelphia.


Mary Jane Tinneny. Courtesy of Joyce Roff. 

 Mary Jane’s husband John in his uniform. Courtesy of  Joyce Roff.

According to Mary Jane’s daughter Isabella, her mother had known her father John Patrick McColgan in Greenock.  Isabella said, that her father had followed her mother to Philadelphia from Scotland to continue their courtship.  John was the son of John McColgan and Isabella McDougal.  He was born in Greenock on April 21, 1882 and was baptized on April 28, 1882 at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenock.  His sponsor at baptism was Catherine McAteer.  John worked as a ship builder in Greenock and served in the Army until he left both Scotland and the Army to follow Mary Jane to America. 

Mary Jane Tinneny and John P. McColgan wedding photo. Courtesy of Joyce Roff.

Mary Jane and John were married at Holy Family Catholic Church on Hermitage Street in Philadelphia in 1907. Their Pennsylvania marriage licence number was 217824. Following their marriage they lived in a house on Baldwin Street, above Wilde Street, in the Manayunk.

John was a first class carpenter whose specialty was working on ships.  He and Mary Jane moved from Manayunk to an apartment on Kaighn Avenue in Camden, New Jersey to be closer to his work in the shipyards in New Jersey.  The couple then moved into their own small wooden house, which John built, at 221 Highland Avenue in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

As a ship carpenter, John helped build the Albatross which in the early1900s was the biggest boat on Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania.  It was moored in the Manayunk canal in Philadelphia and would sail through the Manayunk locks and into the river above Flat Rock Dam.  After spending some time as a ship carpenter John became a house carpenter, builder and contractor. 

Mary Jane and John had four children John, Edward, Isabella and Catharine who were born between 1908 and 1913 in Pennsauken.  When Mary Jane was 29 years old, and her daughter Catharine “Kitty” was 13 months old, Mary Jane miscarried and developed pneumonia. 

Mary Jane died on February 10, 1915. Her young son John was with her in the kitchen while she was baking when she began hemorrhaging.  Although a neighbor and a doctor came to the house they could not save her. Mary Jane was just 29 years old. She was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery just off of the Marlton Pike outside of Pennsauken, New Jersey. Her son John remembered that Mary Jane’s sister Kate’s husband, Mike Sickinger, made a grave marker out of molded metal that was placed in the ground with two rods to mark Mary Jane’s grave. 

John found it very difficult to work and to care for his four young children.  To help him he brought his sister Isabella McColgan over from Scotland to live with them in Pennsauken.  It didn’t work out and the arrangement with Isabella came to a smoky end.  One day while caring for the children, Isabella put a roast in the oven, put the children to bed for a nap and left the house to socialize.  The roast burned, filling the house with smoke and rescuers had to get young Johnny, Ed, Isabella and Kitty out of the house through the windows. 

After that incident John made his brother-in-law, Mary Jane’s oldest brother John Tinneny, executor for his estate, which included the house in Pennsauken.  He then put the children into orphanages in Merchantville, New Jersey and was never seen or heard from again by the family.  His granddaughter Joyce Roff said she had heard that her grandfather had been traced to Canada where he attempted to reenter the military service in an effort to get back to Scotland. Mary Jane's brother John travelled to Greenock, Scotland in search of John but none of the family there knew of his whereabouts or had heard from him after he left the family in New Jersey.

Isabella and Kitty were put in one orphanage and their brothers were put into another orphanage.  From the orphanage the children were “farmed out” which meant that they were literally sent out each day to farms to work as laborers.  Their Uncle Johnny Tinneny he went and got them out of the orphanages.  He and his wife Alice took Isabella to live with them.  His Aunt Maggie Tinneny and her husband Ed McKenna took in young Johnny McColgan, and his Uncle James Tinneny and his wife Gertrude took in Ed. Mary Jane’s maternal uncle, Barney Malloy and his wife Mary, took in the youngest child, Kitty. 

One day, for some reason, which is unknown now, Mary Jane’s youngest brother Patrick gathered up the children and took them back to the orphanages.  When Mary Jane’s brother James found out he and his brother-in-law Ed McKenna went to the orphanages and took the children out.  James then confronted his younger brother Pat, they got into a heated argument over the matter and Jim struck Pat and “knocked him on his behind.”  The children were then taken back into the homes of their aunts and uncles. The children were then taken back into the homes of their aunts and uncles.

In a discussion with Mary Jane’s daughter Isabella in July 1990, she remembered her grandmother Margaret Tinneny going around and visiting her and her brothers and sister while they were recovering from illnesses that they had acquired in the orphanage.  She recalled her as being “very kind and nice.”

Mary Jane was the daughter of Patrick “Yankee Pat” Tinneny of Goladuff, Newtownbutler, county Fermanagh, Northern Ireland; Greenock, Scotland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the great granddaughter of Hugh Tinneny of Goladuff.

For an account and related photos of the search for John McColgan See John’s Post Family Life – A Mystery Solved.


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Updated January 7, 2024
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