The Tinneny Family History Site


Biographies of Our Forefathers

                 Francis Michael Patrick Sickinger H64

Francis “Frank” Sickinger was the first child of Catherine Tinneny and Michael Sickinger.  He was born on January 19, 1901 while his parents lived on Sydenham Street in Philadelphia.  Frank attended Saint Mary of the Assumption School in Manayunk.  

His mother Kate worked as a domestic for the Bergdal family, a wealthy German family in Philadelphia.  Frank became friendly with Mr. Bergdal and by the time he was 14 or 15 years old he was working on Bergdal’s racing cars. 

Photo: Frank’s First Holy Communion or Confirmation photo.  Courtesy of Bob Sickinger 

When he was 16 years old Frank enlisted in the United States Army.  He served in Europe during World War I.  Drawing on his pre enlistment experience the army assigned him as a driver.  He frequently drove motorcycles with a sidecar.  He drove many of the senior officers and celebrities who visited the troops at the front including the famous songwriter Irving Berlin.

Photo: Frank WWI Europe (seated right) Courtesy of Charlene Sickinger Snyder

Following the war and his discharge from the Army Frank married Mary Raimonda in November 1921.  They had two sons Francis who was born in 1922 and William Robert "Bob", who was born in 1925.  When the couple later separated the two children were raised by their mother and remained in the Roxborough Manayunk area.  Mary and the two boys spent a good deal of time at the home of the their grandmother's brother, Jim Tinneny and his wife Gert, on Pechin Street.   

Photo: Mary Raimonda 1921. Courtesy of Bob Sickinger. 

When he got out of the Army, Frank became very friendly with a man named A. T. Baker who lived in Manayunk.  Mr. Baker was a major manufacturer and supplier of blankets used by the army in World War I.  Frank had always had an interest in mechanical things and vehicles.  In support of that interest Mr. Baker gave Frank his first truck at either no cost or for just a token cost.  The truck was probably surplus since the war was over and Baker no longer had a need for it since he no longer had the blanket contract. 

Frank didn't limit his endeavors with mechanics and driving to land based vehicles.  According to his son Bob Sickinger, Frank was the first person to set a speedboat record of over 100 miles per hour. He raced hydroplanes. 

Frank built the single truck that he received from Mr. Baker into a major trucking company of the time.  The company was called Sickinger Motor Freight.  At it's peak, Frank owned 21 Freihauf tractors and trailers and had licenses to operate in all of the states.  He had two garages in Manayunk, one on Green lane near the school and another in lower Manayunk.  He also had a garage in Conshohocken, which is just outside Philadelphia.  That garage was located on a side street off of Fayette Street where it tops the hill coming up from the Schuylkill River.  He also had a garage on Dexter Street near Roxborough Ave. in Philadelphia.  His company delivered much of the materiel used in the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York.

On November 17, 1931 Frank married Wadyslava [Charlotte] "Lottie" Grabowski after divorcing his first wife Mary.  Lottie was born in the town of Nanticoke, which is in the coalmining region of eastern Pennsylvania, on February 24, 1905.  Frank and Lottie met one day when he was visiting his mother at the State Hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania.  Frank and Lottie had three children.  They are Shirley, Patricia and Charlene. 

Photo: Charlotte Grabowski Sickinger, November 1930. Courtesy of Patricia Sickinger Snyder

In 1939 Frank sold the business to several different companies including Atkinson and the Motor Dispatch.  After selling the business Frank went to work for War Assets.  In his late 50s he moved to Ship Bottom Island, New Jersey where he opened a little bait and tackle business. He raced hydroplanes for Sacony-Vacuum Mobile Gas Company.  Mobile Gas gave him a Mobile Station at Ship Island in New Jersey where he did boat repairs.  In the winter he drove an oil truck for Atlantic Refining Company.  One time he got caught in the middle of a robbery and he was afraid of the fuel truck would be shot. In the off-season he drove a school bus.  He was liked very much by the children he bused to school each day. 

Photo: Frank and Charlotte 50th Wedding Anniversary 1980. Courtesy of Patricia Sickinger Snyder. 

At his very successful marina at Brant Beach on 42nd Boulevard he rented and sold boats, motors, bait and fishing tackle. In 1980 he sold the marina and moved to Cedar Bonnet Island by then he had built the marina from nothing to 60 boat slips. 

Frank died at Port Saint Lucy, Florida in September 1982.  At his request, his remains were cremated, returned to New Jersey and scattered in the waters off Barnegat Bay. 

Note:The Descendants of Francis Sickinger include: Snyder, Fazzi, Stebenau, Dease, Fuhrer and McDonough.



Update January 17, 2021
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