Biographies of Our Forefathers
FRANCIS "FRANK" TINNENY T37
Photo Francis Tinneny courtesy of his neice
Elizabeth “Betty” Tinneny of Roslea, County
Francis Tinneny was the second child of Thomas Tinneny and
Bridget Gilmartin. According to his birth certificate
Francis was born October 21, 1886, while the family lived at
Barrack Hill in Belturbet, County Cavan, Ireland. The birth was registered November 1,
1886. According to his neice, Mary Tinneny O’Kane, when he
was a boy he almost drowned in the River Erne in Belturbet.
The 1911 Census of Ireland showed Frank age 24 living
with his parents and siblings in Belturbet as being able to
read and to write and his occupation being a carpenter.
Extract from the 1911 Census of Ireland Form A.
Frank married Catherine “Kate” Reilly who lived on a
farm in Cloncose, Belturbet. Kate was the daughter of
James Reilly and his wife Margaret McMahon of the
townland of Cloncose. Kate's
birth certificate shows that she was born at Cloncose on
January 14, 1891 and that Mary Connolly certified by
making a mark with an X that she was present at the
birth. Kate's birth was registered January 16,1891.
Following their marriage in Belturbet, Kate and Frank sailed
from Queenstown aboard the RMS
on September 5, 1912.
The ship's manifest was difficult to read but their date of
arrival in New York appeared to be September 13 although it
could have been the 15th or 18th. Frank was passenger #23
and was listed as being 24 years old, a carpenter, married,
from Belturbet and as being able to read and to write. His
physical description showed that he was 5ft 6inches tall
with a fair complexion, fair hair and brown eyes. The
couples final destination was listed as 48 King Street,
Flushing, New York the home of his sister in law Frank's
wife's sister Margaret Reiley. Kate was listed on the
manifest as Catherine Tinneny age 21, from Belturbet, next
of kin was shown as her mother Margaret Reilly in Belturbet.
She had listed her destination as visiting her sister
Margaret at the King Street address. On the manifest Kate
was described as having a dark complexion, dark hair and
blue eyes. It was indicated that Frank and Kate each had
the equivalent of $50.00 dollars in their possession during
the passage. On the ship's manifest both Frank and
Catherine's last names were clearly spelled Tinneny not
Tierney as was later the case.
Frank's father Tommy Tinneny is said to have helped, to some
degree, to care for Kate's mother who remained on the farm
when her daughter and new son in law went to America.
According to Frank's niece, Mary Tinneny O’Kane, at some
point after arriving in the United States, Frank and his
family's name changed. The actual reason for the name
change is unknown. As late as 1942, when he completed the
Draft registration form for World War II, Frank stated and
signed his name Tinnany. Yet his sons entered the service in
WW II as Tierneys.
In the 1990s cousins in several branches of Frank's family
in Ireland said independently that Frank and Kate had
initially gone to live in Detroit, Michigan and that Frank
worked as a carpenter in the Ford Motor Works. However,
Frank's son Robert told me in 1996 that he checked with his
surviving sisters and that they believed the information
about Detroit was inaccurate. Robert also said that they
never heard of his father being a carpenter [The ship's
manifest shows his trade as that of carpenter, information
which was provided by Frank himself. The 1911 Census of
Ireland also listed his occupation as carpenter.] The
surviving children all believed that their parents arrived
in New York and never lived anywhere else in America.
According to Frank's niece Mary Tinneny O'Kane, Frank and
Kate's first child died at or prior to birth. Frank and
Kate had eight other children. They were Margaret,
Elizabeth, Thomas and Francis who were twins, Robert, Mary,
William and Annie.
As was the case with all males in the United States Frank
was required to register for the Draft (Military Service) for
World War I which he did December 12th 1918. On that form he
stated and wrote his name as Tinnany. Some of his siblings
spelled it with an A and others with an E but they were all
Frank’s WW I Draft Registration document.
Front of Frank’s WWII Registration document.
And as he did for World War I, Frank registered for the
draft in World War II, this time he and his wife were
living at 535 West 160Street in New York City and again
he signed his surname Tinnany.
Reverse of Franks WWII Registration Card.
Although Frank was never called to serve in either war,
three of his sons Francis, Robert and Thomas served in
the United States Army in World War II. Thomas was in the
Army Air Corps and Francis and Thomas were infantrymen and
Francis was wounded in North Africa and received a the
Purple Heart Medal.
By the 1940s the family had moved to the Bronx section
of New York City. Through the 1950s, Frank's niece Mary
Tinneny O’Kane and other members of the family in
Ireland and England corresponded with Frank's family in
New York. Gordon Pepper, the grandson of Frank's sister
Annie Tinneny provided the following post World War II
address, which he got from an old address book of his
Uncle Francis Davis. The address showed that Frank and
his wife lived at 1494 University Avenue, Bronx New
York. The family in Ireland lost touch with Frank's
family in the 1950s.
Photo: Catherine and Francis Tinneny
courtesy of Eileen Tierney Stolte, which she
posted on Facebook Saint Patrick’s day 2021
with the following comment:
“My Grandma and Grandpa, Catherine Reilly
and Frank Tinneny, Irish immigrants from
Belturbet, County Cavan Ireland. Traveled
over the Atlantic in 1912 through Ellis
Island and settled in the Bronx. Raised 8
children. Passed their Catholic faith and
their strong work ethic down to us all.
Happy St. Patrick's Day Tierney Family!”
By 1996 I had given up on locating the descendants of
Frank and Kate. After about five years of trying it
appeared that they would be forever lost
among the many Tierneys in New York and throughout
America. However, in the summer of 1996 I was able
to locate the widow of Frank's son Francis
who was living in New Hampshire.
opened the doors for me to contact and obtain
information about Frank and his descendents and
confirmation that the family’s name had been Tinneny.
confirmed that Frank and Kate settled in New York City
where they raised their family at various locations.
In 1996, Frank’s son Robert told me that when he read a
draft of the information I’d gathered about his father he
recalled a boyhood memory. When his grandfather died in 1938
Mick Casey, the husband of Frank’s sister Margaret in Belturbet, had written to America to notify Frank
Robert said that as a boy he remembered one day about 1938
that he saw his father in the parlor of their home in New
York City sitting alone and crying and that he thought he
remembered his mother telling him that his father had
learned that his father had died. That must have been the
day that Frank received the letter from Mick Casey.
Frank and Kate's youngest child Anne cared for her parents
in their later years. Frank died in New York, March 16,
1967, and Kate died April 13, 1969.
Frank's descendants include Tierney, Maloney, Sansobrino, Norton, Masterson,
In 2020 Ancestry DNA tests results confirmed that Frank
(Tinneny) Tierney’s descendants
were DNA matches with Rich Tinneny thus eliminating any
question about their Tinneny ancestry.