Ann McAleer – wise woman to Italian Americans

Ann McAleer was a cousin about three times removed from the McMahons. Her maiden name was McEnhill – a Tyrone family that married into the McMahons on more than one occasion over the last century. Born around 1840 in Ireland, she went to live in New York with her husband Pat McAleer, possibly after a short time living in Scotland.

Together they had about 17 children! Half of them appear to have died in childhood. They lived on Mulberry Street in New York when it was part of a very working class district with high levels of poverty and immigration. As new Italian arrivals moved in, many Irish Americans departed but Ann decided to stay.

A descendant of Ann – Don Baratta (died 2016) – wrote that she acquired the status of a “wise woman” among the Italians who regarded her with awe and respect. She became known as Signora Macaleera¬†and in a 1930 census, she was listed as speaking Italian.

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