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PATRICK  McALEER, son of John McAleer and Ann Hughes,  was born at Drumnakilly, parish Termonmaguirk, co. Tyrone, Ireland, about 17 March 1815, and died at Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts on 3 April 1903. He was married at St. Mary’s parish, Boston, on 8 February 1849, to Ellen M.J. Heavy, daughter of James Heavy and Margaret McGrath, who was born at Garvagh, parish Ballymacormick, co. Tyrone, Ireland, and baptized there on 13 June 1825; she died 20 March 1902 at Boston. (see Longford for information about Ellen)

Patrick McAleer was the eldest of 8 children of John McAleer and Ann Hughes. According to Irish naming conventions, he should have been named John after his father and grandfather who were both named John, but since he was born on or close to St. Patrick’s day, he was named after the patron saint. (There are no existing birth or baptismal records for the parishes in this region of Tyrone )

In 1823, Patrick immigrated with his parents and three siblings to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. He lived with his family in St. John City, then Loch Lomond, and then St. John River District, Oromocto, Nerepis.  In 1834 when he was 19 years old, Patrick moved away from the family to St. John City.  In 1842, when he was 27 years old, he moved to the North End of Boston, where he lived with the mother of John J. Williams, future Archbishop, until his marriage to Ellen Heavy in 1849.  James B. Cullen, in his book The story of the Irish in Boston, lists Patrick McAleer as one of the leading Irish businessmen in the city (1889, p. 423, 428-429). Patrick had the first pew in the East gallery of the Old Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

You may contact me for more information and Patrick and his descendants. To learn more about the character of Pat, please read the following obituary, which appeared in the Boston Globe, Monday, April 6, 1903:



Patrick McAleer, Who Never Sold his Real Estate, Could Not Be Moved


“ There isn’t money enough in the city of Boston to buy this property,” said Patrick McAleer to the representative of the city some 15 years ago, when the city wanted to buy his estate on Province st.

The city offered him $1,000,000 for the property at the time. The city wanted it as a site for a new courthouse.

This offer of $1,000,000 was made to “Pat” McAleer in his modest little carpenter shop at 21 Province st., and “the old man”—as he was called—was working away at the time on some small job of carpentering.

He treated the representatives of the city as he did everyone else, in a short and abrupt manner. He knew his own mind, understood his own business, and no man could swerve him from his purpose.

“ Pat” McAleer has been the Nemesis of the real estate business in Boston for 40 years. No man and no operator knew just when he would encounter “Pat” McAleer. When he bought the old hotel Bellevue some years ago at auction, the auctioneer did not know him and said he would have to have some evidence of security before he closed the bid. “Pat” said: “I have the security here in my pocket,” and he paid over the money.

A few days later he was offered $250,000 for the land on which the building stood. He refused.  He never sold property. He always bought and never sold, and he never put any mortgage incumbrances on his property. He owned his property from cellar to roof and as far above as the building laws would permit him to go.

“ Pat” McAleer—he was always called thus—died last Friday in the harness and when he died one other famous Boston character perished from the earth. He was worth millions, but he never made a splurge.

His son might ordinarily have been expected to ride in automobiles and “open champagne,”  but no, that son had to work hard as a carpenter at the bench, and collect rents on the first of the month and do other necessary things of a somewhat menial order right up in Province st. He had to work and work hard, and John McAleer is not a young man by any means today. He has a son in college.

The daughters of “Pat” McAleer were also assigned to certain somewhat responsible duties which they had to fulfill. They were given charge of certain of the properties and attended to them under the father’s supervision.

Somebody has stated that “Pat” McAleer was worth at the time of his death about $500,000 in real estate, but if the figures were raised about six times it would be nearer right.  The Province st. property alone is worth more than $1,000,000 and there is no more unique property in the United States.

Province st. runs from School st. to Bromfield st. It is a “cow-path” street, narrow and somewhat tortuous. In colonial times it was the fashionable section of the city, and on Province ct was located the residence of the old colonial governors, which faced on Washington st., and which Hawthorne has made somewhat famous. A portion of this building still stands.

Province ct leads from the center of Province st toward Washington st. The old buildings on both the court and the street are filled with “little businesses.” Each and every room in these old-fashioned buildings has a different kind of business, of a manufacturing nature usually.  But the buildings owned by Pat McAleer on Province st,  are the most versatile in this respect.  Here is a sample of the industries conducted in these buildings, for which the city of Boston offered $1,000,000:

There are an iron and steel worker, a barber, a printer, a bookbinder, a saloon, a restaurant, a tool sharpener and granite cutter, a flower market, a bootblack, a fresco painter, several tailors, several carpenters and sign painters, a wood and ivory turner, a shears and razor sharpener, a maker of florist wire designs, a nickel plating establishment, tinsmiths, iron moulders, a “coal and wood man,” and several others.

In these buildings may be seen the old methods of doing business—the somewhat personal methods.

“ Pat” McAleer himself would never take a job by contract in the old days when he worked for other people. He always worked by the day.  He felt that was the most satisfactory way to all concerned.

“ Pat” McAleer, who worked up to the limit of his 88 years of life, was the most famous man on Province st.; he was there early and late. He got around to his little shop in the center of the street opposite Province ct., as early as 6 o’clock in the morning, and he stayed there as a general thing until “the last gun was fired.” He conducted all of his vast interests from this little old shop from a rather crude desk .

He owned property all over the city.  He owned the old Bellevue hotel, hotel Richwood,  a place on Common st on which he expended $360,000 three years ago, property on Hollis st and Tremont st. and in Roxbury and Brookline.

He built the Province st property about 60 years ago, and he was ever loth to make any repairs or improvements. The building commissioner compelled him to raise the roof a few years ago, as this Province st. is regarded with uneasiness by the fire department.  Mr. McAleer raised the rents at the same time. He couldn’t lose.

In the old days he had been a jobbing carpenter, but for years he had done little at the business.  His real estate interests were too vast.


Wednesday 14th March 2012, 03:26PM

Message Board Replies

  • I have long thought that my Patrick McAleer also came from Termonmaguirk parish since I found his name in the Flax Growers list.  My Patrick was born in 1783, married Ann McElhone and had three children before emigrating to Canada about 1826.  More children were born in Canada.  He was a shoemaker by trade and he died in 1870 in St Andrews West, Ontario.  Any information on this family would be appreciated.


    Sunday 29th April 2012, 02:53PM