The Balistreri/Balisteri Family

About the Balistreri/Balisteri Family

The name “Balistreri” means “archer” and originally came from Spain. The “ballistreros” or “archers” were sent to Sicily when the Spanish ruled the known world, and that’s how the “Balistreris” came to settle there.

Click on the names below to learn more about them.

Grandmother - Annette Balistreri (living)


Annette was born on August 23 in Buffalo NY. She had 5 siblings – 3 sisters and two brothers.

When she was young, her mother left the 6 children and her father for a long time (for no particular reason other than she didn’t want to be tied down). Back then, children were not allowed to remain with the father. She and her siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. For a long time, she and her sisters were placed at St. Vincent’s Orphanage for girls. Today, that building is occupied by Health Sciences Charter School in Buffalo, NY.

Later, she married Russell Sciabarrasi and they had 6 children, including my father, John.

She lived at 141 Vern Ln, Buffalo, 14227-1347.

My Gram with me as a baby.

My Gram with me as a little girl.

My Gram with me at my bachelor’s graduation.

Great-Grandmother – Antoinette Balisteri


Antoinette Balisteri was born on August 30, 1915, in Buffalo, New York, to Marianna Bellanti, age 36, and Pietro Balistreri, age 46.


Antoinette (14) lived at 100 Pennsylvania St. in Buffalo, New York, in 1930. Her sister, Lena, and husband, Sam, owned the house.

Antoinette with my mom, who is pregnant with me.

This is a picture of Antoinette and “I think my uncle John`s grandmother from poland.”



Antoinette died on April 12, 2005, in Buffalo, New York, when she was 89 years old.

Great-Grandfather - Giovanino (Giovanni, John) Balistreri


Giovanino (Giovanni, John) Balistreri was born on June 5, 1910, in Palermo, Italy.


At age 3, Giovanino arrived in NY on August 11, 1913 at age 3.

I was originally told the boy on the left was Giovanino. This is impossible since Natale was two years younger than Giovanino and Antonino was 6 years younger than Giovanino. Giovanino must be the boy on the right, Natale is the boy in the middle, and Antonino is the boy on the left. Also pictured is his mother, Antonia, and brothers “Zio” (Antonino) and Natale.


“Giovanni” (17) traveled to the U.S. with brother, Natale (15) from Palermo. Their occupation is listed as fishermen and their hometown is listed as Bagheria. They are traveling from Palermo to New York, New York.

Here he is with my cousins, Jamie, Jodie, and Russell.

My mom told they used to call Giovanino “Johnny Bela”.

Here I am in nearly the same spot in 2019 with my cousin in Sicily.

“This is Antoinette Balisteri’s first husband John and her son Frank. The picture was taken in Aspra, Italy, “This was Frank the buck.”, “This picture was from 1972 when my Grandfather took my Uncle to meet my Great-Grandmother. Great pic of the true heads of our Family. They are missed very much by us all.”



Giovanino (Giovanni, John) Balistreri died in 1983 in Buffalo, New York, when he was 73 years old.

2nd Great-Grandmother – Marianna Bellanti (great-grandmother's side)


When Marianna Bellanti was born on June 10, 1877, her father, Girolamo, was 50, and her mother, Giuseppa, was 53. The ages of her parents are truly exceptional in this time period. Marianna was born in Palermo.

abt. 1896

About 1896, she married Pietro Balistreri.



At age 31, Marianna Billanti (32) and her children, Giuseppa (9), Pietro (7), Lena? (4), Gelorno (3), and Salvatore (newborn) sailed the Batavia to New York. They were living in Sant’ Flavia, Sicily and were headed to Buffalo, NY.

Marianna and Pietro, with Giuseppa and Pietro. Marianna is pregnant Lena Balistreri Salerno who lived into this century to 103 yrs old!

Marianna Ballanti – Balistrieri 1932. This photo was taken in Dante Place where they had the family store. This was the last picture taken of her before she died of ovarian cancer. A cousin on Facebook told this story about Marianna. “My Mother would often tell the story about when Great Grandma would bake bread and Great Grandpa (Pietro) would sit at the table and sing in Italian and teach her and her sister the words, so they were all singing this song in the Kitchen. Great Grandma Marianna would run into the kitchen screaming her head off in Italian!!! Come to find out the song was……”The Bread is burning”…..Ahh, ha ha ha hah a ha haa! “The “Bread is Burning”, Ahh, ha ha haaaa ha ha!!”



Marianna died on March 18, 1933 in Buffalo, NY when she was 55 years old.

2nd Great-Grandfather – Pietro Balistreri (great-grandmother's side)


Pietro Balistreri was born on April 9, 1869, in Bagheria, Palermo, Italy, to Rosa M Tarantino, age 19, and Gaetano Balistreri, age 29. My Uncle Bob said, “Grandpa was crippled from polio when he was a young man. Never was able to walk again yet he was always smiling and joking around. A fine example of a human being.”



He married Marianna Bellanti in 1894 when he was 25 years old and she was 16.


Pietro immigrated from Italy to the U.S. He mainly spoke Italian.


At age 40 he lived in Buffalo Ward 25 in Buffalo, NY. He is a laborer at a freight house.


At age 60 he lived at 100 Pennsylvania with his wife, his daughter, his son-in-law, and their family. He was 25 when he married his wife; she was 16.

From left to right are Stephanie De La Barra, Leanne Masullo-Duvo, Pietro, and Candy. Pietro was crippled with polio.

This is apparently a painting by Pietro, per Facebook group.

2nd Great-Grandfather - Francesco Balistreri (great-grandfather's side)

abt 1882

Francesco is born in Aspra, Sicily.

When Francesco Balistreri was born in 1882 in Palermo, Palermo, Italy, his father, Giovanni, was 33 and his mother, Rosalie, was 25. He had four sons with Antonia Brunetto between 1910 and 1916 (one of them was Giovanino (Giovanni, John) Balistreri born in 1910, my great-grandfather). He had one brother.

I have not been able to locate a death date or location, though I did spot a manifest with his name on it and his destination was Buffalo, NY.

2nd Great-Grandmother - Antonia Brunetto (great-grandfather's side)

about 1885

When Antonia Brunetto was born in 1885 in Palermo, Palermo, Italy, her father, Natale, was 26, and her mother, Maria, was 18. She had four sons with Francesco Balistreri between 1910 and 1916.

I don’t have much more information than I did spot a manifest with her heading to the U.S. with one of her sons. Her destination was Buffalo, NY.


Leah Sciabarrasi, Ph.D. | Higher Education Administrator & Consultant |