It happened on Water Street in Wadsworth, Ohio. To walk down this stretch of a couple blocks today, one would never know about the dramatic – and tragic – events that once kept it in the Gazette headlines during those years from 1913 to 1920. It began quietly – if a shooting could ever be considered such – with only the routine interest of local law enforcement and little fanfare. It grew, no doubt, to be a sizable thorn in the side of then Wadsworth Marshal Thomas Lucas. The central players of the feud include two sets of brothers, a beautiful young Italian girl, and a local barber. By its conclusion, three of them would lay buried in unmarked graves in the Catholic grounds of Woodlawn Cemetery.

Almost everything that follows is ripped directly from the pages of the Gazette. Note that the spellings of some of the names changes from one story to the next. 

Death certificate for Charles Lenzo.


born Italy, son of Frank & Grace Lenzo, laborer match shop
May 2, 1885 – June 21, 1913
“gunshot wound of intestines; homicidal”
Informant: John Lenzo, Wadsworth, Ohio
Buried in Woodlawn Catholic Cemetery

June 27, 1913 pg. 2 Gazette

“During a quarrel on Friday night Charles Lenzo was shot by a fellow Italian, Frank Butto. The bullet was from a .32 caliber revolver and the shot entered the abdomen. The wound was so serious that Lenzo died Saturday at noon. Funeral services were held on Sunday afternoon. The assailant escaped after the shooting and it was feared that he had made a clean getaway until Tuesday afternoon when he was seen in the vicinity of Western Star. Marshal Lucas was at once notified and made a hurried trip to the place where he was supposed to have been seen. He had escaped, but a little later was located near the traction line south of the Star. He was arrested and taken to Medina to jail.”

June 27, 1913 pg. 4 Gazette

Italian Who Shot a Fellow Workman at Wadsworth Held Without Bail

“Last Friday night Frank Butto shot Chas. Lenzo near Sam Arigo’s boarding house at Wadsworth, the wounded man dying shortly after noon the next day from the wound in his abdomen. On Tuesday, Butto was arrested by Marshal Lucas near Western Star, and landed in the Medina jail. Yesterday a hearing was held before Justice VanDeusen in the court room, 14 witnesses being subpoenaed, and at its conclusion Butto was bound over to the next grand jury without bail, charged with first degree murder.

What the difficulty was about that caused the fatal shooting appears uncertain. It seems that Butto was ordered out of Arigo’s boarding house Friday night, and when outside he dared those inside to come out and fight. Lenzo went and was shot – perhaps because of some difficulty arising over a girl who seems to have had improper relations with some of the men at the Italian boarding house. These Italians were employed on the stone road now building east of Wadsworth.”

October 31, 1913 pg. 1 Gazette

Italian Charged With Killing Fellow Countryman
Crime Committed in Wadsworth in June

“The most serious charge, which came up for trial Thursday morning, was against Frank Butto, an Italian of Wadsworth, indicted for murder in the second degree.”

“Butto is charged with killing Chas. Lenzo, a fellow countryman, at Wadsworth, June 20. The prosecution’s theory is that the trouble started in the boarding house of Sam Arrego, where an Italian girl named Francesca Casselo and her brother were residing, the former being sick. Lenzo went there to call on the girl and while there, Butto appeared on the scene, apparently in the mood for trouble, which he brought on by making defamatory remarks about the girl. Arrego ordered him from the premises, whereupon Butto persisted in continuing the unpleasant situation by inviting any of the occupants of the place outside for punishment. Lenzo went out and met his death at the hands of Butto, who was armed with a revolver, the bullet entering Lenzo’s abdomen to a depth of nine inches. The prosecution will attempt to show that Butto invited trouble by his remarks after being ejected from the house.”

November 7, 1913 pg. 8 Gazette

The Butto Murder Trial

“The trial of Frank Butto for murder in the second degree was resumed in Common Pleas court Wednesday morning after a recess since late last Thursday afternoon. The first of the testimony, that for the state, took until about the middle of the forenoon of Wednesday after which the defense was heard until Thursday noon, when its testimony was completed. Frank Butto took the stand in his own defense, taking the largest part of Thursday forenoon.
The prosecution endeavored to show that Butto maliciously and intentionally killed Lenzo, while the defense contends that there is no assurance that Butto killed Lenzo, on the account that Sam Arrego and Butto were struggling over the prostrate body of Lenzo when a revolver was discharged as Arrego was attempting to take the gun from Butto when it was discharged. The defense also attempted to show that Lenzo went out of the house where the controversy took place with avowed intention to “cut Butto up”.
The lack of interest in this case by the public was very noticeable, there being but a handful of people in the court room through most stages of the trial.
Thursday afternoon several witnesses, including the defendant, were called back to the stand on rebuttal by the State. The two lawyers took 45 minutes each to deliver their arguments to the jury, after which the case was turned over to it for a verdict, at 2:45.
The jury was still out last evening and Judge Rogers left for Akron at 7 o’clock.”

November 14, 1913 pg. 1 Gazette

Is Verdict of Jury After Nearly 24 Hours Deliberation

“Frank Butto was released from the dominion of the law last Friday afternoon about 2 o’clock when the jury which had been deliberating on his case for nearly 24 hours rendered a verdict of not guilty.
The tragedy which resulted in Chas Lenzo’s death and the arrest of Butto of Wadsworth, according to the theory of the defense in this case, was the result of a misunderstanding of remarks made by Butto in the room of Francesca Casello, who was sick in her room in the boarding house of Sam Arrego. Lenzo objected to the brother of the Casello woman reprimanding her and Butto gave his opinion of the right of the brother, as a brother, to do so. This brought on an argument and Lenzo appealed to Arrego to eject Butto from the house, which was done. Butto was rooming at the house and asked that his clothes be sent out to him and later sent his brother for them. While Butto was waiting for his clothes Lenzo attempted to get a revolver and go out and meet him. Failing in this he started with a knife threatening to “cut Butto up”. His friends tried to persuade him to remain in the house but he persisted in going. He attacked Butto with a knife and the latter shows the scars of several gashes received. Butto succeeded in forcing Lenzo to the ground, and sitting on his prostrate body tried to persuade him to desist from his intentions by threatening with a revolver. While in this position Sam Arrego appeared on the scene to lend assistance to Lenzo, and, as the defense fairly made out, in his attempt to wrest the gun from Butto it was discharged, mortally wounding Lenzo.”

Death certificate for John Lenzo.


born Italy, son of Frank & Grace Lenzo, block feeder for match company
May 8¸ 1882 – January 22, 1915
“homicidal; gunshot wound in intestines & lung”
Informant: Thos. Lucas, Wadsworth, Ohio
Buried in Woodlawn Cemetery

January 22, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette

That Suggests the “Blackhand”, White Slavery or the Vendetta
Victim’s Brother Shot in Same Place. Chance of Recovery. Did the Same Man Do It?

“John Lanzo, an Italian about 25 years old, was shot three times early Tuesday morning in Wadsworth.
There are circumstances surrounding the case that make the suspicion that the deed was done for revenge, because of jealousy or in accordance with the unwritten law that governs the “blackhand”.
The victim of the assault left his home on Water Street, an Italian boarding house, at about 4:30 Tuesday morning. He was an employee of the Ohio Match Co. and was on the way to his work. He left the house by the back door, which opens onto a porch that is about seven feet above the ground. Lanzo had followed a walk around the house to the street and proceeded, as nearly as could be judged by the blood stains, about 100 feet, when a man, who had been lying in wait for him under the elevated rear porch of the house and had followed him, as shown by tracks in the snow, opened fire on him with a revolver. A number of those who heard the shots agree that five were fired. Three took effect – the first in the back, the second in the abdomen and the third over the right eye. It would seem that the assailant shot first from the rear and then ran past Lanzo, shooting as he went. He kept on running, and the last seen of him he was on the Erie track headed toward Barberton.
Lanzo, in spite of the desperate character of his wounds, was not dead when assistance reached him almost immediately after the shooting. He was carried back to his boarding house and three physicians summoned who expressed no expectation that he would survive. He was conscious, however, nearly all day, and was able to converse with County Prosecutor Underwood who, with Sheriff Gehman, went to Wadsworth Tuesday morning. In Italian fashion, Lanzo displayed the greatest disinclination to tell his story to the authorities.
By repeated questioning Mr. Underwood was finally able to get a meager description of the man who did the shooting. Lanzo said that he was a man about Mr. Underwood’s size, that he wore a black overcoat that fell a little below his knees and a black cap; that a finger on one of his hands was bound up in cloth. This description tallied pretty well with that of an Italian seen running east on the Erie track a little after this shooting occurred. Lanzo’s replies to the repeated question on the part of the prosecutor as to whether he had any suspicions of who shot him, whether he had an enemy, whether he thought it was the “blackhand”, etc. were either to the effect that he didn’t know or would rather not say.
John Lanzo, in addition to working for the Ohio Match company, was frequently employed as a court interpreter, translating English into Italian and vice versa.
John Lanzo’s brother, Charles Lanzo, was shot to death in June, 1913, at Wadsworth in much the same way as John was shot early last Tuesday morning and at the same place in the street. Charles was also used as a court interpreter at times, and he lived in the same Italian boarding house from which John Lanzo started to work Tuesday morning. Frank Butto was tried in Medina for the murder of Charles Lanzo in November, 1913, and acquitted.
The name of this man Butto comes into an account of this case in other connections. He is said to be a brother of the woman who runs the boarding house. He is the uncle of the young Italian girl, 14 or 15 years old, who lives at the same house, and he is said to have furnished the money to bring her to this country. The report is that she and John Lanzo are engaged and had planned to marry in April. She is now taking care of him in his stricken condition. There is a story that not long ago Butto and another Italian came from Cleveland, where the former has been living since his acquittal of the murder of Charles Lanzo, and tried unsuccessfully to induce this niece to go away with them. She was at school at the time and they went there for her.
John Lanzo has always sustained an excellent reputation in Wadsworth, where he has lived five or six years. A little more than two years ago he filed his “declaration of intentions” to become a citizen of the United States. County Clerk Hatch recalls him as a young man quite superior to the ordinary foreigner who applies for citizenship papers. From his declaration, it is learned that he was born in Racinia, Italy, in 1889 and that he sailed from Naples for this country in 1906. His father died in Wadsworth five months ago.
On Monday afternoon Sheriff Gehman went to Cleveland and located Frank Butto, but did not arrest him as there was not sufficient evidence for taking that step. Marshal Lucas of Wadsworth, however, made the arrest on Wednesday because of two letters found on Butto possibly connecting him with the crime. Consequently, Butto is now in the county jail. Lucas also telephoned the Sheriff very early Tuesday morning that the man with the wounded hand had been located and is under such surveillance that he can be apprehended at any time.
The latest reports from John Lanzo are that he is improving, and that there is a chance for his recovery.
This case involves suggestion of the dreaded “blackhand”. There is also the suggestion of “white slavery” in the case of the young Italian girl, or it may be the recrudescence of a vendetta that had its origin in Italy – no one can tell how long ago. Fate has early thrown in the path of the new Prosecuting Attorney a case of unusual criminal intricacy and interest.”

January 29, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette

Young Italian Shot by Assassin Succumbs to Wounds
Frank Butto Discharged. Prosecuting Attorney Employs Italian Detective. Four Arrests.

“John Lanzo, the young Italian who was shot while on his way to work in Wadsworth early Tuesday morning of last week, lingered until 3:30 o’clock Friday morning when he died from the effects of his wounds. With him, up to the hour of this death, was a fellow countryman and friend from Rittman, Angelo Cotolino by name, who says that Lanzo steadfastly declared to the very last that he did not know who shot him or why. After he could no longer speak, he made signs for paper and pen, but when they were placed in his hands he could not hold them.
On hearing that Lanzo had died, Prosecutor Underwood and Coroner Strong went to Wadsworth Friday forenoon. A post-mortem examination was held. One 38-caliber bullet was recovered. One shot, it was found, had entered the left side, perforated two intestines and lodged in the groin on the right side. A second bullet had gone thru the large lobe of the right lung. Either of these wounds was probably fatal. The one over the right eye was not so serious.
Frank Butto, after his arrest by Marshal Lucas of Wadsworth and Cleveland detectives, at 2604 E. 27th Street in that city, on the day following the shooting of Lanzo, was brought to Wadsworth and locked up. He was arrested on the strength of two letters found in his possession. One of these letters was addressed to a brother who lives at the same boarding house in Wadsworth where John Lanzo had his home. Lanzo’s friend, Cotolino, went with Marshal Lucas to Cleveland, and it was he who translated the two letters found. They are said to have been confined to the one subject of John Lanzo and the Italian girl, and in one of them there was a suggestion, not to say prophecy, to the effect that Lanzo must discontinue his attentions to the girl or bad luck would befall him.
Butto had a hearing before Mayor Boyer on Saturday and was discharged on the ground that his complicity in the case was not sufficiently shown by the evidence produced. It was held that his own innocence of actual shooting was proven in the fact that the tracks left in the snow by the man who lay in wait for Lanzo were larger than those made by Butto’s shoes.
Monday morning Marshal Lucas telephoned from Wadsworth to Prosecutor Underwood stating that he and others at work on the case were becoming disheartened at their failure to find evidence of a nature likely to lead to a conviction and asking him if there was not some means whereby an Italian detective by the name of Martino, who lives in Akron, could not be employed to take up the search. On looking the matter up, Mr. Underwood found that the only money available for such a purpose was his own expense account, limited to one-half the amount of his salary. This is the fund that prosecutors dislike to encroach upon except in cases of absolute necessity. Mr. Underwood, however, unwilling to drop so flagrant a case of brutal murder, especially as it was perpetrated on one often employed as a court interpreter, a young foreigner who had signified his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States and had always borne an excellent reputation in the community, opened negotiations, thru Marshal Lucas, with Martino.
As a result, Martino was asked to come to Wadsworth to look over the case. This he did, arriving Monday noon. He worked continuously from that time until Tuesday afternoon. Monday night he had as many as 60 Italians assembled in the town hall, questioning, cross-questioning, grilling and applying the “third degree”. Indications of complicity began to point to a group of Italians who made their home in a lonely house on Water Street.
They had boarded (or some of them had) in the house run by Sam Arrigo where John Lanzo lived. A few days before the attack on Lanzo, they had paid $7.50 on board account. Either the same day, or a little later, apparently having repented of letting go of the money, five of them got Sam Arrigo down on the railroad track and tried to induce him to return the money, using all sorts of threats, it is said. Arrigo, who was frightened, told them he hadn’t the money, whereupon they searched him. They failed to find it but did find and take a 38-caliber revolver belonging to John Lanzo that Arrigo was carrying. Finally, the group let him go on the promise that he would return to them the $7.50 in weekly payments of 50 cents.
Arrigo returned to his house scared nearly out of his wits. He told the story to Lanzo who advised him to keep under cover, saying that he would get his revolver back.
Mrs. Arrigo told, after much coaxing and the promise on the part of Detective Martino that her home would be protected, of an interview with one of the Italians, shortly after the revolver episode, in which he had called her a “stool pigeon”. She had asked him what had become of Lanzo’s gun.
Martino and Marshal Lucas finally felt that they were warranted in arresting the Water Street outfit. They went for the purpose about midnight on Tuesday. Four were taken, three in an attic and one in a lower room. The one, Loui, suspected of being directly responsible for the shooting of Lanzo (the man with bandaged finger) was not there. He had flown.
Three revolvers were found in the house, a big knife, at least one letter ready for mailing that seemed to be of the blackhand variety; also other letters that indicated that one of the men, Dominico Cacciala, was wanted in Fulton, N.Y., for an attack with a beer glass on a bartender there.
The four men arrested, young fellows ranging in age from 21 to 25 years, were brought to Medina Wednesday forenoon by Deputy Sheriff Floyd Pelton and Prosecutor Underwood. They came in two automobiles, two prisoners hand-cuffed together in each. Their names are: Dominico Cacciala, the oldest of the group and thought to be the leader, Logendice Onofrio, Cresofulli Antonino, and Salvatore Cattafo, the youngest, who has been used to deliver threatening letters written by his fellows.
On Wednesday afternoon an affidavit charging both assault with intent to rob and robbery against each of the four, was sworn to by George Martino, the Akron detective. The hearing was before Justice VanDeusen. The Italians, acting under the advice of Judge F.O. Phillips, who was called into the case, waived examination and were bound over the grand jury. The bail of each was fixed at $500.
As the next meeting of the grand jury is in April, and there is little expectation that the Italians will be able to give bail, the likelihood is that they will have to stay in jail, unless the Prosecuting Attorney concludes that the State will not be able, thru them, to convict the murderer of John Lanzo. One reason for preferring charges against them was that they might be at hand as witnesses in case they are wanted in the John Lanzo case.
As has been hinted before, the man Loui, most wanted and the one more strongly suspected of the murder than any of the others, was not found when the Water street was raided. One other was missing. Letters found in the place indicated that one or both of them would likely be located with friends either in Fulton or Oswego, N.Y., and on Wednesday evening Detective Martino started in search for them, especially for Loui.
Before employing the Akron detective, Prosecutor Underwood took the precaution to make careful inquiries concerning him and his work at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Akron. There they commended Martino highly, both professionally and as a man.
Frank Butto, meanwhile, is out of the limelight in the case, but he has not been forgotten and is under surveillance.
It looks now as if future developments in the case hinge largely on the success or failure of Martino to get the man he is after.
To the outside observer no sufficient motive for the murder of John Lanzo yet appears, so far as the group under arrest is concerned. The fact that he was a court interpreter might promise trouble to men engaged in blackhanding. The fact that they had stolen a revolver, valued at $15, that belonged to him and which he said he would recover is something, but scarcely enough, seemingly, for so desperate a measure, even on the part of lawless men.
As the case progresses it becomes more complicated and further developments will be watched with interest and concern by a community that has thus far been notably free from the methods that terrorize many other places.”

February 5, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette

The Lanzo Murder Case

“The murderer of John Lanzo is still at large. Nothing startling in the way of evidence has developed this week. On Monday Tony Crisofulli, one of the four Italians lodged in jail last week Thursday charged with robbery and attempting to rob, was released on a $500 bond furnished by relatives. One condition of his release was that he should tell all that he knew of the case. He suggested an Italian in Cleveland. Detective Martino made an investigation but soon concluded there was nothing in it.
Joe Graffalo, a young Wadsworth Italian who has a good reputation, admits that he is a member of the gang, by fear rather than choice, of which Dominico Cacciala, now in jail, is the leader. Graffalo says that two days before the murder of Lanzo, Cacciala took up a collection from the members, to which he contributed $10. When asked the purpose of the collection he said he didn’t know and hadn’t asked – hadn’t, in fact, dared to ask.
Having run down with all the clues and dug up all the evidence he can for the present in Wadsworth, Detective Martino started on Wednesday to find the man, or men, addressed or suspiciously referred to in the letters found in the raided house on Water Street. He planned to go first to Lorain, then, if necessary, to Ravenna, and thence to Oswego, N.Y.”

February 12, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette

Developments in Lanzo Case

“The unraveling, or the attempt to unravel, the mystery surrounding the murder of John Lanzo in Wadsworth three weeks ago has developed several interesting phases during the past week.
The story left off in our last issue with the departure of George Martino, the Italian detective, for the East on the hunt for two Italians, known to be members of the gang who are suspicioned of complicity in the case. These two men had disappeared from Wadsworth about the time of the Lanzo murder. One is called Lui and the second Rosario Patti. The collection taken up by Dominico Cacciola, who is one of the first four Italians lodged in jail and and considered the leader, a few days before Lonzo was killed is now supposed to have been for the benefit of Patti, the money, in short, with which he made his getaway.
On Monday morning Prosecutor Underwood received a telephone communication from Martino, who was then in Brooklyn, N.Y., in which he stated that Patti had been seen in Brooklyn on the Saturday previous, and that he, Martino, was then working with the Brooklyn police for his arrest.
Mr. Underwood received another telephone message Monday forenoon, bearing on the Lanzo case, that promises to inject into it a new element, and one that will perhaps prove tragic. The second message was from Marshal Lucas in Wadsworth. He reported that quite early in the morning he had been called up by the Sam Arriaga boarding house where both the Lanzo brothers had been living at the time they met death. The person talking to Lucas from the Arriaga place asked him to “come quick,” that a man had been seen going under the porch at the rear of the house where the murderer of John Lanzo had lain in wait for his victim. Lucas hastened to the place, but by the time he had arrived the intruder had departed more stealthily than he came, for no one had seen him go. His tracks were plainly visible in the snow. The Arriaga household was in a state of cowering fear, as what household wouldn’t under similar circumstances? They felt sure that death was lurking for one or more of them, as it had waited for John Lanzo, and were afraid to leave the house until assured by Marshal Lucas that the coast was clear. Under such circumstances it is natural to suppose that the marshal of Wadsworth is keeping a sharp look-out for more trouble. In this case, as in so many in which Italians in this country are mixed up, disconcerting features of it are the secrecy, the suddenness, the recklessness, the utter disregard of life that are displayed. Danger lurks and no one ever foretell where next it may make its dread appearance.
A third angle in the case came to light also on Monday when Sam Boemi, a well-to-do Italian of Wadsworth, appeared in Medina and offered to give bond for the release of Dominick Cacciola. It appears that Cacciola had written him a letter. Boemi told Marshall Lucas on Saturday, very emphatically, that he would never go on Cacciola’s bond, but on Monday he was in Medina for the purpose. There is something sinister in the way that Cacciola’s verbal and written requests bring results. It was not acceptable to Prosecutor Underwood that Cacciola be let out on $500 bail, and he is still in jail.
On Wednesday Prosecutor Underwood wrote to Detective Martino in Brooklyn saying that he did not think it worth while for him to stay longer in the East looking for Rosario Patti, and asking him to return.
On Thursday afternoon three young Italians came to Medina from Wadsworth. They said that they wanted to visit Dominico Cacciala, who is now the only one of the group of four still in jail. The authorities did not permit them to see him.”

February 19, 1915 pg. 5 Gazette


“In regard to the John Lanzo murder case, there have been few developments this week. Geo. Martino, the Italian detective, returned from Brooklyn, N.Y., Saturday evening. The man he was after there, Rosario Patti, escaped on a boat sailing for Italy. This fact was discovered by the use of a fake registered letter which brought from a cousin of Patti the admission that it could not be delivered and the reason why. He had previously insisted that he knew nothing of Patti’s whereabouts. Prosecutor Underwood, on Martino’s return, relieved him from further investigation in the case. The Wadsworth authorities, however, wanted the County Commissioners to retain him a few days more for work on the case there. This they consented to do. He reported to Mr. Underwood on Tuesday that Sam Butto, brother of Frank Butto, whom it will be remembered was tried for killing the first Lanzo and whose name was mixed up in the John Lanzo case in its early stages, lives at the Sam Arriga boarding house in Wadsworth, the same that the Lanzos lived in. Martino heard that shortly before John Lanzo was killed Rosario Patti, the man who fled to Italy, came to the Arriga house and traded revolvers with Sam Butto. The detective thought he would look into that fact a little and so he took Butto to the house where Patti had boarded and began questioning both him and the landlady about it. A little girl spoke up, saying “Yes, that’s the gun that Rosario (Patti) killed John Lanzo with.” At that, her mother struck her a blow that laid her flat on the floor. This incident is significant, but not, of course, conclusive. Dominic Cacciola still remains in jail, the only one of the four Italians originally arrested in the case still in confinement. He, it is said, is to be tried. Authorities, the claim is, want him in Fulton, N.Y., on three charges.”

February 26, 1915 pg. 5 Gazette

“In the case of John Lanzo, the respectable young Italian who was shot to death on one of the Wadsworth streets four weeks ago, there is nothing new to report. The Akron Italian detective, George Martino, has been called off the case, and the view now generally accepted is that Lanzo was murdered by Rosario Patti, reason not known, and that Patti has made his escape from this country.”

May 14, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette


“The case of the State of Ohio vs. Dominico Cacciola came on for trial Thursday. The defendant is an Italian, about 25 years old, who lives in Wadsworth. He is one of the group who came into the limelight at the time of the killing of John Lanzo early in February.
The claim of the State in this case is that one evening last September Dominico Cacciola was the ringleader of a group that enticed Sam Arriago out on the railroad track near Wadsworth and there forcibly took from him $7.25 in money and his revolver. The charge is called “assault with intent to rob and robbery”. Cacciola denied the charge, admitted having taken the revolver, but explained that he did so to prevent trouble, and that he had no intention of keeping it. There were several witnesses on each side. Most of them spoke thru an interpreter. The jury at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon brought in a verdict of not guilty.” 

June 4, 1915 pg. 1 Gazette

Murderous Shooting Among Italian Colony at Wadsworth
The Mystery Surrounding the Fate of Lovers of a 16-Year Old Girl. Victim Still Living.

“Another murderous shooting occurred among the Wadsworth colony of Italians last Monday morning. It will prove not to be a murder only because the victim, desperately wounded, may survive his wounds.
The victim this time is Dominick Cacciola, who was acquitted of the charge of highway robbery committed on Sam Arrigo, keeper of an Italian boarding house in Wadsworth, in Medina common pleas court only last month. He is one of a group of four Italians, considered bad men at Wadsworth, who came into publicity in connection with the killing of John Lanzo near the Arrigo boarding house in Wadsworth last January. He had been in the Medina jail since Jan. 26 last, along with his companion Nofario Lo Guidice, who was charged likewise with extortion committed against Sam Arrigo. Two other Italians, who lived with Dominick and Nofario in a single room by themselves, were arrested at the same time charged with complicity in the extortion, but later released.”

A Mysterious Circumstance
“Sam Arrigo has a daughter, Antoinette, 16 years old, living with him and his wife at their boarding house. Officers say that Charlie Lanzo wanted to marry this girl – and he was shot dead in the street near the Arrigo house where he boarded, in September 1913. John Lanzo, a brother of Charlie Lanzo, wanted to marry this girl Antoinette. He was a boarder at the Arrigo place. One morning last January he was shot down and killed by an unknown assassin after he had left the Arrigo place to go to his work, and his murderer could never be found. Again the girl is supposed to have been loved by Dominick Cacciola – and he was shot down last Monday morning by a brother of Mrs. Arrigo.”

Story of the Shooting
“Last Sunday morning Sam Arrigo’s daughter Antoinette disappeared from his boarding house home in Wadsworth. Nofario Lo Guidice (friend of Dominick Cacciola) was found to have disappeared at the same time. Sam Arrigo, the father, declared Nofario and Dominick to be in a plot to get his daughter away and that Dominick would follow them and marry Antoinette. The father got Marshall Lucas Sunday afternoon and told him his story, and together they went to Barberton to search for Antoinette and Nofario. They did not find them and returned to Wadsworth in the late evening. Arrigo wanted Marshal Lucas to go home with him to defend him from possible attack, but as Mrs. Lucas objected because of her fears of danger to her husband he did not go. Very early Monday morning, Marshal Lucas was called to Arrigo’s place where he found everybody excited over the missing girl and was urged by Arrigo to arrest Dominick as having a part in alluring his daughter away so that he might later follow and marry her. Lucas refused to make the arrest on the ground of having no evidence against Dominick, and after a little while returned to his home. A half hour later, about 7:30 o’clock, Sam Arrigo, Sam Butto (Mrs. Arrigo’s brother) and Andy Casiguerra were going from Arrigo’s place up Main Street to take a car to go to Barberton where they would continue this search for Antoinette. On the street, part way to the public park, they met Dominick returning from getting his breakfast. Arrigo (so Butto says) asked Dominick where Antoinette was, to which Dominick replied: “To hell with Antoinette!” Without more words, Sam Butto pulled out a 38-caliber revolver and began shooting Dominick. The first bullet fired entered at the hip and lodged near the pelvis. Dominick clinched with Butto and tried to get the revolver. Butto says he then shot three times more in self-defense, one bullet going thru Dominick’s neck, grazing both the jugular vein and “windpipe” and coming out beneath the chin, and another passing through the left forearm and another piercing the left hand. The last two shots were fired while Dominick was down. Evidently, he was also beaten over the head by the revolver and kicked while down. Marshal Lucas had heard the shooting and ran to the scene, finding Dominick on the sidewalk in a pool of blood and his assailants standing about him. Butto submitted to arrest by Lucas without any resistance, boldly asserting he had shot Dominick. He was placed in the Wadsworth lockup till afternoon when he was brought to Medina jail by Deputy Sheriff Pelton and Prosecutor Underwood who had gone to the murder scene at once upon learning of the occurrence Monday forenoon.
Dominick declares that Arrigo took the revolver from Butto and fired the two shots that struck him while he was lying already, wounded on the ground, and that Butto attacked him after he was down.
Dominick was at once taken to Dr. Bolich’s private hospital, desperately wounded and presenting a fearful appearance, where he now is, with a fair chance for recovery.
Butto, dull witted and seemingly indifferent to his crime, is in the Medina jail, bound over to the next term of the court on the charge of “shooting to maim”, which charge was placed against him after a hearing before Wadsworth’s mayor held Monday forenoon before Butto was brought to the county jail.
The sympathy of Wadsworth citizens seems to be with Butto and Arrigo, for Dominick and his pals are regarded there as a thoroughly bad lot and desperate. But read a paragraph in our Wadsworth newsletter in this Gazette if you want another and very sensible view of the situation.”

January 31, 1919 pg. 1 Gazette


“Sam Arrego was received at the county jail from Wadsworth Monday and is being held under care of Sheriff Bigelow in default of $5000 bail imposed by Mayor Boyer. Arrego is accused of assault with intent to kill. It is alleged that Foreman Nicodemus of the Ohio Match Works discharged Arrego’s wife and that Arrego lay in wait for Nicodemus and struck him with a big club. The club struck the foreman’s head a glancing blow but had it hit true would have caused serious damage.
Arrego has something of a reputation in Wadsworth and Medina County, having been mixed up as principal, accessory, or onlooker in a number of unsavory affairs, such as murder, shooting scrapes, kidnapping, etc., etc. He is the father of pretty Antoinette Arrego, who was only 16 years of age when in 1913, Charlie Lango, who wanted to marry her, was shot down and killed near the Arrego home, where he boarded, Frank Butto was tried and acquitted of the crime, and then less than a year afterwards Sam Butto shot Dominick Cacciola, who also wanted to marry Antoinette, the Buttos being brothers of Mrs. Arrego. Sam Butto was sent to the Mansfield reformatory but afterwards was released. There were many other events and incidents concerning the Arregos, the ramifications of which are too long to be given in detail here, part of which relate to the running away and kidnapping of the girl. And now Arrego is up against it again.”

June 13, 1919 pg. 4 Gazette

Frank Butto is Likely to Spend it in Jail

“Frank Butto, the Wadsworth Italian, who shot at Dominic Cacciola several times a week ago Saturday and who was bound over to the grand jury is still languishing in the county jail in default of $1500 bail. In fact, he is likely to remain there until the September grand jury meets as it is not likely either he or his friends and relatives can raise that fund. Butto tells Sheriff Bigelow that he does not care at that, because he is not at all fond of working and the Medina county jail is very comfortable and the living there very good. The Wadsworth Banner-Press seems to have kept a better tab on the history of the Butto-Arrego-Cacciola troubles than people at a distance from Wadsworth can, and gives the following chronological account of them with a possibility that there are other items to be added:
The shooting is only another episode of what appears to be an Italian feud. It will be recalled that on June 20, 1913, Charles Lenzo, 28, was shot and killed in front of Arrego’s house, while Arrego and Frank Butto were attempting to take a revolver from him. John Lenzo, a brother of Charley, made a desperate attempt to convict Butto of murder. He left nothing undone to secure evidence bearing on the case, but a jury in Medina County courts returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of accidental shooting.
Eighteen months later, on Jan. 21, 1915, John Lenzo was shot by an unknown assassin while on his way to work as a block-feeder at the Match shop. The shooting occurred before daylight. Three of the four shots fired entered his body, but he was able to walk back to Arrego’s boarding house and died in the same room where his brother passed away a year and a half before.
Another incident in the line of murder or near-murder occurred on the Injector hill when Dominic Cacciola, the intended victim of Frank Butto’s Saturday night attack, was shot by Sam Butto. Cacciola had made love to Arrego’s daughter and this was resented by Mrs. Arrego’s brothers, Sam and Frank Butto. The girl disappeared and Cacciola was charged with kidnapping. Upon his acquittal he was fired upon early one morning by Sam Butto, five of whose bullets found their victim but failed to reach any vital spot. Sam Butto, was sent to the reformatory and at the expiration of his term returned to Wadsworth. In the meantime the kidnapped girl returned and married Cacciola. From recent events, it would seem that the course of true love has been full of ruts.
Arrego, himself, was released only three weeks ago after being held on a charge of assault with attempt to kill Oscar Nicodemus. The assault occurred near the Arrego home and Nicodemus testified positively as to the identity of his assailant. Not withstanding this fact, the jury acquitted Arrego.”

Death certificate for Frank Butto.



born Italy, laborer, died September 5, 1920, aged 34 years
“murdered by Dominick Caccilo by gun shot; shots piercing heart & lungs”
Informant: Thos J. Lucas, Wadsworth, Ohio
Buried in Catholic Grounds, Woodlawn Cemetery

September 9, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette

The Wadsworth Italian Killed By Dominick Cacciola
A Feud of Six Years
This Was the Third Murder and There Have Been Other Violent Episodes – Mostly Caused by A Pretty Italian Girl

“The Buttos are once more in the limelight, or at least one of them, Frank was Sunday. This time he was the victim of the feud which has existed in Wadsworth for several years, and is today sleeping beneath the sod, never more to be a terror to his fellow countrymen and officers of the law in Wadsworth, and a nuisance and nightmare to jail officials.
Frank Butto was shot in the back and almost instantly killed last Sunday afternoon by Dominick Cacciola in front of the latter’s barber shop on Water Street, in Wadsworth. Cacciola is now in the Medina jail, charged with first degree murder. Also incarcerated in the jail is Butto’s friend, Phillippo Sinatra, by name, who shot five times at Cacciola after the latter had killed Butto, none of the bullets, however, finding its mark. The charge against him is shooting with the intent to kill.”

Story of Shooting
“Dominick Cacciola has had reason to fear Butto, so he says, and events would seem to justify his fear, for Butto a little over a year ago shot at him. For this reason not long since he purchased a repeating shot-gun. Saturday night it was reported to him that Sinatra, a stranger, appeared at Cacciola’s door and asked for a drink of water. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Butto and Sinatra came together and idled around the barber’s pole, only ten feet from the door, making no hostile movements, however. They had their hands in their pockets, says Cacciola, and this made him afraid that they were prepared to shoot him. Accordingly, he took his shot-gun and shot directly at Butto, who was standing with his back toward him. Butto crumpled up and, without uttering a word or cry, fell to the ground. The charge tore a hole in his back and entered the heart and lungs.”

Sinatra’s Fusillade
“Instantly, Sinatra drew a revolver and shot five times. Two of the shots were fired while Cacciola yet stood in the doorway and three of them through the window after Cacciola had slammed the door shut. Sinatra ran up the street a short distance, threw his gun away and returned to the scene of the trouble.
In the meantime Cacciola had called to a neighbor to summon Village Marshal Tom Lucas. He arrived in a few minutes just as Butto was breathing his last. Placing Cacciola and Sinatra under arrest he took them before Mayor F.W. Boyer, who committed them to jail. Cacciola of course without bond, but without fixing the amount for Sinatra, who was entitled to release without sufficient sureties.”

A Sanguinary History
“Sam and Frank Butto have filled a somewhat large place in Medina county’s criminal history the past seven years. In July 1913, Frank was accused of the murder of Charles Lenzo but was acquitted on the 7th of November of that year. Butto killed Lenzo as the result of a quarrel in Sam Arrego’s boarding house. It was said that Lenzo wanted to marry Arrego’s pretty daughter Antoinette whose mother was a sister of Butto, and that this was the moving cause of the fracas. Later John Lenzo, a brother of Charles, wanted to marry the girl, and one night in January, 1915, he was shot and killed on the street. No arrest was ever made for this crime.
Soon after Dominick Cacciola was accused of highway robbery committed on Arrego, but a jury acquitted him. Then the girl, who was only 15 years old, disappeared and Arrego accused Cacciola of having kidnapped her. In a street quarrel Sam Butto shot Cacciola three times and the latter nearly died. Sam was tried for shooting to kill, but the jury found him guilty in July 1915, of the lesser crime of shooting with intent to wound and he was sentenced by Judge McClure to the Mansfield reformatory.”

Frank Shoots at Cacciola
“Over four years elapsed before there was any other serious trouble, and in the meanwhile Cacciola had married Antoinette.
Then on May 31, 1919, just four years and one day after Sam Butto shot Cacciola, Frank Butto, during a quarrel in which half a dozen others were mixed up, shot at Cacciola several times. He was charged with intent to kill, but after several months confinement in jail, changed his plea of not guilty to guilty and was sentenced by Judge McClure, Nov. 15, to six months in the Canton workhouse, being released from there early in the summer.
Both Sam and Frank Butto, when confined in jail, made themselves common nuisances, attempting to commit suicide at different times, crying and howling and otherwise disturbing the peace. After Frank was sentenced last November he created a scene in the court room and had to be knocked down and dragged out by the sheriffs.
Joe Licitri, 786 Allyn St., Akron with whom Sinatra boarded, was in Medina to see the latter Monday. He said that Sinatra, who was ordinarily quiet and peaceable, had many friends in Akron, who would help him to get bail. He said that Sinatra told him he had purchased his gun to shoot the man who ran away with his wife and $800, and that he had information he would find him in Wadsworth.”

September 23, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette

“The indictments are as follows:
Dominick Cacciola, murder in the first degree. Cacciola is the Wadsworth Italian who, on Sunday, Sept. 5, shot and killed Frank Butto, this homicide being one in a long line of violent episodes in the Butto-Cacciola feud, including two other killings. For neither of the others was anyone punished.
Philp Sinatio, shooting with intent to kill. Sinatio is the Akron Italian who shot at Cacciola, after the latter had killed Butto, whose companion Sinatio was.”

September 30, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette

It Was Criminal Day In Common Pleas Court

“Tuesday was criminal day in common pleas court, three of the four indicted by the grand jury being arraigned. All three pleaded not guilty and Judge McClure set Nov. 8 as the date for beginning of trials, the first case to be taken up being that for murder against Dominick Cacciola, who shot and killed Frank Butto. Cacciola will be defended by Nick Greenberger, ex-city solicitor of Akron, and Don Hotchkiss, son of the ex-superintendent of schools, also of Akron. The same lawyers will also defend Philip Sinatio, Butto’s friend who tried to shoot Cacciola after he had killed Butto. Sinatio says he has nothing against Cacciola, not even having his acquaintance, merely going along as Butto’s friend.”

November 4, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette

“Judge McClure has set the date of the trial of Dominick Cacciola, of Wadsworth, of first degree murder, for Nov. 22, and has ordered a special jury drawn.”

November 18, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette


“The trial of Dominick Cacciola, Wadsworth barber, on the charge of first-degree murder, will be begun next Monday morning before a special jury with Judge N.H. McClure on the bench. Cacciola killed Frank Butto in cold blood Sept. 5, although it is claimed for him that he was in fear of his own life. The killing was the third in a six year-old Italian feud at Wadsworth. As a result of neither of the other cases was any one punished for the crime but it is not at all likely that Cacciola will escape scot free although it is hardly probable that he will be convicted of first degree murder. Indeed the state indicated some time since that it would accept a plea of guilty to a lesser offense but Cacciola’s attorney, N.M. Greenberger, of Akron, would not permit it. Prosecuting Attorney Jos. A. Seymour will be assisted by his father, J.W. Seymour.”

December 2, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette
NOTE: some parts of this article were difficult to make out or entirely unreadable. The presumed words are in parentheses and others, not known, indicated by asterisks (*).

Cacciola Murder Trial on its Second Week
And it Looks Now as Though the Jury Would Get the Case Before Nightfall Tomorrow – Effort to Prove Self-defense

“(The) trial of Dominick Cacciola, Wadsworth barber, for murder in the (first) degree, the killing of Frank (Butto) Sept. 5 last promises to be (one of) the longest in the history of the county.
(The) State consumed about two (hours) and a half presenting its evidence but the outlook is that the defense (*) not use up more than a (hour) and a half and will finish by tonight. The arguments will be presented Friday and it is expected the (jury would) have the case before nightfall. (*) Cacciola killed Butto is (*) and the sole question is (whether) it was justified or not. The (*) of course, that he was (*) that the deed was cold-blooded and premeditated, and that (he) had threatened Butto. On (the other) hand the defense asserts (Butto had) threatened Cacciola (and the) latter was in fear of (*) Butto was outside of (*), prepared to kill him and (he) shot Butto in self-defense (*) had been devoid of any (*) features and his back (*).

Evidence Starts Monday

“(As printed) in last week’s Gazette (that) Monday and Tuesday and the (better) part of Wednesday morning (were) consumed in securing a jury, (so) then Wednesday afternoon was (taken) up with a visit to the scene (of the) killing in Wadsworth, after (*) adjournment was taken over (the) Thanksgiving holiday to Monday when the real work was started (*) opening statements were made (*) Prosecuting Attorney Joseph A. Seymour for the state and Attorney N.M. Greenberger, of Akron for the (defense). Mr. Seymour said that the (state) expected to prove that the crime was committed without (provocation) and with premeditation on (the) part of Cacciola. He traced the movements of Butto and his companion Philip Sinatra, on their (way) to Wadsworth from Akron and stated that Butto had refused to go (*) Cacciola’s shop with his companions because the barber was an “enemy of mine”. Seymour said (that) while Butto stood peacefully (outside) the shop Cacciola suddenly (opened) the door and fired the fatal (shots). The Defense Statement Greenberger said that they would (show) that Butto’s right hand, as he (stood) outside the shop, was in his pocket grasping a revolver, the (*) of which protruded from the pocket. Butto came to Wadsworth, he contended to “get” Cacciola, and (*) the latter had been warned to (that) effect. Cacciola has been (pursued) he said for years by Butto and members of his family, and at (this) very time bears in his body five (bullet) holes inflicted by Sam Butto. (The) State’s first witness was Assistant County Surveyor Tanner, who described a plat of the surroundings of Cacciola’s barber shop. He was followed by Coroner Crum, of Lodi, Undertaker Hilliard, of Wadsworth, Sam Lucas, marshal, and Ben Witshey, deputy marshal, of Wadsworth, Philip Sinatra, of Akron, Butto’s companion, now under indictment for shooting with intent to kill and Tony Cruppa, a Wadsworth Italian. Cruppa was still on the stand when court adjourned Monday afternoon. Tuesday’s Proceedings Tuesday, the following witnesses were examined after Cruppa had finished his testimony: Mrs. Cruppa, Sam Bueni, Mrs. Bueni, Joe Diepetro, Dominick Scoparia, and Sam (Butto). The only testimony of importance was elicited from Scoparia, (who) testified on cross examination (that) Butto had told him only a few (days) before the shooting that he (wasn’t) working and had no interest (in life), that if someone killed (him) there would be no loss and (that) if he killed someone, he (would) only serve six months as “(*) helps me”. Diepetro was the (*) who accompanied Butto and (Sinatra) on their visits in Wadsworth the night before and on the (day of) the shooting, and went into Cacciola’s barber shop, while Butto and Sinata remained on the outside. Sam Butto, Frank’s brother, who played quite an important part in (the) Wadsworth feud, caused considerable sensation Tuesday by insisting (on) being in the court room, already called as a witness. He was (*) twice and was searched by Sheriff Bigelow to see if he had a (*) concealed on his person. None (was found) however. Defense Starts Wednesday Tuesday morning, the state after having put on Antonio (*), Tony Cozio, and Sam (*). The defense introduced a dozen witnesses and then, (after) 3 o’clock court was adjourned because it had no more to (*) that time. The chief (efforts of the) defense seemed to be to (*) (Butto’s) character and to show Cacciola was in fear of his life () hands. The witnesses (were as) follows: Sheriff P.C. Bigelow, County Clerk G.C. Frazier, (*) R.L. Gehman, Marshal (Tom Lucas), Teresa Di Biesi, Dwight (*), Dominick Scofario, Sam (Bueni), Philip Sinatra, J.B. Hilliard. (Sam) Butto, Scofario, Hilliard (*) had all been originally (*) for the state. Though (*) brother and without (*) his sympathies being (*) Cacciola. Sam Butto was put (*) defense. It was brought out that Cacciola had threatened Butto, thus doing the defendant no good.
One reason that the trial moves so slowly is that so many witnesses are Italian and their testimony must go through an interpreter. William Marlot, of Akron, is the interpreter and he is a good one too.”

December 9, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette
NOTE: some parts of this article were difficult to make out or entirely unreadable. The presumed words are in parentheses and others, not known, indicated by asterisks (*).

Jury Out a Little Over Half Hour in Cacciola Case
But (the) Odd Man Soon Agreed to (Acquit) With the Other Eleven – (Closing) Scenes in a Hotly Contested Murder Trial

“(*) the jury in common pleas (*) Friday just a trifle over (a half) hour to decide that Dominick (Cacciola) , the Wadsworth barber, was (acquitted) of murder in the first degree (*) other degree, or (crimin) all when he killed (*) on the 5th of last September. The verdict was anticipated (by) practically everyone who (*) testimony or was familiar (with the) circumstances, and was (*) approved. (*) the only defense that (*) made was that of self-defense as much as Cacciola (admitted having) shot and killed Butto (dingly) along that line (the) attorneys for the accused (*) their efforts. Both the (*) the defense worked hard, (*) convict and the other to (*) the lawyers on each side (*) their ability and (re). The state, had, (how) job and a really (*) under the circumstances (*) the result was a foregone conclusion.” Sinatro Gets Off Easily “The court room had been (*) of spectators another (*) was held and Philip (Sinatro), of Akron, Frank Butto’s (companion) when he was shot and (*) indicted for shooting (with intent) to kill, was arraigned (and) permitted to withdraw his (plea of not) guilty and to plead guilty (to a lesser) charge. Judge McClure (*) sentenced him to pay a fine of (*) costs and to six months in a (Canton) workhouse, suspending (the latter) part of the sentence (dur) (good) behavior. (Sinatro), it will be remembered, was outside the Cacciola domicile when Butto was shot. He drew a (revolver) and fired it five times through the window and door with the (*) object of hitting Cacciola but failing.” The Court Room Scene “The jury retired about 2:30 and rendered its verdict shortly after 3 o’clock. It is understood that three ballots were taken in this (trial) the vote standing on the first two 11 for acquittal and one for conviction. It is understood that the one vote was cast by Alfred Coolman, the only Wadsworth man on (the jury). J.E. Gault, of Lafayette, county commissioner-elect, was foreman of the jury. The court room was packed with (*) men and women when the verdict was rendered. Large crowds (*) the testimony and listened (*) arguments all during the (w) when the court had (*) jury not a soul left the (*) anticipating an early verdict. (As) Clerk Frazier read the verdict (there) was started a ripple of (applause) quickly suppressed by Judge (McClure) and Bailiff Clark. Antoinette Cacciola, Dominick’s wife, (the niece) of the Buttos, who had (been) present throughout the trial and who testified in her husband’s (*) turned to him and kissed (him). Attorney Greenberger, leading (council) for Cacciola, extended his (hand) to Dominick, but instead of merely shaking it, the Italian raised it to his lips. Cacciola was closely guarded by friends as he left the court house and took an automobile for Wadsworth. Sam Butto, Frank’s brother, who (once) put five bullets into Cacciola, was watched by officers until Cacciola had left town.” Closing Scenes “The witnesses on Thursday for the defense were Cacciola himself, his wife Antoinette, Philip Sinatra, Mayor F.W. Boyer, Coroner E.L. Crum, Charles Sofia, and Joe Currisso. Boyer and Crum had both been called by the state. Cacciola and his wife both described the events of the fatal day, and the constant fear they had entertained for years of the Buttos. Currisso was really the star witness for the defense. He had not been subpoenaed but voluntarily (*) Medina and gave his testimony. He told how Frank Butto had said to him “I missed him (*) (referring to having shot at (Cacciola) over three years ago) but (*) next time.” (*) arguments were started the (*) Friday morning. Prosecuting Attorney J.A. Seymour opened for the state in a half-hour (ad*) and was followed by J.D. Hotchkiss, for the defense, who talked the same length of time. Hotchkiss’ associate, N.M. Greenberger, then consumed an hour and court adjourned for the noon recess. J.W. Seymour finished for the state after dinner, taking about an hour for that purpose.”

December 16, 1920 pg. 1 Gazette


“Sam Butto has written a letter or probably someone wrote it for him from Rittman addressed to the “Court House, Medina, Ohio,” and starts out “Dear Judge”. He then says that he will be in Medina next week and wants his brother Frank’s clothes and revolver. He adds that he “needs the clothes” but does not state whether he needs the revolver. The clothes which were used as evidence in the Cacciola trial seem to have disappeared. If found he will probably get them but it is sufficient to say that he won’t get the revolver.
Last week’s Wadsworth Banner Press contains the following:
Dominick Cacciola acquitted Friday of the murder of Frank Butto on Sept. 5 last and Phillip Sinatio, who escaped with a $50 fine after shooting five times at Cacciola are both back in Wadsworth, Sinatio as Cacciola’s guest. They called at the municipal offices together Monday and paid their respects to Mayor Boyer. Cacciola says he does not intend to stay in Wadsworth but will leave for several years. He intimated that there might be further trouble if he remained and that to avoid this he would depart. The men seemed to be the best of friends and had evidently patched up their differences during the three months they spent in jail together.”

Cacciola continued to be a magnet for trouble when he did return. He would serve prison time on a liquor indictment as would his bride, Antoinette. The two had indeed been married on August 20, 1917. They would bury their newborn daughter Victoria; dying on November 15, 1918 being only a week old. A small monument marks her final resting place in the Catholic section of Woodlawn Cemetery. Antoinette died July 12, 1959 in Stark County in Massilon State Hospital. Dominick’s fate thus far eludes my search efforts.

`The Cacciola Place’ was the site of yet another pair of shootings on March 29, 1930. Operated by one Henry I. Vaughn after Cacciola had moved over into Summit County, it would be Vaughn who stood trial for the murders of Charles Dawson and Clarence Tedrow. But that is another story for another time…


In nearly a quarter of a century researching and documenting the cemeteries of Medina County, Ohio, I have come upon many interesting stories. Dealing with the dead in their final resting place, it comes as no surprise that many of these tales involve an element of tragedy or sadness. While I absolutely feel that it is how a person lives that defines them; it is a person’s death that is the final chapter in their story. While searching through and compiling records for Woodlawn Cemetery in Wadsworth, Ohio, recently, I continued to come upon members of a family by the name of Owens. A black couple from Virginia, Mathew and Mary Owens would have ten children of which nine would pass away before reaching their 21st birthdays. This is their story.

Originally from Clover Hill, Chesterfield, Virginia, Mathew was the son of Matilda Owens. In 1880 we find him – age 21 – still living at home but working as a coal miner to help the family. His father is not mentioned but he has five younger siblings: Mary (age 14), Rosa (age 11), Otelia (age 7), Robert (age 6), and Birdie (infant).

Also from Clover Hill, Chesterfield, Virginia, Mary Ella was the daughter of Creed and Margaret Haskins. In 1880 her father was working as a blacksmith to support his wife and their six children: Peter (age 10), Fanny (age 7), Mary E. (age 6), Robert (age 4), and twin infant boys, Arthur and Ernest.

It isn’t clear if any of Mathew’s family came here to Ohio although Mary’s parents and brother definitely did. Already working as a coal miner, Mathew continued in that line of work when he arrived here; likely recruited like so many others by the local mining companies. The couple wed on February 24, 1892 and, not long after, started a family.

Their first child, a son named Harry, was born on May 7, 1893. The following year, a daughter named Hattie on June 23, 1894. Three more children would come before the turn of the century. Samuel Mathew Owens was born on April 26, 1896. Robert was born on August 24, 1897. In 1899 another son, Floyd, was born.

In the 1900 census we find the couple renting a house in Wadsworth. Mathew is 39 and working as a coal miner. Mary is 26 and living with them are their five children: Harry (age 7), Hattie (age 5), Samuel (age 4), Robert (age 3), and Floyd (age 1). At this point, tragedy had not yet struck the family.

That all changed on February 13, 1901 when little Floyd Owens passed away from lung fever. He wasn’t even two years old. He would be the first of the Owens family to be buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Wadsworth, Ohio.

On January 7, 1902 the couple would welcome another child to the family with the birth of daughter, Mary Beatrice Owens. Sadly, she would die on August 16, 1902 at the age of 8 months from cholera infantum.

Twins must be in the bloodline of Mary Ella’s family as, on August 10, 1904, she gave birth to daughters Geneva and Geneta (Jeanetta). The former would not even see her first birthday; passing away on August 5, 1905 due to asthma.

Coincidentally, the happy date of August 10th was made special once again when, in 1906, the couple welcomed son Ernest to the family. Likely named after Mary’s brother, sadly he would pass away a little over two years later on October 7, 1908 from meningitis.

On April 9, 1909 the couple had another son born to them by the name of Sylvester.

In the 1910 census we find the couple still renting a house in Wadsworth. Mathew is 49 and now working for Ohio Match Company. Mary is 36 and living with them are their six children: Harry (age 16), Hattie (age 15), Samuel (age 14), Robert (age 12), Jeannette (age 5), and Sylvester (age 1). Also living with the couple is Mary’s younger brother Ernest (age 31) who is working as a laborer in the local brickyard.

The year 1915 would be a particularly brutal one for the family as they would lose three more of their children. On January 28th they would lose daughter Hattie to tuberculosis. On March 15th they would see son Robert succumb to double pneumonia. Finally, on October 12th son Harry would also die from tuberculosis.

The 1920 census finds the family still residing in Wadsworth. Mathew is 56 and still working though his exact occupation is hard to determine on the document. Mary is 45 and three children still live in the household: Samuel (age 23, working as a moulder with his dad), Jeannette (age 16), and Sylvester (age 10). Mary’s brother Ernest (age 39) is also still in the home and continues working as a `bricker’ in the local brickyard.

On March 23, 1920 the couple would lose yet another child to tuberculosis when daughter Jeannette passed away. Ultimately, they would lose four of their children to that horrible disease as their son Sylvester died from it on September 9, 1923.

Mathew Owens died on May 31, 1926 at the age of 65 of an all too familiar foe: tuberculosis. He would leave behind a wife and one son. Mary Ella Owens died on June 20, 1931 at the age of 56 years from hepatitis. She was living at 2172 East Avenue in Akron, Summit County, Ohio at the time.

Of their ten children, only son Samuel Mathew Owens would survive to the age of 21. He would register for the draft during World War I and did serve: enlisting on July 18, 1918 and being discharged December 19th later that same year. He would die on November 15, 1942 – per Veterans Administration records – but his place of burial is not known. The document does list his address as 209 E. Walnut St. in Wadsworth – the same as on his father’s death certificate.

Mathew and Mary Ella Owens – along with nine of their children – are buried in unmarked graves in Woodlawn Cemetery in Wadsworth, Ohio. Their exact burial locations are likely impossible to determine as the family did not purchase a plot for themselves but, instead, were buried like so many other poor individuals in the potters fields. One can reasonably wonder if any of the family are even buried in proximity to one another. I don’t know much more about this family than what I have been able to ascertain from census records, birth and death records, and cemetery ledgers but, at the end of the day, people are people and it would be a special thing to see a grave marker erected at Woodlawn to memorialize this family. Perhaps one day a stroll through the cemetery will include seeing a monument that reads:

Mathew, died May 31, 1926, aged 65 years
Mary Ella Haskins, his wife, died June 20, 1931, aged 56 years
Their children:
Harry, May 7, 1893 – October 12, 1915
Hattie, June 23, 1894 – January 28, 1915
Robert, August 24, 1897 – March 15, 1915
Floyd, died February 13, 1901, aged 1 year
Mary Beatrice, January 7, 1902 – August 16, 1902
Geneva, August 10, 1904 – August 5, 1905
Geneta, August 10, 1904 – March 23, 1920
Ernest, August 10, 1906 – October 7, 1908
Sylvester, April 9, 1909 – September 9, 1923


The Phelps-Hill Cemetery is an old burial ground located in Montville Township. Containing over a dozen graves of members of the Smith, Phelps, Hill, Currier, and White families, it was deeded over by Moses Hill in July of 1850:

“…excepting and reserving the small hill on the premises heretoafter used as a burying ground to (be) used by the inhabitants in the neighborhood for a burying ground heretoafter the quantity thus reserved not to exceed one fourth of an acre.”

The cemetery would be destroyed by vandals in later years. Surrounded by private property and hidden away on a wooded hill, this pioneer burial plot continues to deteriorate. Long a concern of mine, I made it a point to visit the site on two occasions in July of 2017. Indeed, it was even worse than it had been some years ago when I had last seen it. A simple `welfare check’ turned into a cleanup as I decided it was finally time to reestablish the site as a cemetery.

Leaves and brush were raked away, branches and dead wood piled up, and the area partially cleared of small trees and bushes. Stone pieces were identified, laid together, and several bases located. On my second day there, I noticed a rectangular stone which was clearly not just a rock. A closer investigation revealed a slot for a headstone which indicated that it was a tombstone base.

Poking around the area with a soil probe led to the tombstone being located which belonged to this base.

Buried under several inches of topsoil was a headstone in almost pristine condition.

It read:

Daniel R. Smith
Died Jan. 4, 1851
AE. 55y 1m 14d

This tombstone had never before been recorded. For cemetery researchers this is the type of thing you live for: putting a long lost individual `back on the map’. Many times tombstones are the only proof of an individual’s existence. That stone represents the grave of a person just like you or I. But the story doesn’t end there…

Local researcher and Liverpool Township resident Terry Hart has been hunting down veteran graves for years. He has published several books on the subject and I have been fortunate to exchange information with him many times over the years. His book on the War of 1812 veterans buried in Medina County includes a list of known veterans whose graves could not be located. I happened upon this list again just recently and noticed a familiar name on it: Daniel R. Smith. Turns out the stone I found was for a War of 1812 veteran. Born in Vermont, Daniel served in the Vermont Militia. His wife Sally was still living in 1860 in Lafayette Township with their son’s family but eventually left the area and, when she died in 1873, was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. I was happy to inform Terry of the find and it is yet another example of how networking among researchers continues to break through brick walls in our research.

A lack of time and other life events did not allow me to return again to the cemetery in 2017 but I hope to return someday in the future and finish work on restoration and cleanup. Perhaps the stone for Daniel Smith can be reset someday and stand once again on the hill. Either way, his burial place has been documented and will never again be lost to history.


The River Styx Cemetery has always been easy to see as you drive by it, but the receiving vault on the south side of this pioneer burial ground – not so much. Passers by would catch a glimpse of the stone structure – located, literally, inside of a small hill – raising their curiosities as to what might be contained inside.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The front of the receiving vault as it has looked for decades.

History holds that it was built in or about 1844 and used like many such vaults – to `receive’ the corpses of the deceased and keep them until they could be buried. The frozen ground during northeast Ohio winters can be unforgiving and made the digging of graves nearly impossible at times – before the advent of modern power equipment. An additional – and considerably darker – purpose of this vault was noted in the 1881 History of Medina County (pg. 475):

“At Wilson’s Corners, there having been several cases of grave-robbing, the citizens constructed quite a large receiving vault in their little cemetery a short distance south from the village. This vault is still in good condition, and is the only one of the kind in Guilford Township.”

The cemetery, which dates back to at least 1838, has been maintained by Guilford Township in recent years and has been generally well-kept but the area on and around the receiving vault has been overgrown for many decades. With an interest in revitalizing the cemetery, some local volunteers – organized by Charlie Selzer – have already made a noticeable improvement.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The front of the receiving vault as it appears today.

Tammy Collins, whose son Luke was interred in the newer section of the cemetery after his passing in 2016, enlisted the help of six of his friends from the Wadsworth graduating class of 2014: Andrew Sidol, Tyler Erbse, Dylan Grazier, Daniel Wuth, Robbie Bosley, and Brooke Braman.

On Saturday, August 6th, along with additional volunteers Woody Smith, Tom Lethco, and myself, decades of weeds, thorns, brush, and other debris was cleared and hauled away so that the vault and south side of the cemetery can be presentable again.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Several trailer loads of brush and debris (right) were removed as the hill was cleared (left).

River Styx Market supplied water to the crew during the cleanup. Later on, hot dogs (prepared by Troy Selzer) along with chips, beverages and ice cream were had by all.

The secluded and creepy appearance of the structure had been a magnet not just for the curious but also loiterers. The two iron gates did allow for peeks inside but vandals still attempted to enter the vault and did serious damage to them.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The iron gates to the receiving vault.

Following a few hours of hard work by Woody Smith and Tom Lethco, the gates were finally removed and will be restored by Joe Garn who lives just down the road from the cemetery. They will then be remounted and locked – this time more securely – to maintain the integrity of this valuable, historical landmark.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Tom Lethco and Woody Smith carefully remove the iron gates that secured the entrance.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The damage to these gates by vandals is going to be repaired.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Entrance after the iron gates were removed.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Inside the receiving vault.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault

The inside of the vault measures ten feet in width, eighteen feet in length, and is eight feet tall at its greatest height. There are no bodies buried inside of it. Structurally, it is in remarkably good shape given its age and lack of regular upkeep; with only minor damage to a few areas. The rubble found inside has many origins: one structural piece from the wall, another large piece from the outside somewhere, some pieces of broken pottery/urns, some pieces of rock/mortar from the ceiling inside, a few that were just plain rocks (a lot of those at this cemetery), and even a few fragments of an old tombstone.

River Styx Cemetery, L.G. Wilson
These might be pieces of the original headstone for L.G. Wilson.

The plan is for further cleanup work in the future which may also include the cleaning and repair of several tombstones. The layout of the old section is being reconstructed and a few more previously, unknown burials have been documented in this process. Check back to this website for further updates on the project as well as information about the history of River Styx Cemetery and the people buried there.


Within the cemeteries of Medina County, Ohio there can be found many headstones marking the final resting places of men who served our nation during times of war. These monuments tend to make us pause longer than most. We ponder the sacrifices made and our gaze upon these markers carries down with it gratitude and respect. While the tombstones of some veterans are clearly engraved with details of the individual’s military service, others are not. Hiding in plain sight, they simply stand there quietly waiting for someone to recognize them. Identifying them requires specific knowledge usually found by searching military records.

Frederic Jones, who is buried in the Old Town Graveyard in Medina, is said to be one such `hidden veteran’. It has been reported by various persons over the years that this Fred Jones was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. After reviewing the evidence, it is my opinion that this Fred Jones is absolutely not a veteran of the Revolutionary War. While I cannot pinpoint exactly how the mixup occurred, I do believe I can show why the mixup exists.

Let me begin with the two primary sources in this debate:

1. A military record exists for a Fred R. Jones who enlisted May 5, 1777 in Rhinebeck, Duchess County, New York as a private in Lieutenant Cornelius Elmandorph’s Company, commanded by John R. Livingston, the proprietor of the Powder Mill in Rhinebeck. Fred served one month and 27 days before being discharged on June 30, 1777. The military record is an actual document and not in dispute. That being said, all this means is that a man with the common name of Fred Jones served briefly in the Revolutionary War. We’ll call this `Dot #1’.

2. A headstone in the Old Town Graveyard (Old Medina Cemetery). It has been said to read: “Frederic Jones, died Aug. 20, 1811, aged 60y”. Do the math and that means he was born in 1751. This is `Dot #2’.


How these two `dots’ were connected is still a mystery to me. Any presumption that they are the same man is certainly a stretch without some form of corroborating evidence. None exists. Where was this man in the years between 1777 and 1811? When or why did he come from New York to Ohio? Why are there no family members or descendants either buried with him or found in Ohio afterwards? These are very important questions that need answering if one is to make the connection between a man who was in New York in 1777 and one who died in Ohio in 1811. That’s 34 years and a lot of miles.


The biggest problem with this debate is the thing which led me to notice it in the first place. The Fred Jones buried in Medina didn’t die in 1811. The tombstone was read incorrectly. Look at the enlarged photo below:


Specifically, focus on the year of his death. That 1811 doesn’t look quite right, does it? The first 1 and the 8 are fine but the last two digits – 1 and 1 – seem suspect. Look at the spacing of those numbers as compared to the first two digits. They are spaced a bit wider aren’t they? That is because they aren’t ones (1) at all. Those are number fours (4). This Frederic Jones died August 20, 1844 at the age of 60 years. That means he was born in 1784 and could not have fought in the Revolutionary War.

Looking at the stone might not be enough to convince everyone. After all, the recording of worn 4’s as 1’s is the most commonly made mistake when reading tombstones. The `nose’ of the four is engraved thinner and lighter than the `upright’ of the number is. See an example of this below:


Add in decades of weathering and you have a bunch of fours that look like ones.


It isn’t just the headstone today that supports this 1844 date. In 1910, the Gazette ran a series of articles which detailed the individuals buried in the Old Medina Cemetery. Indeed, over a hundred years ago, the July 22, 1910 Gazette (pg. 7) proves that someone read this same headstone and recorded it with the date of 1844. The article would point out interesting tidbits about persons or families buried there and it makes no additional reference to Jones as a person of interest. Just another burial from the 1840’s…..

Even the survey of the stones completed by the Medina County Genealogical Society for its 1983 book, Tombstone Inscriptions from the Cemeteries in Medina County, Ohio, was able to come away with the date of 1841. They misread the age as 50 instead of 60 though that is the precise area where the stone is broken.

How could someone have misread the stone as 1811? The photo above was taken on a bright sunny day with perfect contrast on the area in question. If someone were reading the headstone on a gloomy day or with less than ideal lighting, the stone could easily appear to say 1811 to a person inexperienced in what to look for. The photo is taken from straight away at ground level. Any person standing, or even crouching a bit, would lack this ideal view. That’s how the stone could be misread as 1811.

Rather, the question should be: how have three different persons over the span of 100 years (1910-2010) gotten fours from the same date where others have gotten ones?

When the details of the number four (nose, etc.) are worn away, distinguishing it from a number one can be difficult. One can look at the two numbers (like on our Frederic Jones stone) and see how this occurs. We know the first digit is a number one. Compare it to the last two digits and they are mostly indistinguishable. Go back to 1910 and we have a headstone that would have been much less worn. Someone looked at that headstone and saw two number fours. There must have been details of the numbers still visible. Back in 1983, someone still saw enough to write down 1841. Today, I cannot make claim to viewing any of those lost details. My conclusion is based on area history and the spacing between the last three numbers.

Explaining the spacing involves some background also:

The spacing between the 1 and 8 is not much different than the spacing between the 8 and the first 4. The spacing between the first 4 and second 4 is much greater. Why is this?

Below I typed the two dates:


Shown exactly as they were typed, and without making any spaces, note where the `uprights’ of the number ones are situated within the space allotted for each digit. Compare this to where the `uprights’ are located for the number fours. See how the ones are situated more to the left?

This is important because if one assumes that the space between the first number one and the eight is representative of the entire date, you could suggest that it is really 1814. Actually, the space between the digits is much smaller with the number one occupying its normal `to the left’ positioning. Then keep in mind that the space between the two fours represents the combined area of three things: the tail of the first four, the actual space between the numbers, and the nose of the second four. I had wondered this myself but if you print out the photo of the stone’s date and draw in the fours, it all makes sense.



From almost twenty years of experience reading old tombstones in Medina County, I can tell you that anytime I see a date in the 1810’s it draws my attention. It’s not impossible, but it is rare and requires an investigation of the circumstances. That being said, here are a few additional things that cast doubt about a date of 1811 on this headstone.

1. The 1881 History of Medina County pretty much lays out the firsts and early dates for the county. It tells of how Joseph Harris, George Burr, Russell Burr, Calvin Corbin, and Lyman Corbin (and families) settled Harrisville in 1811. In Liverpool, it was Justus Warner, Alpheus Warner, and Moses Demming (and families). Given the `trouble’ with the Brits at the time, there was no further settling of the area until 1814. The first permanent settler in Medina Twp. was in late 1814 when Zenas Hamilton and his family settled. The village of Medina was laid out in 1818. These dates aren’t uncrossable boundaries BUT I can tell you that in Medina County’s cemeteries, I can’t think of one instance where they were.

2. More from the 1881 History: The first death in Medina Twp. is given as being a young daughter of Asahel Parmelee in the spring of 1817. Nothing is said about the first burial although that of Isaac Pond in August of 1819 is the earliest mentioned. The death and/or burial of a Revolutionary War veteran would hopefully be recalled. Particularly when compared to that of a child whose family was simply passing through the township at the time and whose burial is not mentioned.

3. The next earliest burial in the cemetery is that of Anne Munson in 1825 – 14 years later. Not an inconceivable gap – especially given that stones could be missing or graves unmarked – but still notable for a cemetery this large. Might Jones have been buried elsewhere originally and moved here later? Possible, yes, but another question is raised: why? When individuals are disinterred and then reinterred in another cemetery, it is almost always done by a family member that has purchased a lot and moves them to be buried with the rest of the family. We see this many times with regards to those disinterred from Old Town and moved to Spring Grove. There are no visible connections to suggest anything like this happened with Frederic Jones.

4. The Jones stone looks like it is made out of white limestone. That type of material was booming for headstones in the 1840’s. Many early stones from the 1820s and 1830s in Medina County are made out of sandstone which was used a lot during those early days. Of course this stone could have been erected in the 1840s so it’s not exactly evidence either way. It doesn’t so much eliminate the 1811 date as it is just another thing that fits the 1844 date.

For the Frederic Jones 1811 to be correct, it would mean that it conflicts with and predates the timeline of Medina Twp., the village of Medina, and Old Town Graveyard. It also makes him the earliest grave in Medina County – an honor known and documented as being Ruth Deming in 1812 in Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Liverpool Township.

I believe that the mistake was originated sometime following 1910. Perhaps after misreading the stone as 1811, someone did the math and wondered if the man buried there might have fought in the Revolution. Perhaps they went looking for a military record or, worse, just assumed he fought in the war. The WPA map for the cemetery shows Jones as a veteran and this project was done circa 1940.


Several books show Jones in their listings:

The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio, Volume I, pages 205 and 433; Ohio Adjutant’s General’s Office; (F J Heer Printing, Columbus, OH 1929);

Pg. 205
Br 1751 D 1811 MI: Revolutionary Soldier
Fur. infor. Western Reserve Chap.

Pg. 433 simply has the name `Jones, Frederick’ in a list of veterans

The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Who Lived in the State of Ohio, Volume III, pages 192 and 441; Ohio Adjutant’s General’s Office; (The Painesville Publishing Co, Painesville, OH 1959)

Pg. 192
By Mrs. Harry A. Stebbins, Creston, O.
Roster I, pg. 205
B. 1751, d. 8-20-1811; bur. Episcopalian Cem., Medina, O. – Medina Co.
MI: Revolutionary Soldr. and Pensr. 58th NSDAR Report

Pg. 441 simply has the name `Jones, Frederick’ in a list of veterans

History of North Central Ohio: Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne, Medina, Lorain, Huron and Knox Counties, Volume 1; page 144; Duff, William A (Historical Publishing Co, Topeka-Indianpolis, IN, 1931);

Pg. 144 simply lists `Frederick Jones’ in a list of names

Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, Vol 2, Hatcher, Patricia Law (Pioneer Heritage Press, Dallas, TX, 1987)


I have done a bit of research into each of these publications. I began by contacting the NSDAR to see if they could provide any corroborating/source information for the inclusion of Fred Jones in their publication. I received the following response:

Dear Mr. McCann,

I checked the NSDAR’s Genealogical Research System, and though there are three different men by the name of Frederick Jones listed (this means that they are established and recognized by the National Society of the DAR as Revolutionary War soldiers or patriots), there are none listed who died in 1811 or 1844 and are buried in Medina County, Ohio. Of the three, two were born and died in North Carolina, and the other recognized patriot was born and died in Virginia, and all three died before 1809.

The volume that you mentioned–‘The Official Roster of Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio’ was not compiled by the National Society of the DAR, but under the direction of the state of Ohio, –published by direction of Frank D. Henderson, Adjutant General, and John R. Rea, Military Registrar, and compiled by Jane Dowd Dailey, DAR State Chairman of Historic Sites and Revolutionary Soldiers’ graves of Ohio, 1923-1932. Though our library has copies of these volumes, we do not have any records relating to their compilation, as this was not a NSDAR undertaking.

It seems that Ohio DAR chapters collected the information contained in the volumes, in an attempt “to present an authentic and complete list of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in this state,” according to the Foreword, by Jane Dowd Dailey, who also stated the following: “The Roster is not designed as a genealogical reference book, although it may be of service in tracing pioneer ancestry.” You might wish to contact the Ohio Society of the DAR to see if they have any records relating to the compilation of this roster. Here is a link to their website: . Please note on the left hand side of the screen the option to “contact us.”

I wish you the best in your search for information about the Frederick Jones who is buried in Ohio.


Genevieve Shishak
Office of the Historian General

I then contacted the State of Ohio DAR which was the compiler of the first two publications listed. I received a response which included the following:

“Frankly, the publication “Official Roster of Soldiers of the Revolution Buried in Ohio” is worthless. It is not accepted by National Society DAR as a valid source of evidence for service. I don’t know when it was published and I don’t know the requirements for research into the listings of the men included. Personally, I believe that a disclaimer should be pasted into the front cover of every copy of the book still in existence….. Your Fred Jones error is not the only one in the book, I’m afraid. And that’s why the book is not held in high regard.”
Laverne Ingram Piatt
OSDAR State Chairman, Lineage Research
Registrar, Jared Mansfield Chapter, DAR

I contacted Pat Van Hoose who is the head of the James Fowler Chapter (Medina County) DAR and she was unable to find any information to help clear up the matter. Kathy Petras from the Medina Library suggested I contact the Wayne County Chapter since the submitter in one of the volumes is given as a Mrs. Harry Stebbins of Creston, Ohio.

I contacted a P.J. Stebbins online who is the granddaughter of Mrs. Harry Stebbins. She told me that Frederick Jones was not a relative so far as she knew and that she had no idea how/why her grandmother had been linked to the submission of that name.

I then contacted Janet Welty of the Wayne County Chapter DAR and she had no record for a Mrs. Harry Stebbins or any submissions related to Frederick Jones.

So it seems that the first two books – those compiled by the DAR – are compilations from its various state chapters that contain a lot of unsubstantiated material.

The third book on the list – the History of North Central Ohio – simply pulled its list of names from the aforementioned DAR books. It mentions the DAR lists as its source on the very pages where it lists Jones (and others) and offers no additional information. “We are giving the names of as many of these Revolutionary soldiers, buried in North Central Ohio, as we have been able to find and appreciate assistance given in this work by regents of various D. A. R. chapters.”

The last book on the list – the Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots – did the very same thing. We know this because it states it in the book itself:

About Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots
This collection of abstracts of grave sites contains information originally published in the Senate documents of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the Society magazine.

And also:

Using this book. While all of these reports are available at DAR headquarters, there is little if any information available there to link these references to specific sources of proof, to provide researchers with details as to why a grave was marked or to verify the listing of a located grave as indeed being that of a Revolutionary War patriot. Many listings, particularly the earlier ones, were not substantiated; all information should be independently verified and proved before being submitted to any patriotic or hereditary society for application or other purpose.

So while we have four `separate’ sources which would seem to validate the claims of Frederic Jones being a veteran, we actually have two from the same unsourced compilation whose information was then copied and republished later by two others. Notice how the listings never offer anything more than what came from the misread headstone (i.e. no day or month of birth). There isn’t even a mention of military service details (enlistment, company, rank, etc.).


I do not believe the Frederic Jones buried in the Old Town Graveyard was a Revolutionary War veteran. I have provided a number of pieces of evidence or arguments which I believe cast substantial doubt on his being a veteran. Furthermore, the sources that claim he IS a veteran consist of compilation books uncorroborated by any actual evidence.

Even if, for the sake of argument, one contends that the tombstone reads 1811, it doesn’t mean that he was a Revolutionary War veteran. Likewise, the presence of a military record for a man with the name of Fred Jones does not prove any connection with the man buried here in Medina.

I believe that the only reasonable stance on this matter is to assume he ISN’T a veteran until evidence is found to prove otherwise. It is certainly more likely and safer to assume that he is not a veteran – as one would do with any adult male burial in any cemetery. The burden of proof lies with those who want to show that he was a veteran.

The investigation needs to start from the beginning and if a proven connection cannot be made he should not be listed on a veteran roster.

I have no stake in this argument and simply wish to see the truth documented. As it stands today, I would have to list Frederic Jones with the 1844 date and as not being a veteran.


Cemeteries just don’t get the respect that they deserve. People are often inclined to ask why it is that this occurs. Why is it that the final resting places of our ancestors are treated with such disrespect or are often ignored by society? None of them are good reasons and not a one justifies what is happening with our nation’s cemeteries but here are a few of them and a few counterpoints on how we can change that thinking:

Cemeteries are a whole lot to take care of. Anything larger than a small family cemetery is probably going to have no less than fifty headstones and that can seem overwhelming. If the cemetery is one that has seen decades of neglect and a lot of headstones are damaged then the concept of repairing and restoring it can seem impossible.

As with any large project, you need to approach it from the viewpoint of tackling one thing at a time. If you were to take all of the projects around your house that you need to accomplish and write them down then the list would likely be far too much to take on at once. Add up the costs of those projects and it would likely be more than your bank account could handle. You couldn’t possibly accomplish every one of those tasks at once and you likely couldn’t afford them either.

Cemeteries are much the same. While the overall project of just getting a cemetery back to a status of needing the average day-to-day, year-to-year maintenance is a big one, every project – like every journey – begins with one step. Take it `one stone at a time’ and remember that the condition of the cemetery will only get worse if neglected longer.

Prioritize the things that need to be done and tackle what you can. Repairing and resetting headstones can be more involved while removing tree branches, brush, and garbage is not only cheaper and easier but will have a much bigger impact right away on the appearance of the cemetery.

Identify what headstones are in danger and make sure that those get your attention first. To help manage costs, research all of your options and do what you can afford. If you cannot afford to repair a headstone than simply make sure all of the pieces are collected and out of harms way (mowers). Just make sure to keep the headstone/pieces at the gravesite so you don’t lose track of the actual grave location.

No cemetery was ever cleaned up and restored overnight and any sizable cemetery will take months and even years to get `done’. Once completed, the cemetery will be back to needing only the basics: mowing, weeding, etc.

Many communities treat cemeteries like many homeowners treat their bathrooms. You know what I mean: you have to have them but you don’t want to spend too much time or effort taking care of them. Instead of looking at them as a community burden, why not look at them as a community asset?

Any community that is asked to name its assets would likely list something about `parks’ and `history’ among them. Cemeteries are both. They can be another community park; be it one that you can’t play in or bring pets; but one where you can enjoy a picnic, a leisurely walk, read a book, or watch nature. If you want to talk about history then I challenge you to show me a place that is more rich in local history than a cemetery. The people that came before us – the founders, the pioneers – are all buried there. If you want to talk about your community and its history then remember this: they are your history.

How would you feel about someone visiting your home when your bathroom – or another room – was a horrible mess? You might feel embarrassed. When people visit your community do you want them to see cemeteries that look like something out of a horror movie? Much like streets full of potholes, rusty and battered signage, boarded up and vacant buildings, dead or overgrown trees and plants; people notice cemeteries full of broken headstones and high weeds and thorns.

Let’s face it. Since cemeteries are largely misunderstood and ignored by society then elected officials seeking `points’ with their voters aren’t inclined to spend much time on them. There are bigger and more important issues to deal with and, where money is tight, spending it on cemeteries can be looked at as unnecessary or wasteful. Everyone uses roads – most on a daily basis – so when an elected official pledges to fix our roads we easily identify with the issue.

First of all, the most neglected cemeteries are those where people aren’t being buried anymore. Elected officials are more inclined to maintain cemeteries where funeral processions still travel and where loved ones still come to mourn.

Secondly, going back to my earlier point, if the cemetery was maintained regularly then it wouldn’t be as costly. What is more costly: to maintain an existing road every year or to wait twenty years and then fix what’s wrong? The same applied to cemeteries.

Odds are that most – if not all – of the people buried in any given cemetery mean nothing to you. They aren’t related to you – even distantly. While this is true, everyone one buried in that cemetery was a person. They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, and friends. They were farmers, steelworkers, lawyers, and some were unemployed. They were white, black, and every color that exists in this world. They were no more or less important than you or I. At some point we all die and we will all end up at rest somewhere somehow. If they were your relatives how would you want their final resting place to be?

“But no one that knew them is still living.”

Eventually we all die. And, eventually, everyone that ever knew us will be dead also. All that this means is that the person buried there won’t be having their grave visited by people that knew them personally. Think about your own family. Have you seen pictures or heard stories about family members that you have never met? Do you feel a connection of any kind to those people? Perhaps you look like them or were named after them. Regardless, you are here because of them. The length of the chain doesn’t matter because the links on both ends are still always connected.

“If their family doesn’t care about their grave then why should we?”

This is an assumption made by many people that just isn’t always true. There are graves of people in my family that I care about but have never been to or even found. Some are too far away for me to visit. If your great-grandparents moved across the country a hundred years ago, how easy would it be for you to visit or maintain the graves of those relatives they left back in the cemeteries? Many people don’t know where their relatives are buried and many others don’t have the ability to care for their graves due to the distance. To presume that a neglected grave is no longer important to a family is incorrect. Ask yourself this: how often do you visit and care for ALL of your ancestors’ graves? Given our `mobile society’ those who live in the community must take responsibility for maintaining the cemeteries in that community.

“The bodies are turned to dust by now. There isn’t even a body there anymore.”

Not necessarily true. When the question was recently put to several area funeral homes, they all indicated that graves as old as 150 years would still have skulls and long-bones – at the very least. The rate at which a body decays depends on a number of factors (moisture, climate, animal and insect activity, the coffin (if any), the vault (if any), soil conditions, etc.). Remember that today we are still finding human remains that are many hundreds and even thousands of years old. While it is certainly possible that a body might be mostly or completely decayed, it is more likely that something identifiable is still buried there. For anyone who has had a loved one cremated: are those ashes any less important than a full corpse in a coffin?



Brown cemetery sits today much as it has for the last seventy-five years. Where a Hinckley township family once laid its members to rest over a hundred years ago one can now see only ruins. Monuments erected on the farm by a grieving family to provide a lasting memorial to their loved ones have been vandalized, stolen, and neglected. Accounts from longtime township residents tell the tale of a private family plot whose stones have gradually disappeared over time; swallowed up by the growing brush, trees, and ravaging hands of time. The cemetery was still visible from the road as recently the 1970’s and even into the 1980’s. Nowadays one has to look a lot harder to find Brown cemetery.

Brown cemetery is a private family cemetery situated on the north side of Bellus Rd.; just west of Ridge Rd. (State Route 94); on the property at 1705 Bellus Rd. in Hinckley Township, Medina County, Ohio. You can’t see the cemetery from the road – even in the winter – but it isn’t far from the cars that drive by it everyday. The cemetery is 0.2 acres in size – not very big – but contains no less than fourteen burials. It contains burials of the Brown, Oviatt, Parker, and Babcock families. The earliest burial documented is that of George Babcock, a son of David and Jerusha Babcock, who died in 1842. Ida E. Brown was the last burial known to be made; that being in August of 1869.

The cemetery is completely surrounded by woods. A large, heavy headstone for Stephen Oviatt bears the mason’s symbol but also lies toppled over with no sign of its foundation. It is in nice condition but only because of its size. The stone for Mary Oviatt is thinner, more fragile, and crumbling. It lays under brush and can’t even be moved without breaking it more. The headstone for a Brown family infant stands with its top broken off. A footstone reading S.M.O. lays under some more brush. A headstone for a teenage girl from the Oviatt family sits alone; separated by a wall of tangled vines. Numerous pieces of headstones – mostly their bases – lay scattered. The spire of an obelisk lays toppled – perhaps the top of the monument for Charles D. Brown and his family which once stood in the cemetery. More headstones and their pieces are here; no doubt concealed by the leaves, brush, and vines that now claim this cemetery as their domain. Given the size of the trees in the cemetery one can easily believe that it hasn’t been maintained in almost a century. While some headstones have been removed by the neighboring property owner (more on that later) no other headstone thefts are definitively known. The Medina County Cemetery Preservation Society (MCCPS) is aware of one headstone that came from the Brown cemetery that is now hiding safely at another Medina County cemetery – how it got there is not clear.

The information about who is buried in Brown cemetery is based on limited documentation collected over the years. The 1897 Medina County Atlas shows the cemetery clearly marked as a `Private Cemetery’. The Ohio Genealogical Society mentions the cemetery in its first edition – compiled in the late 1970’s – and describes it as `not maintained’. When the Medina County Genealogical Society compiled its tombstone inscriptions book back in the early 1980’s, a member of that effort was able to record the information off of the headstones that he could see at the time.

In researching the cemetery for MCCPS, I located the land transaction where the cemetery was exempted from any future sales. In Volume 18, page 172 of the Medina County Deed Record it clearly shows that 32/160 of an acre was deeded by Stephen C. Oviatt and his wife Jerusha to their heirs for use as a cemetery. The deed was dated October 15, 1863 and reads as follows:

Stephen C. Oviatt & wife to David Babcock et al,
Know all men by these presents that we, Stephen C. Oviatt and Jerusha A. Oviatt, wife of said Stephen C. Oviatt of Medina County in the State of Ohio the grantor for the consideration of Fifty Dollars received to our full satisfaction of David Babcock, William Lever (sp?), Luther Parker, Thomas ? Easton, also Stephen C Oviatt, William J. Oviatt, George Oviatt, Samuel W? Oviatt, Sarah S? Newton, Mary A? Witolee (sp?), heirs of Stephen Oviatt deceased, Charles E. Brown, F. Sevill Brown, Addia Brown, heirs of law of Charles D. Brown deceased, do give, grant, bargain, sell, and confirm unto the said grantee, their heirs and assigns the following described premises situated in Hinckley Township, Medina County and State of Ohio to be used as a cemetery and described and bounded as follows is known as part of lot number sixty four beginning on the east line of said lot 64 at the point where the north and south center roads crop the center line of the east and west are so called diagonal road thence running westerly along the center of said road sixteen rods to the southeast corner of the land herein conveyed thence north 10 degrees east seven rods thence north 85 degrees west three rods 7 links thence south 30 degrees west seven rods to the center of said road thence easterly along the center of said road six rods to the place of beginning about thirty two rods of land be the same more or less to have and to hold the above granted and bargained premises with the appurtenances hereunto belonging unto said grantees their heirs and assigns forever and we the said grantees do for ourselves and heirs covenant with the said grantees their heirs and assigns that as and until the ensealing of these presents we are well seized of the premises as a good and indefeasible estate in fee simple and have good right to bargain and sell the same in manner and form as above written and that the same are free from all encumbrances whatsoever except roads and will warrant and defend said premises with the appurtenances to said grantee with their heirs and assigns forever against all lawful claims and demands of all persons whomsoever and I, the said Jerusha A. Oviatt, do hereby remise, release, and forever quit claim unto the said grantee and their heirs all of my right and title of dower in the within described premises. (?unreadable?) whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the 15th day of October in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred & Sixty Three signed, sealed & acknowledged

Stephen C. Oviatt
Jerusha A. Oviatt

in presence of N.W. Wheadon, Phebe Oviatt

The controversy surrounding Brown cemetery no longer centers around whether anyone cares. Many have expressed a genuine interest in seeing new life breathed into the old cemetery; to see it cleaned up and restored to a place where one can pay their respects to those who are buried there. They wish to see it restored to a community asset – not a shameful secret. The many supporters of this effort have included the Medina County Cemetery Preservation Society, the Hinckley Historical Society, the Hinckley township trustees, the Wayne County Cemetery Preservation Society, members of the Hinckley area and surrounding communities, and – last but not least – descendents of those families buried there. So why does this cemetery still sit in ruins?

Ownership. While the wording of the deed, as expressed above, is clear on the intentions of the families who established the cemetery, somehow along the way the legal system let those intentions slip aside. The cemetery was set aside from any future land transactions in 1863 but, in the sales that followed, the mention of the cemetery gradually disappeared. This first happened in April 1909 when the property was sold to a Halbert Cartwright and makes no mention of the cemetery in the transaction. Those who bought the land around the cemetery, when inspecting their deed, wouldn’t find anything to tell them that the cemetery wasn’t theirs. While the cemetery wasn’t included in the deal – literally or in words – in neglecting to mention it, its fate as a separate land entity was stolen away. Do a check of the Medina County tax map records and you will not find the Brown cemetery anywhere, but it’s there; blurred together as a perceived piece of the surrounding land parcel (Permanent Parcel # 016-03C-10-008). We know what the cemetery parcel that is Brown cemetery looks like. Surveyor Nate Orchard was kind enough to sketch the cemetery boundaries on a tax map – using the description from the deed. It shows a parcel of land that is directly next to the road – with almost one hundred feet of frontage; meaning that no one’s property would have to be crossed to reach the cemetery. But what do you do when the surrounding property owner thinks that the cemetery property belongs to him? Therein lies the problem.

Township resident Bill Horton owns the neighboring property that surrounds the Brown cemetery. He has been a township trustee and served his community as fire chief. His community service ends when it comes to cemeteries. When I contacted Horton in 1998 to inquire about the cemetery, he wasn’t open to anyone coming to the site. While he was willing to answer basic questions about it, Horton made it clear that he felt the cemetery was “just a pile of stones” and “nothing to see”. I asked for even one visit so that I might see for myself; to photograph the site and any headstones for my research. Horton never budged: “No.” So far as known, Horton has only ever allowed two visits in the last 30 years. Ed Brown, a descendent of those buried there, was allowed to visit the site during the 1980’s and was even offered any headstones that he might want to take. Mr. Brown turned down the offer but did take photographs of several stones that Horton had removed from the cemetery and had up by his garage. These photographs – copies of which are in the hands of MCCPS – are now important evidence of headstones that might now be lost forever. Allegedly, Horton still has these headstones somewhere on the property. Why did he remove them? He has claimed he removed them to protect them. In fact, that is one of the reasons he wants the cemetery to remain in its deteriorated condition: a cemetery that isn’t visible and already destroyed can’t attract vandals or visitors.

The other allowed visit was by former Hinckley township sexton and current curator of the Hinckley Historical Society, Sue Batke. She requested permission from Horton in 2002 to visit the site for research purposes and was allowed in. She asked me to accompany her on the visit and we were shocked to find even less there than was recorded back in the early 1980’s. Several headstones copied years ago weren’t to be located but given the site’s condition they could have been right under our feet. The search did yield one additional headstone not previously recorded and a chance to obtain a GPS reading of the site.

A couple of years later, township resident Jackie Brown – another Brown descendent – discovered the sad state of affairs regarding her ancestors’ burial plot and decided to pursue the issue. She retained legal counsel, attorney C. Nevada Johnson, to examine her options and even brought the issue before the Hinckley township trustees at one of their meetings in December of 2004. Brown wanted the cemetery turned over to the township trustees so that it could be cleaned up and cared for in the future. Two of the trustees at the time, Ron Rhodes and Ron Majewski, stated that the township would be willing to maintain the cemetery but that the ownership issue would first need to be resolved. Mr. Horton was a Hinckley township trustee at the time and was certainly surprised when the issue which he had been avoiding was laid out in front of the entire township that evening. He was quoted as saying: “I would never restrict (Brown) or anyone in her family from visiting the graves, but she’s never asked before.” Perhaps, but he also stated that he has never denied access to the cemetery to those who have asked permission to go on his property. I know from experience that this is not true. Horton also stated that he didn’t do anything with the cemetery because he wanted other people to leave it alone. As quoted in the article covering this trustee meeting from the front page of the December 3, 2004 issue of the Gazette: “That’s why I’ve left things the way they are, to keep curiosity-seekers out of it,” What perfect sense that makes: allow a cemetery to fall into disrepair and rot away so that no one will want to come visit it – or bother poor Mr. Horton. Still, nothing has come of the issue as of yet – though not because of any lack of dedication by Jackie Brown.

Mr. Horton has been given every opportunity to come out of this situation in some sort of positive light but he has maintained a hardline against all cemetery restoration efforts. Until a descendent of those buried there – someone with legal standing – can legally rescue their cemetery from Horton’s hands, the cemetery will sit in a state of decay. MCCPS has contacted Mr. Horton to make an attempt to even discuss the matter. He has ignored all communications. While he has stated publicly that he has always allowed family members to visit the site, his `generosity’ needs to be exposed for what it is. Allowing a family member to visit the Brown cemetery today is akin to allowing someone to view the rotting corpse of one of their family members – whose body he won’t release to them for proper burial. There is no honor in Mr. Horton’s actions – or inaction. He has remained uncooperative, unresponsive, and evasive with regards to any mention of this cemetery and has only talked about it when cornered (like at the township trustee meeting).

It doesn’t have to be this way. The folks who want to clean up and restore the Brown cemetery don’t want anything from Mr. Horton. The cemetery belongs to the descendents of those buried there. Mr. Horton’s land wouldn’t have to be crossed or bothered. The cemetery would be cleared of brush and debris. Headstones would be repaired and replanted to mark the graves as they were intended. Maybe a nice fence and a sign could be erected to mark it. Hinckley township trustees have repeatedly stated that they would assume longterm care and maintenance of the cemetery if it can be legally deeded to them. The other three cemeteries that the township maintains – Beach, Maple Hill, and Ridge – are beautifully cared for. Mr. Horton has made himself the villain in this matter despite numerous attempts to allow him to bow out with some salvaged sense of honor. The headstones in his possession could be returned to the cemetery – no questions asked. Still, the Brown cemetery sits and we – those who want to save and restore it – will have to wait……for now.