Ghosts by the River…
t was March 24, 1924 and the river was running high, as it normally does that time of year. Two brothers, Antonio & Giuseppe, sons of Italian immigrants who moved to Kent to work in the rail yards, were playing along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, along with their brother Augustino, age 9, and cousin Joe Jliazzi, age 10, that day. Perhaps Giuseppe had just read Tom Sawyer…hearing the call of adventure that the river offered. Whatever it was, they were compelled to attempt a canoe ride on the rapid current. An act that resulted in tragedy…the canoe capsized near the Main Street bridge around 8 PM, but only two of the boys made it to shore. Scores of people searched along both shores of the river with flashlights that night, but their efforts were frutile. The search resumed the next morning and the bodies of Giuseppe and Antonio were found at 11 AM at the Stow Street bridge, near where the old Kent mill once stood.
The two boys, ages 12 and 10, drowned in the river that day. The story has it that their mother was never the same afterward, and that she took the other children to the cemetery daily to pray at their gravesite. Their shared tomb-stone is located in St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery…now part of Standing Rock Cemetery.
Some decades later, a woman sitting by the river banks one day reported seeing two boys playing by the river banks dressed in clothing that was not of the current era. She noticed them because she felt that they were playing too close to the water's edge. Getting up to warn them away from the river’s edge, they vanished into thin air. Perhaps one day you, too, will see their ghosts if you walk along the banks of the river down near the old stones that mark the remains of the Kent mill.
The soft gray granite tombstone bears the surname Mittiga with photos of the two brothers on it. The timeworn writing, in Italian, was their native language at home.
This type of memorial was most common among the working class and ethnic groups from Southern and Eastern Europe. The early 20th-century enamels are vanishing quickly. Located in the poorer sections of cemeteries, which don’t have trusts for their upkeep, they fall prey to thieves, vandals, sunlight and time.
This ghostly tale is but one of many told during the annual Haunted Kent Ghost Walk.