The Fandacci Murder: Did Jealous Rage Turn Deadly?

As shots rang out around five o’clock on April 29, 1934, Ray Rutledge ran back to The Cleveland Cafe, located at 246 East Fourth St., and found Nazzareno “Sam” Fandacci lying on the floor of the kitchen dead with four gunshot wounds.  Ray had just left the cafe after an argument between Sam and his partner, Fernando Sartini, broke out.  Unclear of what the two Italians were arguing about, Ray left the cafe after failing to calm Sartini down.  The only other witness in the area was Leona Vittelli, Sartini’s 22-year-old housekeeper, who was the possible cause of the argument.  Vittelli was in the backyard at the time of the shooting.[1]

Fandacci’s grave marker at Mansfield Catholic Cemetery

It doesn’t appear the partners were in Mansfield long.  Sartini’s wife, Enrica, had died of a pulmonary embolism on Christmas day 1933 in Cleveland, leaving behind Sartini to care for their three children.  The only mention of any of the participants in local newspapers prior to the shooting is on March 17, 1934, when Sartini’s children, Amedeo, Bruno, and Albina, were recognized for not being tardy for the term at Bushnell School.[2]  After the shooting, Rutledge stated that Sartini went upstairs to get his hat and coat and pack an extra suit.  It took police over 15 minutes to arrive because Rutledge and mistakenly told them East First St., instead of East Fourth.  After packing, Sartini went down Wayne St. to East Fifth to the home of a girl he knew.  She was not home and Sartini crossed the creek towards Ashland Rd.  Police believe he met some friends there who took him back to Cleveland.[3]

The police had two theories on why the shooting happened.  First, according to neighbors who were questioned, both Sartini and Fandacci had feelings for the housekeeper Miss Vittelli.  Vittelli disappears after the shooting, there is no record of her anywhere before or after the events on April 29th.  The other theory was that the same friends who had picked Sartini up had told him that Fandacci had been “attentive to Sartini’s wife.”  Sartini then became enraged and confronted Fandacci.[4]  On March 10, 1934, a reward of $100 dollars was offered for information leading to the arrest of Sartini.[5]  Newspapers published the information on the reward all over Ohio.  On May 31, 1934, the last update on the murder was made when a picture of Sartini ran in the Mansfield News-Journal,[6] but he was never found.

It’s unclear what happened to Sartini’s children immediately after the murder, but the 1940 U.S. Census shows them living in Mayfield Heights, Ohio with the family of John and Edith Gattozzi. Amedeo’s World War II draft card lists Edith Gattozzi as his guardian and next of kin.  Amedeo Anthony died in Independence, Ohio on October 9, 2009. His brother, Bruno Joseph, died in Riverside, California on February 14, 1986, and their older sister, Albina Barbara, married Anthony Difranco and died on May 28, 1997, in Cleveland, Ohio.

It’s believed Sartini returned to Italy following the murder, but it’s possible he returned in the 1940s.  A Fernando Sartini shows up in Hampden, Massachusetts on a World War II draft card.  The card lists an Augusto Sartini living in New Village, New Jersey as the person who will always know his address.[7]  In addition to this, a 1923 ship Manifest for S.S. Western World, sailing from Buenos Aires to New York, lists Fernando Sartini and his wife, Enrica, with their final destination being New Village, New Jersey.[8]  It is a tenuous connection at best, but the only one that exists.  The Massachusetts Sartini died in 1965.[9]


  1. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 April 1934, p 1.
  2. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 07 March 1934, p 7.
  3. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 April 1934, p 1.
  4. ibid.
  5. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 10 March 1934, p 1.
  6. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 31 May 1934, p 16.
  7. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.                                                             
  8. Year: 1923; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 30; Page Number: 23
  9. Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File

Mansfield’s Chinese Laundries

The photo pictured below show’s Charlie Wing’s Laundry located at 246 North Main Street in 1925.  Chinese Laundries were prevalent in the United States during this time, with 1 in 4 Chinese immigrants working in the industry.  New York alone had as many as 3,550 Chinese laundries at the start of the 1930s.  Many Chinese men came to the United States in the 19th century to work in mines during the California Gold Rush. They were also instrumental in the building of railroads in the American West.  As more immigrants came, anti-Chinese sentiment rose, forcing many into the laundry trade.  Washing and ironing were considered “women’s work” at the time and therefore, not a threat to the traditional male worker.[1]

Wing’s wasn’t the first Chinese laundry in Mansfield.  The 1900 U.S. Census shows Sing Lee running a laundry at 113 North Main Street (later 121 North Main), with partners Charlie Sung and Yung Lee.  Around 1906 Louie Sam took over operation of the laundry at 113 North Main.  A 1909 article in the Mansfield News mentions Louie Sam and his unnamed employee were the only two Chinese in Mansfield at the time.[2]  In 1910 Charley Fong took over operation of the laundry and the 1920 U.S. Census lists his employees as Charlie and George Wing.

The Mansfield News, 24 August 1910, p. 7.

Even though some of the men were listed as married in the census, there were never any women listed, which suggested that they sent money back home to China to their families.  City directories also suggest the men lived in the back of the business.  Around 1923-24 the Wings took over the laundry business and it grew like never before, opening at the 246 North Main location.  The 1926 city directory lists four locations: the two on North Main and others at 26 West Third and 10 East Second.

Often Chinese immigrants would arrive from China knowing little English.  William Wing Ng arrived in 1935 at the age of 14.  The young man came to live with his brother, James Fook Ng, and was placed in the first grade at West Fifth Street school. The teacher, Miss Elizabeth Zimmerman, said he would probably advance three grades in his first year.[3]   William would go on to served in World War II as a medic and Chines interpreter in Burma[4] and the laundry business would be named William Wing’s Laundry until it closed.  The business was run by his partner, Paul Wong, for a number of years.

The Mansfield News-Journal, 27 November 1947, p.14.

Paul Wong arrived in Mansfield around 1922. A 1956 article in the Mansfield News-Journal reports on his 18-year-old  son, Wong Sic Quen,  arriving in town.  Paul Wong had not seen his son and wife since his son’s birth in 1938.  By 1969, the only Chinese laundry listed in the Mansfield city directory was William Wing Laundry at 121 North Main St.  Wing Laundry stayed in business until the death of Paul Wong on March 11, 1976.[5]  By the end of 1976, Wong’s estate was being sold. The following year the building, which housed Mansfield’s Chinese Laundry for 76 years, was demolished.[6]

The Mansfield News-Journal, 28 June 1956, p. 28.

The Mansfield News-Journal, 05 January 1947, p. 24.


  2. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 21 January 1909, p. 9.
  3. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 October 1935, p. 1.
  4. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 05 January 1947, p. 24.
  5. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 12 March 1976, p. 8.
  6. The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 24 August 1977, p. 10.

A Family’s Journey From Slavery to Soldier

Fred Atwater, abt. 1910. From the Durham County Library (

The photo above, taken around 1910, shows a young Fred Atwater.  The 18-year-old was about to take a journey few African-Americans would experience: serving in World War 1.  He would later meet his future wife in Reading, Pennsylvania and move to her hometown of Mansfield, Ohio to raise a family.  Many African-Americans who served hoped to prove their loyalty to a segregated America, but returned to the same racism they left behind.  This helped to “create the “New Negro Movement” of the 1920s, which promoted a renewed sense of racial pride, cultural self-expression, economic independence, and progressive politics.”[1]

Fred Atwater’s grandfather, Stephen, was a former slave in North Carolina.  A list of African-American cohabitation certificates from Orange County, North Carolina in 1866 state that, “the following freedmen together with their wives lately slaves but now emancipated appeared before (___) Atwater an acting justice of the peace and declared that they now live and cohabitate together as husband and wife.”  The certificate goes on to list a number of couples, including “Stephen Atwater and his wife Penting (Pentina/Peutina), 1861.”[2]  1870 and 1880 census records show the couple living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and having a number of children, including Fred Atwater’s father, Felix, born about 1861.

Freedman Marriage Record for Stephen Atwater [2] 

Felix Atwater would marry Jennie Moore on December 8, 1881.  Felix, like his father, was listed as a farmer throughout census records and also, like his father, had a number of children, eight being listed on the 1900 U.S. Census.  One of these eight children was eight-year-old Freddie Atwater. His Veterans Compensation Application from 1934 list Durham, North Carolina, March 15, 1892 as his place and date of birth.  Fred Atwater grew up during the Jim Crow Era, where laws were created to keep races separated and would have been six-years-old when the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 happened.  On November 10, 1898, 2,000 white men overthrew the biracial government of Wilmington, destroying property and businesses of African-American citizens and killing anywhere from 60-300 people.  This was the most successful coup in American history resulting in no African-American citizen of Wilmington serving in public office again until 1972.[3]

Fred Atwater would soon make his way to Reading, Pennsylvania where he was inducted into the Army and served in the 803rd Pioneer Infantry.  “More than 350,000 African Americans served in segregated units during World War I, mostly as support troops. Several units saw action alongside French soldiers fighting against the Germans, and 171 African Americans were awarded the French Legion of Honor.”[4]  Atwater participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, one of the attacks which brought and end to the war.  Atwater served overseas from September 10, 1918, to July 18, 1919, and was honorably discharged at Camp Dix, New Jersey on July 20, 1919.[5]

The U.S.S. Philippines returning from France. Fred Atwater was on this ship returning home. Courtesy of Library of Congress, “803rd Pioneer Infantry Band, No. 16,” 1919

After the war, Atwater returned to Reading, Pennsylvania. In the 1920 census, he is shown as lodging with the family of Andrew Rudolph, including his wife Catherine and daughter Julia.  Catherine Cline had married the Jamaican immigrant in Manhattan, New York on July 28, 1917.  In a 1990 interview in the Mansfield New-Journal, Catherine says Andrew deserted the family[6] and she moved back to Mansfield.  The 1922 Mansfield city directory lists her as living at 193 North Franklin with Fred Atwater.  In December 1922, Catherine officially filed for divorce from Andrew Rudolph and, on February 3, 1923, Catherine marries Fred Atwater in Cleveland, Ohio.  The couple had three children: Frederick Jr., James, and Mildred.  Fred Atwater died on February 12, 1943, in the Veterans Hospital in Brecksville, Ohio.[7]

Mansfield News Journal, 12 December 1922

Fred Atwater and Catherine Rudolf Marriage, 03 February 1923.

Shortly after Atwater’s death, his son, Fred Jr., enlisted in the service and served in World War II.[8]  His grandson, Fred Atwater III, worked for the Mansfield City Schools for 32 years, retiring on July 31, 2000[9] and helped to revitalize John’s Park.[10]


  2. North Carolina, U.S., Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
  5. Pennsylvania, U.S., World War I Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
  6. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 12 March 1990, p 9.
  7. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 15 February 1943, p 2.
  8. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2005.
  9. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 11 June 2000, p 11.
  10. Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 05 October 1999, p 1.

Bromfield’s War Letters

Most people know Louis Bromfield from his books or agrarian work at Malabar Farm.  But before he achieved notoriety in these fields, Bromfiled was a local boy from Mansfield, Ohio, who graduated from Mansfield High School in 1914 and soon after enrolled in Cornell University.  Louis Bromfield was born, Lewis Brumfield, on December 27, 1896, to Charles Brumfield and Annette Coulter.  His father, Charles, would often change jobs and invest in ventures that rarely paid off, leaving the family often struggling to make ends meet.  His mother Annette, or Nettie, lived through her children, pushing young Louis to become a writer and his Marie to become an accomplished pianist.  Louis would enroll in Cornell to study Scientific Agriculture in the hopes of returning home to save the family farm, where he spent much of his youth with his grandfather Robert Coulter.  Louis had to return home when his father was forced to sell the family home in Mansfield and move to the family farm.  This too proved a failure, and Charles was forced to sell the family farm and returned to Mansfield.  Louis would re-enroll in college at Columbia University, this time studying journalism.[1]

While at Columbia Louis would apply to be in the balloon observation corps to assist the British during World War I.  He would drop out after a month and join the Columbia Ambulance Service aiding the French Army.  Two months after war was declared by the United States Bromfiled enlisted in the United States Army.  In Thomas Bachelder’s new book Soldier Boy: Louis Bromfield, Letters Home from World War I, 1917-1919, he showcases letters Bromfield wrote to family and friends over a hundred years ago.  These letters show the war, that was supposed to end all wars, through the eyes of a young twenty-one year old man. The letters detail Bromfield’s camp life before leaving for the front, his time in France driving driving an ambulance, and his activities after the war ended.

Bromfield in WWI uniform

Join Thomas Bachelder virtually as he discuss excerpts from letters Bromfield wrote home to family and friends during his time in the First World War on August 19 at 6pm. Registration is free and can be found on the MRCPL website here.

  1. Bachelder, Thomas.  Soldier Boy: Louis Bromfield, Letter Home From World War I, 1917-1919. 2021.
  2. “Ambulances on their way to Villers,” The University of Michigan and the Great War, accessed August 14, 2021,