Wooster's Italian Community
By Brittany Previte
They came for a new life, and they found a home. In the late nineteenth century, industrial America was booming, and it needed an increasing amount of immigrant labor for factories, mills and railroads. Excited by the economic opportunity and the promise of a new life, Italians joined the millions flocking to the shores of America.
Italians immigrated to Wooster as early as the 1860s, when Raphael and Angelina Massoni settled in the area now known as Lucca Street.1 Raphael was the first Italian to receive citizenship in Wayne County, naturalized on October 13, 18682. From that first family, the Italians founded a vibrant, supportive community known as Wooster’s own “Little Italy.” The Italians flourished in their new home due to the strength of their ties of kinship. They sent for their loved ones and helped those just arriving to get on their feet. They supplemented an official aid society with acts of neighborly kindness. Most importantly, they made Wooster their home and became an integral part of the city and its history. Today, the roots of the past still grow strong in the heritage of the neighborhood and in the minds of its residents.
1 Dominic Iannarelli, A Touch of Italy in Wooster. (Wooster: The Daily Record, 1968).