Frankie Angelo of South Waverly, age five, was thrust in a bag and kidnapped at 9 o’clock Thursday morning June 26, 1919 by an unshaven man who wore ragged clothes, according to a story told the police by Tony Parente and Joe Sindoni.
In South Waverly just south of the D. L. & W. railroad tracks there is a small grove where there was formerly a house that burned many years ago, the place is known as the Hireen property. The three boys were passing the grove when they saw a man and woman. According to their story the woman was building a fire. When they were seen the pair started after them. The Parente boy and the Sindoni boy ran in one direction, went over a mound and then under the D. L. & W. tracks. The woman chased them some distance, but they outran her. Just how the boys knew what happened to the Angelo boy they did not clearly explain to the police, but they said that the man caught the Angelo boy, removed his clothing and thrust him in a bag over his shoulder and then, being joined by the woman, they went away with the boy.
The Story told by Tony Parente, aged seven years and Joe Sindoni, aged eight was fully confirmed late Thursday afternoon June 26, 1919 when Frankie Angelo, the five year old boy said to have been kidnapped was brought to his South Waverly home by Thomas Harding who had rescued him from two strange men. The little Angelo boy told exactly the same story as that of the two older boys with the additional information that after putting him in the bag the carried him into the foundry and there took him out of the bag and put on his clothing. The boy was very much excited and not able to give a clear story of what happened to him after he was dressed and taken from the foundry by the men.
The little Parente and Sindoni boys saw the man grab little Angelo and put him in the bag, then they ran for their lives, being chased by the “Woman” who according to their story had whiskers. Thursday afternoon V. Mastropietro while in his store heard a child screaming, but as children play on vacant lots in that vicinity and there is much noise connected with them, he paid but little attention. A short time after two little boys rushed into his store and asked him to telephone for the police as Frankie Angelo had been put in a bag and carried off.
The police were called and at once investigated. They found where twigs had been broken from a tree and pulled together as though someone had started to make a fire, they found a boys handkerchief, but that was all. The boys had said the couple who took Angelo had been building a fire and that they stripped off is clothes before putting him in the bag.
Beyond the confirmatory findings, the officers unearthed no clues that substantiated the story told by the boys, other than that an automobile containing a man, woman and boy passed over the Milltown viaduct at about that time.
Sam Angelo and his wife Theresa, parents of Frankie, did not live together. He was employed in Rochester, NY and she worked in the bean factory in Waverly. This at first gave the impression that Sam may have taken his son, but Parente and Sindoni said they knew Sam and the bewhiskered man was not the father of the kidnapped boy.
The parents of the three boys were born in Italy. “Are you an Italian boy?” the Parente boy was asked by an officer. His back stiffened, his chin went up and he said loudly, “I’m an American.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Thomas Harding while walking near the D.L. & W. Tracks not far from the viaduct saw two rough looking men, poorly dressed and not Italian and between them was a bright-eyed little boy whom he recognized as Frankie Angelo of South Waverly. He accosted the men and asked them where they were going with the little boy. Frightened, they ran away without answering his question and the child overjoyed at being rescued, was brought home by his rescuer.
The police at Sayre and South Waverly were thoroughly aroused by over the kidnapping, in the very heart of the valley, and almost within a stones throw of houses and business places. Every possible clue was run down since it seemed possible that the two men had been hanging around the vicinity of the Hireen property for several days and could return there unless they were apprehended, no child in that or any other neighborhood was safe.
Sunday June 22, a resident of South Waverly passing the ruins of the old house near which the boys said the man and woman were building the fire was surprised to have two people walk out of the grove and come almost down to the road where she was passing. One was a man dressed in ragged attire and the other seemed to be a woman but of peculiarly repulsive appearance, unusually large and with a brutal, masculine face. The boys in their story told of a woman who was very large and had whiskers, and it seemed that the pair seen at the point where the kidnapping took place were the ones who nearly a week before were loitering in that vicinity.
Parents of young children were worried and kept watch over their youngsters until it was known that the kidnappers had ether been captured or frightened away from the valley.
No possible reason was given for the stealing of the Angelo boy except that he was a bright and attractive youngster and the pair might have wanted to pass him off as their own and have him work for them in some way possibly begging or stealing.
Frankie Angelo spent the rest of his life in South Waverly where as an adult he owned the Keystone Fruit Market and the Nellie-Kelly Fruit Market on Banana Curve, South Waverly. He acquired the nick name of “Kelly” and was known to valley residents as Kelly Angelo. Kelly was active in South Waverly politics and served as a committeeman for the Republican Party and was also elected to the South Waverly Borough Council for several terms. His wife was Nellie Altieri and together they had four children. Frank “Kelly” Angelo died December 28, 1973. His mother Theresa Tanga Angelo came to this country in 1912 according to census records she was married in Italy and had one child born there. She lived in South Waverly for 55 years and worked in the Duggan Ribbon Mills in Waverly and then later for her son in the Keystone Avenue Fruit Market. I cold not track Sam Angelo but on the 1930 census Theresa Angelo is listed as a widow. Theresa Angelo died January 18, 1973.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.
Don’t forget Railroad Heritage Day Saturday June 29 at the Sayre Museum 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the SBA Street Fair in Sayre.