Mother Recovers Her Child: Della Penna Bros.

by Laurel | October 7th, 2009

October 7, 1907, Page 7

Middletown Woman Has a Narrow Escape From Losing Two of Her Boys, But Finds One of Them In This City and Takes Him Back Home.

Charles Della Penna aka Chick West

Charles Della Penna aka Chick West. Photo from

An alleged attempt to kidnap a younger brother by Thomas Dellepenna [sic] was foiled in this city last evening by the mother of the boy. The local police received word late yesterday afternoon that two boys, Charles and Philip Dellapenna had left their home in that city and were thought to be on the way to Holyoke, where their father, from whom the wife had been separated for some time, is now living. The local police were asked to locate the boys and if they were found to notify the Middletown chief of police. About 7 o’clock the mother of the two boys, who had come to the city by the evening train from Middletown, came to the police station and told Lieut. Henry M. Perkins that her boys had been kidnapped. The oldest son and a daughter had been living in Holyoke with the father, she said, and they had been trying to get possession of the other two boys and a younger daughter, who have been living in Middletown with the mother. She said the two boys were out playing near her home yesterday, when about 2 o’clock a man in a car was seen to beckon to the two boys and they were taken in the car. The mother was informed a little later that the two had gone off with the older brother in Holyoke, whereupon the appeal to the Middletown police was made.

Lieut. Perkins advised the woman that probably the boys had come up on the trolleys and were even then on their way to Holyoke. He told her that she ought to go the the Holyoke police and have an officer accompany her to her husband’s home, where she might be able to regain possession of the boys. So Mrs. Dellapenna left the station and boarded a Holyoke car. She had been on the car only a few minutes when she looked ahead , and there saw the older brother and the youngest brother Charlie, sitting on a seat ahead. She rushed forward and claimed her child, with the result that the three left the car on Main street at Liberty. An argument followed in the street between the mother and the older son, which was so heated that it attracted Patrolman George W. Neil. The matter seemed to be one for the police to settle, so Mr. Neil accompanied the three to the police station. In their train followed some hundreds of morbid youngsters and citizens, who got the idea that a kidnapping case was in progress. When they went into the station Court street was filled on both sides with people.

There was then more business for Lieut Perkins. He listened for a while to the rival claims of the mother and older son, the former claiming the child belonged to her and that she ought to have possession of it, while the son claimed that the mother abused the children and that her home was no place for them. The son’s language finally became so abusive that the lieutenant’s ire was aroused and he showed the young man the door of the station. The woman seemed little concerned for the older of the two boys who had gone away, and no one seemed to know what had become of Philip. He got lost in the shuffle somewhere, and the police had no knowledge last night where he was. Mrs. Dellapenna, who was a woman of more than ordinary intelligence and business capacity said she wanted to take the 9 o’clock train for home, and the police saw that she and the boy got aboard the train.

From The Springfield Republican.

[Note: Thomas Della Penna, the older brother mentioned here was born in 1887, making him twenty years old at the time of this event. Many Holyokers will recognize the name of Charles Della Penna, who was only 13 at the time of this article, later to become a well known boxer who fought under the name of Chick West. Philip, the other brother mentioned was younger than Charles by a year. Naturally the accuracy of all newpaper articles should be questioned — and while I seriously contemplated the posting of this, I found it too interesting not to. Especially considering the event is more than 100 years ago.

In my database, this family has six children (one daughter) but it appears from this article there may have been another daughter, so anyone who know please fill me in.

Lastly, just as a point of reference in terms of my own interest — Charles Della Penna some years later married Ellen Brown who is connected to my own Holyoke family lines.

Image above is from — they will be happy to sell you an unwatermarked version of this image. The site has it dated 1910, but I would estimate it a few years later.]

2 Responses to “Mother Recovers Her Child: Della Penna Bros.”

  1. Nancy Dellapenna Siegel says:

    Thank you so much for posting this…Philip was my grandfather, and although he passed away long before I was born, this was certainly not a story that was ever told to us grandchildren!!

  2. Nancy, glad you approve! I was a little worried considering the nature of the article. I can imagine not knowing of this story, I’ve learned a few secrets within my own family since beginning history/genealogy research.

    Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.