By: Ramona Glass
If not for his brother’s desire to come to America, this reporter would not have had the pleasure of spending the day with Sioux Falls’ most famous immigrant, Giuseppe Caselli.
In 1945, Caselli’s older brother, Angelo, met with a band of Allied soldiers near Castellina, in Chianti, Italy, and it changed the course of the rest of his life. A mountain guide from his youth, Angelo joined a group of Italian Freedom Fighters and was in the vanguard that led the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army through some of Italy’s highest and roughest mountain terrain. Angelo took orders from General Alfred H. Miller, a Sioux Falls native, and the two became friends.
When the war ended, Miller asked Angelo if he’d like to come to the United States, and if he did, Miller would be happy to sponsor him.
“And it was all he could speak of when he returned,” Giuseppe said. “He so wanted me to bring my family with him, but I could not leave my beloved Italia, especially after having fought so hard to save her.”
Giuseppe joined the Italian Resistance in 1945, and was with the military forces responsible for the execution of Benito Mussolini.
Angelo came to the United States in 1945, and Miller put him to work in his new restaurant in downtown Sioux Falls. It didn’t take long for Miller to discover what a talented chef he had in Angelo Caselli, so he changed the restaurant’s menu, and its name.
Angelo Caselli became an American citizen in September of 1950, and Miller died just a few weeks after that, leaving the bulk of his estate to Angelo, which included ranch and farm land near Centerville, and a large cash inheritance from his own parents, J.M. and Ardis Miller.
In early 1956, Angelo developed health problems, and doctors told him that he didn’t have long to live.
“It was his heart,” Giuseppe explained, pausing to shake his head. “I still remember the day I received his letter. I decided to come to America right then and spend whatever days my brother had left on this earth with him.”
The A. James Martin, Sr. Family assisted with their immigration, sponsorship, and eventual citizenship.
“I remember our first day in Sioux Falls,” Giuseppe explained, stopping to laugh. “It was Thanksgiving Day in America, and Angelo met us at the train station. I cannot tell you how good it was to see my brother after so many years. I took him in my arms and held him so tight! And he said to me, ‘Giuseppe, you smell like the valley!’ And I was still wearing my old coat, the one I used to wear to milk the cow, and I wondered if it was the valley he smelled, or the cow!”
Angelo Caselli passed away in 1964 and left his substantial estate entirely to Giuseppe and Rosa Caselli, and their children: Sen. Petrice Caselli, Vincenzo, Marquette and Matilde. Giuseppe manages Angelo’s to this day.
“Of all the wonderful things my brother left to this family, my favorite thing is the time we had together before he went to his home in heaven,” the Italian native said. “I will cherish those years in my heart…until the day I join him.”