Precious Blood Church fire
Precious Blood Church of Holyoke, Massachusetts burned on May 27, 1875 killing 78 people. The fire started at the front of the church as a candle flame ignited a curtain. There was a crush of people through the entrance at the back left and many people could not leave. It is one of the deadliest fires in American history.
Panic caused people to rush from the upper levels to a front door. The door was made to open inward only so many were trapped against the door. Reverend Andre Dufresne was the parish priest. He tried to calm the people and direct them as much as possible.
A list of the dead is given below by first and last name and then age. Many were buried in a common grave on May 29 at the Precious Blood Cemetery in South Hadley. All were French Canadians. The wooden church had been built in 1870 and was replaced in 1876 by a brick church. There is a monument for the dead at the cemetery. The parish priest was also reburied there.
The names have been taken directly from the monument. The names were determined from the Holyoke Deaths Register and from various newspaper articles. The accuracy is very high but there might still be small errors since there was a language barrier from the French immigrants to the English speaking officials and newspaper writers. Also the chaos of the days after the burning of the church was very high. One obvious correction that can be made in the future is seen in that French would use Marie and Celine and never Mary and Selina.
The church complex is located on the city block formed by Cabot, South East, Clemente, and Hamilton Streets. Only the convent and rectory remain today since the brick church and school were dismantled. Clemente Street was at the time of the fire called Park Street. The Park Street School was located on the other side of Hamilton Street between Park and South East Streets. The school was used as a temporary morgue for the fire victims. The cemetery is on Willimansett Street Extension near the intersection of Routes 33 and 202 in South Hadley. The black memorial  is in the center of the cemetery and the priest is buried behind that.
|First Name||Last name||Age|