Precious Blood Church fire

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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.[1]

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.[2]

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 [3] is in the center of the cemetery and the priest is buried behind that.[4]

List of the Dead [5][edit]

First Name Last name Age
Antoine Auger 75
Helene Blais 20
Marceline Blanchard 22
Marcelline Blanchard 22
Marie Boisvert 15
Sophie Boudreau 37
Augustine Brisson 17
Joseph Chatelle 20
Delia Coache 16
Delima Cote 22
Mathilde Daigneau 13
Pierre Daigneau 10
Zoe Daigneau 36
Rosalie Daviau 21
Victoria Deri 11
Alphonsine Desjardin 22
Delia Desjardin 23
Dometilde Desjardin 44
Louis Desjardin 59
Rosalie Desjardin 21
Christine Dion 37
Celina Doucette 20
Merceline Dufresne 17
Selina Dufresne 52
Marceline Dupont 44
Philomene Dupont 15
Olive Emond 55
Cora Forgue 11
Zoe Forgue 48
Benjamin Fortier 20
Euphonzine Fortier 11
Angelique Fremont 17
Julie Girard 16
Mary Girard 41
Marie Louise Goyette 50
Mary Grandchamp 23
Philomene Grandchamp 21
Almida Hamel 20
Lucy Hicks 21
Mary Hicks 25
Marie Louise Jetter 33
Cyrille Lachance 19
Marcelline Lachance 19
Adele Lachapelle 16
Rose Lachapelle 13
Exilda Lacoste 16
Azilda LaFrance 27
Rosalie Lagasse 54
Exilde Langdeau 10
Marie Langdeau 20
Jean Baptiste Langevin 40
Seline Laplante 18
Celiste Larive 50
Joseph Messier 46
Ida Meunier 19
Alphonsine Moreau 15
Fabien Moreau 54
Isaiah Moreau 26
Armiac Morin 12
Isaiah Morin 22
Hermille Paquin 20
Josephine Paquin 14
Mary Pare 20
Louise Payette 17
Matilde Payette 16
Gaspard Pellerin 23
Mary Pion 27
Onezine Pion 55
Celine Roberte 9
Edmund Roberte 11
Delima Roger 30
Fabien St. Pierre 25
Louise Tetreault 22
Jacob Theriault 64
Josephine Viger 40


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