Churches - 1901

Holyoke, Hampden Co, MA

Note: This information in this file is extracted from A History of Hampden County Massachusetts, edited by Alfred Minot Copeland, Vol I, II, & III;  The Century Memorial Publishing Company, 1902.  It resides in the Public Domain.
The sketches in this file were extracted from Story of the Holyoke Churches, prepared and Published by Rev. G. C. Osgood, Transcript Publishing Co, Holyoke, Mass., 1890.  It resides in the Public Domain.
This file may be downloaded by private individuals only, for personal non-commerical use only.
Transcribed and submitted by Ellen Pack 
Hampden County, MAGenWeb wishes to extend it's sincere appreciation to
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[REMINDER:  This text was written in 1902, and as such, represents facts and circumstances applicable at that time.  Use the "Find" button on your browser to search for a particular surname.]
Ecclesiastical History
The First Congregational Church
The French Congregational Church
German Evangelical Lutheran Church
German Reformed Church
St. Jerome’s Parish
Parish Of The Precious Blood
Sacred Heart Parish
Holy Rosary Parish
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish
Mater Dolorosa - The Church Of The Poles
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 All that is most precious in our modern civilization is preserved to a community by its churches, or at least by the religious life that is fostered by its churches, if William M. Evarts spoke truth  when he said "One might as well expect our land to keep its climate, its fertility, its salubrity, and its beauty, were the globe loosened  from the hand which holds it in its orbit, as to count upon the  preservation of the delights for a people cast loose from religion."

 Although Holyoke is so like a western city in its rapid growth and in the free, democratic character of its people,  it still possesses all the distinctive characteristics of a New England community. One of
these is the fact,  so frequently recognized in this part of the country, that the society of the place is divided pretty closely on church lines.  To be sure,  there are many clubs and associations and other
organizations for social and benevolent purposes,  in which no church lines are drawn or thought of,  but outside of these there is a strong tendency to let the acquaintanceships formed at church gatherings suffice for all purposes.

 This condition of things is helped by the fact that nearly all the people are busy workers in one field or another,  and the further fact that there is no exclusive, aristocratic set in society. The richest
people are unostentatious and democratic in the best sense.
  The only church in Holyoke that has passed its hundredth birthday is the First Congregational,  or the Church on the Hill,  as it is called.   This society celebrated its centennial in 1899, while the First Baptist  comes but four years later. The peculiar manner in which the town was settled causes the unusual phenomenon of finding both the First Congregational and the First Baptist churches situated quite outside of  the center of the city. Both of these churches were organized when the**********town of West Springfield.  Afterwards,  when the water power of the Connecticut began to be developed,  the center of population changed to the river banks,  and as the town grew it demanded a Second Congregational and a Second Baptist church.

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 The first religious society to be organized within the borders of the present city of Holyoke was first called the "Third Church of West Springfield, " or popularly the church in  "Ireland Parish, " until
it finally became the First Congregational church of Holyoke.  It was on the fourth day of December, 1799,  that the following  eleven persons banded themselves together to form this church of Jesus
Christ:  Joseph Rogers,  Jonathan Clough,  Amos Allen,  John Miller,  Titus Morgan,  Glover  Street,  Timothy Clough,  Experience Morgan,  Lucas Morgan,   Betsy Morgan,  Nathan Stephans.   The first deacons were Joseph Rogers and Amos Allen, and the first year five new members were received. On account of a division of sentiment in the parish the church had no pastor of their own for twenty-nine years. The first church building erected was situated about one-half mile south of the present site of the First Baptist church. This was built about 1792 and was used by the Congregationalists and the Baptist jointly. It was moved north in 1796 to what is now the Alexander Day place, and was extensively repaired in 1812,  never having been properly finished  before.
 Rev. Thomas Rand,  a Baptist, filled the pastor's place for both denominations for nearly twenty-five years,  until,  in 1826,  the two societies felt strong enough to separate,  the Congregationalists numbering about eighty members. The Baptists withdrew and left their brethren in possession of the church building. In 1828 Rev. Stephen Hayes came to labor in the parish and remained five years,  and though he was not installed,  he filled the place as first Congregational minister in Holyoke. On the tenth of December, 1834,  a new meeting house,  costing $1,700,  was dedicated,  and on the same day Rev. Hervey Smith was installed as the first settled pastor. It is an interesting fact that the minister himself was the largest contributor toward the cost of the church. He continued in the Pastorate for eight years and resigned in 1841 on account of ill health,  never taking another church,  although he lived till 1877.

 The next pastor was Rev. Gideon Dana of South Anherst. Mr. Dana was installed February 24,1841, and after a stormy and unfortunate pastorate of only three years he resigned in March,1844. Mr. Dana died in 1872. He was followed in the office of pastor by Simeon Miller, a man who is still recalled and loved by all the older members of the church. Mr.Miller came direct from the Andover seninary, and after preaching one year he was ordained and installed May 7,1846,  and continued in the office until February 9,1870.  In 1844 the church was enabled to terminate its connection with the Home Missionary society,  on account of the growth of the population at the settlement near the river,  but when , in 1849, the Second Congregational church was organized in the more thickly settled part of the town. The first church suffered some loss,  so that at the close of Mr. Miller’s pastorate the membership was tswenty per cent. smaller that at its beginning. On Mr. Miller’s retirement Rev. Charles E.Cooledge served the church until October, 1872, but was not installed.  Rev. Theodore L. Day was ordained and installed December 18,1872,  but served as pastor only a year and a half.  Then Rev. Charles L. Walker acted as pastor for about two years, and now followed a period of severe trial, during which time the pulpit was supplied for brief periods by a number of men. Among these were Professor J. H. Sawyer, Rev. S. W.Clark,  and Rev. S. J. Mundy.  In 1882 a call was given to Rev. E. N. Munroe,  and he was installed May 31,  of that year,  his pastorate extending only two years. The council which dismissed Mr. Munroe took advantage of the situation, known to exist, and gave the church the following advice: “The ministers and delegates from the sister churches respectfully urge the First church of Holyoke to consider the probable advantage to the cause of religion that would follod, of abandoning any bequests that might hinder them in such action were they entirely to reorganize this church and parish, and transplant themselves nearer their city’s growth. We do fully believe that by such a step great gain would come,  both to the life of this church and to the spiritual interest of the residents in this locality.”
 This advice caused the question to be agitated, but it was three years before anything definite was done in regard to moving nearer to the center of population. On February 15,1887, a committee was appointed to procure plans for a new meeting house, and soon after a lot was purchased on the corner of Pleasant and Hampden streets. A chapel was built and dedicated December 16,1887,  and occupied for more than six years.

 Rev. Henry Hyde was called to the pastorate in 1885, beginning his duties the first of June and serving the church three years. This covered the time of the removal and was thus an eventual period. Mr. Hyde’s successor was Rev. George W. Winch, the present efficient pastor, who was installed September 1,1888.

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 This society was organized in July 2, 1886, the mission from which it sprung having been started two years earlier by Rev. Mr. Cote, general missionary for Massachusetts of the French Congregational work.  The first pastor was Rev. J. L. Morin, but before the first year had passed he had a call to a larger parish in Lowell and resigned the Holyoke charge.  In September, 1887, Rev. Samuel Vernier was called to the pastorate and remained about a year.  After that the pulpit was filled for short periods by Rev. J. A. Vernon and Rev. Mr. Emirian, president of the French college at Springfield.  On June 30, 1899, Rev. I. P. Bruneault was called and installed December  3.
 The services of this society were at first held in Grace chapel, then in Parsons hall, and, since 1885, in the chapel of the Second Congregational church.
 The pastors have been as follows:
Rev. T. G. A. Cote, December, 1884, to June, 1885;  Rev. J. Morin, June, 1885, to October, 1886; Rev. P. S. VernierRev. M. Vernon and Rev. Mr. Provost served the people until
Rev. I. P. Bruneault came, in October, 1889.  Mr. Bruneault resigned in April, 1893.  Rev. C. H. Vessot came next, November 1, 1893, and remained till April, 1901, when the present pastor, Rev. Mr. Lobs began his duties with the church.
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 As early as 1866 German services were started in a school house in South Holyoke and the next year a house of worship was erected at a cost of $5000. This was mainly due to the efforts of the first pastor, Rev. Mr. Franked.

 The second pastor was Rev. Mr. Schartz, who remained five years.  The next was Rev. Mr. Buchler, a Lutheran, the others having been Presbyterians. Mr. Buchler built a parsonage at the rear of the church and held office four years, being followed by Rev. Mr. Muelde, and, six months later, by another Rev. Mr. Schwartz, a brother of the former pastor of that name. This pastorate lasted three years, and the next one , that of Rev. Mr. Hanle, fourteen years.

 All this time there had been no legally organized church, but toward the close of Mr. Hanle’s ministry a society was formed, the exact date being September 3, 1888. Soon after this  Mr. Hanle resigned and in December of the same year the society called Rev. August Brunn, who is still holding the office of pastor.
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 This society was organized October 16, 1892, and in 1894 built and dedicated a substantial and beautiful church on a sightly location at the corner of Sergeant and Elm streets. The first pastor was Rev. Albert Buchles, who served for four years. After his resignation Rev. H. Van Haagen served as pastor for a year, and in 1897 the present pastor, Rev. Dr. Jacob Weber, was settled.

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 The Catholic church is strong in Holyoke, stronger than in most New England cities of the size. When the water power of the Connecticut began to be developed by the building of the dam, large numbers of Irishmen came to do the work, and they have kept coming ever since in generous proportions, when compared with other nationalities, There are a great many French Catholics, also, in the city.

St. Jerome Catholic Church
Organized 1856
Ireland Depot was the first name of the city’s center, and here the first mass, it is reported, was said under a tree by a Father Bartholomew Connor from Ireland, some time before 1847. For several years the people.........weeks by priests from Chicopee, but in 1856 Rev. Jeremiah O’Callaghan was settled as the first resident pastor. His people gathered in Exchange hall, on High street, but he soon began to plan St. Jerome’s church and pushed the enterprise so energetically that the beautiful edifice was finished in 1860 and dedicated by Bishop Fitzpatrick.

 Father O’Callaghan died the next year and his body was laid to rest under the eastern wall of the church.

 Father James F. Sullivan was pastor for five years and then, in 1866, came Rev. P. J. Harkins, who still holds the office at the age of seventy years.
 Father Harkins has been a man of ability and power in the community and has built up his parish wonderfully. He has seen the number of Catholics in Holyoke increase from 900 to more than 25,000 and has witnessed the erection of four more Catholic churches, besides numerous other large buildings for the various needs of the people. He has made St. Jerome’s the most complete parish in the Springfield diocese and he himself  is the most eminent priest west of the Connecticut.

 The building operations in connection with the church, in which Father Harkins has been engaged, make a remarkable exhibit. They are as follows: the convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame, cost $18,000; Church in South Hadley Falls, $15,000; the Catholic institute for parish work and a school for boys, $40,000; Sacred Heart church; the school for girls facing the park; rebuilding St. Jerome’s church at a cost of $50,000; the convent home of the Sisters of Providence, cost $20,000; a chapel on the west side of the church, cost $20,000. He also gave as a personal gift the ”Harkins Home” for aged women. It cost him $20,000.  He has had more than any other person to do with the orphanage for girls at Ingleside and the new Providence hospital on Dwight street.
 The following have served as curates in this parish, their terms varying from one to six years: Rev. James Tracy, Rev. T. Hannigan, Rev. F. J. Lynch, Rev. Charles McManus, Rev. Francis Brennan, Rev. Thomas Smyth, Rev. P. B. Phelan, Rev. (?). J. Cronin, Rev. John E. Garrity, Rev. David Moyes, Rev. J. I.(?) Reilly, Rev. R.F. Walsh, Rev. L. Derwin, Rev. L. E. Stebbins, Rev. James McKeon, Rev. W. T. Jennings, Rev. John R. Murphy, Rev. W. J. Harty, Rev. W. J. Powers, Rev. John Crowe, Rev. George Fitzgerald, Rev. W. Hart, Rev. Garvin, Rev. Patrick Hofey, Rev. A. A. Dwyer, Rev. J. J. Donnelly, Rev. Richard Healey , Rev. Daniel Sheehan, Rev. C.M. Magee, Rev. A. D. O’Malley, Rev. John C. Ivers.

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 It is estimated that there are in Holyoke more than 15,000 people of Canadian birth or descent and the parish of the Precious Blood was the first one to be organized in the diocese among the French-Canadians.  It was formed in 1869 by Father A. B. Dufresne, who built a frame church on Park street that year.

Church Of The Precious Blood
Organized 1869
 Among the first French families in the town were the Prews, the Benoits and the Terriens.  Previous to 1860 John Proulx (Prew) brought down forty-five French people from Canada for the Lyman mills.  They came in two large wagons, and in the company was one who became a noted missionary to the Indians, Father John St. Onge.
 In connection with this parish occurred the saddest tragedy in the history of Holyoke.  On a May evening, in 1874, while the church was filled with people, some lace was blown against a lighted candle and almost immediately the whole interior was in flames..  A panic ensued and seventy-two lives were lost, many others being saved by the bravery of some Irish boys who were playing ball in the vicinity.  Prominent among these was John J. Lynch, who is now chief of the fire department of the city, and who was , at the time, hailed as a hero all over the country.
 The afflicted parish had the courage to begin the erection of another and better house of worship, and it was dedicated in 1878.  It will seat 1,100 persons and cost $78,000
 In 1887 Father Dufresne died and was buried in the church-yard, where the congregation have built a fine monument to him.  He was succeeded by Father H. O. Landry, who died after three years of service.
 The present pastor, Rev. Charles Crevier, came in 1890, and four years afterward he opened a large school for boys, which he had built at a cost of $28,000.  He also built a parochial residence at an outlay of $30,000.  There are 6,000 persons in the Precious Blood church.  The assistants are Rev. H. Desrochers and Rev. W. A. Hickey.

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 This parish was set off from St. Jerome’s in 1878.  Father Harkins having bought a large lot on South Maple street and begun a church in 1876.  Father James F. Sheehan came from Pittsfield to be the first pastor, but after completing the presbytery his already feeble health failed entirely and he died in 1880. His successor was the present pastor, Father P. B. Phelan, who came from West Springfield.

Church Of The Sacred Heart
Organized 1876
 Father Phelan was obliged to take care of a debt on the parish of $40,000, but he managed so well that he was soon able to begin work again on the church and had it finished and furnished to double its original capacity two years later.
 In 1897 he raised a spire on the church and put in a chime of ten bells, the first in the city.  The day the bells were blessed Bishop Beaven made Father Phelan a permanent rector, making Holyoke the first city in the diocese to have two permanent rectors, Father Harkins and Father Phelan.

 The curates of this parish have been Rev. M. E. Purce, Rev. P. H. Gallen, Rev. W. J. Dower, Rev. John F. Leonard, Rev. P. J. Griffin and Rev. J. P. McCaughan.

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 The English-speaking Catholics increased so fast that in 1886 the bishop set off another  parish from St. Jerome’s in the eastern part of the city and placed it in charge of Father M. J. Howard.  The name of Holy Rosary was given to the new parish, and for about two years services were held in the large brick church of the Second Baptist society, which had moved to the hill.
 It is astonishing with what rapidity all the Catholic parishes provided themselves with commodious and handsome houses of worship.  Probably Holyoke shows as many examples of this miracle of thrift as any place in the country.
 In two and a half years after the parish of the Holy Rosary was formed a new church was erected and the basement, ready for service, was dedicated.
 Holyoke has another distinction in furnishing for the diocese its new bishop on the death of Bishop O’Reilly.

 Father Howard died in 1888 and Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Beaven of Spencer was called to be pastor of Holy Rosary, and in October, 1892, the pope made him Bishop of Springfield.  As pastor he was succeeded by Dr. F. McGrath, who is still in service.
 The curates have been Rev. J. J. Howard, Rev. John J. Colin, Rev. William Ryan, Rev. J. F. Griffin and Rev. M. T. Burke.

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The increase of the French Canadian population was so great that still another parish became necessary.  This was set off in 1890 in the north section of the city and named as above.  Rev. C. E. Brunault, who still remains, was made the first pastor and services were begun in Temperance hall, on Maple street. In 1891, the very next year, a fine large building was completed, on the corner of Maple and Prospect streets, which serves as church, school and convent.  The structure occupies the most conspicuous site in the thickly settled portion of the city, overlooking the dam and the broad sweep of the river for nearly twenty miles of its length.
 Besides this building the parish owns a commodious presbytery and other buildings.  Father Brunault was formerly assistant to Father Dufresne in South Holyoke and was afterwards pastor in Gardner for three years.  He is especially gifted as a musician and directs the literary and musical organizations of his parish.
 Father Brunault’s curates have been Rev. W. L. Alexander, Rev. N. St. Cyr and Rev. L. Geoffrey.
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 Rev. Anthony M. Sikorski was made, by Bishop Beaven, the first resident pastor of the Polish people in 1896, Father Chalupka of Chicopee having cared for them previously.  Services are held in the basement of the Church of the Holy Rosary, but Father Sikorski hopes they will have a church of their own soon. The people are poor, nearly all of them working in the Lyman cotton mills, but if we may judge from the history of the other Catholic parishes it will not be many years before Holyoke has a Polish church edifice.
Father Sikorski was born in Russian Poland, studied as Warsaw and was ordained in 1875.

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