Death of Narcisse Gagne

by Laurel | April 19th, 2010

French Physician Makes Charges of Discrimination Against Medical Examiner Holyoke.

April 19, 1903

The funeral of Narciss Gagne, the Holyoke murderer, was held yesterday morning at the Gingrass undertaking rooms on High Street, at 8:30, followed by services in the church of the Precious Blood at 9, with Rev. Charles Crevier officiating. The church was crowded with people, although the exercises were simple and brief. The burial was in the Precious Blood cemetery at South Hadley, in a lot by the side of that in which the wife he murdered is buried.

The death of Narcisse Gagne developed a new and unexpected phase yesterday afternoon, when Dr. F. Holyoke, the medical examiner, who conducted the autopsy on the body, was accused of discrimination against the French physicians of the city, especially the two who attended Gagne the first days of his stay at the House of Providence hospital, bu Dr. H. E. Chaput. The latter in a public letter claims that the medical examiner has repeatedly discriminated against the French speaking physicians, especially in the present case. He also intimates that they were debarred because they claimed that Gagne was brutally clubbed, and this caused his death. In his conclusion he threatens the intervention of the medical association if the alleged slights fail to cease.

The appearance of the letter caused general comment, especially among the French-speaking people, and the charges were rehearsed frequently. Dr. Holyoke in explaining his position last evening said: “I know nothing whatever of these doctors being turned from the hospital. My procedure in conducting an autopsy is the same it has always been. As the judicial inquest of the death of the person concerned, ordered by the district attorney, I am allowed by the state board of health three attendants. One a scribe to take notes, another as assistant and a third as a witness. As my assistant my policy is to summon the physician who had charge of the patient at the time of his death. The law allows me but three assistants, except in exceptional cases, and even then the fewer the better. I anticipated no such charge after the inquest, as I applied my policy to this case. As Dr. McIntee, the city physician, was in attendance at the time of his death, I summoned him. Drs. Chaput and Cointois treated the patient previous to the order of the city marshal that the city physician should attend the patient. As the law on this is very plain, I am unaware of any discrimination. I am medical examiner of Holyoke, and I have no feeling whatever toward the French people or the Irish people. I had all the assistants necessary.

From The Springfield Republican.

[Note: On the evening of Monday, April 13, Narcisse Gagne, a man known to have a problem with controlling his temper, brutally murdered his wife and then tried to kill himself. He was called crazed in the newspaper articles and allegedly had been drinking heavily for days. These events were, in part at least, in the presence of his children. He died a few days later on April 16th and was subsequently buried in Precious Blood cemetery. There is no tombstone marking the burial location that I have found.]

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