The Pemberton Mill Disaster (Lawrence, MA)

harpersThe library owns two scrapbooks of clippings plus original copies of contemporary newspapers and other printed material about the event.

The Pemberton Mill was incorporated in 1853.  On January 10, 1860 at 5:00 in the afternoon, the entire structure collapsed burying its workers under a mass of brick, mortar, timber and machinery.  The news spread throughout the city sending volunteers to aid in the rescue work.  To add to the dimension of the disaster one of the rescuers that evening accidentally broke a lantern with a pickax igniting the cotton.  Those who had not been saved were lost to the flames.  Of the 670 operatives in the building at the time, 307 escaped unhurt, 159 were slightly injured, 116 were severely injured and 98 died.  City Hall became a morgue and a hospital.  One year later the mill was rebuilt on the same site.  It functioned erratically as a manufacturer of cotton goods until 1938.  The location of the mill was located on the North Canal just to the west of Union Street and now houses a branch of the storage firm Iron Mountain.

You can learn more by following TourLawrence or watching the Lawrence Public Library’s slide show.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the Department designated land between the O’Leary Bridge and the Casey Bridge along the Merrimack River as the Pemberton Park in honor of the victims of the tragedy.
pemberton

5 Responses

  1. I LOOKED THROUGH THE LIST OF INJURED IN THE PEMBERTON MILL DISASTER, AND THE NAME ANN FARMER WAS THERE. MY GRGRGRANDMOTHER WAS ANN FARMER AND THEY CAME FROM IRELAND .IS THERE ANYWAY OF FINDING OUT THE EXTENT OF INJURIES SHE SUSTAINED? BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND HER AFTER 1860–NOR A DEATH RECORD–HER HUSBAND WAS HUGH FARMER

    • I will look into this.
      Louise Sandberg
      lsandberg@cityoflawrence.com

    • There would certainly be a record in the Lawrence City Clerk’s office (978-620-3230). The book is available through us, though you should be able to get a copy of it through your local public library Inter Library Loan irregardless of whereever you live.

  2. Ann Farmer died in the Pemberton Mill disaster. See Al Oickle’s book: The Pemberton Casualties

    • can’t find the book yet. was a death certificate issued for ann farmer? were there any newspaper articles with her name in it? what was the cause of death? thank you, lillian minicozzi

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