Is There a Frenchman Buried Under Precita Park?


Neighbor Vicky from the Bernal Heights History Project calls our attention to an August 12, 1897 article in the San Francisco Call newspaper about a tragic accident that took place while installing a sewer line near Precita Park:

sewerhedThe article goes on to say

The caving in of the southern embankment of a new sewer being put in on Precita Avenue, from Alabama street to Army, was the scane of an unfortunate occurrence yesterday afternoon. In the construction of this sewer a man lost his life by being crushed to death beneath tons of rock and earth, which fell in on top of him while at work in the bottom at a depth of twelve feet.

The name of the unfortunate man could not be ascertained. He was simply known as “Frenchy,” probably because he belonged to that nationality. All that was known of him by the other workmen and the people about Precita Valley was that he took a section of the sewer from George M. Ferine, who was tbe contractor to whom the contract was let’ by the Supervisors. Perine. in turn, gave out sections of the work to any person who applied for a share. “Frenchy” secured fifty feet of contract on the topmost point of the line, where it was found necessary to sink to a depth of twelve feet in order to bring the bottom level to the line.

The unfortunate man had worked hard and faithfully on his job from the time he got the contract until yesterday, when he hopefully announced to some of bis fel-low-workmen that he had just two more feet to dig when his portion of the contract would jbe finished. This was about twenty minutes before the life was crushed out ot his body by the falling earth.

As was the custom of the time, the article goes on to describe the precise circumstances of Frenchy’s demise in gruesome detail. The body was recovered, apparently, but the article provides no additional detail about burial arrangements.

So was Frenchy laid to rest near the site of the accident that claimed his life? Let the legend begin…

6 thoughts on “Is There a Frenchman Buried Under Precita Park?

  1. What a morbid topic…
    It’s a long shot since for these kind of search you need the name and birth place, but I asked French vital records for a death that day in San Francisco. Poor chap had a family apparently, maybe they took care of his body and official record.

  2. With today’s safety regulations, we no longer tolerate workman deaths that way we once did. It’s this kind of death I think of when people complain that things are so much worse than they used be.

    • This’s not really called for. I know his opinion is generally not popular, but you can address it directly as it happens, as opposed to making comments highlighting your opinion of him as a person, especially in a thread on which he’s not even commented.

      Of course, this is all said with the following disclosure: it’s a free country, with this First Amendment thing, and that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, or if you don’t like it, don’t read it, etc.

      I suppose I am taking the side of: argue the merit of the issue, not the person.

      • First off, seriously, dude? Get a sense of humor. Second, I don’t recall saying anything about his person- just that he was likely there (because, you know, drinking juice keeps you young.)

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