The Nipmuc people are descendants of the indigenous Algonquian people who lived in the Central Massachusetts area. European colonists arrived to the area in the 1600s, including Reverend John Eliot who worked to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Like many other tribes in the area, the Nipmuc were hit hard by unfamiliar pathogens introduced by the European settlers, such as smallpox, which devastated their people. Later, the passage of the Massachusetts Enfranchisement Act of 1869 effectively 'detribalised' the Nipmuc and the last of their lands were sold.
Holy Cross sits in the Packachoag area, which originally meant 'at the turning place,' 'bends,' 'bare mountain place, or 'treeless mountain.' Reverend James Fitton, the first Catholic Priest of Worcester, bought the land in 1836.