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The Story of the Ducks & a Poem ‘In Memoriam’ (scroll down for history of Civil War monument)
The park was always very neat and maintained by an old timer by the name of Steve Knup. Steve and family lived in the last house at the end of Sea St. [No. 21]. He raised chickens and ducks. The ducks in the pond were his.
Every morning he walked his ducks to the pond, and every evening he walked them back to their coop. He cut the grass, he raked the leaves and shoveled the snow. He maintained the waste barrels and took care of the flowers and trimmed the bushes.
The back of St. Peter’s (“The Oval”) was for ball playing, but sometimes a group of teens would try to play ball on Steve’s grass–but they would be chased from the park as soon as Steve saw them!
[submitted by Doug Kelsey, Oct. 3, 2008, a City Point resident from 1925 to 1942]
our beloved City Point Park,
to yield to destiny,
A little corner all its own,
of our beloved city,
where oystermen long years ago,
helped make New Haven history,
Beside the path in open fields,
the pink wild roses grew,
today the rumble of machines,
has cut our park in two.
The road was white with oyster shells,
as horse cars jostled through,
and friendly elms and maple trees,
shaded the Avenue.
Our lovely park where twin lakes flowed,
and ducks swam to and fro,
beneath the little rustic bridge
we crossed long years ago.
We skated on the silvery ice,
on a cold and frosty night,
and sang gay songs of olden times,
in the flickering moonlight.
Time marches on and all things change,
but one thing answer please,
if they must uproot our monument,
our flowers and our trees.
Our monument where long ago
our forefathers of old,
welcomed home a weary group
of soldiers to the fold.
And if they destroy houses
and leave folks with no home,
and cause untold unhappiness,
who can for this atone.
Tho’ wheels of progress ever grind,
’twill never be the same,
that tranquil little point of land,
in keeping with its name.
Yet somehow comfort may we find,
that our forefathers true,
never lived to see the day,
that came to me and you.
There is one consolation,
I’m sure you will agree,
in mourning for the City Point
we used to know and see.
Tho’ they tear down our houses,
our flowers and our trees,
never can they take from us,
our happy memories.
Written by: Miss Louise Nichols (during 1950s construction of Conn. Turnpike/I-95), kindergarten teacher at Kimberly Avenue School, & former resident of Sea St.
Civil War 9th Regiment Monument
The Soldiers Monument, 9th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers (Connecticut’s “Irish Regiment”) in Bay View Park honors a Civil War regiment primarily made up of Irish- Americans and which was organized in New Haven in September of 1861. Bay View Park served as the unit’s training ground and home for a few months following the unit’s formation in 1861. This regiment was primarily Irish born or either first generation and came from over 71 towns and cities throughout CT. Their encampment at what later became Bay View Park was called Camp English, after then-Governor James English. In addition to the 9th Regiment (for whom the monument is dedicated), the 15th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (known as the Lyon Regiment) also encamped here, its Company D being comprised mostly of New Haven residents. Their encampment was called Camp Lyon and was named after Gen. Nathanial Lyon of Conn.: the first Union officer killed during the Civil War (Aug. 1861). Gerard Hallock owned the land at this time and volunteered its use for this purpose–despite his being an ardent pacifist and therefore adamantly opposed to the war.
The monument’s dedication on August 5, 1903, was held in connection with a national convention of the American-Irish Historical Society of the United States. The monument’s cost of $4,500 was paid for with $3,500 subscribed by the Ninth Regiment Veterans Association and $1,000 provided by the State of Connecticut. Extensive newspaper coverage on August 5 & 6, 1903, noted that the monument was placed on the spot where the regiment held its first encampment 42 years earlier. At that time the regiment was ignored for two months by authorities. Near starvation conditions prevailed before orders were received shipping the regiment to Louisiana. Of the 250 deaths in service, 200 occurred as a result of “swamp fever” at Baton Rouge and Vicksburg. The history of the regiment’s woes—ignored for two months and then generating 80% of its casualties through fever rather than battle—serve as reminders of the dark underside of the Civil War’s difficulties.
The 1903 dedication of the monument was marked by great festivities which included a parade and dinner. The parade of military units from around the state marched from the New Haven Green to Bay View Park. Merchants and residents decorated their places of business and homes with flags and bunting in honor of the occasion. Department stores featured related exhibits in their shop windows.
Several components of the history of the City Point soldier’s monument set it apart from others. The ethnic feature of its recruiting is one, together with the continued focus on Irish ethnicity 42 years later. The fact that the monument is located on the site of the original encampment is unusual. The monument originally faced west in its initial location and at each corner of the monument there was a Dahlgren cannon on carriage. Now the cannon are in the same positions, but supported on the ground by low concrete fixtures. The cannons are original Civil War 12-pounder Dahlgren guns, which were naval cannons known as “boat howitzers” that could be mounted on carriages and brought ashore for land use. Originally, the monument’s decorative elements were painted gold. A bronze plaque on the east face lists nearly 100 names of unit members who died in service as well as the battle of Baton Rouge. The north face lists nearly 80 names and the battle of Cedar Creek (Va.), and the west face lists nearly 85 names as well as Fishers Hill (Va.).
In 1950 construction of The Connecticut Turnpike (I-95) caused the roadway to be located through Bay View Park. The monument was moved some feet to the south to make way and turned to face Sixth Street, rather than Howard Ave.