Cemetery Sunday: St. Bernard’s Cemetery – West Haven, CT.

I yearly contribute to the Honor Roll Project of  Heather Wilkinson Rojo – the purpose is to photograph and transcribe Veteran names for family research. Heather’s Blog can be found at http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/

Cemetery Sunday: November 16, 2014


Civil War Monument at St. Bernard’s Cemetery

DSC_0539What took me to this cemetery today was a Civil War Memorial; I saw it from the road the other day so I planned a return trip, although it was overcast. But often an overcast day is a perfect day for cemetery pictures. It was very sad to see that one of the name stones on entrance column has been broken or stolen – only one designating the name of the cemetery remains intact.


Entrance to St. Bernard’s Cemetery

I will add the Civil War Memorial to my Connecticut – War Memorials page at:




St. Bernard’s

Civil War




After taking the monument pictures, we drove through St. Bernard’s Cemetery (280 Derby Ave.) looking at the beautiful old gravestones, which are truly pieces of art; the cemetery entrance is accessible from the Ella Grasso Blvd. I first thought this cemetery was located in New Haven, but further research tells me it’s actually West Haven, but I’m still not quite certain on that; DSC_0508I still find reference to it as of New Haven.

St. Bernard’s was founded in 1851 out of necessity, as the older Catholic cemeteries nearby were overflowing. The endless arrival of Irish immigrants to New Haven, which began as a trickle in the 1820’s but soon turned long-term when “An Gorta Mor” the Great Hunger struck Ireland, in the late 1840’s. The Irish community fled by a million or more and as Connecticut was DSC_0533deemed a halfway location between the major ports of Boston and New York, many settled here in the New Haven community.


I find trees very “eerie” looking in a cemetery

Many Irish immigrants are buried in this cemetery and many are among those 290-plus Civil War Veterans. In wanting to prove their devotion to their new homeland, and as they had not been well received by Yankee citizens, this seemed to be perfect timing for the Irishmen to prove that they were willing to serve their new homeland and stand with their Yankee brothers in battle.


This gravestone first caught my eye when I read through my lens that he was born in Co. Tipperary in Ireland! What a find – to find on a gravestone.


Looked like someone attached a frog to this statue – but if you look closer…

In 1886 this Civil War monument was erected in the middle of St. Bernard’s cemetery; three thousand dollars was awarded from the state for the purchase. It was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886 – ironically on the same day as the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York.

We never go to a cemetery without driving through reading names and dates on the gravestones and my husband never complains; he enjoys reading the dates and commenting on either how old they lived, or how young they died. But what intrigued me through my camera lens today, and prompted this story, was when I discovered their origin of birth or homeland in-scripted on many of the large gravestones. What a discovery if you found your ancestor buried here! One of the biggest discoveries you can make – is when you cross the ocean to their homeland – and it’s a process – and one I have not crossed yet. But to come to a cemetery and find it – in plain sight for you – this is history!


Bernard & Mary Conlan


Children of Bernard & Mary Conlan

Gravestone of Bernard (d. 1872) & Mary (d. 1865)  Conlan.

What so touched me about their gravestone was their children’s deaths listed on the side.

Children of Bernard & Mary Conlan

Annie Conlan – died 1849 at 18 months

Anne Theresa Conlan – died 1852 at 10 months

Joseph Conlan – died 1854 at 10 years, 1 month

Mary Conlan – died 1859 at 8 years, 6 months

How tragically sad for this Conlan family to have buried their children that young.

The “Shanachie” Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society published a history of the St. Bernard’s Cemetery in 2011. It is quite interesting, so please take a read. They also have transcribed all 290 plus names of the Civil War Veterans buried there. As I just discovered the Knight Hospital Civil War Monument recently in Evergreen Cemetery – just across from this cemetery – I found it interesting that Knight Hospital was also mentioned in this article.

St Bernards Cem Map

Location of St. Bernard’s Cemetery

Map Civil War Mon in St Bernards Cem

Diagram from The Shanachie Newsletter – site listed in the story.

The Shanachie:





(Complete listing of soldiers buried can be found in above link)

More Cemetery Sites of Interest:

Hale Collection of Cemetery Records: http://www.hale-collection.com/new-haven.htm

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Cemetery Sunday, Connecticut - War Memorials. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Cemetery Sunday: St. Bernard’s Cemetery – West Haven, CT.

  1. What an interesting and beautiful cemetery. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 9 Things You Can Learn About Your Ancestors From the Cemetery | Restorapic Photo Restoration

    • Thank You for the mention and link back to my blog. Unfortunately I have no ancestors buried in this local cemetery, but I was like “stop the car”, I couldn’t believe I was seeing their place of birth on headstones! That is s genealogists dream! It’s the only cemetery I’ve been in to have found that!


  3. Robert O'Brien says:

    My great grandfather Edward O’Brien, a Civil War veteran is buried in St. Bernard in 1892. I am trying to locate his wife Catherine O’Brien my great grandmother. Would she be buried there also?

    Liked by 1 person

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