Sergeant Carl R. Sohncke was a Queens native who was killed in action during World War I. Sergeant Sohncke enlisted in the United States Army on July 20, 1915, and was a member of Company M in the Army’s 28th Infantry regiment. He was killed in France on May 28, 1918, while on reconnaissance.
The surrounding neighborhood of Woodside, called “Suicide’s Paradise” by the colonials for its harsh environment, was settled in the late 17th century by Joseph Sackett. Between 1830 and 1860, the area grew and became home to mansions owned by John Kelly, William Schroeder, Gustav Sussdorf, and Louis Windmuller, all men from Charleston, South Carolina. Woodside’s moniker comes from a correspondence written by John Andrew Kelly to his son, John A. F. Kelly, entitled “Letters from Woodside,” inspired by the unending run of trees visible from his writing desk. The younger Kelly, publisher of The Brooklyn Times, printed the letters for the enjoyment of the paper’s readers. Laid out in 1869, Woodside exists today as a patchwork of industrial, commercial and residential areas.
City acquired this land, bounded by 58th Street, Roosevelt Avenue, and Woodside Avenue, by condemnation on October 31, 1917. Jurisdiction over the grounds was conveyed to Parks on April 7, 1922. In 1935 a local law named the property Woodside Memorial Park to commemorate the lives of World War I veterans from northwestern Queens. On March 12, 1939, the Mayor’s Committee on Veterans’ Memorials renamed the park Carl R. Sohncke Square “in order to pay lasting tribute to the memory of a young man who made the supreme sacrifice in a World War.”
Iron picket fencing encloses Sohncke Square’s lawn area, with sidewalks, benches, trees, lampposts, and a drinking fountain along its perimeter.