Uniquely Medfield: Truly Unique - The Final Article
This week Medfield Town Historian Richard DeSorgher highlights many things that make Medfield a unique place.
For the past three years, and 156 articles later, I have written each week about things in Medfield that are truly unique, things that we in Medfield are proud of and that are indeed special to our community. Some are people, our most valuable resource; other things that are uniquely Medfield are our historic houses, our churches, Vine Lake Cemetery and the State Hospital Cemetery; others, perhaps not proud of, but still under the uniquely Medfield category, would include the town’s first murder and the KKK cross burning on Miller Street. As this will be my final Uniquely Medfield article, I thought I would give a summary and highlight some of my favorite articles.
Medfield’s early history as the 43rd oldest community in Massachusetts makes for a uniqueness of history. Founded from Dedham in 1649, there is no other city or town with the name Medfield on this planet. Our Town Seal reflects that uniqueness. Early settlers gave this area its special uniqueness, like the Founder of Medfield, Ralph Wheelock. Early families that settled here with names like Frairy, Adams, Baker, Baxter, Brastow, Cheney, Derby, Dwight, Ellis, Fairbanks, Fisher, Hamant, Hewins, Kingsbury, Mason, Newell, Townsend, Thurston, Wight and Wilson, each had stories of braveness in facing a Medfield of wilderness or a community in its growing stage. Each contributed, adding to the town in a way that shaped who we are as a community today.
Others contributed in special ways such as Daniel Sanders and William Tilden, writing the history of Medfield; Chenery, Curtis and Mitchell, in establishing the hat factory as the major industry and place of employment in town; Lowell Mason in becoming the Father of School Music in America; Hannah Adams as the first female author to be paid for her work; and James Plimpton by inventing the roller skate. Ord, Onion, Parker, Baker, Balch and Cushman became leaders of industry or noted businessmen. Loeffler, Bunker and Inness led in the arts.
Others gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war from Samuel Cole and Jabez Boyden in the Revolutionary War to Richard Derby, Allan Kingsbury, John Chenery among others in the Civil War; William and Wesley Beckwith, teenage brothers dying in WWI along with Clarence Cutler, J. Earl Kerr and five others. From the Greatest Generation: Vincent Bravo and Ocran Knehr whose planes crashed killing all on board, Thomas Clewes, and John Ross killed in the South Pacific, John Crowder during D-Day, Joseph Pace at Pearl Harbor, Robert Sproul, Earl Lee and Richard Werner over Europe. On to George Snyder dying during the war in Korea and Stephen Hinkley and Peter Kristof in the jungles of a place called Vietnam. All were brave, unique and special to their hometown.
It was great to write about sacred places in Medfield, as there are so many, from Rocky Woods to the Peak House to Lord's to Metacomet Park, to the gym, in the Dale Street School to the First Parish Church to the Dwight-Derby House to Historic East Main Street, the gateway into Medfield to Baxter Park, the Charles River and our many small brooks and streams.
Individuals who had Uniquely Medfield articles written about them, and who contributed and went forward volunteering to make what I call, “Making Medfield, Medfield" included people like Mike and Caroline Standley, Red Palumbo, Bill Kelly, Roger Hardy, Marshall Chick, Bill McCarthy, and so many others; those who served in our police and fire departments, in the American Legion, the Sportsman Club and the Lions Club. Those who volunteer for our many youth sports and who beautify our community in the Garden Club, all contribute to our uniqueness.
Other Uniquely Medfield articles included the 02042 zip code of the Harding section of Medfield, fires that took their toll on our woods and twice on Town Hall; the trolley that was here for 25 years and the unique train stations that we had; our teachers, principals and superintendents, who contributed excellence to our children’s education, all contribute to our uniqueness. The unique memories, social and learning experiences, the sports, music and art that took place attending our schools; from the Lowell Mason School to the Hannah Adams School to the Ralph Wheelock School (both of them), to the Hannah Adams Pfaff High School and the Hannah Adams Pfaff Elementary School to the Memorial School, to the Amos Clark Kingsbury High School to the Thomas A. Blake Middle School.
We have unique names for our roads, bridges and brooks. Medfield Center is unique with Monk's Block (the building people either love or hate), the former Super Duper, the bubbler in front of Town Hall, Ord’s Block, Frost Block and the soon to be Lord’s Block. Our tree-lined streets, open space, Noon Hill, the meadows along the Charles River, the Hunt Club and our conservation land -- all contribute to the uniqueness that is Medfield.
It has been fun to put into print the many pieces of our history. It was easy because Medfield has so much history. As we go forward, it becomes our responsibility to pass on to the next generation those special qualities that make Medfield, Medfield. To preserve and protect the quality of life we have here, for it is indeed unique and special.