Veterans Day: Vine Lake Vets

Here's a look at some of the veterans' headstones, grave markers, and intriguing stories at the Vine Lake Cemetery.

Medfield is rich in history, and a big part of that history is the men and women who have served in the country's military.

Here is a glimpse at some of the veteran highlights from Vine Lake Cemetery including grave markers from the Mexican War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Sons of the American Revolution, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War; also Grand Army of the Republic, Ladies Auxiliary, and other intriguing markers.

Some of Medfield's servicemen have interesting stories are noted in the "Walk Among the Shadows" map and guide (available at a kiosk in the cemetery) to the cemetery's old section. Here are a few of those stories, courtesy of the Vine Lake Preservation Trust.

Julius Augusts Fitts (1843-1944). Massachusetts' oldest Civil War veteran when he died at age 100, Julius had run a general store at Main and North Streets for 70 years. He introduced the town's first horse-drawn delivery wagon and was the first to sell gasoline for automobiles.

George Horatio Derby (1823-1861). George, an 1846 West Point graduate, grew up in the Dwight Derby House. He served with distinction in the Mexican War and was a topographical engineer whose map-making helped open the American west. As "John Phoenix," he became one of America's best known political humorists.

James Parkman Chenery (1842-1863) and Franklin Artemas Chenery (1839-1864). James was taken prisoner in March 1863 at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, and later redeemed. At age 20, he was killed on the second battle day at Gettysburg. His brother Franklin, age 24, was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia.

Richard Crowninshield Derby (1834-1862). Born in Medfield, Richard acquired skills as a taxidermist, sketch artist, carpenter, and flautist. He was a 28-year-old captain in the 15th Massachusetts Regiment when killed at the 1862 Battle of Antietam, Maryland.

George Frederick Adams (1820-1889). Born in Medfield, George moved to Brooklyn where he studied medicine, then became a surgeon during the Civil War, after which he practiced medicine in St. Louis before returning to Medfield.

Frank Edward Morse (1845-1864). One of three brothers to serve in the Civil War, Frank enlisted with a Connecticut company, fought at the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina, died at the second Battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia, and was buried in a distant unmarked grave. His parents and two siblings are buried here.

Alan Alonzo Kingsbury (1840-1862). The first three-year Civil War volunteer from Medfield, Alan survived being wounded at Bull Run and returned to service in July 1861, only to die eight months later in a skirmish at Yorktown, Virginia. He was Medfield's first casualty.

Sergeant John Plimpton (1620-1677). Early Medfield settler John relocated with his family to the Deerfield frontier in 1673 where he was head of the militia. He was captured by Pocumtuck Indians in 1677 and reputedly burned at the stake in Canada. His burial site is unknown. This memorial was erected by his descendants sometime before 1895.

Peter Warren (1739?-1814). The man whose name is carved here started life in bondage as Cesar Hunt, who purchased his freedom in 1769 in Medway. He was one of four African Americans to serve Medfield in the Revolutionary War. Nothing is known about Peter's life here other than his military service at or near West Point.

Johnson Mason (1767-1856). Johnson, a lieutenant-colonel in Medfield's militia, owned a store on North Street and was an early entrepreneur in the Medfield straw goods trade with New York. His first child, Lowell, born in 1792, became America's most cherished music educator.

Major Jonathan Fiske (1774-1864). Born in Weston, Jonathan came by ox cart to Medfield with his bride, Sally Flagg, in 1800. A tanner by trade, his home and tanyard were on Harding Street and he served as a major in the town's militia, as well as selectman for a number of years.


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