1651 The burying ground, encompassing the land nearest Main Street, was “set out,” a year prior to the setting out of house lots.
1658 John Metcalf, whose house bordered the burying ground, placed a cedar fence between it and his house.
1696 Joseph Metcalf, John’s son, became caretaker of the burying ground for a term of 14 years. He was “to make good an sufficient fence around it, and to suffer such graves to be dug as there may be need of.”
1736 By this year, the town was allowing animals to graze in the burying ground, requiring a fence to be maintained. The cutting of trees was not permitted.
1756 The town set up a committee and appointed members to clear and fence the burying ground, and reserve the wood.
1778 Wood had been cut from the burial ground and was sold to contribute to a school fund.
1785 The town voted to fence the entire burying ground and to install a gate through which visitors could pass.
1800 The town voted to have the burying cloth dyed and pressed, and to purchase a bier and cords for use at funerals.
1802 A hearse was purchased by the town for $65. Before this, the dead were moved upon a bier, carried by eight pall-bearers. Artemas Woodward and Edward Cleaveland built the hearse. Also, the town directed the selectmen to set out trees near the front wall. (This is the first mention of a wall lining the burial grounds.)
1806 The town built a hearse-house for $57.08. It stood at the easterly corner of the burial ground.
1808 The grazing of cattle was disallowed; up until then, this act had provided rental income to the town.
1831 Brush clearing occurred again, fourteen years after it commenced, suggesting that vegetation re-emerged quickly after it was removed.
1843 The town set up a committee to explore expansion of the cemetery – either by adding to the existing burial ground, or building a new one. The committee produced a report, recommending the town purchase two additional acres adjacent to the north and east side of the existing location. The town accepted the report, purchased the land for $100, and laid out 100 new lots, to be sold for $1.00 each. Some were sold for more than $1.00 at auction, and the town used the excess funds to face the wall next to the street, lay out walks and driveways, and plant evergreen trees.
1844 The public holding tomb was built.
1875 On the 8th of January the town hall burned, and with it, the hearse. A year later a new one was purchased for $600.
1876 The cemetery was designated and labeled “cemetery” and the pond was created.
1877 The report of the Cemetery Commission suggested that multiple burials occurred in the same graves.
1879 The first cemetery regulations concerning management were adopted by the town. The new section was laid out into 36 lots, and lots were selling for $20. Trees were also set out along the front of the cemetery, and a hedge placed on the “lower end.”
1889 Vine Lake Cemetery received its official name in a dedication ceremony, and the pond became “Vine Lake.”
1891 Cemetery perpetual care funds first began appearing in the town reports. The Derby fund is the first listed. -- furthermore, I direct my Executors herein after named, to deposit with the Town of Medfield in trust, one hundred dollars, the interest thereof, to be appropriated to the keeping of said Lot in good order, trimming the Trees, and doing all that is needful, to keep it neat & clean, under the supervision of the Select Men of Medfield, or of the Superintendent of the Cemetery Grounds, should there ever be such an official appointed -- and they shall take no more of said interest, each year, than is required, but add the surplus, if there be any, to the principal, as some years, more will need to be done, than others, such surplus will be convenient, for such years, as need the most care & expense -- and they may not encroach on the sum deposited -- Will of Mary Townsend Derby; [NP #22092 probated Oct. 13, 1880]
1896 The first Catholic was buried at Vine Lake Cemetery; prior to this date, Catholics were buried in cemeteries in neighboring towns. Also in this year, Col. Edwin V. Mitchell purchased 27 lots, 10 of which were sold to the Commonwealth for $1,000 for burial of Medfield Insane Asylum inmates. This area is located on the west side of Vine Lake abutting the Tannery Drive area. The graves are unmarked.
1899 A book was made of gravestone inscriptions in the old section from 1651 to 1899.
1907 The monument to the Unknown Dead at Vine Lake Cemetery was dedicated on Memorial Day.
1911 The town voted to abolish the position of sexton, and dispose of the town hearse. The sexton had tolled the bell upon the death of a citizen, and provided the black cloth that was placed over the casket of the deceased.
1923 On January 17th, the town hall burned and with it, names of owners of each lot and the names of those buried therein.
1976 Work began by the historical commission on a file inventory of lot numbers and names in the old section.
2004 A Preservation & Management Plan was funded by the town and the Historical Commission; the first phase was the restoration and cleaning of 59 gravestones.
2009 Vine Lake Preservation Trust was founded. Walking Tours began as a way to celebrate the cemetery’s history, people, and art.
2010 Extensive tree removal, pruning, and planting were done in the New Section during an Arbor Day of Service. Many historical memorials were cleaned and preserved through funding and volunteering initiated by the Trust. Medfield’s first-ever outdoor sculpture exhibition in Medfield, called Portals, was held in the New Section during September and October.
2011 Funding by corporate and public donors provided preservation for 59 broken memorials.
2013 A second Arbor Day of Service was celebrated. A concert of Civil War music and drama, ‘Be Jubilant, My Feet,’ was sponsored.
2014 Gravestone preservation continued, with 148 memorials repaired and 127 cleaned.