Lyon County Historical Society & Museum executive director
The photograph this week is a copy of Joseph Fifield's service pension papers. Fifield was a veteran from the War of 1812 and is buried at the Russell Cemetery in Lyon County. The following information in quotations is from a May 26, 1979, article in the Marshall Independent about historian Arthur Louis Finnell's search on information regarding Joseph Fifield. It was during this search that Finnell was able to obtain a copy of Fifield's pension papers from the National Archives in Washington D.C.
"What brought Fifield from New Hampshire to Minnesota? Was he 14, 15, 16 years old, merely a boy, when he served in the War of 1812? Those questions are proving difficult to answer and at this point, Art Finnell, coordinator of the History Center at Southwest State University, only speculates about answers. It isn't for a lack of trying, however, that he has relatively little information about Joseph Fifield or Thomas Hicks, another War of 1812 veteran buried in Lyon County. The remains of Hicks lie at the foot of a gravestone in Marshall Cemetery, having been removed from an old Marshall Cemetery and placed in the present location in 1911.
Numerous sources have been tried by Finnell in attempting to piece together the history. Most of search has proved fruitless. Finnell went to the courthouse for death certificates; he looked at the Grand Army Republic records, the 1875 census, township and Grantor-Grantee records. He is now waiting for Fifield's pension papers to be sent from the National Archives in Washington D.C.
Veterans of the War of 1812 are more likely to be buried in the eastern part of Minnesota, Finnell explained, because that part of the state was settled first. Some war veterans settled the frontier because they received land certificates in payment of war services. The U.S. government was rich in land but money was not plentiful."
According to the pension papers, Fifield was drafted and served 45 days in the militia during the War of 1812, he received a pension of $8 a month until he died and was a resident of Camden in Lyon County at the time of receiving the pension. Joseph died in Lyon County in 1887; he was around 92 years old.
For more information, contact the Lyon County Museum at 537-6580, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook.