When Plymouth was first incorporated in 1858, it didn't take long for the early settlers to realize they didn't exactly like the name "Plymouth."
"We don't know why," said Gary Schiebe of the Plymouth Historical Society. "Maybe it's just because somebody else had named it, they wanted to name it."
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners are the ones who decided to name the settlement "Plymouth," but in a document provided to 12 News from the Plymouth Historical Society, dated June 1, 1858 – when Plymouth was just weeks old — town officials voted for the name "Medicine Lake."
"And so one year went by, and next April they had another annual meeting," Schiebe said. "And it was called to order in the name of Medicine Lake."
Fast forward to April of 1860, and the town was once again called "Plymouth."
Historians can only speculate as to why.
"We think it's because when they went to the County Board saying 'here's the name we want' they said 'uh uh' we named it," Schiebe said. "And there could've been legal ramifications to that because there might've been reference to that in property records and so forth."
However, that's not the last we'd hear of that name Medicine Lake. About 90 years later, a small segment of Plymouth decided to branch off and start up its own town.
Since 1944, the small city of Medicine Lake has existed on its own.
"They felt they weren't getting the attention that they needed for the roads, so they thought that if they broke off and became their own community that they would be able to maintain those roads to the level that they thought was appropriate," said Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik.
Historians say that many of the homes along Medicine Lake once belonged to Minneapolis residents who wanted a place to escape from city life.
"I'm sure the farmers had a feeling that, 'gee, you know, we've got miles and miles of gravel road and here we've got a small number of people on the peninsula complaining about their road, those city slickers, let them pay for their own road kind of a thing'" Schiebe said.
Yet today, Mayor Slavik says the two cities work well together.
"We work with them, we collaborate with them, we look for ways to improve water quality and to improve recreation on the lake," Slavik said. "So it's a great relationship and there's certainly no hard feelings dating back to 1944."
Meantime, America was a much different place back in 1858, and at the old Plymouth Town Hall, the Plymouth Historical Society pays homage to that era with one special item.
Every year that a new state was admitted into the union, the federal government would issue a new flag on the 4th of July. Inside the old town hall along Fernbrook Lane, you'll find a replica of the 32–star flag from 1858 when Minnesota became a state -- the only year the flag was valid.
"The following year, Oregon was admitted to the union," Schiebe said. "So that's a trivia question you could use with your friends or relatives at Thanksgiving time let's say."
It's also a special year in Plymouth. Music in Plymouth celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The event at the Hilde Performance Center attracts thousands to the city. It takes place Tuesday at 5 p.m. and wraps up at 10 p.m. with fireworks.
Delane Cleveland, reporting
Friday, June 29, 2012