The Scottish Myth of "Edina"
For many years, there has been a prevailing myth about the early settlers of Edina. The myth is that there were two opposing communities that made up this area of what was formerly western Richfield Township — the Irish Cahill community and the Scottish Mill community. It has also been said that in 1888, when Edina became a village, those two communities fought about whether to give the community an Irish Name, Killarney Lakes, or a Scottish name, Edina.
The truth is that there were no Scottish people in Edina during the 1860 Census and only a couple of them in 1888. There were two communities, though, one of Irish immigrants and the other native-born from the East Coast. Irish Cahill was smaller, but more tightly bound together. The settlement around the Mill was more economically prosperous.
Andrew Craik, a Scotsman, moved here in 1869 when he bought the Mill and renamed it the Edina Mill in honor of the town where he was born, Edinborough. The Mill had formerly been called the Waterville Mill, the Buckwalter Mill and the Red Mill. It had been at its peak of production during the Civil War when Jonathan Grimes, the owner, made ceaseless trips back to Fort Snelling.
Paul Hesterman's History
Here is how the real stage was set for the naming of the village, Edina, as recorded in author Paul Hesterman's “History of Edina.” Hesterman quotes directly from the census and demographic records of Richfield Township, from Sarah Baird's diary and from the minutes of the three meetings held at the Grange Hall to vote on becoming a village.
Craik participated and was on the side of naming the town Edina, but it was Henry Brown, from the farm adjacent to the mill, who really pushed for it.
"A meeting was held in the Grange Hall by the residents of the western end of Richfield Township to consider the propriety of incorporating a village of the west end of town. James A. Bull was elected chairman and Michael Gleeson secretary. Speeches were made by Messrs. Bull, Ryan, Craik, Baird, Woods, Kyte and others upon the object of the meeting. Motion was made and seconded that a vote be taken to get the sense of the meeting in regard to incorporation. Motion made and seconded that a committee of five be elected to carry out the work necessary to incorporate a village of all the territory in the township of Richfield west of the center of Sections 20, 29, 32, Township 28 Range 24. Carried.
"On motion, James A. Bull, F.J. Wilson, P.A. Ryan, Geo. W. Baird and Thomas Kyte were elected to such committee. Motion made and seconded the village be called 'Hennepin Park.' Carried. Motion made and seconded to reconsider the motion just taken. Carried. Moved and seconded that the village be called 'Westfield.' Carried. Moved and carried to adjourn."
"Two days later, Sarah Baird reported in her diary that Brown came to her house insisting that the name be changed to 'Edina' instead of 'Westfield.' According to Sarah, Messrs. Bull, Ryan, Kyte and Baird took the census. Then she reports another day that Father McCabe came by and then Ryan came to dinner and they all went to the next meeting at the Grange after dinner. At the meeting, a letter was read from Brown about the name. Here is how the meeting went, according to minutes taken by Woods:
"A long debate ensued with regard to the name by which the corporation shall be called. A motion was made and seconded to reconsider the vote taken at the previous meeting of the name of the proposed village. Carried. Motion made and seconded by Craik to call the proposed village Edina. Motion made by Bull to adjourn and seconded by the majority. Chairman called the motion out of order. Baird declined to act as a member of the committee. Willson, Ryan and Bull also declined to serve longer as members of the committee if a gag law is to prevail. Meeting was somewhat boisterous for a few minutes until, through the efforts of Mr. Yancy, order was restored. Motion made and seconded to call a meeting on the 29th. Carried. On motion, the meeting was adjourned.
"So there was strong disagreement about the name. The motion to adjourn was designed to kill the name 'Edina.' The motion was made by Bull, a new Yorker, and seconded by Kyte, an Irishman. After Pat Cooper, an Irishman, ruled the motion out of order, Willson, from New York, Baird, from Pennsylvania and of Scottish background, and Ryan from Ireland supported Bull. Sarah Baird did not like the name Edina. So, in conclusion, it is hard to find an ethnic or geographical division."
At the next meeting, it was finally settled. After discussing pros and cons, the name Edina was finally chosen with 47 for and 42 against.