Harley H. Hopkins Had the Last Word
Harley H. Hopkins acquired the southwest quarter of Section 19 in 1854. He built a large home near the center of his land in 1861.
In 1871, the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad proposed to buy a 100-foot strip of land running from east to west for a right-of-way. Harley, while probably thinking of his current modes of travel, on foot or on horseback, refused to sell the right-of-way to the railroad, but instead proposed to donate the right-of-way. There were to be two restrictions in the deed that he furnished the railroad; first, he was to get two lifetime passes on the railroad for himself and his wife; second, the railroad must put a station on that part of the right-of-way and the station must bear the name “Hopkins.” Upon failure of the railroad to meet these restrictions, the title of the land would revert to Harley Hopkins or his heirs.
About a year later a post office was proposed for the area. Because of the location of the area, it was proposed to call the post office West Minneapolis. The post office authorities notified the community that they would have to change the name on the depot because mail addressed to West Minneapolis would never be thrown off the train at the Hopkins depot. When that proposal was made to the railroad, they answered “No. We will lose our right-of-way if we do that.” The result was that the post office was established as Hopkins in 1872.
In 1887 the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company purchased 40 acres of land about a mile west of the depot. The company formed a land company, The West Minneapolis Land Company, and proceeded to purchase the west one-half of the Harley Hopkins farm except for the site of the Hopkins home. (Harley H. Hopkins had died in 1882.) They then proceeded to plat the whole Hopkins 160 acres in to the West Minneapolis Center subdivision. Within a couple of years, with the factory in operation, a land boom erupted. In October of 1893, only 6 years later, the community filed a petition to create the Village of West Minneapolis. Their petition shows ten plats that had already been filed, eight of them including “West Minneapolis” in their title. These plats all continue to this day to remind us of how that old pioneer was able to thwart the desire of the other people in the community.
During the ensuing years, the village government continued with a depot and post office in Hopkins. Because of the depot and post office titles, the world at large regarded the town as Hopkins, most residents not knowing or understanding that the governmental unit was the Village of West Minneapolis. Then, in August of 1928, after 35 years of ambiguity, Archie H. Miller, Village Clerk, after having another of many hassles over his filing papers with the West Minneapolis title when the clerk knew he represented the Village of Hopkins, came back to his office and drew up a resolution to change the title of the village to Hopkins. The Village Council promptly adopted the resolution and the village finally bowed to the August 16, 1928 wishes of Harley Hopkins, 57 years later. On December 2, 1947, after adopting a City Charter, the community became the City of Hopkins.
*As told by Clint Blomquist and transcribed from Document D 242.2, HHHopkins File of Hopkins Historical Society