First settlers in Medina arrived in 1855. In 1858, County Commissioners provided the city with an official designation, as “Hamburg Township” but local residents preferred the name “Medina” after the Arab holy city of the same name, which was in the news that same year. On 11 May 1858, 37 residents met in the home of Valorius Chilson and voted unanimously to change the name.
Medina’s early European settlers were chiefly German, Irish and French-Canadian and had names still common in Medina, like Scherer and Reiser; Mooney and Crowe; Hamel and Fortin. The first generations tended to group according to their language ties and to help each other through the long hard winters.
Townships were always divided into 36 sections, each consisting of a square mile. This meant that the City of Excelsior extended beyond the north shore of Lake Minnetonka to Medina’s southern border. Excelsior’s northern residents tolerated this inconvenience until 1868, when Excelsior’s north shore residents voted to become a part of Medina. This expanded Medina to over 50 square miles.
The Hamel area of Medina was plotted as a City as early as 1879, but its efforts to incorporate failed, in part, because of the complication of straddling the borders of both Medina and Plymouth. The town might have been called Lenz after Leander Lenzen, who built a mill on Elm Creek and set up a post office in the name of Lenz in 1861. But, when the Lange Hamel family gave land to the railroad for the train depot in 1884 they asked that it be called “Hamel,” and the name took root. To this day, people call this area of Medina, Hamel.