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Goodrich and Jennings Drugstore, Anoka 1891.

Display at Goodrich and Jennings Drugstore, Anoka 1891.
Anoka Census Information
Estab:  May 23, 1857
Parent County:  Ramsey
Anoka county with county seat

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Anoka County

The name of this county, established May 23, 1857, was taken from the town of Anoka, which was first settled in 1851-52 and was named in 1853. It is a Dakota word meaning, as Prof. A. W. Williamson wrote, "on both sides; applied by founders to the city laid out on both sides of Rum River, and since applied to the county," of which this city is the county seat. Rev. Moses N. Adams, who came as a missionary to the Dakota in 1848 and learned their language, stated that as a Dakota word, Anoka means "the other side, or both sides."

According to the late Return I. Holcombe and others, including Albert M. Goodrich, the historian of this county, the Ojibwe also sometimes used a name of nearly the same sound for the Rum River and for the site of Anoka near its mouth meaning "where they work," on account of the extensive early lumbering and log driving on this stream. The Ojibwe verb "I work" is anoki, as given in Frederic Baraga's Dictionary of the Ojibway Language, with many inflected forms and compound words from this root, all referring to work in some way as their central thought.

But the selection of the name Anoka had reference only to its use by the Dakota people, whose language is wholly unlike that of the Ojibwe. A newspaper article on this subject written in 1873 by L. M. Ford is quoted by Goodrich as follows: "The name for the new town was a topic of no little interest, and the writer had something to do in its selection. It was decided to give it an Indian name. The Dakota Lexicon, just published, and of which I was the owner of a copy, was not infrequently consulted and at length the euphonious name Anoka was decided upon. . . . It was said to mean 'on both sides,' when rendered into less musical English, and to this day the name is by no means inappropriate, as the town is growing up and extending on either side of the beautiful but badly named river."