Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Mystery of Novi's Name

Manhole Cover - Novi, Michigan

 It is documented that the area west of Farmington, Michigan was first settled by Erastus Ingersoll and several other families in April, 1825, one month before the opening of the Erie Canal. But, how Novi's name came to be is shrouded in mystery and myth. One common notion is that this place was the sixth stop, toll gate, or mail drop (No. 6, or, in Roman numerals, No. VI) along a road, railroad. or stagecoach line. This is completely false because the town was named and incorporated in 1830, and Novi's toll road was not built until 1855, and the railroad didn't arrive until 1861.

The story of Novi's name will probably never be determined with any certainty, but it is possible that it may have a Yugoslavian connection. In 1936 Novi officials received a letter from the Yugoslavian Consulate in Chicago saying many people in Yugoslavia knew of the town called Novi in Michigan. The letter related a romantic legend of a young soldier who fled to the U. S., and that his heartbreaking tale of lost love had influenced the selection of the name. 

There is no documentation to corroborate this tale, but there may be a grain of truth in it. In the 1990s a Novi News reporter was vacationing in Croatia and took it upon himself to investigate a possible connection. He found no concrete clues to the city's name, but did find that the names of a large number of cities in the area began with "Novi," which translates to "new." Like the colonials who named their settlements New York, New Jersey, etc. in tribute to the home they left for a new beginning, this might also have been the case for Novi.

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