theory of Avon's Beginning
Avone, son of Lief Erikson, dreamed of what
lay beyond the rocky shores of Greenland.
His father, on his death bed, told him that
when Greenland lost its charms and natural
possibilities for their people, he should
take them to Markland (America), the garden
spot of the gods - a land of abundance,
pleasant weather and great quantities of
fish and game.
many months the hardships had been increasing.
Fish and game was no longer available. In
these same long months, Nels Avone had been
came and 11 ships were ready to set sail.
Not a ship in the entire fleet was over
60 feet and the smallest was but 30 feet
long. On April 9, 1027, the little fleet
two weeks they sailed without mishap. Then
one night the wind came up and the tiny
ships were tossed about. Finally, the wind
and waves subsided. They had many weeks
of fine weather after that.
one morning land was spotted. Small boats
were put off the ships. They rowed into
the beach. A white beach with sand as far
as the eye could see in either direction,
broken only by a harbor about 1/4 mile south
of the spot where they had landed. The Norsemen
thought the land deserted, but from the
cover of the pine forest a short distance
from the shore they saw black-eyed and brown-skinned
men (Lenni Lenape Indians) peering at them.
ships were safely anchored in the bay. A
scouting party was sent to find a site for
their village. Springs were found just north
of the bay and that's where they settled.
(The site of the Norse village was situated
between those points known now as Main Street,
Second Avenue, Sylvania Avenue and Shark
River.) They made friends with the natives.
Years passed and the settlement flourished.
The Norsemen named their village "A-von-ee"
in honor of their brave leader. The natives
had difficulty pronouncing the name so they
shortened it to fit their own language and
called it "A-von."
more years passed and the Vikings began
to long for their native Norway. They built
ships and sailed eastward. The Indians watched
them go but the Norsemen remained in their
memory for a long time. The spot where they
had lived was known to them always as "Avon."
(Excerpt taken from story by Thomas Gagan.)
the Victorian era indicative of her growth,
the land was officially named New Branch
around 1855, but according to what map you
looked at or to whom you talk, the land
also was known as the Swanton Tract or the
Lewis Greene Property.
1878 the Jersey Shore was in her infancy.
Long Branch, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove
were very popular summer vacation spots
for the wealthy visitors from New York and
of these summer visitors to Ocean Grove
was Edward Batchelor, a very successful
tobacco manufacturer from Philadelphia who
had come to Ocean Grove to relax and fish.
One day Batchelor decided to visit a local
fishing spot called "Deep Hole"
just south of New Branch at Shark River.
During the trip to "Deep Hole"
he passed through New Branch and was very
impressed by the land. On the return trip
Batchelor spied signs advertising the land
for sale. The very next day Batchelor purchased
300 acres of land from T.W. Finn for $45,000.00.
1897, Robert C. Love, surveyor, and F.G.
Harrison, an engineer, were contracted by
Mr. Batchelor to look after his newly acquired
land and under the supervision of the two
men the town gradually took form. Originally
Batchelor planned to use the land as the
new center for his tobacco firm. With this
in mind he named the land "Key East"
presumably after a type of tobacco or cigar.
A short while later, however, on the advice
of Love and Harrison, Batchelor decided
to develop Key East for its real estate
the next decade, Batchelor provided the
investment needed to construct the basic
facilities essential to a growing resort
community. The town was surveyed and divided
into lots and sold for premiums unheard
of on the Jersey Shore. Roads were cut through
the dense woods, a sewer system was built,
as was the Pavilion on Norwood and Ocean
Avenue. Most important of all was the construction
of the Avon Inn in 1883.
town as "Avon-By-The-Sea" came
into existence when it was incorporated
under an act of legislature as a borough
on March 23, 1900. Where the name Avon comes
from is something that a good many people
wonder about, but it is easily enough understood
when one considers that even in the days
of "Key East" that hotel at the
foot of Sylvania Avenue was known as the
"Avon" Inn. It is not logical
then to believe that when the town was renamed
they patterned after the name and called
the borough Avon-By-The-Sea.
is little vacant or unused space in the
community today, yet its growth is not,
nor has it ever been unrestrained or chaotic.
Although there are commercial establishments
on Main Street and Ocean Avenue, they are
surrounded by residential development so
that the basic character of the town has
not been altered. After the town became
Avon-By-The Sea, vast improvements were
made. A boardwalk was laid and fire companies
were organized. The present public school
was built in 1908 and the library was built
in 1916. Avon-By-The-Sea represents a conservative
type of growth. While there have been changes
in Avon, they have been neither radical
nor inconsistent with past commitments.