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History of Avon

One theory of Avon's Beginning
Nels 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.
For many months the hardships had been increasing. Fish and game was no longer available. In these same long months, Nels Avone had been building ships.
Spring 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 sailed.
For 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.
Early 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.
The 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."
Many 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.)
History of Avon-By-The-Sea
During 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.
In 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 Philadelphia.
One 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.
In 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 potential.
Over 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.
The 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.
There 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.