AVON (formerly East Stoughton) HISTORICAL SKETCH
including facts about Avon in 1918
Source: History of Norfolk County Massachusetts 1622-1918, by Louis A. Cook. (New York, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918).
(Vol. 1, pgs. 55-59)
THE TOWN OF AVON
The territory comprising the Town of Avon was originally included in that part of Dorchester known as the "New Grant." When Stoughton was incorporated on December 22, 1726, it embraced the present Town of Avon and exercised jurisdiction over it for nearly one hundred and sixty-two years, hence the early history of Avon is given in the chapter on Stoughton. The town is located in the southern part of the county, being bounded on the north and west by Stoughton; on the east by Randolph and Holbrook, and on the south by Plymouth County.
PETITION FOR INCORPORATION
On December 2, 1887, the following petition was published in the Stoughton Record, the result of a movement started some months prior to that time for the establishment of a new town:
"To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in General Court assembled:
"The undersigned petitioners, citizens of Stoughton, Norfolk County, respectfully represent that we desire all that part of Stoughton east of the following described lines to be incorporated into a town separate from Stoughton, to be called -----------. Said lines to be the Old Colony Railroad commencing at the southerly line of the Town of Randolph and running southwesterly to a point where the Boston & Taunton Turnpike, so called, crosses said Old Colony Railroad, and from thence the Boston & Taunton Turnpike to be the line to the City of Brockton."
This petition was signed by D. H. Blanchard, Hiram Blanchard, Alva M. Butler, Charles H. Felker, D. C. G. Field, S. S. Gifford, James Keith, G. F. Littlefield, L. G. Littlefield, Gilbert Littlefield, George W. Robbins, George J. Smith and H. H. Tucker.
IN THE LEGISLATURE
This petition came before the House of Representatives on February 1, 1888, and was referred to the committee on towns, which reported favorably, and a bill granting the prayer of the petitioners was passed and sent to the senate.
It passed that body and was approved on February 21, 1888. Section 1 of the bill reads as follows:
"All that territory now the Town of Stoughton, in the County of Norfolk, comprised within the following limits, that is to say: Beginning at a point on the easterly line of Stoughton, where the Old Colony Railroad crosses said easterly line; thence southwesterly along the westerly side of the Old Colony Railroad about four hundred and sixty rods to a point on the westerly side of the culvert where Saulisbury Brook passes under said railroad; thence in a straight line south about five hundred and thirty-two rods to the westerly side of Oak Street, where it intersects South Street; thence southerly again along the westerly side of Oak Street about seventy-five rods to the Brockton line; thence along said Brockton line about six hundred and eighty-seven and one-half rods to the Holbrook line; thence in a straight line northerly about eight hundred and ninety-four rods along the Holbrook line and the Randolph line to the point of beginning, is hereby incorporated as a town by the name of Avon, and said Town of Avon is hereby invested with all the powers, privileges, rights and immunities, and made subject to all the duties, liabilities and requisitions to which other towns are entitled or subjected by the constitution and laws of this Commonwealth."
Sections 2 to 6 inclusive refer to the division of the town property, apportioning the town debt, relief of paupers, etc. Section 7 places the new town in the Second Congressional District, the Second Councillor District, the Second Norfolk Senatorial District and the Seventh Norfolk Representative District.
Section 8 provides that "any justice of the peace in the County of Norfolk may issue his warrant directed to any inhabitant of the Town of Avon requiring him to notify and warn the inhabitants thereof qualified to vote in town affairs to meet at the time and place therein appointed for the purpose of choosing all such town officers as towns are by law authorized and required to choose at their annual meetings," etc.
EXTENDING THE BOUNDARIES
Soon after the town was organized under the provisions of the above act, an agitation was commenced for the acquisition of certain tracts of land in the towns of Randolph and Holbrook. A petition asking for the annexation of these lands to Avon was presented to the next session of the Legislature, with the result that the following act was passed and approved on April 16, 1889:
"So much of the towns of Randolph and Holbrook, in the County of Norfolk, with all the inhabitants and estates thereon, as is thus bounded and described, to wit: Beginning at a stone bound on the westerly side of Main Street in the boundary line between said towns of Randolph and Avon (formerly Stoughton) marked 'R' on one side and 'S' on the opposite side, and thence running in a straight line over territorial land of said Randolph and of said Holbrook midway between the two main tracks of the Old Colony Railroad as now existing and distant north, sixteen degrees and fifteen minutes east, six hundred and ninety-four and eight-tenths feet from the southerly side line of High Street in said Holbrook; thence running south, sixteen degrees and fifteen minutes west, midway between said tracks, one thousand five hundred and sixteen and four-tenths
feet to a point of curvature in said Holbrook and intersecting said southerly line of High Street at a point distant south, fifty-six degrees and thirteen minutes east, one hundred and sixty-seven and seventy-two hundredths feet from a stone bound set in the southerly line of High Street; thence running by a curve to the left of five thousand seven hundred and thirty feet radius, one thousand three hundred and twenty-three and forty-five hundredths feet to a point of tangency in Holbrook ; thence running midway between said tracks south, three degrees and one minute west, five hundred and thirty-five and forty-five hundredths feet to the boundary line between said towns of Holbrook and Avon; thence running northwesterly by said boundary line between the towns of Randolph, Holbrook and Avon to the point of beginning, containing an area of about fourteen acres of the territory of the said Town of Randolph and about one hundred and thirty acres of the territory of the said Town of Holbrook, is hereby set off and separated from the said towns of Randolph and Holbrook and annexed to the said Town of Avon."
The reason for this enlargement of the town was to give it access to railway facilities. The Old Colony Railroad mentioned in the above act is now the Boston & Middleboro division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway system, which covers a large part of New England. Avon station was established soon after the boundary of the town was extended to the railroad.
Soon after the town was incorporated a movement was inaugurated to establish a system of waterworks. A petition was presented to the Legislature asking for authority to issue bonds for that purpose and on April 9, 1889, the governor approved an act empowering the Town of Avon "to supply itself and its inhabitants with water for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic and other purposes," etc., and to take "by purchase or otherwise and hold the waters of Porter's Brook or spring in said town." The act also authorized the town to borrow not more than thirty thousand dollars, issue bonds therefore and provide a sinking fund for their redemption when due, said act to take effect upon its acceptance "by a two-thirds vote of the voters of said Town of Avon at a legal town meeting within three years after its passage."
The conditions imposed by the act were accepted by the required two-thirds vote, Lewis Hawes of Boston was employed as chief engineer, and the waterworks were constructed in 1889-90. Wells were sunk to obtain a supply of water and a pumping station was installed. The standpipe, twenty feet in diameter and ninety feet high, was built by E. Hodge & Company of Boston. It has a capacity of 212,670 gallons and the average pressure of the system is sixty-five pounds to the square inch. Up to December 31, 1912, the total cost of the plant was $83,324.09 and the aggregate amount of bonds issued was $69,500. There were then eight miles of mains. Since that time some extensions have been made and the bonds have nearly all been paid. The works are owned by the town.
On October 18, 1912, the town hall was damaged by fire to the amount of $1,500 and the contents to the amount of $1,500. The building was erected a fewyears after the incorporation of the town at a cost of about three thousand dollars. It contains a hall for holding town meetings, offices for the town officials and quarters for the fire company. At the time of the fire the town carried $2,000 insurance on the building and $1,200 on the contents. The damage to the building was quickly repaired, but the loss of records renders it impossible to ascertain the original cost or just when the structure was completed.
MISCELLANEOUS FACTS ABOUT AVON
Avon is the smallest town in Norfolk County. It is an agricultural community and has no manufacturing establishments of importance. In addition to the transportation facilities furnished by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, the Milton & Brockton division of the Bay State Street Railway Company traverses the town, connecting it with practically all the principal places in Norfolk County. Cars run on this line every thirty minutes.
The first board of selectmen was composed of Hiram Blanchard, George W. Robbins and Bartlett Collins, who also served as the first town assessors. George J. Smith was the first town clerk, and James Keith the first treasurer. In 1917 the town officers were as follows: John F. Geary, Frederick P. Bodwell and Frederick A. Parmenter, selectmen; John J. Collins, clerk; William W. Littlefield, treasurer; John F. Geary, Frederick A. Parmenter and Fred P. Whitten, assessors.
In the principal square stands a neat monument of granite bearing the inscription :
In Grateful Remembrance of the men
Who fought to
Save the Union
Above the inscription are two crossed swords carved in bas relief, and on the top of the monument is the figure of an infantry soldier. Avon was a part of Stoughton at the time of the Civil War, but the monument commemorates the gallant deeds of those who went from that part of Stoughton now comprising Avon. On the die of the monument is the following:
To the Town of Avon
In the southeastern part of the town is Highland Park, one of the beauty spots of Norfolk County. It is on the electric railway line running from Avon to Brockton and is a favorite resort for persons who desire a day's outing amid peaceful surroundings.
On the covers of the annual town reports is a small portrait of William Shakespeare, indicating that the town derives its name from the birthplace of the immortal bard - "Stratford-on-Avon" in England. The Avon of today has two modern public school buildings, a well drilled and equipped fire company, a public library, Baptist and Catholic churches, and a number of cozy homes. The population in 1910 was 2,013 and in 1915, according to the state census, it was 2,164, an increase of 151 in five years. The assessed valuation of property in 1915 was $1,119,847.
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