Historical Preservation Commission Chair Says 2019 is Correct Bicentennial Date
Signs say 1812; date is disputed by Historical Preservation Commission
Avon Lake Historical Preservation Commission Chairman John Shondel presented pages of research to council supporting 1819 as the correct settlement date, not 1812, listed as a founding date on the city’s welcome signs.
Shondel provided the information to council members at the Nov. 7 council meeting.
Avon Lake Councilman David Kos said the bicentennial issue was researched at the request of Mayor K.C. Zuber, since there were questions raised in the community.
“They’ve done extensive research on this issue,” Kos said, of individuals who assisted Shondel with researching the issue.
“The background is not in dispute,” Shondel said of the city’s history, in which both Noah Davis, considered the first settler and Adam Miller, who was the city’s first permanent settler, play a historical part.
Avon Lake Historical Society president Tony Abram and his wife, Nancy Nelson Abram, an Avon Lake historian, support 2012 as the correct bicentennial date.
In 2009, Nancy Nelson Abram stated the Avon Lake Historical Society voted on the city’s bicentennial. She submitted a letter to the city saying the Society voted to support 1812 as the founding date of Avon Lake.
“Our decision coincides with the research I found at the Black River Historical Society,” Abram said, referencing the Black River Historical Society’s notation that says Noah Davis was listed as the “first settler.”
Shondel said that what is now Avon Lake was explored in 1812 but was not permanently nor continuous occupied until 1819 when Adam Miller became the first permanent settler.
Some of the confusion has resulted to the “Welcome to Avon Lake” signs and the city’s main entrances that say “Avon Lake, Founded 1812.” Shondel said in 1991 the Avon Lake Women’s Club paid for the new signs, but they were copied from old signs. Shondel said there was no record with the service department of where the older signs and who decided on that date. Most take the date of the permanent settlers.
Shondel added that Davis shouldn’t be considered the first settler.
“He lived temporarily near the lake…His visit could be considered to have been a mini version of the Lewis and Clark Western Expedition,” he said.
What does Avon Lake truly want to celebrate?” Councilman David Kos said, adding he felt residents would rather celebrate when the area began growing as a community and not that Davis stopped for a year, “decided he didn’t like it and move on.”
Shondel said the 1819 date is shared by William L. Bird, the Executive Director of the Lorain County Historical Society and Nathan Bevil, Certified Local Government Manager of the Ohio Historical Preservation Office in Columbus.
“Both stressed the fact that the more proper date should be that date was represented the permanent settlement that has remained continuous to the present time.”
Shondel concluded that the signs should be amended to read “Avon Lake, Settled 1919,” which Kos agreed with.
Council has not taken definitive action yet on when to declare the bicentennial.