Brief History of Avon (Kinnakeet)

Avon-Kinnakeet Sign Stolen July 2021

In its early years Avon Village had always been known as Kinnakeet. However the Village received a different identity when the US Post Office adopted the new name (Avon) in 1883. Although there is no official records of why the Post Office selected Avon as the new name, it is speculated that it was named after the River Avon in England.

Kinnakeet is actually an Algonquian Indian word meaning [that which is mixed]. This name was originally given to identify the area because it consisted of several different settlements bunched into one. Another unproven theory was that there was once a local chief named Kinnakeet and his village was named Kinnakeet in his honor. However, the definitive Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico makes no mention of a person or a tribe named Kinnakeet. The closest reference is the word “Kinikinnick” which is an Indian preparation of tobacco, sumac leaves and the inner bark of a species of dogwood that natives used for smoking.

Very few people remember that Kinnakeet once had enormous stands of live oaks (evergreen oaks) and a variety of cedars which were valuable for boat building. The early village flourished as a pre-colonial boat building and repair capital for the eastern exploration ships. Kinnakeet was once this Island's most prosperous local village, right up until Hatteras Inlet was opened by a fierce hurricane in 1846. From that point on Hatteras Village took its place as the main center on the Island (mostly due to the location at the inlet).

Discouraging Note: Our historic 3' x 4' sign welcoming guests "Welcome to Avon, Historically Named Kinnakeet" which greeted people at the north end of Avon Village was stolen off its posts in July 2021 and has never been returned. Dare County and the towns that reside in it take pride in our area and try to make it a great experience for all those who visit. This sign is part of letting those who come here know where they are, but also provided little history lesson as well. The historic boat-building town on Hatteras Island considers it to be more than just a welcome sign and we want it back. If you can help us by providing any information please contact the Dare County Sheriff's office.

Historical Avon Images

Historis Avon image.
Historis Avon image.

History Tied to Mariners

This area was famous for being the location of Little Kinnakeet and Big Kinnakeet US lifesaving stations which were commissioned to assist in mariner rescues during our nation's early history. Also check out this link to the Wikipedia ongoing online reference page.

No discussion about the history of Kinakeet (Avon) would mean anything without first realizing how the area was so closely tied to saving mariners lives. The sea has played an important role in transportation and commerce throughout our nation's history. An unfortunate consequence of the nation's dependence on water transportation in the 18th and 19th centuries was the death of sailors and passengers due to shipwrecks. In the late 18th century, the new Federal Government established agencies which had some influence on the safety of ocean travel, ships, and their cargoes.

The U.S. Lighthouse Service, established in 1789, provided beacons to warn sailors about nearby dangers such as shallow seacoast waters filled with sandbars and rocky seabeds. The U.S. Revenue Marine, later called the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, was established in 1790 to help prevent smuggling and enforce the collection of customs duties. This organization eventually became responsible for sea rescues.

Hatteras lifesaver crew in action.