Most early settlers in Absecon were English and earned their living clamming and oystering. Land were was bought not for farming but for control of the waterways. The name Absecon came from the Native American word little water or "Absegami" named by the Native Americans living along the small Absecon Creek.
In 1695, Thomas Budd purchased 10,000 acres of land in what later became Atlantic County. He paid 4 cents an acre for land on which Atlantic City now stands. It was called Further Island (further from Absecon) and later called Absecon Beach and finally became Atlantic City.
Jeremiah Leeds was the first permanent settler on Absecon Island in 1785. He came from Leeds Point to Absecon Island when it was a complete wilderness. He built a cabin of cedar logs and cleared a field where the Atlantic City Expressway now ends in Atlantic City. The block called Columbus Plaza was part of the Leeds farm. Most of the homes in Atlantic City until 1854 were built by descendants of Jeremiah Leeds. His youngest son, Robert, became the first postmaster of Atlantic City.
In 1819, Dr. Jonathan Pitney went to Absecon to set up his medical practice. His visits to Absecon Island convinced him that the island had the climate ideal for a health resort. He was instrumental in convincing the municipal authorities that a railroad to the beach would be beneficial. He has been called the "Father of Atlantic City".
The first beachwalk or "boardwalk in Atlantic City was completed in 1870 by Simon Luchs Wescoat. Because of its success as a resort, a second railroad was built in 1877. Fifty-four miles of track was laid in record time - 98 days. And in 1880, another milestone: the first salt water taffy in Atlantic City was made. Here future was assured.