JULY 12, 1630


Located in the upper New York Bay, a short distance from the New Jersey shore, Ellis Island was originally known to American Indians as Kioshk, or Gull Island, named for the birds that were its only inhabitants. Consisting of nothing more than three acres of soft mud and clay, it was so low that it barely rose above the high-tide level of the bay.  The island was purchased by the colonial governors of Nieuw Amsterdam (later New York) from local Indians for “certain cargoes, or parcels of goods.” The Dutch called it “Little Oyster Island” because of the delicious oysters found in its sands and used it as a base for oystering. Because the island was not good for much other than its oysters—certainly it was not a prime building site—it changed independent ownership many times during the next century.

Source:  “History of Ellis Island,” OhRanger.com.  Retrieved 5/26/2020, http://www.ohranger.com/ellis-island/history-ellis-island
Photo:  Author unknown, circa 1896.  Public Domain.  

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