Posts Tagged ‘Ellis Island history’

The World War II internment camp on Ellis Island

January 31, 2011

Between 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island.

But in the 1940s, Ellis Island served another purpose—it was the location of an internment camp that held about 8,000 German, Italian, and Japanese U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens, and resident foreigners.

[“Alien enemies” having Christmas dinner in the Great Hall in 1943]

“In the fall of 1941, even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Justice Department had begun planning to round up foreigners,” states a 2003 New York Times article.

“Letters show that the Attorney General’s office expected to arrest 600 people from New York and 200 from New Jersey per month and hold them on Ellis Island. On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the attack, the roundup began. Internees were housed in the baggage and dormitory building behind the Great Hall.”

The war ended in 1945, and the camp was closed later that year.

The graves of New York City’s founding families

April 15, 2010

The city’s oldest cemeteries are home to the tombstones of early bigwig early New Yorkers.

The first Riker (of Rikers Island fame, of course) arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland in 1638.

His descendent, John Lafayette Riker, was a Civil War colonel in a Union Army volunteer regiment called the Anderson Zouaves.

Riker was killed at the Battle of Fair Oaks in 1862 and buried in Green-Wood Cemetery.

William Drayton Blackwell was a member of the Blackwell family, New Yorkers since 1776.

The Blackwells originally owned their namesake island in the East River, which eventually became Roosevelt Island in 1973.

This Blackwell, a slovenly “rich eccentric” according to a Brooklyn genealogy website, now lies in The New York City Marble Cemetery, at Second Street between Second and and First Avenues.

St. Marks in the Bouwerie Church, on Second Avenue and Tenth Street in the East Village, also contains the tombs of prominent 18th and 19th century families. 

The Samuel C. Ellis, MD buried here is probably the same Samuel Ellis who lived at One Greenwich Street and sold Little Oyster Island—eventually Ellis Island—to the federal government around 1800.