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1775-1865 Around the time of the Revolutionary War, the New York merchant Samuel Ellis purchases the island, and builds a tavern on it that caters to local fisherman. War Department pays the state for the right to use Ellis Island to build military fortifications and store ammunition, beginning during the War of 1812.

Ellis dies in 1794, and in 1808 New York State buys the island from his family for $10,000. Half a decade later, Ellis Island is used as a munitions arsenal for the Union army during the Civil War. There is little regulation of immigration when the first great wave begins in 1814.

1630-1770 Ellis Island is little more than a spit of sand in the Hudson River, located just south of Manhattan.

The Mohegan Indians who lived on the nearby shores call the island Kioshk, or Gull Island.

Island Two houses the hospital administration and contagious diseases ward, while Island Three holds the psychiatric ward.