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Castle Garden

castlegarden3 What is Castle Garden? It may well be the point of entry for your ancestors. Some 100 million Americans can trace their family tree to relatives who arrived at Castle Garden in New York. Between 1820 and 1892 some 11 million immigrants entered the United States in this location. The well-known facility of Ellis Island did not open until January 1, 1892 at which time Castle Garden was closed. Over the years other uses have included the NYC Aquarium as well as a theatre, beer garden and exhibit hall. Today it is a monument park known as Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton.

It was located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island and was the official entry point between 1855 and 1890. With the opening of Ellis Island the immigrant passenger records were transferred there. However, a fire on June 14-15,1897 destroyed many records. Luckily there were passenger lists also in the NY Custom House that survived.

Some of the immigrants who registered at Castle Garden, who would become well-known included Joseph Pulitzer, Harry Houdini and Sophie Tucker.

So to check any of your ancestors at Castle Garden use the search boxes. You might now be able to fill in many of the blanks, such as the name of the ship. Do try to narrow down the range of dates that a relative arrived. If it is an unusual surname, it will be a smaller list to select from. Any name you find as a possibility, click on it to show names, age, occupation, ship name, where the ship came from, the date of arrival in NY, where they lived before arriving in America, where they planned to reside in, their place of birth and even who paid for their passage (which can be very interesting).

Be sure to note the ship name and arrival date and look for any others on that same ship who may have been a relative. You will also come across some unusual answers placed on the passenger list, such as occupation. Elizabeth Braum in 1856 stated ‘Woman’ as an occupation. There was Dorothea Fleischhaker listed as a ‘gentleman’s servant’.

Remember to try spellings for a surname or given names since they have been modified over the years after arrival in America.

Photo: Castle Garden illustration

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