The original structure is also known as "The Battery," and later "Castle Clinton" was used for the military from 1807 to 1824. It then was converted to public use for dining, theater and "warm seawater" bath houses. In 1841 and 1842 the first submarine and steam fire engine were unveiled there.
In 1845 the potato famine killed 1 million and prompted 500,000 to emigrate over the next five years. Add to that the cholera epidemic in New York in 1849, it was decided that a separate facility should be used for the processing of immigrants to avoid the spread of disease. This was the first large scale attempt at immigration policy in the US. On the west coast, policies were issued for the influx of Chinese which began in 1849 as a result of the Gold Rush.
Castle Gardens remained until 1890, when it closed to make way for the 1892 opening of Ellis Island, located nearby. In 1896 it became the New York Aquarium. It is currently a national monument and park.
Over twelve million people passed through Castle Gardens during the years it operated including all of the Pioneers who settled Lake County. The definition of a "Pioneer" is one who goes ahead to make way for others. We never thought about this until Bob Hammond from England sent the ships' lists for the "Erie," containing the Schmals, and the "Harold," containing the Belshaws. Further investigation found the website www.castlegardens.org, through which we were able to find complete ships' lists and the record of 105 Schmals (we had no idea there were that many)! We found Buckleys and several other families who eventually settled here.
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