9. Pirates Were Hung on Ellis Island

The Gibbett-Ellis Island-Gibbet Island-NYCImage via the Wellcome Library Creative Commons London A Man Rides Past a Gibbet. Lithograph by W. Clerk. 

In the 1760s, Ellis Island was called Gibbet Island due to the pirate executions that took place there. A gibbet is the post from which the condemned were hung. According to Edgecombe, the pirates were left after their hanging as a warning to others. You can see a real life gibbet that has been retained for historical purposes in Northumberland, England here.