Ross, North Dakota
Ross is located at
The oldest communities in the United States of Muslims are not on either the east coast or the west coast. They are in the Heartland of America. One is in Ross, North Dakota; while the second is in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Both were built in the 1800s.
Each community built their mosques within months of each other. However the Ross mosque was abandoned during the dust bowl years of the Great Depression.
Ross however still has the oldest cemetary in the United States with carved gravestones with Arabic writing marking the grave sites of some of the founders of this historical marker in American history.
Cedar Falls, Iowa's mosque however has followed another path. It has recently been refurbished by its congregational members & maintained as a historical bench mark in the Iowa & US Muslim history.
Both mosques illustrate aspects of Muslim American life in the earlier periods of immigrant settlement, as towns grew & faded; so did their faith based institutions.
Ross' building site is still able to be visited, as it now has a plaque & small building marking its history.
These two communities owe part of their founding to the wave of Lebanese & Syrian immigrants who came to the United States during the fall of the Ottoman empire.
It is difficult to track the number of Muslims who migrated to the US from the Ottoman empire, due in part to the fact that both Muslims & Christians migrated from that region at the same time; and secondly the US Census bureau did not track religious affiliation.
Many more ethnic Muslims from the former Ottoman empire more than likely immigrated at the same time. These would have included Albanians, Bosnians, Turks, Palestinians, & any other group formerly under Ottoman rule.
In other parts of the United States, Muslim history can be traced back even further. In New York state early records speak of a Muslim fur-trader who came from Egypt & settled in the New York wilderness as a fur-trader.
In Arizona there is a historical marker marking the contributions of "Ali" who had served in the US Calvary while it experimented with the use of camals as a means of transport through the deserts of the southwest.
In the South, there are journals of early Muslim slaves who wrote of their experiences back in Africa, their capture & subsequent transport to America by slavers.
All these are glimpses in the lives of just a few of the thousands of Muslims who have contributed to the history of America.