Quantcast

DC digs up lessons in history: The story of one of America's earliest Muslims unfolds

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 3:58 a.m. MDT

The 1819 painting by Charles Willson Peale of Yarrow Mamout is seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Friday, Oct. 21, 2011 in Philadelphia. Archeologists are attempting to locate his remains, which were believed to have buried in Washington, D.C.'s historic Georgetown district. (Alex Brandon, Associated Press) The 1819 painting by Charles Willson Peale of Yarrow Mamout is seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Friday, Oct. 21, 2011 in Philadelphia. Archeologists are attempting to locate his remains, which were believed to have buried in Washington, D.C.'s historic Georgetown district. (Alex Brandon, Associated Press)

Our take: Thousands of Muslims were brought to America in the 18th century during the slave trade. But historians have little information about them. One of the few for which there is some documentation is Yarrow Mamout. Here's a story about efforts to locate his remains, which were believed to have buried in Washington, D.C.'s historic Georgetown district.

For most Muslims, what happens to the body of a deceased person is not quite as important as what happens to that personís soul. Still, historians of all backgrounds are scrambling to locate the body and belongings of a Muslim buried in Washington, D.C., nearly 200 years ago, for it touches the soul of early American history.

The deceased, Yarrow Mamout, was among tens of thousands — if not millions — of Muslims brought to America during the slave trade, but one of few for which historians have much information.

Historic documents suggest Yarrow may be buried on the property he purchased after gaining his independence in 1797. That land is located in Washington's historic Georgetown neighborhood where homes now sell for several million dollars. Its owner, real estate developer Deyi Awadallah, hopes to build and sell a new residence on the property. He knew nothing of Yarrow when he purchased the land last spring, but he's willing to give archaeologists a chance — a few weeks or months — to investigate before he finalizes his plans.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company