The first Sicilians came to what is now the United States in the seventeenth century as explorers and missionaries.
Sicilians have a recorded presence of over 300 years on American soil. In the late seventeenth century, the brothers Antonio and Tomaso Crisafi sailed to America. By 1696 Antonio Crisafi was in charge of the Onondaga fort, located in what is now New York State. On the West Coast in southern California, an early missionary named Father Saverio Saetta (a Jesuit), was involved in early efforts to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. He perished at the hands of the natives in 1695. Sicilian immigration remained relatively slow until the latter part of the nineteenth century. However, several Sicilian immigrants distinguished themselves in the decades leading up to that time. During the Civil War, Enrico Fardell was commissioned a colonel in the Union Army and was rapidly promoted to brigadier general for distinguished services. Father Venuta, a former professor from the University of Palermo, built the Church of St. Joseph and several school buildings in New Jersey shortly after the Civil War.
In 1906 as many as a 100,000 Sicilians came to the US. Elements of Sicilian culture came with them, such as theatre and music, architecture and cuisine.
There are nine provinces in Sicily: