Is the bell, which once hung in the African Methodist Church in Haleyville, New Jersey between 1886 to 1947, the same bell, taken from the Bahamas, and once belonged to the Moors, when their empire was vanquished by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, in Spain, in 1492?
There is probably a very good reason why this story was lost to Bahamian history. It states that the bell was on the island of San Andreas, Bahamas, for some years, kept safe by descendants of its original settlers.
The bell would have been sold from Andros in 1885.
A 1782 map refers to the island now known as Andros, as San Andreas. It was once called San Andreas by the Spanish. Lucayas or De Los Lucayos was the original name of the Bahama Island group. Spanish names for the islands were anglicised after the English laid claim to the islands under the rule of the Lords Proprietors.
EARLIEST RECORD OF POPULATION ON ANDROS
The 1788 census for Andros reported 22 white heads of families, with a total of 132 slaves; they cultivated 813 acres (329 ha) of land.*
*Riley. Homeward Bound. pp. 180, 185.
It is one of the bells which Ferdinand and Isabella took from the Moorish Palace in Alhambra in 1492, when the African Moors were conquered and driven out of the Iberian peninsula.
The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.
It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls.
It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella.
This is where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition to set sail in 1492.
In 1502 it is said that the bell was presented by Queen Isabella to Christopher Columbus upon his fourth and last voyage to America.
Alhambra, where the bell was said to be originally taken from, after the fall of the Moor empire, in Spain, to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
The Moors were a nomadic people from North Africa; originally they were the inhabitants of Mauretania. They invaded Spain, taking their Islamic religion and culture with them, in 711.
The last Moorish city, Granada, was captured by Ferdinand V and Isabella I in 1492.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus received his commission by Ferdinand and Isabella to set sail. Columbus then finds the Bahama Islands in October 1492.
1893 THE OLDEST BELL
The Patriach of Western Hemisphere Clangers Owned by a Colored Church
The congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Haleyville, New Jersey has a rare relic in the shape of a large bell, which is said by those who have traced its history to be the oldest bell in the Western Hemisphere.
The bell was procured by Captain Elias Newell on one of the Bahama Islands, and presented by him to the church. It is one of the bells which Ferdinand and Isabella placed upon the Alahambra in 1492 and in 1502 was presented by Queen Isabella to Christopher Columbus upon his fourth and last voyage to America.
It was placed in the chapel which was the beginning of the great cathedral of Carthagena in New Granada, in 1697, upon the siege of the Carthagena, it fell to the share of the French ship La Rochelle. Afterward the ship was wrecked on the island of San Andreas, one of the Bahamas.
A few of the crew were saved, together with the bell.
From the descendants of the survivors the bell and its history were obtained by Captain Newell of the bark Ezra H. Fisk, of Haleyville.
There was a debt of $100 resting upon the church and Haleyville and so highly do the people value the relic – the Columbus bell – that they will not place it in the church less the latter maybe is sold for debt, and they lose the bell, but it is securely kept at the residence of Trustee Alfred Green.
It will be 400 years old next year, and it is proposed that it shall be exhibited at the Colombian exposition.
(Aurora News, Thursday, February 16, 1893)
RARE RELIC FROM SPAIN
ORIGINAL STORY IN 1891
(The San Francisco Examiner, Sunday, 08 November 1891)