Andros Bahamas History: Island of the Holy Spirit
Following Columbus’ landfall in the Bahamas in 1492, the Spanish first discovered of Andros around 1550. The island was given the name “Espiritu Santo,” the Island of the Holy Spirit” by the Spanish, but is also called San Andreas on a 1782 map. The modern name is believed to be in honour of Sir Edmund Andros, Commander of Her Majesty’s Forces in Barbados in 1672 and Governor successively of New York, Massachusetts and New England. Some say that the island could have been named after the inhabitants of St. Andro Island on the Mosquito Coast as 1,400 of them settled in Andros in 1787.
Around the 18th century, pirates staked positions on Andros in an effort to prey on passing ships traveling between Cuba and Florida. Sir Henry Morgan headquartered at what is known today as Morgan’s Bluff, in north Andros.
Loyalists and their slaves also settled in Andros in the 19th Century. Cotton and sisal were grown and later sponging became a flourishing industry in Andros for many years. By the 19th century freed slaves found their way to Andros. Seminole Indians from Florida also came–first as visitors, then as settlers. The two groups intermigled. A small community sprang up around Red Bays, where they farmed corn, harvested fish and plantains, yams, potatoes and peas. They also worked in lumbering, sponging, and pirating.
Legend has it that a sort of leprechaun or gremlin known locally as the chickcharney holds sway and migrated to Red bays in the 19th century with the Seminole Indians. The Chickcharnee, the most famous of the mythological creatures of Andros, is said to live in the tops of the tallest pine trees on Andros. Legend has it that if you cross the Chickcharnee, he will turn your head on backwards. Other lesser known mythological creatures include the Lusca of the blue holes, the Bosee Anansee, and the Yahoo (no relation to the search engine company).
Small communities established them selves up and down the east coast of the island, with the population peaking at about 8,000 where it remains today.
A type of fabric called Androsia is manufactured in Andros. Androsia is the local type of batik fabric, produced in a variety of bright vibrant colors and designs. It is distributed widely throughout the Bahamas.
With a formidable barrier reef on one side, and the shallow water flats of the Great Bahama Bank on the other–Andros remained overlooked for many years from any potential development. However, the Bahamas government is working hard to change that.