Where were the mission bells made and what were they made of?
I know that the mission had a short bell tower because of the fear of earthquakes and that it had 4 bells. I found information about the 4th bell being made of silver but my teacher wants to know where the bells were made and what they were made of. Were they all made of silver? Do you know where they were made?
Also, one of the questions is whether the mission was known for producing any special products and if they were sent somewhere else. I know that one of the things the mission was most noted for was its orchestra/choir and that people came from far away to hear them. I know they had a soap factory and tannery, but I think a lot of the missions had that as well. Any suggestions you could give me would be really appreciated.
Your site is very informative and fun to read other people’s questions. Some of the question for my mission report have been quite hard to find out, so I have had to work hard!
I just received your very well written email. I congratulate you on your dilgence in preparing your mission report. Let me try to answer your questions and tell you some facts about San Jose you might want to incorporate into your report.
I believe that three of the four bells at San Jose are original. I don't have any detailed information about their history but the mission bells were typically made of cast iron, and imported from what the Spanish called New Spain, present day Mexico. There were traces of other minerals in the bells (possibly small amounts of silver) but none were made totally of silver. The original mission church was destroyed in a terrible earthquake in 1868. The bells fell out of the turret that held them. A new wooden church, St. Josephs, was built on the foundation of the ruined mission. Three of the bells were hung in the wooden steeple of that church until 1970s. I believe that the fourth bell was used at another California church and was recast, but ultimately returned to the San Jose Mission. St. Josephs was relocated to Burlingame in 1982 to make room for a reconstruction of the original mission.
One of the most interesting and original objects in the mission is the baptismal font, which is made of hammered copper on a wooden base.
I have checked the books that I have for my research, but I can't find any reference to any totally original products. San Jose had one of the largest herds of livestock in the mission chain (in 1832 they had 12,000 head of cattle and 11,000 sheep and these provided most of the product that was sold0. For example, the dried hides of the cattle were sold to sea captains who brought them back on their ships to New England to be used to make shoes and other leather products. These cured hides were so popular they were called Yankee Dollars.
One of the most famous Indians in California was a neophyte at San Jose, named Estanislao. He organized a widespread revolt against the missions. Stanislaus County in California is named after him.
I am sending you several images you might find helpful. A famous early drawing of the mission, done in 1881 by Henry Chapman Ford. A drawing of Fr. Narcisso Duran and the mission orchestra done by an artist named Alexander Harmer. An image of the cattle brand they used at San Jose.
Hope this helps.