The Lost Colony
// December 27th, 2012 // Missing People
The Settlement of Roanake Island
In 1587, a colony of 118 men, women, and children became one of the earliest attempts to colonize the new world – America. Traveling from Britain to Roanake Island, on North Carolina’s coast, they were the first true attempt at colonization of the New World. They also became one of the Nation’s first great mysteries.
The colony, led by John White, settled on Roanake Island, near Virginia. John’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, became the first American born in this new land. But times were tough in the new world and supplies became scarce. 10 days after Virginia’s birth, Simon Fernandes, a Portuguese sailor, was forced to return to England for more supplies. After much protest, John White was chosen to return with him.
John’s Arrival in England
Upon his arrival to England, John found that his mother country was engaged in a grave war with the Spaniards. Force to assist in this wartime effort, John was unable to return to Roanake Island until 3 years later.
When he arrived back in the Americas on August 18, 1590, he could find no trace of the colony. No people, living or dead, could be found anywhere. All personal belonging were left in place as if the people simply disappeared into thin air. His only clue was a carving on a tree – ‘CRO’ was all he could decipher. Thinking that the 3 letters may have been a unsuccessful attempt to spell out the word CROATOAN, a nearby island, John sailed to Croatoan to search for his family and fellow Englishmen. No trace of the colonizers was found on the island.
Several solutions to the mystery have been proposed, one of which is that the colonists were simply assimilated into local Indian tribes. In 1709, an English explorer named John Lawson, visited Roanoke Island and spent time with the local Hatteras Indian tribe. He wrote:
“Several of their ancestors were white people and could talk in a book as we do, the truth of which is confirmed by gray eyes being found infrequently among these Indians and no others."
In the 1880′s it was noted that an Indian tribe in southeastern North Carolina, the Pembroke Indians, claimed that their ancestors were from "Roanoke in Virginia". Some of the tribe members bore the same last names as some of the missing colonists. In addition, many members of the tribe had Anglo features – fair eyes, light hair, and Anglo bone structure.
Another solution proposes that the colony simply moved westward to Albemarle Sound, near the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers. Researchers noted strange symbols, barely legible, that may have been drawn in by the colonizers as they moved west.
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