Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SOLVED: The Lost Colony of Roanoke Part 1

The mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke Island has been solved.

Well, quite unofficially.

I'm writing this post in two parts to make sure it's not too long. What I'm about to tell you is the story of what happened on Roanoke Island. Or…what supposedly happened.

Once upon a time, in the year 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh of England sponsored the creation of a colony in the New World. The colony was supposed to be founded on the Chesapeake Bay. The 115 colonists were lead by John White, and established a colony on Roanoke Island after landing there by mistake. John White was appointed as the governor. Among the 115 colonists was John White's daughter, Eleanor and her husband, Ananias Dare. (Ananias and Eleanor Dare would later have a child, Virginia Dare, who became the first English child born in the Americas.)

As time went on in the new colony, relations with the Native Americans deteriorated, which made growing and finding food difficult. Many of the colonists also feared for their lives, afraid that the Native Americans would kill them. Eventually, the colonists begged John White to return home to England and explain their desperate situation. His mission was to return as soon as possible with food and supplies to maintain life in the New World. The colonists and White agreed that if anything happened while White was gone, they would leave a message for him carved into the trees. If they were in danger, they would carve a cross into a tree, so that White would know how he could find them.

White was sent home against his will, along with the captain and a crew. The journey home was filled with misfortune. The winds were bad for sailing, and much of the crew was severely injured even before starting their journey home. During their journey back to England, many crew members died of scurvy or starved to death.

After a long and terrible voyage, White made it safely back to England. Yet the misfortune had not ended. England was at war with the Spanish, and they needed every ship ready for battle. The English could not spare time for colonists in the New World, and White's mission was delayed by a total of three years.

Once three years had passed, the English finally granted him a ship and supplies to return to Roanoke. Yet when White arrived, everyone was gone. The houses and community buildings they had constructed had been lost as well. All that was left was a simple carving in a tree that read "CRO" yet no one had marked a cross, and carved into a post was the word "CROATOAN".

John White never found his family, and due to bad weather he was forced to return home to England. He never came back to the New World.

To this day, no one knows what happened to the colonists. There has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened there. Historians have come up with many theories as to what may have happened, yet no one has been able to find enough evidence to prove anything.

What do you think happened there? I'll be posting my theory on Friday, so be sure to stick around ;)



russell1200 said...

The colony you write of was the second expedition. The first had landed at Roanoke Island, and built a fort, but abandoned it. They had fought with the local Roanoke Island chief, but become friendly with natives up in the Chesapeake Bay area. When a relief expedition was sent (Sir Francis Drake), the pulled up stakes and left with him.

The colony was intended as a privateering base against the Spanish. They of course also wanted to find silver and gold, and a passage through the continent to the Orient. I don't recall why they actually wound up at Roanoke the second time, but just prior to their leaving from Roanoke the first time, they had sent boats up the river on reports of Indians who were panning gold out of the mountain rivers. The boat ran into hostile Indians, but there was the idea of coming back latter in more force.

Jess said...

russell1200 ~ Very good point! I didn't want to make this post too long, so I left that part out. They ended up at Roanoke a second time by accident, the colonists were trying to settle on the Chesapeake Bay.