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Roanoke Unsolved: American Colony Gone Without A Trace

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posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 06:19 PM
Roanoke: Gone without a Trace

Just in time for Thanksgiving, thought I'd refresh everyone's memories on the puzzling disappearance of an early American colony. Each year in the United States, we carry on the tradition of celebrating and giving thanks for our good fortune, abundance of food, family and friends. Of course we all know this tradition started with the success of early colonists. Unfortunately, not every colony fared so well.

As cold cases go, the fate of the Lost Colony makes Amelia Earhart's disappearance look like an Easter-egg hunt. The hapless collection of 117 men, women and children who had sailed from England to Roanoke Island vanished after August 1587, leaving no clues of their whereabouts - or their demise. Thus began the longest missing-persons pursuit in American history.

I've always wondered what happened to the colonists of Roanoke, there have been many theories but none have been proven. Whats most interesting to me, is the fact it wasnt just one group of colonists that disappeared, but several separate groups of men, women, and children. All gone without a trace. There have been other threads on Roanoke, but none really went anywhere.

The Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in Dare County in present-day North Carolina was an enterprise financed and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh. It was carried out by Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville (Raleigh's cousin) in the late 16th century to establish a permanent English settlement in the Virginia Colony. Between 1585 and 1587, several groups attempted to establish a colony, but either abandoned the settlement or died. The final group of colonists disappeared after three years elapsed without supplies from England during the Anglo-Spanish War. They are known as "The Lost Colony" and their fate is still unknown.

The purpose of the colony was primarily to establish a base for England to launch privateering raids on Spain, who had already established colonies to the south, and to secure and send back to England the abundant "riches" that were native to America.

The first group of settlers arrived in 1585, and comprised of mostly men who were veterans of the war between England and Ireland. Unlike the English religious pilgrims of Plymouth Rock (Thanksgiving) fame, the men sent to Roanoke were most likely brave and hardy men, capable of survival, and proficient with the weapons of the era. After almost a year, they caught a ride back to England with Sir Francis Drake. A relief garrison arrived to maintain an English presence, and to protect the land claim of Virginia.

They were never heard from again....

In 1587 another 117 colonists arrived. John White, a friend of Sir Raleigh's, was the appointed leader. Shortly after their arrival, his wife gave birth to the first English baby to be born in the New World. White successfully established relations with the the neighboring native tribes but was rebuked by the Aquascogoc people due to violence that occurred between them and the previous settlers.

White and the colonists also tried establishing a peaceful relationship with the Indians. White believed survival in the New World necessitated peaceful coexistence. And for a while after contact, whites and Indians lived peaceably. An Algonquian Indian named Manteo, for instance, was introduced to the English during the first expedition at Roanoke and was later baptized and named Lord of Roanoke on August 27, 1587.

Shortly thereafter, a colonist named George Howe was killed by natives while searching for crabs alone in Albemarle Sound. Knowing what had happened during Ralph Lane's tenure in the area and fearing for their lives, the colonists persuaded Governor White to return to England to explain the colony's situation and ask for help. There were approximately 115 colonists — the 114 remaining men and women who had made the trans-Atlantic passage and the newborn baby, Virginia Dare — when White returned to England.

White was not able to mount another resupply attempt for three more years. He finally gained passage on a privateering expedition that agreed to stop off at Roanoke on the way back from the Caribbean. White landed on August 18, 1590, on his granddaughter's third birthday, but found the settlement deserted. His men could not find any trace of the 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children, nor was there any sign of a struggle or battle. The only clue was the word "Croatoan" carved into a post of the fort and "Cro" carved into a nearby tree. All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled, which meant their departure had not been hurried. Before he had left the colony, White had instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating that their disappearance had been forced.

History of Roanoke
North Carolina History

There are many theories out there of what really happened to the men, women, and children that vanished. From the mundane (storm), to the bizarre (alien abduction)

A few more likely possibilities include:

1) The settlers could no longer live in that area and simply dispersed
2) The whole population incurred some illness or disease and died
3) The village was destroyed by a severe storm such as a hurricane
4) The people decided to leave and live with the native americans
5) The people were massacred by the native americans

In search of the Lost Colony Of Roanoke (with Leonard Nimoy)

Even pop culture has touched on this story. I especially liked this Stephen King miniseries from 1999 "Storm Of The Century"

While trying to deal with the storm, the citizens of the town are visited by Andre Linoge (Colm Feore), a menacing stranger who apparently knows all of the townsfolk's darkest secrets. After having killed one of the town's residents, Linoge is jailed. Even though he is kept in jail by the town's trusted constable, Mike Anderson (Timothy Daly), Linoge is somehow able to force people to commit suicide or kill others from within his cell. In a dream, the townspeople see themselves walking into the sea two-by-two with the word Croatan (a reference to the colony of Roanoke) carved on their heads. What Linoge desires is an heir, one of eight children that he had incapacitated early on in the miniseries — someone to "carry on his work when he can no longer do it himself", although Linoge's life spans millennia, he is not immortal. Any of the eight children, he states, will suit him. He states that he cannot simply take one of the children. They must be given. But he can punish the residents if they refuse him. He states that if the townsfolk do not give him a child he will kill them all, presumably by marching them into the sea as they had seen in their dream. Linoge implies that he had done the same before at Roanoke when those colonists had refused his demands.

We may never know for sure what happened to the people of Roanoke, but I find it interesting that there are many mysterious disappearances throughout history. (Bermuda Triangle etc)
Knowing how we at ATS like to debate things of this nature, I thought it would be interesting to see what other possible explanations are out there. What do YOU think?

Related Links:
Mystery Of Roanoke Island

Other ATS threads on Roanoke found HERE

posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 06:24 PM
I think its important when we sit at Thanksgiving dinner and remember the Mayflower and the pilgrims and how the country was founded.... lets also remember the men, women, and children who risked it all, gave their lives even, all in the pursuit of happiness and a place where they would be "free"

My my, how far we have come from those early days and those founding principles eh?

No matter what happened to the people of Roanoke, I'm thankful for them, and people like them who had the courage to pick up and leave everything behind in hopes of starting something they could proudly call home.

posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 09:14 PM
It is inspiring to remember these stories and the bravery of the earliest men and women who came over to start new lives. Even though that courage of a few seemed as small as a mustard has grown into such a mighty tree!

I have heard this story before and have always thought there must be a logical explanation, but there is a part deep inside me (like a psychic feeling) that there is so much more to the disappearance. (and I felt this way before I ever say the Stephen King miniseries.)

posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 09:24 PM
Not too long ago a researcher talked about the "lost colony" and the Croatoan, that the members of the colony took refuge with this friendly tribe (and left a clue as to where they had gone).

New research linking the Lost Colony and the Croatoan

posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 09:26 PM

Years ago I read a book on Roanoke.. and the hardships along with the mystery. I always wondered if "Croatoa" (sp?) was a phonetically spelled name if a native individually or a tribe in that area too.

I recall the story about the boy who died from an abcessed tooth that caused septicemia. Even down to the little things such as dental hygiene and abundant products to purchase for a bad tooth ( and dentists being routine care) we are truly blessed to be Americans. Ive been to many countries spending significant time in a few,.. there is truly NOWHERE like home!

posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 09:26 PM

Originally posted by Blackmarketeer
Not too long ago a researcher talked about the "lost colony" and the Croatoan, that the members of the colony took refuge with this friendly tribe (and left a clue as to where they had gone).

New research linking the Lost Colony and the Croatoan

AHH! We cross posted! Thanks for sharing the link!

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