Roanoke Island: the Lost Colony

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Roanoke Island: The Lost Colony
Alycia Roberts

On July 22, 1587, long before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, 117 hopeful colonists from England landed ashore onto a tiny island along the coast of what is today North Carolina. The group unpacked and founded a settlement, Roanoke Island. Then they vanished without a trace. The story of the Lost Colony has fascinated people across four centuries and remains one of the enduring mysteries of early America. There are several theories put forth to explain the disappearance, but despite efforts by historians, archeologists, and other investigators, the fate of these early colonists seems destined to remain a mystery. In the 16th century, many European nations wanted to
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Once again, supplies ran out, and White chose to return on his own to England to get more. When he landed in England, he found that his country was getting ready for war with Spain. For the next two years, no ships or sailors were available for a return trip to Roanoke. It wasn’t until August 1590, after the English defeated Spain, that White finally found ships to take him back to the colony (Horn, 2010). White and his men dropped anchor off the Outer Banks of North Carolina and rowed toward the island. Crewman sounded familiar tunes on trumpets to alert the colonists, but not a single human figure was seen. The landing party made its way through the woods to the settlement at the island’s northern end. Bracing himself for the worst, White entered the clearing where he had parted from the colonists, including his daughter, Eleanor Dare and his granddaughter, the first child born in the colonies, Virginia Dare (Davis, 2009). He found the settlement deserted, weeds and vines sprouting where houses had once stood. The houses themselves had been carefully dismantled and removed. Gone, too, were the fort’s small cannon; buried chests were found, containing some of the colonists’ possessions. All the evidence suggested a planned and orderly withdrawal (McGill, 2009). White soon discovered the letters CRO carved on a post at the entrance to the stockade, and the word CROATOAN carved into a tree trunk. This gave White reason to believe that the colonists had

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