Notes on the Lost Colony of Roanoke

The Lost Colony of Roanoke
Under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Raleigh,England’s first American colony began in 1585. It was on
Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. Undertheir charter they were to establish a colony and look for gold. No gold was found at Roanoke. The colonistsfought with native peoples and found life difficult. After amiserable year, the survivors begged passage home on a relief ship.John White, a talented artist, convinced SirRaleigh to try again. This time, the nearly 100 settlers included women, with the hope that families would investsome of their own money into the colony. Each settler was to receive 500 acres of land. Among the settlers wasWhite’s married daughter Eleanor Dare. These colonists landed on Roanoke in July, and on August 18 Eleanor gave birth to a daughter. She was named Virginia, in
honor of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. She was the first English child born in America. When the group reached Roanoke they started repairing cottages left by the earlier settlers. It became
clear to White that he would have to get more supplies.
White did not want to leave Roanoke. He now
had a newborn granddaughter and looked to his future at
Roanoke. The other colonists were concerned about the
supplies and their chance for survival and convinced
White to make the trip back to England for the supplies.
He departed for England in the late summer of 1587.
White was not able to return to Roanoke as
quickly as he had hoped. Although he intended to return
promptly with a relief ship, he was stuck in
4
England because of the attack of the Spanish Armada.
Other delays followed and White did not get back to
Roanoke until 1590.
When White finally returned to Roanoke, he was
shocked at what he found. Not a soul remained at the
settlement. All that remained was some rusted debris and
the letters CRO carved on a tree and the word
CROATOAN on a door post. White assumed that the
settlers had gone to the friendly Croatoan Indians. Storms,
however, kept him from reaching the Croatoan and forced
his return to England. He was never able to discover the
fate of his family and the other colonists. Future colonists
heard rumors about the “lost colonists”. Some Indians
claimed that the Roanoke settlers had gone to live with the
Chesapeake Indians and were killed when another Indian
tribe attacked the Chesapeakes. There were stories that
the settlers were victims of Spanish pirates, and some
believed that the survivors of the “lost colony” remained
among other Indian groups.
The truth was never discovered, and to this day no
one knows for sure what happened to the “lost colonists”
or Roanoke.

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