Thursday, January 25, 2007


The Lost Colony of Roanoke, 1588

Almost all Americans have heard of the lost colony of Roanoke. There are many things, however, that you might not know. Did you know, for example, that Roanoke was one of the first English colonies on American soil? How about that Europeans were the very first to settle on Roanoke? What about how the colony was lost in 1588? There are several different ideas on how this colony was lost that even historians can’t agree on.

Some people say the entire population was killed off by a hurricane. Oddly, however, all of the buildings were still there, just deserted. A hurricane would have destroyed the buildings, not just the people.

Others think that Roanoke was ravaged by a disease. Strangely, there were no bodies found. How can you die and have your body disappear? Quite a ridiculous theory isn’t it?

Another theory is that the 90 men, 17 women and nine children of Roanoke simply left the colony and settled on Chesapeake Bay to keep other English settlers from stealing their land. This idea also has problems.

First, these weren’t the original English settlers, but a second group coming to pick up the fifteen men that were stranded on Roanoke by first colonists the year before. This second group’s mission was to save that original group of 15, but was delayed by a storm and ended up stranded themselves and had to rebuild Roanoke.

Second, this group was actually waiting to be helped by the English because the natives were angry and they were kind of scared. In fact, they sent the Governor, John White back to England to ask for help. Unfortunately, Governor White got delayed by storms and the captain refused the passage back to Roanoke because it was winter.

Then, England’s war with the Spanish required all available larger boats. Governor White had to get smaller boats with greedy captains who attempted to rob other boats but got robbed themselves. This left the colonists at Roanoke for two years afraid of the natives who might attack them. So, the colonists were not afraid of the English, but were actually waiting for them.

This led to another popular theory that the people of Roanoke were killed by natives. Again, though, there were no bodies found at the site. Strangely, there was also no evidence of any recent battle.
It could also be that the people of Roanoke went to live with the only friendly group of natives, the Croatoans. Actually, the word “croatoan” was carved in a fence post and was also is the name of a nearby island. This is very probable. It might be what really happened!

It is an incredible fact that historians up to now have no sure explanation about what exactly happened to the colonists and the residents of Roanoke in 1588. There are several different theories about what happened during that three year period. Some, as we know, include a hurricane or the spread of a disease. Even peculiar yet popular theories such as extraterrestrial abductions have been issued. After looking at all the theories and evidence, the most probable explanation for what happened to Roanoke is that the colonists were stranded, waited for the English, but had to leave the colony and stay with the Croatoans.

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