Have We Finally Solved the Great Roanoke Mystery? | Teen Ink

Have We Finally Solved the Great Roanoke Mystery?

April 3, 2019
By G-J-Samuel GOLD, Tirana, Other
G-J-Samuel GOLD, Tirana, Other
12 articles 0 photos 5 comments

It was the year of 1587, the year which would become the origin of one of America’s oldest and greatest unsolved mysteries. A group of around 115 settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of modern-day North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White (governor of the new colony) would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. However, as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain making Elizabeth I (queen of England at the time) call on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada (“What Happened to the ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke?”). In August of 1590, about 3 years after he sailed to England, John White decided to sail back to Roanoke, where he left his wife, daughter, infant granddaughter and the other settlers 3 years ago. When he arrived there was no clue on what could’ve possibly happened to the colony; all 90 men, 17 women and 11 children had disappeared leaving no sign of struggle or battle and no other trace behind other than the word “Croatoan” carved into a wooden post (“Roanoke Colony”).

What remains behind the word Croatoan? Historians believe that it could refer to the place Croatoan which was fairly close to Roanoke, however there has been no evidence of them staying there as Eric Klingelhofer, historian and principal investigator at Mercer University, quotes: “No single Indian tribe or village could have supported them. They would be even larger than some villages” (“Have We Found the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?”). However, this isn’t the only case of the word “Croatoan” making its way into history and its strange mysteries. Edgar Allen Poe mentioned Croatoan on his deathbed following his mysterious and unsolved death. Infamous stagecoach robber Black Bart supposedly etched the word into the wall of his prison cell right before his release in 1888 and he was never seen again. Horror author Ambrose Bierce vanished while in Mexico in 1913, and the bed he last slept in allegedly had the word “Croatoan” carved into a post. The word also appears on the last page of the logbook of the ghost ship Carroll A. Deering in 1921, which ran aground without its crew on Cape Hatteras, near what was once known as Croatoan Island. And Amelia Earhart reportedly scribbled the word in her journal, found after her disappearance in 1937 (“‘Croatoan’ Appeared in History More than Once”).

Some conspiracies of what could have happened to lost colony range from cannibalism, zombies, aliens, witchcraft, disease or a simple fail at sailing back to England. Legends have risen from this as well, including the people of the colony being turned to trees by a spirit or they were possessed by the Reptilian Devil of the Woods. However, there has been a newer discovery: around 1937 to 1941, people began uncovering engraved stones supposedly written by members of the Roanoke colony. A man claimed to have found the first stone, a 21-pound rock, somewhere along the Carolina coast. It's believed that Eleanor Dare used it to write a message to her father, John White. In the alleged account, Dare says the colonists moved farther away from the ocean a short time after White embarked for England, but they were plagued with illness and violent encounters with native tribes until only seven colonists remained. Through the 1930s, a North Carolina farmer came up with more than 40 more engraved stones, but those have been proven to be fake. The first stone is different, however, and it could be the real deal (Radford). There has not been enough evidence to prove whether it is fake or not; however, if this is real, then it could finally give us the major hint of what happened to the Roanoke colony. Unless there will be new solid evidence which thoroughly explains the vanishing of the Roanoke colony, this mystery will always remain unsolved.

                                                      Works Cited

“17 Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony.” Ranker, Accessed Feb 15 2019.

“‘Croatoan’ Appeared in History More than Once.” History Click, 23 Mar. 2018, Accessed Feb 13 2019.

“Have We Found the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?” National Geographic, National

Geographic Society, 9 Dec. 2013, Accessed Feb 15 2019.

“Roanoke Colony.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Feb. 2019, Accessed 14 Feb 2019.

Staff, History. “What Happened to the ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke?” History, A&E Television Networks, 3 Oct. 2012, Accessed Feb 15 2019.

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