Lost Colony of Roanoke 1584

Genealogy in 1584

In 1584, Roanoke Island was explored by Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, who had been sent there by Sir Walter Raleigh to select a site for an English colony in North America. After exploring the coast for two months, they returned to England with two Indians, Manteo and Wanchese, as well as samples of tobacco and potatoes.

Roanoke, located off the North Carolina coast, lies between the outer banks and the mainland. Raleigh first attempted to settle Roanoke in 1585, and then again in 1587 when settlers, including the family of Governor John White arrived. White’s daughter, Ellinor shortly gave birth to the first white child born in America—Virginia Dare.

Nine days after Virginia’s birth, Governor White returned to England to obtain further aid and assistance for the colony. War with Spain prevented him from returning quickly. When he returned with a relief party on August 17, 1590, the settlers had disappeared without a trace.

When White had left Roanoke, a code had been worked out, that should the colonists leave the island they would carve their new location on a conspicuous tree. If the move was made because of an attack, they were to carve over the letters or name a distress signal in the form of a Maltese cross. The only clue remaining was the word “croatoan” carved on a tree.

The fate of the colonists remains unknown to this day.

If I could have a wish, it would be to know what happened to them.

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One comment

  1. Having been born and raised in NC and lived in Manteo, NC, I can tell you that there is a 99% chance that the colonists were absorbed into the Croatan tribe. Chief Manteo was very friendly and accepting, while his brother, Wanchese was much less so. However, Manteo seemed to hold more sway. Today, you can travel to the area just next to the vibrant beaches at Nags Head & Kitty Hawk, and you will meet many blonde haired, blue eyed “Indians”. Go futher south to Lake Mattamuskeet and into Hyde County and you will find more of the same. It is speculation, yes, but a belief held by many. There was no Maltese cross carved in that tree. Peace and Joy to all.

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