Hey, everyone. This week I wrap up the “mission persons” theme of Mystery Monday. Not to say I won’t revisit similar stories in the future, but next week I’m shifting gears since it’s October and the month of Halloween.
The disappearance of English settlers on Roanoke Island in 1590 is one of the oldest mysteries in America. Who were these people and what happened to them?
The Roanoke Colony, also known as the “Lost Colony” was the second attempt by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America.
English explorer Ralph Lane attempted a settlement in 1585. Due to lack of supplies and bad relations with local Native Americans, Lane decided to abandon the colony and return to England.
John White and his group of one-hundred-fifteen people arrived on Roanoke island in August 1587. Later that same year, he returned to England for supplies. But as he arrived in England, war broke out between England and Spain. Queen Elizabeth I called for every available ship to fight the Spanish Armada.
White returned to the Roanoke Colony in 1590. He had left behind his wife, daughter, and infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America).
He found no traces of the colony or its inhabitants. There were few clues as to what may have happened—one of them was the word “Croatoan” carved into a wooden post.
Over the centuries, investigations into the fate of the “Lost Colony” have continued without a conclusive answer. “Croatoan” was the name of an island south of Roanoke as well as the name of a Native American tribe.
Some speculate the colonists were killed or abducted by the tribe. Others think they may have tried to sail back to England and became lost at sea. Still others speculate they moved further inland and died at the hands of Spaniards who had marched northward from Florida. There is some speculation they merged with a friendly tribe.
Recent archeological digs haven’t produced enough evidence for a satisfactory answer, and their fate remains a mystery.