Quote:Even though the first successful English colony, Jamestown, is sometimes spoken of in history, there is the story that really never gets spoken of because it is mired in mystery. In some legends, the entire story is probably one of the biggest horrors in history. The pilgrims are always spoken of around Thanksgiving and there are often mentions of the settlement at Jamestown, however the Roanoke settlement goes down in history as the mysterious colony that disappeared without a trace and many believe all kinds of strange stories about it.
The saga began on a summer day over 400 years ago when co-captain Arthur Barlowe and a few dozen other Englishmen stood at the railing of their ship and peered anxiously across the water at a strange new world. They had no idea what to expect, but the odor wafting to them from the small islands off the coast of what is now North Carolina filled Barlowe with wild hopes. Barlowe wrote in his diary that the vegetation was at its summer peak, and the aroma was like that of “some delicate garden” full of fragrant flowers.
Barlowe was part of an expedition sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to find a place for a colony. Roanoke Island, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the slender sand dunes that came to be known as the Outer Banks, seemed a likely spot to set up the new colony.
Barlowe continued to write about how the soil was the most sweet and plentiful and that entire area was fertile and welcoming. He even wrote about how the natives that they encountered were gentle, loving and faithful.
Based on Barlowe’s writings, Queen Elizabeth I was very excited to hear of the progress of the expedition. The queen decides to name this new place Virginia. Subsequently, she gives Sir Walter Raleigh permission to establish a colony in the area. He was to finance and plan the expedition to what is now North Carolina. Raleigh has tenyears to complete this mission.
Walter Raleigh funds an expeditionary voyage from Plymouth to America to investigate whether it would be possible to set up a colony. When the ships land, the officers meet the brother of the chieftain of Roanoke Island. The company returns to England successfully and with them they have packed several items form the new world, including skins and pearls. They also take back two native tribesman called Manteo and Wanchese. This generates interest and support for another expedition.
Shortly after the arrival, the men begin to suspect that local Indians have stolen a silver cup from them. In retaliation they destroy their village and burn the chief alive. Despite the obvious discourse with the natives, Richard Grenville decides to leave the men there to build the proposed colony. He vows to return in April of 1586.
A colony is established on Roanoke Island. Ralph Lane is made Governor and relations with the natives improve as the settlers receive a lot of help from them. However, there are still a few tribesmen who see the new settlers as hostile.
When April passes and there is no sign of Grenville, the men decide to catch a ride home with Sir Francis Drake. Drake had stopped at the colony on his way back from a successful voyage to the Caribbean. Ironically, Grenville arrived shortly thereafter. After finding the settlement empty, he decides to leave fifteen men there to protect England’s claim.
The second group of settlers arrived at Roanoke Island on July 22, 1587. This group contains 117 people, both men and women. They are led by John White. John White’s daughter would give birth to the first English child born in America on August 18, 1587. The child’s name was Virginia Dare.
The settlers built their colony and tried to make peace with the natives. They were successful in befriending the Croatoan tribe, but other tribes were openly hostile toward the colonists. A settler by the name of George Howe was murdered by natives while hunting crab on the beach. After this incident, the settlers became nervous of their new home and convinced John White to return to England and ask for help. John White reluctantly left. He would never see any of these people again.
The mystery of Roanoke began when a supply ship returned in 1590 to find not a single living soul, and no evidence of war, famine or any other possible reason for the colony’s complete disappearance. In fact, there is still no generally accepted explanation for what happened to those settlers.
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