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The Lost Colony: An Outer Banks Mystery


              Every week on  our FaceBook page, I host Ask Me Monday where I invite fans to ask me any question about the Outer Banks. If I can't find the answer in 24 hours, then I will send you a little gift for stumping me. I've recently had a few people ask me about The Lost Colony. Pretty clever question since there isn't a documented answer! It did get me thinking a lot about the answer though so I decided to dig in and see what I could find out. Few people know that the Lost Colony was actually the second group of settlers to arrive on what is know known as the Outer Banks. Sir Walter Raleigh sent Arthur Barlowe and about 100 men who arrived in July of 1585. For a while everything went well. The Native Americans were friendly and they were successful in farming crop for nourishment. After about a year, the once friendly Native Americans began to become hostile do the the harsh treatment they recieved from Sir Ralph Lane from the settlement. The second setback came when supply ships never arrived with necessary items for survival.  When Sir Frances Drake stopped off on Roanoke Island on his was from the West Indies to England, the colonists decided they needed to go back with him. They left 15 men to maintain their "claim" on the island.  The Native Americans took advantage of the small group of men left and attacked the camp. The men were never seen again. When the second group of English arrived in August of 1587, they found the camp in ruins. Despite the signs of violence, they decided to stay and rebuild. With John White as their govener this group of about 115 (including women and children this time) intended to make a fresh start.  Just days after they arrived John White's daughter gave birth to a daughter of her own and named her Virginia Dare. About a month into their stay, White decided he must return to England for supplies. Before he left, he instructed the settlers that if anything should happen to make them move, the should carve the name of their new location into a tree. If they were attacked by either the Native Americans or the Spaniards, they were to carve a Maltese cross into the tree. Soon after White arrived in England, war broke out between the British and Spain and Queen Elizabeth I would not let White use a ship to return to Roanoke Island. It was a year before White was able to return. When he did, he found the settlement empty with the word "CROATOAN" carved into a tree. So where did the colonist go? The fact that they carved "CROATOAN" into the tree leaves many people to believe they traveled south of Roanoke to an island of Croatoan where a tribe of friendly Native Americans lived. They believe that the colonists married into the tribe and were eventually absorbed into it.(There is currently a Lost Colony DNA project trying to prove just that.) Another theory is that they were killed by either the same hostile Native Americans that attacked the first settlement or by Spaniards coming from Florida.  Lastly, some believe that the colonists attempted to sail back to England and were lost at sea. For me, I want to believe that they did what they were told; They wrote the word "CROATOAN" in the tree to leave a message that they were heading there. That doesn't really answer why John White wasn't able to locate them there. But being the glass-half-full kind of girl that I am, I am going to believe that they all survived to live happily ever after!   What do you think happened to them?   When you are vacationing with us, make sure you visit the outdoor drama of The Lost Colony. Learn more about that and other activities to do here.   Check out these sites where I got information for this blog: