Lost Roanoke Colony of 1585 is Found: Evidence in Maps, Artifacts and DNA
A key word left for the Governor returning from sea was "Croatoan"
I read many sources of information and peer-reviewed research in 2012 to bring you the findings that the Lost Roanoke Colony is no longer lost. In early August, 2015 additional corroborating information was released.
Where is Old Roanoke?
Emery, Theo (8-10-2015). The New York Times. The Roanoke Colonists: Lost, and Found?
My Summary and Comments:
DNA research had already found some links between the lost Roanokers and their present day descendants that also have Indigenous bloodlines and living in North Carolina (see information presented below in DNA sections). That research has become a major project in the 2010s.
Merry Hill, North Carolina or Site X is the "here" in the researcher's discovery declaration that involves about a dozen colonists. This place is on Albemarle Sound and labeled as Site X. A strong supporting x-ray spectrograph analysis by the British Museum of an old map belonging to the original colony leader, John White, lends credence to this second inland site of Roanoke adventures.
Previously, Chocowinity NC, a few miles southwest of Merry Hill, was determined to be a very possible settlement site of removed Roanoke colonists, based on artifacts found there, especially ceramic ware, but more research was required.
Increasing numbers of Border ware ceramic artifacts found are taken as a marker for the presence of the Roanoke colonists. In the future, Mr. Luccketti hopes for 15 acres of additional area be approved for further excavation and confirmation of lost Roanokers' presence.
Several archaeological sites around Albermarle Sound may prove to have been home to the 100 lost Roanoke colonists. The group of 100 or fewer may have spit up in to two or several smaller groups, as have past Native American Nations in the area.
Considering that the colony had only 100 individuals in the beginning, I think that we must consider the likelihood of death of a portion of the group related to diseases, exposure to some cold weather, the rigors of settling and moving, possible attack by non-friendly Indigenous Peoples, and perhaps a lack of food. I would estimate that the researchers and diggers may find evidence for the presence of about half of the colonists, who survived.
We have evidence from this site that strongly indicates that there were Roanoke colonists here.— Nicholas M. Luccketti of the First Colony Foundation
Important Evidence Was Found By Research Triangle Professionals
Organized research from the renowned Research Triangle Park points to a link between the Roanoke Lost Colonists and the current descendants of early Native American peoples they met in and around the present town of Chocowinity, North Carolina. Evidence is found in maps, archaeological artifacts and DNA markers (Find some names of descendants living today and follow the research at http://dna-explained.com/).
- A one-word code was found carved into a log in a fort wall as a message to Governor John White upon his return from the sea, as the colonists under his authority fled their home. This was done in the prearranged fashion established by White and the single word was Croatoan. It was the key for White to understand where they went. The word refers to the Croatan Band of natives.
- There is no Maltese Cross carved through or after the word in the log. A cross added would have meant that an attack was underway. Thus, there was no attack and the people moved.
- The Croatans are not extinct as many reports state. They no longer have an official band, but their descendants live in Northern Carolina today, proved by Research Triangle professionals..
- Croatan Island on maps used at the time of the colonists' disappearance is today's Hatteras Island, a nearby barrier island that contains Route 12 and is 42 miles long.
- Per National Geographic (Tanya Basu, December 6, 2013), a large wooden structure surrounded by a palisade fence was found buried on Hatteras island.
- English artifacts in a sizable number were unearthed on the current Hatteras (formerly Croatan) Island. This means that the likely lived there.
- The lost colonists most likely joined the Croatan band of natives.
Research Triangle NC
The Research Triangle Examines Local History
North Carolina is home not only to our nation's remarkable Research Triangle covering eight counties and the site of the Wright Brother's inaugural flight in 1903, but also to mysteries and missing persons. Some of the professional researchers in the Triangle put their skills to interesting use in 2012 in solving a mystery of North Carolina that is over 430 years old.
The colony of Roanoke Island NC disappeared sometime between 1587 and 1590. At least that is what Governor John White believed after he returned to his people with a new shipload of supplies from England. However, he was gone three years and many events might have unseated a new, small colony on an island in the outer banks of a seaboard territory.
Speculation has been wide:
- A disease, floods (earning the Roanoke River the nickname River of Death among Indigenous People), or fire may have destroyed the colony. However, no fire remains were found in 1860, according to records.
- The colonists were attacked by Croatan or Roanoke "Indians." No hard evidence proves this notion.
- The colonists were attacked by the Spanish and killed or kidnapped. No evidence exists of this notion, either.
- The colonists ran out of supplies, experienced failed crops and drought, and went to live with the Croatan Band of Native Americans. This is a possibility. Some of the settlers were from Wales and a hundred years after the colony was lost, new English settlers found Croatan People on Hatteras island that could speak Welsh and read books.
- The entire colony moved southward to another island for reasons unknown. This is also a possibility.
- Some even posit that an alien abduction occurred. That makes for interesting stories.
Unfortunate Mishaps In Roanoke
Approximately 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children sailed by ship sent by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587 to a point north of Roanoke Island to build a fort and a settlement to be called the Cittee of Raleigh.
Those people never arrived, but were put off the ship after a strenuous voyage of mishaps across the Atlantic Ocean.They were to stop or observations by their governor, John White, and then to sail further up to Chesapeake Bay. However, the ship's Captain was Spanish and had other ideas.
The ship's captain was Captain Fernandez. historical records state that this Spaniard put the English off with the excuse of returning south to warmer waters and his privateering business, but anchored off shore, watching, as the stranded people tries to construct a village. It is little wonder that the colony feared attack by the Spanish after this treatment.
A previous attempt in 1556 to colonize Roanoke Island ended badly. The 1587 settlers found a bleached human skeleton on the beach as soon as they were stranded. They found a fort that had been destroyed. They found wildlife eating the garden produce left behind, still on the vines.
The English did their best to repair and build houses, but they had no crop seeds or food and were starving. One of the men went into the waters off shore to gather crabs and was killed and mutilated by some Native Americans, so the colonists came to fear the Indigenous People very early on, as well as the Spanish.
Researchers found through tree-ring analysis in the late 1990s that the most severe drought in eight centuries hit Roanoke Island and surrounding areas between 1587 - 1589. Little crop food could survive. Thus, the colonists of Roanoke fought bad weather, fears of the Spanish, and some real Native Americans, although the Croatan Band was their friend.
Roanoke Island NC Today
Hatteras Island Is Croatoan Island on Old Maps
The English had their first baby in America when Virginia Dare was born just a few days after the explorers landed on Roanoke Island in August of 1587.
Governor John White of Roanoke was Virginia Dare's grandfather. He found it necessary to return to England for supplies when the baby was but a month old (September 1587).
Fearing attacks by Native Americans or the Spanish in the area, the Governor developed a code to use in case the colonists fled elsewhere. They were to carve a word into the bark of a tree and the word was to be a key to their new location. The addition of a cross over the word would indicate that an attack had actually taken place.
John White did not land on Roanoke again until three years later. He found the single word Croatoan carved into a tree that had been made into a log in the colonists' fort palisade.
Scientists and historians recently found that the word means a specific location, since that was the plan that Governor White established for the event of a colony relocation - leaving a message as a clue. This new colony site is south of Roanoke Island at the 42-mile long Hatteras Island, now part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
This journey today from Roanoke Island to Hatteras (Croatan) Island is short and Hatteras Island is very long. The colonists and Croatans had plenty of room to hide from an impending attack..
Hatteras Island is marked as Croatoan Island on an old map of the region that gave researchers clues to the fate of the Roanoke Island colony.
The Two Islands Today
Quote: Hatteras Island DNA Projects
By 1710, the Farrows, O'Neals, Hoopers and Wahabs were reported to be "half Indian and half English".
DNAeXplained is searching for any male descendant of the Lumbee Berry line in North Carolina for a DNA test to connect that line up with the Roanoke families that disappeared.
"There are two Berry families who claim descent from the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island in 1587, Henry and Richard Berry, who are presumed to be related to each other."
Croatan Band of Native Americans and DNA Evidence
Genealogical and genetic professionals are actively examining DNA markers in search of links between the Lost Colonists and the Indigenous descendants of native peoples in the area at the time living in North Carolina today.
The Croatan Band of Native Americans lived all along the Outer Banks of North Carolina before the English settlers landed. These Native Americans likely were related to the Roanoke People that also lived in the area. Today, approximately 250 of these Indigenous peoples' descendants live near Greenville NC.
The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research found many English artifacts on what is now Hatteras Island. In the 2010s, DNA studies are underway to look for European DNA markers among today's descendants of the Croatan Band. European DNA markers found may belong to either Spanish or English groups, requiring further examination to determine which they are.
The Roanoke DNA Studies
- Family Tree DNA - Hatteras Fathers
- Hatteras Island DNA Projects: Surnames O'Neal and O'Neil
"Hatteras Island is the location where the Lost Colonists indicated that they went, to join their friends, the Croatoan Indians."
- Lost Colony Research Group
The Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group, is a research project to find out if any Roanoke, North Carolina Lost Colonists survived, using Genealogy and DNA. http://www.rootsweb.com/~molcgdrg/
Probable Migration Of the Lost Colony
The Chowan joins the Roanoke here. A patch on a map made by John White shows a fort in the shape of those built by the Dutch here.
Between 1590 and 1610, several sightings were made of whites that explorers claimed must be members of the Lost Colony. One was a white boy with yellow hair living among the Croatan Band. Another might have been a teenaged Virginia Dare.
Officials of the First Colony Foundation and of the British Museum in London UK conferred in early May 2012 about Governor White's map of the Roanoke region of the outer banks and surrounding land in what become North Carolina and Virginia. The Research Triangle's University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is also involved in find the Lost Colony and their descendants.
Two patches on the map are of particular interest. One indicates a corrected error, but the other shows a different sort of fort than than usually built by the English in America, in what is now Bertie County. From this second patch, some of the researchers deduce that the Lost Colony traveled west and north to the intersection of the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers.
To accomplish this move, the colonists needed a ship and perhaps they used the wood from their houses, since Governor White find them demolished in 1590.
Archaeologists might like to excavate in Bertie County, but the area is located under a popular golf course and a housing development, prohibiting a dig. Regardless, the Bertie County migration point does not explain the Welsh-speaking Croatan on Hatteras Island, which is a shorter distance from Roanoke Island than is Bertie County.
Descendants of the Croatans live here today.
- Reports and Diaries of Governor John White at www.animatedatlas.com/ecolonies/roanoke.html
- The Ohio State University Department of Anthropology
- Tour of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site at 1401 National Park Dr, Manteo NC 27954.
© 2012 Patty Inglish