Saturday, December 17, 2011

White Deer of Roanoke, the Lost Roanoke Colony - Roanoke Island, North Carolina

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh commissioned an exploration team to the outer banks off the coast of what is today, North Carolina.  They returned to England reporting that they had found a suitable place to establish a colony.  A party was put together of one hundred and seventeen men, women, and children including Governor John White and his daughter Eleanor Dare.  They set sail aboard The Elizabeth II for the new world and Roanoke Island, however, what they didn't know is that they would sail into history as the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Lost Roanoke colonist Virginia Dare is believed to still haunt Roanoke Island, North Carolina to this day as a white deer

The colonists arrived at Roanoke Island in 1584 where they established their new colony of Roanoke.  However, arriving too early, the settlers did not have time to grow food stores for the winter and their supplies would run short.  Governor White sailed back to England to acquire more supplies to help see the colonists through. He left instructions that if they were forced to leave in a emergency, to leave the sign of a cross.  Unfortunately, White was unexpectedly detained on his return to England due to the war that broke out with Spain. 

White was finally able to return to America in 1590 with a ship  load of supplies for the Roanoke colony.  However, upon his arrival he found the colony completely empty.  Shelters were disassembled and items were gathered up in a orderly fashion as if they were in no hurry.  Only the fort that was constructed for defense against hostiles remained.  Carved into one of the posts was the word "CROATOAN" and on a tree nearby the partial word "CRO", but no cross was found indicating that the colonist may have packed up and moved elsewhere.  Strangely, the inhabitants were never heard from again and no direct evidence indicating their whereabouts.  The relief expedition were forced to return to England and White never had the chance to return and search for the lost colony.

Governor John White returned to the Roanoke Colony only to find them missing.  The only clue was the word 'CROATOAN' scratched onto one of the posts on the fortifications.

Many believe that the colonists moved further north or were all killed by hostile Natives as were many colonists who previously had attempted to colonize the area.  However, there are some who believe that the colonists fled to Croatoan Island which was nearby.  It is thought that they were assimilated into the Croatoan tribe.  There exists some proof in that a few of the Croatoan descendants in later years had fair skin and light colored eyes which was never seen among Native tribes in the Americas.  Croatoan Island and the tribe that the island was named after later became the Hatteras tribe and hence Hatteras Island.

It is thought that daughter of Eleanor Dare, who was pregnant on her journey to America, survived and lived with the Croatoan tribe.  Her name was Virginia Dare and it is said that she was the first white English person to be born in America.  Legend has it that Virginia, after living among the natives,  became transformed into a white doe in death by a Native witch doctor with whom she had a dispute with. It is said that the ghost of Virginia Dare roams Roanoke Island to this day in the form of a white deer which has been seen on the island occasionally by locals and visitors alike.

It is believed that the ghost of Virginia Dare of The Lost Roanoke Colony manifests herself as a white doe

The remains of the colonial fort at Roanoke Island still stand today and are maintained as a National Park.  Re-enactments of the trials of the Lost colony of Roanoke are played out each year at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.  A replica of The Elizabeth II is also anchored nearby at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, North Carolina.

Fort Raleigh is all that remains of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and is maintained as a National Park


A replica of the ship Elizabeth II which carried the colonists from England to Roanoke Island after which they were never seen again

The town of Manteo also boasts a statue honoring Virginia Dare.  The monument shows how she may have appeared as an adult, which of course, we will never know what she really looked like. The status can be found in the Elizabethan Gardens.  The statue itself was once lost at the bottom of the ocean, but was recovered and transported to Roanoke Island.

A statue honoring Virginia Dare of The Lost Colony of Roanoke can be found at the Elizabethan Gardens in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carlina