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John White


Second roanoke Island colony
Second roanoke Island colony

One member of Raleigh’s first colony was John White, who began at Roanoke Island his famous series of paintings of Native American life. Chosen to serve as governor of the second colony, White sailed from England in May 1587 with a group of more than 100 settlers, including 17 women and 9 children. The group reached Roanoke Island in July. Of the 18 men left there in 1586, only some skeletons were found. Manteo, who had returned as Raleigh’s personal representative, was designated Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonguepeuk—the first title of nobility granted to a Native American.

On August 18, White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was born. She was the first child of English parents born in America. Nine days later, White returned to England for supplies. For three years the fleet of Spain, which was at war with England, kept him from sailing out of English ports. When he managed to return to Roanoke Island in 1590, the colonists had disappeared.

The mystery of the “lost colony,” as it is now called, has never been solved. The letters “CRO” were carved into a tree on the beach and the single word, “Croatoan,” was found on a post. These inscriptions may have indicated that the colonists had gone to live with the friendly Croatan or Croatoan Indians on Croatan Island or north to Chesapeake Bay.

However, storms kept White’s ship from reaching Croatan, and later explorations found no trace of the settlers. The present-day, 1,725-member Coharie tribe of Sampson County claims to be descended from the Croatan tribe and the vanished colonists. Others believe the colonists may have been the victims of a hurricane, an attack by Native Americans, or disease. A recent theory, based on the analysis of growth rings in nearby trees, suggests that the colonists disappeared during one of the area’s worst droughts in 800 years and may have left the island or perished because of starvation. "North Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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