Roanoke Island Mystery


First Settlement

Roanoke Island is famous for having the first ever English colonial settlement in the New World. But what it is most famous for is how mysteriously these first English settlers disappeared after a short time. Some say that they were killed; others say that they hid; still others say that they were absorbed into the native tribes. These settlers in Roanoke Island, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace, are popularly referred to as

“The Lost Colony.”

While Jamestown was the first permanent settlement in the New World, Roanoke Island was host to English settlers even before the start of the 16th century. Roanoke Island is where the first child of English decent was born in the New World, and there had been many speculations as to what happened to the colony after that. King James I of England even made it a point to go on the first voyage to Jamestown to search for the first colony in America.

The Return

It was in 1584 when the first group of English settlers made settlements in Roanoke Island. This first batch of settlers consisted of a hundred men, but the quickly abandoned their first settlement due to harsh weather conditions and their failure to keep a good relationship with the native tribes. After three years, the second batch of English settlers set foot on the island in July. After a month, the first English child was born in the New World. A week after Eleanor Dare’s child was born, his grandfather, Captain John White, set sail for England to bring them back food supplies and materials. What Captain White expected to be a short trip turned out to be a long stay in his motherland. The Spaniards attacked England, and there were many other unexpected events, and so he managed to return to Roanoke Island three years later.

A Mystery

What Captain John White saw was mysterious and utterly unbelievable. His daughter, Eleanor Dare, and his granddaughter, Virginia Dare, were nowhere to be seen! He saw no one from the English settlement he left three years ealier, and the place was bare of any signs of life as even the houses were nowhere to be seen. The letters “CRO” was sketched on a nearby tree and the word “Croatan” was found on a post, but even a visit to the Croatoan Indians gave him no answer as to where his family and the English colony had gone.

Some say that the colony was wiped out by a violent deadly storm, and it was easy to imagine that on an island. Others say that the settlers had been the subject of brutal attacks by nearby native tribes, to help prevent future colonization on the island. Others say that they had intermingled with and become absorbed into the native population, that they became so comfortable with living as natives that they ultimately decided not to return to the colony. The loss of more than a hundred people—consisting of 90 men, 17 women and 9 children—marks the mysterious end of the first ever attempt to establish a permanent settlement in the New World.

82 Responses to “Roanoke Island Mystery”

  1. Ms. Carter says:

    I think the people were kidnapped by Croatoans. DaiJuan
    I think the colony was burned in fire. Tony
    I think they left to create a colony in better place. Duke
    I think the Croatoans chased the people away. Shontel
    I think the Spanish destroyed all of their supplies, so they all died. Candice

  2. Ms. Carter says:

    Maybe the people got a virus and fled. Cameron
    I there was a stampede of deer, and they left. Sophia
    The people died of hunger, and kept getting sick. Nyre
    Their food supplies ran out. Cory
    Since Roanoke was right by the sea, the little colony flooded. Jonathan
    The people left because they were angry at John White for leaving them there. Tyasia
    Maybe the Croatoans attacked the people and took them as slaves. Ty
    The people probably went with the Indians to try and find the Seven Cities of Gold. Prince

  3. i really wanna know what happened to them. there has got to be a clear theory on the mystery of roanoke. by the way, when i grow up, im gonna be a research scientist or something like that to study the mystery of roanoke. im only 11. this is so mysterious. im keep on gonna research more. more and more until i find out a clue about this.

  4. haha says:

    i think that they shot them with the arrow and left them in the water and a shrk ate it

  5. GiGi says:

    I seriously don’t know. I wish I knew what happened; it’s such a wonderful mystery. Maybe the traveled to that island? Ever read The Mission Series: Book 3 Sabotaged? That sci-fi book is perfect for kids around grade 9. It also brings in history about the colony while you read about realistic- fic. characters.

  6. Joe says:

    Interesting article however, I believe there is a mistake: The second paragraph states, “…Roanoke Island was host to English settlers even before the start of the 16th century.” The third paragraph states the first English settlers settled on Roahoke Island in 1584. The 16th century was from 1501 through 1600. 1584 was near the end of the 16th century not before it.

  7. andrew says:

    i think they joined the crotan they didn’t put across

  8. stuart says:

    how about this theory:

    since this colony was right on the water, is it possable that a nor-easter hurricane came and wiped out the entire village? i mean, hurricanes do travel up the east coast and have been known to move accross the carolina’s and south east virginia along the coast line…….just somthing to think about. :)

    • nicosha says:

      no way because the fence was still standing untoched and ,i think they ran away and joined another tribe or somthang

    • kandi says:

      dude you could be right

    • Shayne M. says:

      Not true the village was still standing because if there was a hurricane like you said and it wiped out the village then how was the village still standing answer me that? Hmmmm smartness?

    • Kennidy says:

      if that was true wouldnt their corpses be there?

    • Lindsey says:

      as some of the other commenters said, the fence was still standing, and if there were a hurricane then it would have destroyed most of the east coast and not just Roanoke Island. it would have destroyed villages all the way up to Chesapeake Bay and the Croatoan Islands.

  9. jump rope king says:

    i think they joined the crotan and burnt down the houses

    • Blend says:

      I don’t think the houses were burned down because wouldn’t there be ashes or any proof of building being burned down. Plus, if they were burned down, why would they leave the fence standing. I’m not trying to start an argument or anything, I’m just saying. By the way I’m 11.

  10. gavin/andrew says:

    we both thought they fled and burnt down the houses

  11. nicole says:

    Im helping my daughter with her homework and 1 of the questions are true or false. The lost colony of roanoke was a permanent colony? True or false?im not finding a specific answer if it was or not.. can anyone help us out? Thanks

    • Terry says:

      Sorry this answer is too late to help your daughter, but Roanoke was intended to be a temporary colony. They had originally planned on going to settle the Chesapeake area, but the ship’s pilot, for some unknown reason, decided to force them to settle there instead. They had plans on moving them to Cheasapeake on a following expedition, but the war prevented this. After that it was too late as everyone was gone.

  12. Anna says:

    Some pepole found “Roanoke pepole” with bloud hair

  13. Bennett halek says:

    I think the Spanish under false pretenses lured them out of the fort, and later wasted them. My infallible uncle Jeff turned me on to this scenario, and his brain is AWESOMELY HUGE!!

    • Terry says:

      Although the Spanish did want to located and destroy the colony to prevent an English base of operations from getting established there, from which they could attack the Spanish, up to 10 years later the Spanish was still sending expeditions to the region to locate the colony. This would suggest they never found it.

  14. Random Mystery Lover says:

    Maybe they packed up all of their stuff and gave the rest to the Indians so that they could go to Britain to get supplies…. and the cro was meant to tel their john white to go to the croatoan islands if he came back… and maybe their ship sank on the way in the middle of the ocean…. and after, a great storm hit and destroyed all of the buildings left….

    • Terry says:

      The buildings weren’t burnt or destroyed. They had been neatly disassembled and removed from the location. They had arranged a secret message before Captain White left for England. If they were going somewhere, they were supposed to carve the name of their destination in the trees. If they were hit with a tragedy, a Maltese cross was to be carved into the tree.
      When Capt. White returned after 3 years all he saw was an orderly removal of all the buildings and the word “Croaton.” He wanted to go visit this group of Indians to search for them, but violent storms approaching forced them to return to England. It was years later when anyone returned to the Croatons and it is said that some of the Indians there had distinctively European features and were able to speak fluent English. They are trying to do a DNA study of some of the ancestors of the Indians.

      • florenceanne says:

        Terry, I think you hit the nail on the head It makes sense that they would seek shelter from the Indians. Also how else would they have learned to speak English.

      • Lindsey says:

        This is a great theory but why would the colonists disassemble their buildings in the first place? Why would they take the risk of going through unknown land with a newborn baby? Now, they were out of supplies so they might have taken down their homes to assure that their tracks would be erased, and they could’ve went to the Natives for food. But, i dont know if you are aware of this or not but before these colonists there was a group of about 100 men that were sent for the first settlement in America and one of those men killed the chief of the Croatoan Indians, so if the second set of colonists went to the Croatoans why wouldnt the natives kill them too? Why would they reproduce and even marry the colonists? With every piece of the puzzle found there is another one that comes up missing.

    • Lindsey says:

      This isn’t plausible.. if a storm had came through and had enough power to sink their ship and tear down all their buildings then it would have had enough power to take down the fence post that held one of the clues on it.

  15. swagg girl says:

    i dont know they probaly sunk in some quick sand or somthing

  16. temp girl says:

    i think they ran away and ended up dieng but before they left they wrote a note in some other langugae that hasent been discovered yet..

    • Lindsey says:

      What would this language be if the colonists were English and the only language they knew was.. English? And if there were clues then they would’ve been discovered by now and deciphered.

  17. 123legendofzelda says:

    Just a theory… well the colony said that if they were going to leave they would put a clue some place near the camp and when John White came back he saw the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree. My theory is that the colony went too Croatoan island but failed and many of them died and only 7 of them lived,4 of them were men 2 of them were boys and 1 of them was a young maiden. I think they went to one of the native American tribes and got all tangled up in a turf war. To bad for them…

    • Lindsey says:

      This is a good theory but they found that the Native Americans had white ancestors so if this were true then the natives and the remaining colonists would’ve had to have mated which is highly unprobable if they were to kill them afterwards like you said.

  18. vanessa jordan says:

    I think that the people sat waiting on supplies and died off. My history professsor says that over a period of some 100 years, that the British citizens lack of survival instinct caused them to just wait for supplies.

    • Lindsey says:

      Out of the 117 colonists i’m sure that thet didnt all just “sit there” some of them wou’ld’ve been intelligent enough to find food. and if they had just sat there and died then how would that explain the CROATOAN clues and the native americans that had white descendants?

  19. Pete says:

    Check out the Steven King movie ” Storm of the Century” . Very interesting take on the disappearance of the colony .. It was that scenario that sparked my interest in this mystery ..

  20. kandi says:

    ok everyone knows its a mystery…right? well my theory is that raleigh got mad and so did the queen so they killed them and burned their remains

    • Lindsey says:

      Then how do explain CROATOAN written on the fence posts and the tree. And how do you explain the native americans with white descendants? And why would the Spanish and the Queen just randomly get agrivated with the colonists?! This was supposed to be a HUGE thing for England! They were suppossed to be the first to settle in America! This relates to when America attempted to be the first on the moon. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted to be the first so badly that he would do anything to get Americans onto the moon. This is the same with the Queen, she wanted people from her country to be the first to get to America and permanetely settle there. Plus, she gave White loads of money to go on this expedition! She would be throwing money down the drain if she purposely killed the colonists! This theory is outrageous in every way!

  21. John Doe says:

    I think its a bunch of BS there was never a colony its just a government scam to control the people!

  22. Eon says:

    Hah, I’ve been obsessed with the The Lost Colony since I did a report on it in school last year. (In the Missing series by Haddix, Sabotaged is y 2nd favorite book–it was my favorite till Caught came out.) I think maybe they planned on going to Croatoan, and that’s why they carved it, but if they didn’t get to Croatoan, but British-looking people were seen in Native American tribes, then maybe another tribe captured them on their way to Croatoan.

    • Lindsey says:

      Thats a great theory but they found white ancestors in a specific tribe, the Haterass Indians (descendants of the Croatoan tribe.) So, while your theory is plausible i believe that after White left for supplies in England they started making their own fort (home) and shortly after Virginia Dare was born they were invaded by the Croatoan Indians. The fact that there were clues left on a pallisado and a tree lead me to the these questions: did the colonists leave the marks on the trees?, did the natives? I believe that the colonists were invaded by the Croatoans because if they knew that the first set of colonists were killed by the Croatoans then why would they purposely go there? Anyways, the Croatoans might have been keeping an eye out for more English settlers and when they saw White’s settlers they invaded their homes and left the words ‘ÇRO’and “croatoan” on the tree and pallisado to show that this was their land and they had left their mark. then the croatoans would either kill most of the colonists or accept them into their tribe and if this theory were to be true then the natives would have mated with the colonists. The problem with this theory is that there were no bodies found from the colonists anywhere! That means that if the Indians killed them they would’ve had to hide the bodies somewhere. If they would’ve hid the bodies then that means they would have wanted it to be a secret that they killed them and if this is true then they would not have lefft the clues in the original settlement for the same reason. There are lots of theories and i”m sure everybody has their opinions but to any theory there are things to be skeptical about.

  23. keona says:

    what you typed made no sense!!!

  24. wht up with dis colony like 4real

  25. I Dont Know says:

    What I think happened was that they left with the Natives to search for better land and they crossed the Spanish Terriotory and were killed by the Spanish. But then the Spanish Armada (1588) occured. So maybe they thought they were coming to attack the Spanish in there homelands :P idk lol

  26. I believe the people did get invaded. Indians are very territorial. If their chief was killed then they would
    Never accept the english. I think when they were being invaded that the men tried to fight them off and someone tried
    To carve they in the tree and fence post of who was attacking them cause they knew they wouldnt survive it.
    That could b why they saw the full word Croatoan and the start of the same word but was not finished(CRO) on the tree. The roanoke indians would have killed the men and took the women ass alot of native tribes did in those days even to eachother. But most native tribes would also take down the homes of the tribe or people they defeat as to not anger the spirits and with the hopes that another tribe would neer settle there again. That would explain the homes being taken down. Also when most tribes defeated another they would put the bodies in the ground so their spirits may rest. So that would explain the bodies, the indians that would have spawned from the taken woman that they would have mated with, and the word croatoan and the partial word that was never finished cause the person carving it didnt have time. Anyway thats what i think. At least when i asked my Pure blood indian gramdfather about it thats what he would say. Maybe true, maybe not

  27. Josh Hess says:

    Vanessa Jordan got me thinking, while they waited for supplies they eventually knew they wouldnt survive so they headed for the croatoans in search of supplies themselves now the question is how did they disappear from there? i mean wouldnt there be a sunken ship or SOMETHING?

  28. Nicky says:

    i think a huge tsunami

  29. angela says:

    Maybe IT killed them all, just like it killed Georgie and all those other people in Derry, Maine.
    XD

  30. Isaiah Huggins says:

    I think that , just for speculations sake their relations with the indians went sour indians attacked them they ran and went to someplace having to do with the word croatoan

  31. Justin Lobo says:

    I think they left on a ship that they built to meet John White, and there was a storm that killed everyone.

  32. Pooface says:

    They were attacked by the natives, and then killed

  33. Awesomeness says:

    The Spanish came along, and they did did not like them, so they killed them, and after they killed all of them, they went away. John White came back later and didn’t see any of the stuff that they made, because the Spanish took all of their supplies. The English never found them, so it is a mystery.

  34. amber says:

    A dreadful storm could’ve wiped all of them out or since it was a island they took or built a boat and went on to American soil Just saying you guys should think less hard

  35. Well I think that the Croatans kidnapped them and then set the colony on fire so they couldn’t come back

  36. Mike kenney says:

    Read about the Dare stones, found across the sound and in the hill country of Carolina and Ga. Some stayed; tried to make a deal with the Croatans; and the men were slaughtered and the women taken as slaves. The others(maybe7) crossed the sound; moved upriver; and followed what is now the Appalaichan Trail south leaving messages on stones along the way. What would you have done? It’s absurd to assume they all met the same fate. In survival situations, splitting up is common, albeit unwise.

  37. mahya says:

    I think that the Croatoan indians might of took the people and that’s why they carved Croatoan in the tree 2 say they took the people

  38. taylor says:

    i think that the colany died of starveation

    • Blend says:

      First of all, how do explain the vanished houses and second of all, wouldn’t there have been corpses?

    • I THINK THE SPANISH GOT THERE BEFORE SIR WALTER RALEIGH, DI-SIDED TO KIDNAP ALL THE PEOPLE OF ROANOKE, AND ON THERE WAY BACK TO SPAIN THEY ENDED UP FIGHTING WITH SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND HIS CREW AND THE SPANISH HAD CARVED “CROATOA” ON A TREE IN ORDER TO BLAIM IT ON THE CROATOAN SO THEY WOULDN’T BE A SUSPECT. WHEN THEY GOT BACK FROM ROANOKE THEY PROBABLY KILLED THE PEOPLE OF ROANOKE WHEN THEY GOT BAKE TO SPAIN SO THERE WOULDN’T BE A SIGN OF THEM DIEING IN ROANOKE.

  39. Shelby says:

    I think cannibalism is possible……but my vote goes to the vampires..
    Read Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and all will be revealed.

  40. atatonka says:

    Aliens took them away

  41. David Henderson says:

    Maybe the people at Roanoke ran out of food and eat each other. It now seems that is what happened to Jamestown in 1607.
    http://tinyurl.com/c8keegb

  42. Good one says:

    I agree because there was only one corps left

  43. Blend says:

    I believe that the people of Roanoke decided that John white was not going to come back, so they decided to take down their houses to use as supplies when the split up to look for new land or join claimed land. It is very common that people will split up in survival situations. They decided to leave up the fence so people could believe there was still a colony taking place in case they needed to come back. When they spread out, they must of carved their destinations in objects, because going up north from Roanoke Island, names of tribes and places were carved in objects such as trees, rocks, etc. There must have been people that joined the Native Tribes that they had a feud with over a stolen silver bowl that was found in Native American hands. This explains the English members of the Native American tribes. Lastly, I think the corpse of the one person left was as a symbol of warning to any probable attackers or intruders. I’m just an 11 year old boy in Gifted 5th Grade, and according to my research, this is the theory that makes the most sense in my opinion. Oh, and for those that believe they left and took down their houses to make ships for transportation, why leave the fence, why leave the carving in the tree saying “CROATOAN”, and why were there English Native American members in the tribes that there was a feud between over the silver bowl I mentioned earlier. So many things just don’t add up. :)

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