Legends, Theories and DNA: Survivors?
--Raleigh's "Lost Colony"
The Official Story
Speculation about the disappearance or demise of the Roanoke Island settlers began as soon as John White set foot on the deserted ground and saw the word "CROATOAN" carved in a tree. White himself found credible evidence that the colonists had merely moved on to safer ground. At the time he was unable to explore inland to look for them. The fact that the colonists had buried items too heavy to carry told White that the move was deliberate.
The prevailing theory carried back to England stated that the colonists had been attacked, if not while on Roanoke Island, shortly after they relocated--perhaps on Croatoan Island or further inland. No survivors were found. Ever.
But in the next decade explorers found little evidence of the colonists. However legends and theories about their fate began to form within these first decades. The attached bibliography contains writings from some of the earliest historians including John White, himself.
For those who like to keep an open mind regarding unresolved mysteries, the fate of the Lost Colony is worthy of further inquiry.
Ghost Descendants?If the Lost Colonists died without further issue, who could claim to be a descendant?
The Legend: Centuries of writings claim that some of the colonists survived and moved inland in the Carolinas. They intermarried with native people and gradually they absorbed into that population leaving behind "Indian" descendants with light hair and gray eyes. Reports claimed they spoke archaic English and built two-story houses.
Surviving Names: These are some of the names mentioned by historians writing about survivors:
BROOKS, CAGE, CHEVEN,COOPER, DARE, HOWE, JONES, SAMPSON, STEVENS.
Research: Authors continued to investigate the legend into the 21st century--most recently for The History Channel.
The Lumbee: The work of Dial (shown in the bibliography) proposes that the descendants of the Lost Colony are found among the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina. Studies show that 43% of the surnames on the list of Lost Colonists were found among the Lumbee in the 19th century.
DNA:Use of DNA testing for genealogical research opens new horizons for proving or disproving the legend. Use your favorite search engine ("Lumbee + DNA") to find a Lumbee DNA project or to learn more about the history of the Lumbee people.
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