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The Lost Colony at Roanoke

Roanoke Island is in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Roanoke Colony was the first English colony in the New World. It was founded in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville, who was sent there by Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth I. In 1585, Grenville returned to Britain for supplies, promising to return in about a year. He decided to leave Ralph Lane and approximately 100 men there to establish the English colony. A year passed and there was no sign of Grenville’s relief fleet. Sir Francis Drake passed by on his way home from the Caribbean and offered to take the colonists back to England. Drake left behind 15 of his own men to keep the settlement going. Then, in 1587, John White brought a relief fleet of 91 men, 17 women and 9 children. Soon after their arrival, White’s wife had the first English baby born in the New World – they named her Virginia Dare. White returned to England to bring back more supplies, but the trip back to Roanoke was canceled because of the danger of the Atlantic ocean at that time. In the Spring of 1588, White arranged to send two small vessels, but during the voyage their cargo was stolen, so they had to return home. Finally, on 18 August 1590, White reached Roanoke Island. There, he found the houses “taken downe” and the word “CROATOAN” carved on a tree and the fence that had been built around the settlement when he was gone. There was no sign of any people. Historians think that the colonists were either killed by the Spanish or immigrated into the nearby Croatan tribe. Some descendents of the Croatan tribe look like Europeans, which could be explained by the mixing of colonists and Croatans, but really the fate of the lost colonists is still a mystery.



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