International Center Blog

Providing International Perspectives About Learning and Living at UM-Flint

Because of Thanksgiving, which is coming up tomorrow, I thought I would talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is important. However, I decided to tackle a puzzle that has intrigued me since I first read about it in the third grade; a mystery that ha baffled the modern world since August 18, 1590. ¬†For 425 years, there have been theories, expeditions and speculations as to why the English pilgrims of the Roanoke colony suddenly disappeared, thought never to be seen again…

First, a little backstory:

Sir Walter Raleigh was entrusted with the task by Elizabeth I of England to create a colony in the Americas that would help in attacking the Spanish, who were establishing colonies in the New World. Sir Raleigh dispatched ships to begin the process. These ships landed on Roanoke Island, today’s Dare County in North Carolina. Here they attacked the indigenous tribe of Aquascogoc people for reportedly stealing a cup. This, and the lack of supplies, caused tnesions in teh newly formed colony. All in all, this first attempt failed, ending wtih most of the colonist heading back to England with Sir Francis Drake.

Now, for the juice:

Since Sir Raleigh didn’t want to lose his privileges to colonize the New World, a second group of colonists was sent. These pilgrims were led by John White. They landed and began recolonizing Roanoke. Unfortunately, because of the previous altercations with the natives, George Howe was killed while searching for crabs alone by the shore. White decided he needed to return to England and plead the Pilgrim’s case to Raleigh and the Queen, leaving his newborn granddaughter behind, Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America.

White did not return for three years. And, when he did, nothing was left of the colony, except one word carved into a fence post: CROATOAN

All the houses had been dismantled, meaning that they had taken their time when leaving, but, where did they go? What became of these men, women and children?

To this day, no one has found the answer.