For years the small island of Roanoke, located in Croatoan Sound, has been shrouded in mystery and suspicion . (3.) Originally founded by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 under a charter from Queen Elizabeth. Roanoke was found by Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe who were under Sir Walter Raleighs command. Two months later they returned after selecting the site for the settlers with an Indian chief ,Manteo(who would later be baptized for his services to the English and renamed "Lord") , samples of potatoes and tobacco, as well as reports of newly discovered territory. In 1585 Sir Raleighs cousin Sir Richard Grenville sailed from Plymouth, Eng., in April 1585 arriving with over one hundred settlers, they built a fort on the northern end of the island. Soon afterwards Sir Grenville left for England to secure more supplies, leaving one Ralph Lane in his stead. In 1586 cartographer John White, Thomas Harriet, and other settlers who braved the winter, little food, and Indian attacks went back to Great Britain with Sir Francis Drake who had stopped by on his route back home from the West Indies.
Sir Richard Greenville would return two weeks later to Roanoke Island only to discover (much to his surprise) that the settlement had been deserted. As he left fifteen British soldiers stayed behind to uphold Englands claim on the land. In 1587 John White returned while leading a second group of colonists. Upon his arrival he found no trace of the soldiers and the fort razed. Leading the second colony which consisted of 150 men and women houses were made and soon the first child to be born in American soil , Virginia Dare (grand daughter of John White) was conceived. The Roanoke settlers soon found they were in need of supplies so White left and went back to England, leaving his daughter, son in law, and granddaughter behind. During his return home war had broken out between England and Spain and a communiqué with the settlers was made impossible. (1.) When he finally arrived in 1590 he could find no trace of the settlement except for the three letters CRO carved on a tree and the word Croatoan found on a post. (2.)
To this day no one is certain of what fate befell the settlers or where they may have went. There has been speculation that the settlers sorely needing food went to the friendly natives of the region, the Croatoans, and were eventually absorbed into the tribe. In the latter part of the 19th century a large group of mixed blood Native Americans emerged from Robeson County in south eastern North Carolina claiming to be the descendants of the lost Roanoke settlers. (2.) Although this claim can not be substantiated, the U.S government officially recognizes these people as Croatoan natives. The remains of the colonists fort has now been excavated and is now part of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.