Today’s blogging prompt is to describe something that happened on “this day in history.” And, guess what I found? A big mystery.
On August 18th, 1590, John White, who was the governor of the Roanoke Island Colony in what is now North Carolina, returned from a supply gathering trip in England to discover… no one. He and his crew looked around, but all 100 or so inhabitants of the colony had disappeared without a trace, including the governor’s little granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in the Roanoke colony. In fact, August 18th was Virginia’s third birthday. The birthday girl was nowhere to be found. Only one clue remained as to what happened to the entire colony. The word CROATOAN was inscribed on the palisades constructed around the colony.
John White traveled to the island of Croatoan, but none of the colonists were there. The colonists had simply vanished. There was no sign of a struggle or violence. Nothing at all. It was as if they had simply ceased to exist.
There are theories about the disappearance of the colony. One is that the colonists, who were starving, left on their own. John White had been away for a long time. His return had been delayed by England’s war with Spain, which continued from about 1585 to 1603. So he was gone, and the colonists were unable to obtain supplies. One theory is that the colonists were absorbed into a Native American tribe called Croatan and that, perhaps, they were letting John White know that they had joined the Croatans by leaving that one word message, “Croatoan.” Another theory is that they were killed, but there was no sign of a struggle or violence.
The most implausable and yet very believable explanation is that the colony was abducted by space aliens who landed their vessel on a crop circle. Who knows? Perhaps this is true. It would explain why there is no sign that the colonists had ever been on the island. It would also explain why there was no evidence of any struggle or violence. It is, for sure, the stuff of imagination. It is a mystery that has endured for centuries and probably never will be solved.
What sort of historical mysteries have you encountered lately?