Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lost Colonists -- Cedar Island? Robeson County?

A column about an article in the N.C. Historical Review about The Lost Colony LINK prompted some e-mail from North Carolinians who, like many of us, are fascinated about what happened to the colonists more than 400 years ago. The article, by Prof. David La Vere at UNC Wilmington, argued that the dismissal of the Chowan River Dare Stone as a hoax in the early 1940s may have been hasty. The stone purported to be a record from Eleanor White Dare with a few clues to the fate of the colonists.

The column -- my wife referred to it as The Lost Column -- prompted these notes:

From a reader in Harkers Island: Local knowledge (being eastern Carteret County – Down East that you wrote about recently) believes that the “Lost Colony” was actually at Cedar Island. There is a book entitled “Riddle of the Lost Colony” published in the 50s that outlines this theory. I would be glad to mail you a copy if you are interested in exploring this theory. DNA would in fact solve the mystery ... We have some family lines that need to be tested as well.

From a Charlotte reader who describes himself as a Shawnee Native American:

If the mystery of the "lost colonists" is to be solved, the best approach to solving it would be to start with the Lumbee Indians living in Robeson County, N.C.

I find it interesting that many of the lost colonist surnames appear on the Lumbee rolls today. And what is also interesting is the fact that the Lumbee Indians were once the Croatoan Indians. The name that was carved on a tree where the lost colonists once lived before they "disappeared", was "Croatoa". A concidence? I think not!

I have always believed that where there is smoke, there must surely be embers of a fire.

However, solving this mystery will also spoil the long held "myth". Maybe holding onto the myth is more important to some scholars than actually solving this story.

I have also been told by Indian friends from Virginia that the Mattaponi Indians from that area, may also have taken in some of the lost colonists. DNA analysis will be the major factor in solving this hundreds of years old mystery.

I know with certainty that rock artifacts are very easily faked. They must be treated with suspicion. An uncle of mine makes stone arrowheads and spear points that cannot be distinguished from those made thousands of years ago. Unscrupulous people sell these modern made stone implements as "real" ancient artifacts. Fortunately, my uncle does not engage in this shady practice.

And from a Charlotte reader: I enjoyed your column this morning but I'm frustrated. Wanting to read La Vere's piece, I went to the website you printed but all I could (find) was the table of contents. Given my limited computer skills, I may have dome something wrong. Can you help? I'd sure like to read it.

Alas, the article itself is not online, but many libraries subscribe to the N.C. Historical Review if you don't want to subscribe to the journal itself. The address of the journal is www.ncpublications.com/nchr/default.htm and the phone number in Raleigh is (919)733-7442.

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