Roanoke The Lost Colony Essay

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“Roanoke: The Lost Colony,” in Digging for the Truth (A & E Television Networks), 44:49 mins

The Roanoke Colony was the first English settlement in America and the lost colonists were the third group of people from England to arrive on Roanoke Island. The first group arrived in 1584 to explore and map the land for future groups. The second group arrived in 1585 with orders make a military and scientific expedition. The third group arrived on May 8, 1587 with 117 people. Josh Bernstein, of the A&E Television Networks, set out on an expedition of the Outer Banks of eastern North Carolina to search for archeological evidence of the Lost Colony’s settlement on Roanoke Island. At the beginning of his investigation, Josh found over twenty years of evidence that was collected about the Roanoke Island’s existence. Josh decided to get an aerial view of the island’s geography to look for the colonists’ departure points. From above, Josh concluded that all four directions would have been easily accessible to the colonists, but since there are so many waterways leading out of the island it’s hard for him to figure out which way they went. However, the surviving accounts of Governor John White (the leader of the group) helped to identify that they started out at present day Fort Raleigh. The next step to Josh’s investigation was to find out what climate conditions the colonists faced. This would determine if finding water was a challenge for them. So, Josh did an archaeological study of the rings from core samples of several cypress trees found in the mid-Atlantic Region; the wider the rings the wetter the year. Unfortunately, the results revealed that the settlers experienced the worst drought the region had in the last 800 years. The colonist also suffered another misfortune. Less than a month after arriving on the island their supplies began to run low. This meant that Governor White had to return to England for emergency supplies, leaving behind his daughter and newborn granddaughter (the first English to be born in America). White thought it would only take him three months to return, but it actually took him three years because England requisitioned all available ships in defense of the Spanish Armada. When White was finally able to return he found the settlement site abandoned and the word “Croatoan” carved into a wooden post. To examine the departure of the colonists from the settlement site, Josh traveled to Lumberton, North Carolina which is 250 miles southwest of the settlement site. Croatoan was an island in the Outer Banks and the natives were called Croatoans who happen to be the ancestors of today’s largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi River, the Lumbee. It is known from the accounts of the previous expeditions to Roanoke Island that the Croatoans were friendly and they traded with the English and protected them from unfriendly tribes. With this in mind, Governor White felt that the colonist would be safe if they did relocate to the Croatoan Island. Assuming that the message on the post meant the group went to Croatoan, White sailed toward the island,but because of a bad storm White’s ship was forced back into the Atlantic Ocean and he was then left no choice but to return to England. If the colonist were assisted by the Croatoans they would have been assimilated into the tribe and survived. To find out if there were any survivors; Josh examined the genealogy of local North Carolina records. As a result, he discovered the name of a 19th century man named Malachi Payne (also known as Henry Payne). Payne claims that he was a descendant of the 1587 Lost Colonist. According to local records the Payne family name has been in eastern North Carolina for over 350 years. Josh met a possible descendant of Henry’s (Chris Payne, Sr.). Chris has a Bible that has been passed down from generation to generation and the people in family who owned the Bible wrote their names in it