The English navigators Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, exploring for Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, brought back such glowing accounts that Raleigh dispatched a colonizing expedition under Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Ralph Lane. The colonists landed on Roanoke Island in Aug., 1585, and built the "Citie of Ralegh" (or New Fort), but they returned to England the next year. In 1587 Raleigh sent another group under John White. Forced to return to England for supplies, White was unable to return until 1591, when he found the colonists gone and the letters CROATOAN carved on a tree. This gave rise to a theory that the settlers had moved to Croatoan Island or had joined the Croatoan or Hatteras Native Americans.
Another theory was later advanced with the discovery (1937-40) of some 40 stone tablets inscribed with what some believe to be the history of the "lost colony." The inscriptions tell of the death of many of the colonists (including Virginia Dare) from disease and Native American attacks and of the migration of others into the country's interior, as far away as Atlanta, Ga. The stones' authenticity, however, is questionable. In 1998 scientists said that a study of tree rings showed that the colonists had faced one of the worst droughts in the area's history.
Archaeologists at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (see National Parks and Monuments, table) uncovered many artifacts of the colony during the late 1940s; Festival Park in Manteo recreates the failed first settlement. In 1937 Paul Green's symphonic drama The Lost Colony was presented to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the landing of White's colony; it is now staged annually.
See K. O. Kupperman, Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony (1984).
Island, off the North Carolina coast, U.S. Situated near the southern entrance to Albemarle Sound, the island is about 12 mi (19 km) long and 3 mi (5 km) wide. It was the site of the first English settlement in North America; its original colonists, sent by Walter Raleigh, arrived in mid-1585 but stayed only until 1586. A second group arrived in 1587; Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas, was born on the island. When a supply ship arrived in 1590, all the colonists, including Virginia, had vanished; their fate is unknown. During the American Civil War the island was captured in 1862 by Union forces under Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. It is now a resort and residential area.
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About eight miles (12 km) long and two miles (3 km) wide, Roanoke Island lies between the mainland and the barrier islands, with Albemarle Sound on its north, Roanoke Sound at the northern end, and Wanchese CDP at the southern end. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is on the island. There is a land area of 17.95 square miles (46.48 km²) and a population of 6,724 as of the 2000 census.
Located along U.S. Highway 64, a major highway from mainland North Carolina to the Outer Banks, Roanoke Island combines recreational and water features with historical sites and an outdoor theater to form one of the major tourist attractions of Dare County.
Roanoke Island is best known for its historical significance as the site of Sir Walter Raleigh's attempt to establish a permanent English settlement with his Roanoke Colony in the late 16th century. The fate of the final group of colonists has yet to be ascertained, leading to the continuing interest in what became known as the "Lost Colony" for over 400 years. In the 21st century, even as archaeologists, historians and scientists continue to work to resolve the mystery, visitors come to see the longest-running outdoor theater production in America: "The Lost Colony."
Roanoke Island was the site of the 16th century Roanoke Colony, the first English colony in the New World in what was then called Virginia, in honor of England's ruling monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. There were two major groups of settlers who attempted to establish a permanent settlement at Roanoke Island, and each failed.
The first attempt to establish the Roanoke Colony was run by Ralph Lane after Sir Richard Grenville, who had transported the colonists to Virginia, returned to England for supplies as planned. Unfortunately for the colonists, who were desperately in need of supplies, Grenville's return was delayed. As a result, when Sir Francis Drake put in at Roanoke after attacking the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, the entire population of the colony returned with Drake to England.
In 1587, the English again attempted to settle. John White, father of one of the colonists, and grandfather to the first English child born in the New World, Virginia Dare, left the colony to return to England for supplies that he felt would help the colonists to survive, expecting to return to Roanoke Island within three months. Instead, he found England at war with Spain, and all ships were confiscated for use of the war efforts. His return to Roanoke Island was delayed until 1590. When he finally returned, the colonists had disappeared. The only thing he found was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a nearby tree. Before leaving the colony for England three years earlier, White left instructions with the colonists that if they were forced to abandon their settlement on Roanoke, that they were to carve out the name of the place where they were going and a cross under the carving if they left for danger.
"CROATOAN" was the name of an island to the south (modern-day Hatteras Island), where a friendly native tribe were known to live, and it was thus reasonable to assume that the colonists had left the Roanoke settlement bound for that island. However, foul weather would keep White from venturing south to search on Croatoan for the colonists, and they returned to England. White would never return to the New World. The fate of the colony has never been authoritatively ascertained, and consequently it became known as "The Lost Colony".
During the American Civil War, the island was first fortified by the Confederacy. The Battle of Roanoke Island (February 7–8, 1862) was an incident in the North Carolina Expedition of January to July 1862, when Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside landed an amphibious force and took Confederate forts on the island. Afterwards, the three Confederate forts on the island were renamed for the Union generals who had commanded the winning forces: Fort Huger became Fort Reno; Fort Blanchard became Fort Parke; and Fort Bartow became Fort Foster. This incident would eventually lead to the resignation of Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin. Roanoke Island remained under Union occupation for the duration of the war.
Slaves from the island and the mainland of North Carolina fled to the occupied area with hopes of gaining freedom. By 1863, a substantial number of these former slaves, known as "contrabands," were living on the fringe of the Union camp. They had built churches and opened what was most likely the first free school for blacks in North Carolina. Fearing that this freedmen's camp might lead to problems related to sanitation and soldiers' discipline, the Union Army established an official freedmen's colony on the island. In addition to its original residents, it was to serve as a refuge for the families of black soldiers who enlisted in the Union Army. The superintendent of the colony, Horace James, had great hopes for the colony, viewing it as a grand social experiment. Northern missionary teachers, mostly women, journeyed to the island to help with the experiment.
RESIDENTS BICKER OVER OUTSIDERS' USE OF FACILITIES ROANOKE ISLAND YACHT CLUB SAILORS REBUFFED FOR STAGING EVENTS.(LOCAL)
Jun 15, 1996; Byline: LANE DEGREGORY, STAFF WRITER COLINGTON HARBOUR -- Sailors with the Roanoke Island Yacht Club have run into turbulent...
TRANSFORMATION OF AN ISLAND ROANOKE ISLAND FESTIVAL PARK, ONCE A SITE FOR DREDGE SPOILS, SHOWN BELOW, NOW SHIMMERS WITH THE EXCITEMENT OF THE ISLAND'S HISTORY AND ITS FUTURE.(CAROLINA COAST)
Apr 19, 1998; Byline: PAUL SOUTH, STAFF WRITER ROANOKE ISLAND -- The sun shines, and a cool breeze blows off Roanoke Sound. An...