August 18, 1590: The colony of Roanoke is discovered mysteriously abandoned.

The English colony on Roanoke Island (located off the coast of North Carolina) was an early attempt at a permanent settlement in the New World, established by around a hundred colonists and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585. Like most early English settlements, Roanoke was not very successful, having constantly low food supplies dwindled and poor relations with local Native American tribes. In 1587, the governor of the colony, John White, returned to England for more supplies at the urging of the Roanoke colonists. 

When he returned in 1590, the colony was deserted, the colonists missing and the buildings collapsed. Among the missing was White’s own granddaughter, Virginia Dare - the first English child born in the Americas. One of the few clues to what happened to the colonists was the word “CROATOAN” carved on a post and the word “CRO” carved on a tree. With no corpses and no signs of struggle, it seemed as though the colonists had simply disappeared. One popular theory is that the disappeared were assimilated into the local Croatoan tribe. Others theorize that they were wiped out by the Powhatans or the Spanish, that they starved, or that they drowned in an attempt to sail to England. Still today, the fate of “the Lost Colony” remains uncertain.

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    The number of times Roanoke has come up in my daily life this past month is alarming. I’m taking it as a sign that I...
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