Zach – Welcome once again to Minimum Wage Historian! Today we will be discussing the Lost Colony of Roanoke! (ominous music plays in the background) With me is my co-host, Anna Komemna.
Anna – Glad to be hear. I can’t wait to get started. I’m curious as to what happened my self.
Zach – Patience my Byzantine noblewoman. We will unravel this mystery. Next we have …yes, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon – I need no introduction you silly man. Everyone knows who I am.
Buffalo Calf Road – You’re the short guy with the big hat, right? The Ka’evé’ho’e
Napoleon – Why you…! I am not short! I don’t know what that savage word means, but I know I should punish you for it!
Buffalo – I just called you a short white man.
Zach – And next we have famous Cheyenne warrior woman, Buffalo Calf Road!
Buffalo – Thank you, thank you. Hahoo!
Zach – And then we have Hua Mulan, woman general from Ancient China. She can kick your butt with kung fu.
Mulan – I just saw that cartoon called “Mulan”. It was swine dung.
Zach – If you thought that was inaccurate, wait till we talk about Pocahontas. But I digress. (not this episode.)
Napoleon – Are you sure you have time for this, Zach Are you not writing your silly little book?
Zach – Why, yes, I am writing a book. It’ll be my…I lost count of how many books I’ve written. You wrote, let’s see. Oh yeah, ONE and it was crap. Should I have Jane Austin come back and slap you with a literary pimp hand? She’s got the Bronte sisters as back up. They roll together.
Napoleon – I am not afraid of this woman!
Zach – Jane? Can you come in here a minute?”
Napoleon – No, no! Let us move on, yes? We have much history to discuss.
Zach – Very well. You’re lucky Jane’s showing Caesar and Matilda her “accomplishments with the cello”… and by cello she meant my bass guitar.
Anna – In 1584, Queen Elizabeth gave permission for Walter Releigh to establish a permanent colony in the new world. Sir Releigh did not go himself to create this colony, instead he sent Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to go do all the work for him.
Mulan – Why would they be interested in a small settlement clear across the ocean? Seems inefficient to me.
Napoleon – They wanted to use it as a base to go forth and act like pirates to the Spanish. Unlike in my time, the Spanish here are the ultimate sea power.
Mulan – The term was…privateers, right?
Anna – Yes, privateers are government sanctioned pirates. As long as they attack the enemies of the country that hired them, they were under full protection of that country.
Buffalo – They didn’t come just to start a base for pira…privateers, but they also wanted to loot, steal and take whatever riches the New World had. I’m sure there was some nobility in there somewhere.
Zach – Well, they sent an expedition to go take a look and they brought back (willfully) two natives who told Releigh all about their homeland. This got them interested in a second expedition to set up a permanent colony.
Mulan – We Chinese also sent expeditions to North America but I do not think they ever planned on staying.
Anna – After their ships got separated in a storm, they met near Puerto Rico where they set up a small fort and then promptly abandoned it. Then they sailed north to what they called Roanoke Island, off the coast of North
Carolina. They met with some of their lost ships, one of which left dropped off their colonists and hurried up to Newfoundland to do some privateering.
Buffalo – Are all your explorers pirates and swindlers?
Napoleon – No, the Spanish were fanatical plunderers.
Buffalo – And all you French seemed to care about was fur trapping. What strange priorities you people have.
Zach – So they find the island and set up shop. They make a little fort like the one they abandoned and begin to make friends with the local natives.
Anna – See? They’re not so bad.
Buffalo – Zach, let me tell this story.
Zach – Be my guest.
Buffalo – The English set up their little colony and begin making friends with the locals. One of the villages they befriended was called Aquascogoc. One of the settlers lost or misplaced a cup and claimed that it must have been stolen by an Indian. Because Indians cared so much about such things. So, as payment for the cup, the colonists go and burn down the entire village. The colonists were then surprised that the natives suddenly turned hostile towards them. Imagine that. Who would have guessed?
Anna – Yes, so relations with the locals weren’t going very well.
Buffalo – Stop burning our villages and stealing our stuff and maybe we can be friends.
Zach – Short on supplies and the relief fleet no where in sight, they decide to send a ship back to find out what was going on with that pizza they ordered. This return voyage would bring back potatoes and maize to the Europeans.
Buffalo – And the Indians attacked the fort.
Zach – Yes, the colony had a few PR hang ups.
Anna – England sends another fleet to go and establish another colony in the Chesapeake Bay and their orders were to stop by Roanoke first, pick up all the colonists there and bring them along. But when they got there all they found was an abandoned fort and a skeleton.
Mulan – So they went up north and established the new colony in Virginia?
Anna – No, the fleet commander kicks all the colonists off the ship and tells them to reestablish Roanoke. Mulan, isn’t building your home near a mysterious place of death bad feng shui?
Mulan – It’s not generally considered a good thing…in most cultures.
Buffalo – According to the Navajo you can get “ghost sickness.”
Napoleon – What is this ghost sickness?
Buffalo – It’s when a creepy girl comes out of your TV and kills you.
Mulan – You just made that up.
Buffalo – Yeah. I watched the Ring last night. But there such a thing as ghost sickness.
Anna – The English then set up a new colony where the other colonists disappeared. They try to reestablish relations with the Croatans and other tribes, which I imagine was somewhat awkward because the tribes didn’t even want to talk to them.
Napoleon – Maybe because they were still picking the colonists from their teeth?
Buffalo – They weren’t cannibals, távo’eéh!
Mulan – Surrounded by enemies they send a man named White, one of Releigh’s friends, back to England to beg for help, but while he’s home a war breaks out between the English and Spanish. This is the war where Spain sends the Armada up to invade England. So England needs every ship available to stop the Spanish and White can’t find a ship to return to the colony. There are some complications and failed attempts, but to make a long story short, White doesn’t get to return until after three years.
Buffalo – White also had a granddaughter there, Virginia Dare. She was the first English person born in the New World. Unfortunately, not the last.
Zach – The only ship he could charter was a…you guessed it, a privateer ship that he convinces to make a brief stop there. When he arrives he finds the place deserted. Everything was carefully packed up and the houses were disassembled showing that it wasn’t a hasty departure. Also, they had a signal that if they had to leave the colony forcefully, they were to leave a Maltese cross as a sign. No crosses were found but they did find the word “Croatoan” carved in a tree and “Cro” carved in another tree. Croatoan was another nearby island.
Anna – But before he could go looking for them, a giant storm came and they had to leave.
Napoleon – Ha! It wasn’t until twelve years later that Releigh got off his fat, lazy English backside and tried to find out what happened to the colony. He sent his little expedition but they never made it to the island because another storm. These English are afraid of a little weather!
Buffalo – Soooo, what happened to them? They had to have gone somewhere.
Napoleon – I have a theory that is not my own.
Buffalo – I can’t wait to hear it.
Napoleon – Cannibals.
Zach – So, anyway, what other theories are out there?
Anna – The most prominent and most likely is that they moved in with local tribes. They probably weren’t self sufficient enough and had to either submit to the surrounding tribes or made some sort of bargain. The theory goes that the Chowanoke tribe took them in but another tribe attacked that tribe and took all the survivors as trophies and slaves. There are reasons to believe this. When Jamestown was settled, one of their missions was to find out what happened to the Roanoke colony. They found evidence of two story stone houses that the natives said white people had taught them to make. Also there were several reports of European slaves among different tribes in the area. One report said that there was an English maid among them. Some believe that this was Virginia Dare due to the age of the reported girl. Also, some of the tribes that used to live near Roanoke told the Jamestown settlers that they had white ancestors.
Anna – After that there were many reports by English colonists of grey-eyed Indians. Some French Huguenots later came across Indians with blond hair and blue eyes. In the late 1880s, Hamilton McMillan, a North Carolina state legislator, found that a local Indian tribe claimed to be descended from the Roanoke colonists and that some of the words in their language were similar to old, out of date English words and that some of their family names were similar to the names of the lost colonists. He made the “Croatan bill” that proclaimed them descendants of the lost colonists. There were also many reports of English colonists meeting groups of Indians that spoke English and knew about Christianity.
Mulan – That is one theory. I have one. When John Smith asked chief Powhatan about the lost colony, he said “oh, sure, they were chilling with an enemy tribe so we wiped them all out. Here, I have some English helmets we looted. Take a look.”
Zach – Sorry, I wrote that quote. I paraphrased.
Mulan – But the essence is true. According to that legend, he took credit for destroying the colonists and had proof.
Buffalo – Or maybe they tried to make it back to England and sunk or starved to death. Or, here’s an interesting one, maybe the Spanish did find them and destroy them! The Spanish do have a history of attacking forts and erasing evidence that there was a fort. They did it before at Ft. Charles and tried it at Jacksonville Florida on Ft. Caroline.
Anna – Seems to me like the colonists were either captured, assimilated or killed by the Indians.
Zach – But there is one possibility that we haven’t discussed.
Anna – What?
Zach – Zombies. That would explain why there are no bodies. Once killed, they got back up and walked away. No wonder Powhatan had to kill them.
Anna – And on that fascinating note, we end it here and leave you to come up with your own conclusions.
Buffalo – They made babies with the Indians!
Anna – Their OWN conclusions.
Buffalo – But they did!
Zach – Zombies.
Napoleon – Cannibals!
Mulan – You all have it wrong. It was old man Withers with a mask trying to scare the kids away from the Spanish gold at the bottom of the lake.