Hatteras Island Family Reconstruction Project
Frequently Asked Questions
Hi, and thanks for your interest in the Hatteras Island Family project. Many folks have questions, so we've prepared this handy reference to answer questions and provide info about our project.
Hatteras Island (in current Dare County, NC, but formerly in Hyde and Currituck) is a very unique place with an incredibly interesting history and geography as well.
· Hatteras Island is the location where the Lost Colonists indicated that they went, to join their friends, the Croatoan Indians.
· Hatteras Island has a long history of shipwrecks, with many families carrying the oral history that they descend from shipwreck victims.
· Hatteras Island has an equally long oral history that many of the current residents
descend from the original residents, the Croatoan (later the Hatteras) Indians.
· The isolated geography of Hatteras Island served to discourage a lot of movement to
the island after the initial land grants were awarded and free/cheap land was no longer available.
· The isolated geography prevented or discouraged intermarriage with people not island residents, creating a rather closed community, allowing us the unique opportunity to reconstruct the original island residents from their descendants today. Until the 1960s, there was no road connecting it to the mainland. The Hatteras Island families inter-
married within their own group, as other options were limited.
The Hatteras Indians lived on the island when the Lost Colony was abandoned in 1587, but were known to the English as the Croatoan. The colonists left the word "Croatoan" carved in a stockade post on Roanoke Island, indicating they had gone to join the Croatoan on Hatteras Island. In 1701, John Lawson, an early explorer visited the Indians living on Hatteras Island
and reported that they claimed to be descended from the Lost Colonists and had light hair and grey eyes. Just a few years later, European settlers began to settle on Hatteras Island with
the Native people, and by the end of the 1700s, the last of the Indians were gone, dead,
moved to the mainland or perhaps intermarried into the European population. This is the evidence we seek.
The Hatteras Island Family Reconstruction project is founded upon four different types of information, that, when combined, form very powerful tools to help us understand our
Hatteras Island heritage:
Genealogy History Archaeology DNA
Let's look at these one at a time.
Genealogy - We are fortunate that the island has had at least three individuals who collected
genealogical information in the 1900s about island families. We are currently transcribing this
information from 2 of those 3 sources into a genealogy program to be shared with others seeking their
family origins on Hatteras Island. We welcome information from descendants to add to our project
which will be made available for other researchers with proper credit given to contributors.
History - we approach this as the study of events that influenced our ancestors on Hatteras Island. In
many ways, these were the same events that influenced the early seaboard colonies, but there were also events unique to Hatteras Island due to their maritime nature and location. Often understanding the
history of an area helps us to answer the question of "why". Many recent articles focus on Hatteras
Island and can be found in the Lost Colony Newsletters available at this link -
Archaeology - Through our sister organization, The Lost Colony Research Group, we are working
with a team of experts to further expand our knowledge of the early history of the Hatteras Island
residents through a series of archaeology digs. We are partnered with the University of Bristol. You
can see some photos and read about this in the June Lost Colony Newsletter, found at this link - http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~molcgdrg/nl/nl06-17-10.htm
Two digs have been completed (fall 2009 and spring 2010) and 2 additional are scheduled
(fall 2010 and spring 2011).
DNA - In the past few years, genetic genealogy has become an invaluable tool allowing us to recon-
struct the early families. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son directly with no admixture
from the mother, and follows the surname. Comparing DNA tests from men with the same surname
allows us to determine if they share a common ancestor.
Another invaluable kind of DNA testing for genealogists is the mitochondrial DNA test. Mitochondrial (mtDNA) is passed from women to all of their children, with no admixture from the father, but only the females pass it on to their children. Therefore, by testing descendants
today of the Hatteras Island mothers, we can reconstruct the early families based on their
DNA signatures. This is particularly powerful because often the record of early female
surnames did not survive. The early Currituck County marriage records do not exist.
A third kind of test can be very useful for those who descend from island families, but not via
the paternal (surname) line, nor the mitochondrial line. This new kind of test is called an autosomal test and it tests the DNA you receive from all of your ancestors with the goal of
finding your genetic cousins. In addition, this test, called the Family Finder test, identifies
your percentage of ethnicity. Obviously each generation divides the ancestral DNA by 50%, but this test is pretty reliable to the 7th generation or so. We have a separate project for
people who take this test.
Our testing for this project is done through Family Tree DNA ( http://www.familytreedna.com
We have compiled a list of early island surnames from deeds, wills, tax lists, militia and
other documents. These surnames represent the early island residents up through about
1800. We would like to be able to reconstruct the ethnicity of the earliest island families, especially the wives whose surnames have been lost to time. Using DNA, we will be able to reconstruct those families and help people who cannot identify their ancestors' families to reconnect.
Hatteras Island Family Reconstruction Project
have compiled a list of early island surnames from deeds, wills, tax
lists, militia and other
documents. These surnames
represent the early island residents up through about 1800.
We would like to be able to reconstruct the ethnicity of the
earliest island families, especially the wives whose surnames have
been lost to time. Using
DNA, we will be able to reconstruct those families and help people who
cannot identify their ancestors' families to reconnect.
paternal surname is listed above or you descend from other Hatteras
Island families and you
have a male who carries that surname today available to test (or who has
tested), please join our Hatteras Fathers DNA project at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/HatterasFathers/default.aspx
maternal line, meaning your mother's mother's mother's line, on up the
tree through women only on the maternal line extends back to Hatteras
Island residents, you are eligible to join
our Hatteras Mothers DNA project at
are descended from Hatteras Island residents through any of your
genealogical lines, and you
have taken the Family Finder test, please join our Hatteras Family
Finder project at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Hatteras-Families/default.aspx
for the DNA projects can be found at their links, above, and contributed
each surname can be found under the "surname research" link at
and published in our various
newsletters at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~molcgdrg/nl/anl-index.htm
Are We? - Dawn Taylor and Roberta Estes are the volunteer
administrators of the Hatteras
Family projects. This
project is managed under the Lost Colony Research Group umbrella.
a Hatteras Island native, lives on the island and has been a committed
genealogist for more
than 15 years. She has
published several articles about the Lighthouse Keepers in
magazines and other publications. Committed
to preserving the Hatteras Island heritage, she
joined the Lost Colony Research Group as a researcher and founded the
Genealogy Society. More
information can be found here - http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=245433063719&ref=ts.
is one of the founders of the Lost Colony Research Group and currently
serves as the
Director. This group was
founded in 2007 to determine whether or not the Colonists survived.
Focused research has suggested that if they did survive, it was
likely on Hatteras Island,
leading to the archaeological digs and the Hatteras Island Family
is one of the pioneers in the field of genetic genealogy and owns www.dnaexplain.com
as well as managing over 20 volunteer DNA projects which include the
Cumberland Gap, North Carolina Native Heritage and American Indian
founder projects. Her specialty is mixed race ancestry.
Colony Research Group has been very blessed to have an exceptional team
of researchers. You can
read more about the research team at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~molcgdrg/bio/bioindex.htm.
Lost Colony Resources
Colony website includes more than 2000 pages of research, all free, at
Colony Project on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lost-Colony-of-Roanoke-DNA-Project/126053773239?v=wall
Colony Blog - http://the-lost-colony.blogspot.com/
- Thanks to Andy Powell for setting this up.
Colony DNA projects at Family Tree DNA:
Colony Yline - (paternal surname) - http://www.familytreedna.com/public/LostColonyYDNA/default.aspx
Colony Mitochondrial - (maternal line) - http://www.familytreedna.com/project-join-request.aspx?group=LostColonymtDNA
Colony Family Finder - (autosomal) http://www.familytreedna.com/public/LostColonyFamilyFinder/default.aspx