Following the Croatoan
2010 when the North Carolina Society of Historians awarded the Lost
Colony Research Group the prestigious Malcolm Fowler Award, their
question was why we weren't following the Croatoan.
Little did they know, we are and have been for some time.
Records that touch upon the Hatteras have been scattered
throughout many different types of records in many locations.
Altogether, there aren't many.
Colonists left us one very clear message, in duplicate.
When they left Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island, they disassembled
the houses and left in an orderly manner.
In doing so, they also left two messages, "Cro" and
"Croatoan", carved into a fort post and into a tree, in order
to tell John White on his return trip where they would be found.
They also left him another message, by omission.
He had agreed with them that if they were in distress, they would
carve a cross, the cross formee, along with any message, and there were
no crosses. They were not
in peril when they left. White
tell us also that, prior to his departure in 1587, there had been
discussion of plans to move "50 miles into the main", but his
records are mute on any further location(s).
The Chesapeake area has been speculated, but that doesn't match
with the 50 mile criteria.
White tells us in his journal in 1590 that he was greatly relieved that
the colonists had joined their friends, the Croatoan, the tribe of
Manteo, on Hatteras Island. And
with that, they disappear from the English records.
John White was blown back to England in a hurricane, never able
to return. Subsequent
expeditions were sporadic and had even less success in determining
whether the colonists survived or not.
and Harriot created a map in 1585 that showed in red the various
locations of the Indian towns that were discovered during their
explorations. The depiction
of the Outer Banks was somewhat distorted, and of course the geography
has changed between 1585 and 2010 as a result of various storms, but in
essence, White showed the entire island he called Croatoan as inhabited
by Indians, as shown below. The
outlet at the top of Croatoan is now closed so that Cape Hatteras today
connects the two islands of Croatoan and Paquiwoc.
White was unable to visit Croatoan during his 1590 rescue trip, he
reported that the colonists' houses on Roanoke Island were removed, not
torn down, destroyed or burned, and there was no evidence that the
colonists had left under duress. When
White discovered the "Croatoan" and another "Cro"
carving, and no crosses, he knew that the colonists had left a message
containing their location, as they had also agreed to do prior to his
departure. White commented
in his journal that he was “greatly joyed that I had safely found a
certain token of their safe being at Croatoan which is the place where
Manteo was born”, “the island of our friends.”
The 1590 deBry map
(North is at right), taken from various maps drawn during the 1584-1587
voyages shows three Indian villages, one at Buxton and one in the
general location of Frisco and third one slightly further south.
maps indicate three main Indian villages on what is now Hatteras Island,
one in or near Avon, formerly Kinnekeet, 3 miles north of Buxton, one at
Buxton and one at Frisco, where Brigands' Bay is currently located. The Brigands' Bay location was the last location to have an
active Indian village, into the 1800s, based on deeds and other local
reported that there were a few survivors, but that most colonists were
dead. The Powhatan claim to
have massacred them, but then a few pockets of some colonists who were
reported to be slaves were also reported. None were found and it's unclear how actively they were
actually sought, although at least three separate reports were received
regarding colonist locations.