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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology




January 2012



The Dare Stones, 1 through 48

In the September, 2011 issue of the newsletter, we had a lovely article about what is known as the "Dare Stone".  We were fortunate to have this stone with us a few years ago at a symposium and were able to photograph the stone up close and personal.

Dr. Jim Sutherland of Breneau University provided an excellent lecture along with a translation of the contents of the stone.

This stone is the original Dare Stone, found on the banks of the Chowan River about 6 miles from Edenton, NC.


The translation provided by Dr. Sutherland is provided below.



It is generally believed that if indeed this, the original Dare Stone is a legitimate find, this stone was likely not carved in this location, but may have been sent with a Native runner who might have been headed for Roanoke Island, but was captured or killed and never made it to Roanoke.

However, as with everything else having to do with the Lost Colony, the mystery only deepens.

The stone said that the location of the graves was four miles "easte this river" upon a small hill.  If the stone was going to Roanoke, why would it give these directions?

The stone had wound up with Dr. Pearce of Breneau (then College) University and his son Dr. Pearce of Haywood University.  They did some research and discovered that chisels and mallets were among the supplies listed for the Lost Colony voyage, so this stone being authentic was a possibility.

They began an extensive search for "the hill" in the proximity of where the stone was found, but had no luck.  Becoming discouraged, they offered a $500 reward for anyone finding a stone that might be connected.  Then, as they say, is when the trouble began.

In April of 1939, William "Bill" Eberhardt of Fulton County, Georgia was traveling in South Carolina, had a flat time, changed it and used a stone he picked up in the red clay ravine near the road for a jack stand.  When finished, he noticed some writing chiseled on it.  Returning to the ravine, he found 12 more similarly inscribed.  The location was a hillside in Greenville county, 12 miles below Greenville, on the Saluda River. 

Bill Eberhardt was not a cultured man.  He was described by a reporter as a single man in his mid-30s who lived alone in "an unpainted two-room cottage whose windows are draped with tar paper and whose floors are covered with soiled clothes, empty tobacco sacks, and remnants of the night before's meal.  He rolls his own cigarettes, reads back issues of newspapers and roams the woods..."

Elsewhere it was hinted at that he might have been a stonecarver, but with his schooling that lasted "only a short time," which turned out to be through third grade, where would be get the knowledge to inscribe old Elizabethan English in old Elizabethan letters?

Each of the subsequent stones contained a message, as follows:

1.  Front - Heyr laeth Ananias & Virginia Father salvage mvrther Al save seaven names writen hery mai God bah mercye Eleanor Dare 1591

Back - Sydnor Boane Wigan Birge Polle Carewe Bowman Spague Ruckers Bolitoe Smythe Sakeres Holborn Winget Sloate

Edge - Father wee goe sw

2.  Front - 5 lae hyre mrd bie Inde 1589

Back - cy(r)v ane lae 200 se

3.  Front - 7 lae hyre mrd bye Inde 1589

Back - cy(r)v ane Iyh(r)e 200 e se

4.  Front - hyre lae Jvan Moleye Mulgrave ane childe 1589.

Edge - Mrd Bye Inde loke I myle

5.  Front - Jeyr laeth nolan Ogle & wyfe

Upper edge - 1590

Side - mvrthed bye salvage

6.  Front - Fathe r looke two ba rke of tr ee certan signe am ang tham Eleanor Dare 1591

7.  Front - salvage mvrther John Sampson William Sole Petter little John Farre Taylor Myllet haris 1591

Back - Henry Mylton John Breden Toppon Darige John-son Tydway 1591

8.  Front - Heyr laeth lewes Wotton 1591

Back - salv age Murther Henry Rufoote Rogers

9.  Front - Heyr laeth Richard Kemme Jame Hynde

10.  Front - Heyr laeth Daniel Bagby hee mvrther bye salvage 1591

Back - Fovre lae Heyr They Die of moche miserie

11.  Front - Heyr salvage murther samuel To Thill wyfe& cherl 1591

12.  Front - Heyr laeth Dyonis Harvie wyfe & dowt er

Back Will Dye spendlove 1591

Edge - Mvrthed bye salvage

13.  Front - Father wee goe sw with fo vre goodli e men the yr shew m oche mer cye theyr ar god sovldi ovus theyr s saide theyr br owt vs tow you Eleanor 1591

Edge - with mocha labovr wee pvtt certain names heyr

If this is true, these stones tell of the murder of an additional 15 colonists, including Ananias and Virginia Dare, buried on this hillside near present day Pelzer, SC.  These stones have become known as the Pelzer Stones. 

Dr. Elmer Herd, writing in "The South Carolina Upcountry" says that these stones tell of a 350 mile trek begun by 117 settlers to the southwest through NC into SC.  By the time they arrived, their numbers had thinned to only 24 and an additional 17 were killed and buried on the hillside.  The 7 who were left, including Eleanor, then prepared to move further southwest with some Indian guides.

The Drs. Pearce in 1939 purchased the site of the hill, 16 acres, where they believed the graves to be located and intended to do "significant excavation".  They searched the ravine where the stones were found and concluded that the stones had probably originally been placed on the hillside and thrown into the ravine by men clearing the fields.  They also had Bill Eberhardt thoroughly investigated and as a test, they offered him either the $500 in cash for a stone or $100 and half interest in the hill.  This would be worthless to him unless indeed the stones were genuine, and he chose the $100 plus half interest in the hill.  He later sold his half interest back to the Drs. Pearce for $1400.

In 1939 and 1940, Breneau College began a pageant portraying the Lost Colony and later history as revealed by the stones.  In 1937, the Lost Colony play by Paul Greene had opened on Roanoke Island.

The next call received by the Drs. Pearce was from a Mr. Tuner in Atlanta who had found a stone as well.

During this time, an additional 34 stones turned up, many of them found once again by Bill Eberhardt who the Drs. Pearce had sent to search along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.  Other individuals with no apparent connection to Eberhardt also found stones, although later, some would allege that there were connections to Eberhardt. 

These stones however were no place near the Saluda River, but instead were found on or near the eastern bank of the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta in a 40 mile stretch about 75 miles from the Saluda site.  These additional stones told of the trek of Eleanor White Dare from Pelzer, SC to an Indian village on the Chattahoochee, her marriage to an Indian chieftain and her later removal to a cave near Atlanta, and then into Alabama.

These finds were not without controversy.

A 1941 Saturday Evening Post article famously claimed the stones were frauds. 

Dr. Pearce wrote, on Breneau stationery, to the Saturday Evening Post who purchased his story and then performed additional investigative reporting.  From the Post Article, we find the descriptions of the next set of stones:

After deciphering, the stones said: “Father looke vp this river to great Salvage lodgement Wee pvtt moche clew bye wage.” On the other side: “Father the salvage shew moche mercye Eleanor Dare 1591.”

The Pearces urged Eberhardt to redouble his searching in Georgia.

Thereafter he brought nine stones from a bend of the river about eighteen miles above Gainesville. One stone said: “Father looke 5 dae tow backe trale bvrie al vppon Hil neere river.” On the back: “Eleanor Dare 1591.”

Another stone said: “Father shew moche mercye tow salvage weste of hilwhere Ananias & Virginia slayne.” On the back: “Eleanor Dare 1591.”

A third said: “Father thee accvrse salvage of the easte they hab slayne Al save seaven Revenge Eleanor Dare 1591.” On the edge was: “Anania & mye dowter,” seemingly the ones to be revenged.

Other stones related this story: “Father day by day some amang vs endeavovr tow Reconnoittre For signe of yov Eleanor Dare 1591.” “Father wee goe tow greate Hontaoase lodgement ther king shew moche mercye Eleanor Dare 1591.” “Father it Has bene 5 yeeres sithence yov hab departe maie God brynge yov hither Eleanor Dare 1592.” “Father wee ben heyr 5 yeeres in primaeval splendovr Eleanor Dare 1592.”

Here the story seemed to end. The seven survivors had reached a peaceful haven among friendly savages; lived, in fact, in “primeval splendor” in this Nacoochee Valley area, a long-time seat of the Cherokees. A year had elapsed without much progress when the Pearces enjoyed a triumph. Up to this point the professor had been troubled by his own skepticism, as much as by that of others. What proof was there the stones had not been strewn over three states by some diabolical hoaxer? Then through the enterprise of Professor Pearce old Georgia farmers were found who had seen some of the stones half a century ago. They had always supposed the inscriptions were “just Indian writing.”

The fresh leads came through the appearance of T. R. Jett, of Henry County, Georgia. This was in a period during August and September, 1940, when twenty-two stones had been found by four different people along the Chattahoochee about forty miles from Gainesville to the south and about ten miles northeast of Atlanta.  Mr. Jett had been reared there.



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