When he was
a small boy two peculiarly carved stones had been found. One, placed on
the floor of his father’s mill on Ball’s Creek, which flows into the
Chattahoochee, became an object of common remark. People who brought grain
to the mill always said the stone bore “Indian writing.” Jett
couldn’t remember what became of those two stones, but I. A. Turner, a
neighbor in those days, remembered that when the mill had been torn down,
the stone had been thrown into a ditch. Turner found it after a month of
hard searching. Not only Jett but several old-time residents identified
this find as the stone that had lain on the old mill floor.
could make out: “anye Englishman Shew John White Eleanor Dare &
Salvage kinge ha.” The rest was broken off.
remembered the second stone had been brought from the river by his brother
as part of a load of stones. Broken in two by his father, half was placed
in an unmortared pillar under a barn about forty years ago. It seemed
almost hopeless to search. Nevertheless, the effort was made.
The farm of
Mr. Jett’s father had been purchased by a cousin, Henry Campbell. He was
enlisted and the half was found in a ditch near where the barn had stood.
The other piece was found by Mrs. Jett in an old tool chest left fifteen
years with her family near Jonesboro, Georgia. After all these years, the
two halves fitted together unmistakably and the Pearces finally were able
to decipher: “Father wee dweelde in greate rocke (v)ppon river neere
heyr Eleanor Dare 1598.”
stones found the previouis August and September, Professor Pearce
deciphered: “Father skew moche mercye tow greate salvage lodgement Ther
King hab mee tow wyfe sithence 1593”  “Father hab mercye”
 “Father I hab dowter heyr al save salvage king angrie” 
not sure whether this means the Indians had desired a male infant or
whether they resented the relationship.
sithence 1593 wee hab mange salvage looke for you”  “Father I
beseeche yov hab mye dowter goe to englande”  “Father some
amange vs pvtt manye message fo yov Bye Trale”  “Father I -hab
moche svddiane sickenes” [1599, fixing the year Eleanor Dare died]
“Father hab salvage shew yov greate rocke bye trale” 
probably the last signed by Eleanor Dare, corroborating an earlier find.
“greate rocke bye trale” seemingly was a cave about a quarter of a
mile from the riverside where many stones were found. Search inside on a
wall revealed this inscription: “Eleanor Dare Heyr sithence 1593.”
The order of
the finding does not correspond to the chronology of the story. This, of
course, added to the difficulties of Professor Pearce’s labor.
Eberhardt, searching incessantly, found a few more stones. William Bruce,
of Fulton County, a hauler of stones for Atlanta contractors, found a
stone. Later he found another.
the odyssey was gratifyingly complete. Some recorded the deaths of William
Wythers, Robert Ellis, Henry Berry, Thomas Ellis and James Lasie. These,
with Eleanor Dare, accounted for six of the seven who survived the South
Carolina massacre. Ellis and Wythers were listed by Governor White as
“boys.” Apparently they reached manhood among Indians.
found by Bruce was dated 1599. It said: “She (w) (J) oh (n White)
eleanor (Dare) dye februa(ry) dowter name Agnes heyr.” There was a
poignant change here; it was signed, not by Eleanor Dare, but by Griffen
Jones, identified by Pearce as the probable carver of all but the first
entire post article can be found here:
article goes on to expose what they believe was an elaborate hoax
involving the Drs. Pearce and Eberhardt.
I must admit, the seemingly happenstance finds of so many stones
seems more than a happy coincidence.
On the other hand, if those stones are authentic, perhaps it took
the $500 reward to make people sit up and take notice, and to make Mr.
Eberhardt interested enough to go searching.
information, both pro and con, can be found here:
1940, the Drs. Pearce invited a committee of 34, headed by Samuel Eliot
Morrison of Harvard and president of the American Antiquarian Society,
historians, educators and scientists to meet at Breneau to examine the 48
stones. The list of names and
their credentials is impressive. The
committees reported in the Atlanta Constitution that "the
preponderance of evidence points to the authenticity of the stones
commonly known as the Dare Stones."
It's difficult to believe that any group of scholars would be a
party to a fraud, and it's also difficult to believe that counterfitters
would not give themselves away with 48 separate opportunities to do so.
following that, World War II was upon the country.
The elder Dr. Pearce died in 1943 and the hill, without ever being
completely excavated, was once again sold.
The stones themselves began their life in the basement at Breneau,
where they still remain, taken on occasional road trips to speaking
these stones are frauds, they are indeed a massively coordinated fraud,
almost as amazing in scope as if they had been true.
If these stones are genuine, we're looking in the wrong location
for the colonists. Furthermore,
we probably won't find them.
there were 7 who left Pelzer, SC, which included Eleanor Dare and 5 males
whose deaths were thereafter recorded, that only leaves one colonist,
unnamed, presumed alive in 1599, with the Indians on the Chattahoochee
River near Atlanta.
some of the colonists, particularly the males, settled down with nice
Native women near Roanoke Island or on Croatoan where they said they were
going, and never left on the trek that, if the stones tell the truth,
would take them to Pelzer, SC and beyond.
The Inglis Fletcher Dare Stone Letter
Brooks, in his search for historical information having to do with the
Lost Colonists happened across a letter to Inglis Fletcher.
This letter was donated to ECU as part of the Inglis Fletcher
Papers upon her death by her family and is now in the ECU Special
Collections which can be seen at the link below. http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/view.aspx?id=0021&q=inglis+fletcher
Sheppard was kind enough to transcribe the typewritten letter so that we
can share it with you here today.
did Inglis Fletcher get involved with the search for the Lost Colonists?
The North Carolina Writer's website provides us with this from her
great-granddaughter of a man from North Carolina's Tyrell County, Inglis
Fletcher was born in Alton, Illinois. She spent the first half of her
adult life with her mining engineer husband in northern California,
Washington State and Alaska, once moving twenty-one times in five years.
She had already published two successful novels by 1934, when a search for
information about her Tyrell County ancestors piqued her interest in North
Carolina's early years. She spent the next six years researching, writing,
and editing Raleigh's Eden, an historical novel about Albemarle plantation
families from 1765 to 1782. Between its publication in 1942 and 1964, she
produced an additional eleven novels which eventually became known as the
Carolina Series, covering two hundred years of North Carolina history from
1585 to 1789. Her established working pattern was to spend one year
researching and one year writing each volume.
Fletcher was a firm believer in extensive research for her novels, so
committed to accuracy that she would not begin to outline her plots until
she was steeped in details of everything from historical events to what
people ate and wore. Her favorite characters and their descendants
reappeared from book to book, taking part in intricate plots, wild
adventures and love stories that blended with actual past events and
personages. When Raleigh's Eden was criticized by native Tar Heels for
historical "errors," she publicly countered all accusations with
Fletcher wrote the book "Roanoke Hundred" in 1948.
You can see more about her and a list of her books which are still
available today at this link: http://www.ncwriters.org/services/lhof/inductees/ifletche.htm
research into the Lost Colony attracted the attention of Florence Rohr, a
teacher who had worked with the Drs. Pierce at Breneau and who had been
lecturing about the Dare Stones. Aside
from the Drs. Pierce themselves, and of course, Bill Eberhardt, she may
have been the closest to the stones, their study and the unfolding saga of
events. Here is her letter to
Care Betty Tillotson,
dear Mrs Fletcher:
came very near writing, “My dear Inglis Fletcher”. It does seem almost
instinctive to omit the “Mr.” or “Mrs.” when the addressee has
reached the rank of the immortals. Your
place among them seems pretty well assured now with “Roanoke Hundred”. What
a wonderful book that is! I
enjoyed every word of it. And all the time I felt its kinship to my
favorite novels of Sir Walter Scott. And sometimes I thought of “Gone
With the Wind”. In your handling of infinite detail it reminded me of
“Anthony Adverse”. It is
truly a great book, and I am so proud that a woman has written it.
purpose in writing you is twofold: first, to express my appreciation for
your magnificent contribution to American literature; second to talk to
yoy (sic) about a matter that is very much on my mind, and one which is
likewise in the field of your greatest interest, that is, Raleigh’s
“Lost Roanoke Colony”.
you any theory as to why it is that those who should be most eagerly
interested are usually among the first to denounce as fake and fraud any
evidence that may be discovered unexpectedly, purporting to throw light on
puzzling questions of history? You
know this story of the Drake Plate (of 1586)
How the men who discovered it were ridiculed, and proclaimed
suckers, or deliberate fakers, by the intellectual who should have been
most interested. You remember
it was a simple layman, who asked a simple question, and thereby produced
indisputable proof that the plate was genuine.
Then, we have the case of the Kensington Stone.
Lest you may not have seen this article in the November 1948 issue
of Readers’ Digest, I am enclosing it with this (the word artie appears
here but is struck through) letter. Here
there was the same mockery. The same derision for the man who discovered
it and believed in it. Among
these who were quick to ridicoule (sic) were officers of the Smithsonian
Institute. They seem lately to have undergone a change of heart, for
now, it seems, they “have placed the stone among its greatest
treasures”. They have also
received back the Lindberg plane, which twenty-five, no, nearer thirty,
years ago they exiled to England.
this quick act of repudiation promped (sic) by a desire to to (sic)
protect their own positions of impeccable authority, so that, just in case
the discovery may prove to be a fraud, these authorities may be among the
first to say, “I told you so”?
two years ago I came to your home, Bandon, with a group of teachers from
the St Helena Extension of William and Mary College in Norfolk.
You received us most graciously, and autographed your books that we
had brought with us. At that
time I told you that in response to many requests that came to Brenau
College, I had been lecturing on “The Dare Stones” in Florida,
Georgia, and Alabama, and even in Vermont, so great was the interest
expressed. I made no effort
to prove that the stones were authentic, but I presented all the reasons
that seemed good to me for believing that they might be genuine. I
also presented reasons that might indicate that they were not genuine.
had happened that I was visiting at Brenau when the first of these stones
was brought to Dr. Haywood J. Pierce, President of Brenau, and later I
knew every detail of the discovery, knew all about the subsequent search
that he instituted, and saw every one of the thirty-three stones that were
the last summer that Dr. Pearce was alive, he invited archaeologists, and
historians from all over the United States to come to Brenau as guests of
the college to study with these stones which are still in the Brenau
College Museum. Thirty-seven
men came from colleges and universities widely scattered. They remained
three or four days, and studied the stones carefully.
Before they left they drew up a document, asking the privilege of
going on record as believing in the authenticity of these stones, at least
most of them. Thirty of the
thirty-seven men signed it. Rather
brave of them, wasn’t it?
I traveled from place to place, I discovered a peculiar animosity in some
quarters. I tried to explain
that D. Pearce was not trying to prove that the stones were genuine, but
rather to leave nothing undone to find out whether they might be genuine.
He was a man of rare intellectual integrity, and I am absolutely
sure that he had no ulterior nor (sic) selfish motive in pursuing this
study. So I was shocked when I discovered on visiting the pageant on
Roanoke Island, that someone among the actors and actresses there had
written a comedy entitled, “Dr. Pearce and His Rocks”, and had put it
on for their amusement. Nothing
in story of the Dare Stones could possibly have detracted from interest in
the Roanoke pageant, rather should have added to that interest for the
play as presented on Roanoke Island ends just where the story of the Dare
later in the summer, not many months before Dr. Pearce died, a newspaper
reporter a Jewish gentleman I think he was, (I forget his name) came to
Brenau, saying that he had been sent by the Saturday Evening Post.
He was received as a guest at Brenau, and entertained there for a
week. Dr. Pearce was too ill
to do very much for the reporter, but he had his son, Dr. Haywood Pearce
Jr., place himself at this man’s disposal.
Young Haywood showed him all of the stones, told him all that he
knew about them, and drove him all over the adjacent country to the three
spots where the stones were supposed to have been found.
reporter then offered Haywood $350 to write the story for the Post.
This offer Haywood accepted and delivered the story before the
reporter left. In a few
months this story appeared in the Post, and continuous (sic) with it,
almost as if it were a part of Haywood’s story, this reporter wrote the
crudest, rudest article I have ever read.
He referred to Dr. Pearce, who was a gentleman of rare dignity and
scholarship, as “old man Pearce” and to his wife, who had extended
hospitality as far as possible when her husband was ill, as “old lady
Pearce”. The reporter
seemed to feel that he had refuted every possible claim that anyone might
make supporting the authenticity of these stones.
To me his arguments seemed worse than superficial, there was a tone
of malice, which suggested to me that he might have been paid to go to
Brenau for the express purpose of smashing the whole story. But, I asked myself, whose interests could possibly be served
by such an attack. When this
story came out Dr. Pearce was too far gone to attempt any reply, and
Haywood Jr. who is I believe, now teaching at Harvard, was I think, too
disgusted to express further interest in the whole affair.
had a copy of this issue of the Post, but, moving about, as I have in the
last few years, I have lost it. I
am writing to the Post to-day for another copy of this issue.
I want you to see it.
then, because this story is in the field of your greatest interest, I
should be glad to come to Edenton, to Bandon, if that should be desirable,
show you all the pictures and information that I have, and tell you all
that I know about this whole matter. There are very few persons who know much more about it than I
do. I feel that I should like
to do this for the sake of Dr. Pearce, for whom I worked, as teacher at
Brenau, for six years, and whom I greatly admired and respected. Dr. Pearce had the PH.D. and other degrees from German and
French Universities, and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard.
In his ideas of Education he was years ahead of his time.
It will interest you to know that he was the first college
president in America to give credit on literary degree for work done in
misic (sic) and the drama. How
he was persecuted by the National Educational Association!
Now every college and university in the U.S. gives this credit.
seems to me that you have a mind preeminently suited to research work, and
I am deeply interested to know what reaction you would feel to a study of
the facts that I could bring to you.
There are many questions aroused in my own mind that I can not
Most sincerely yours,
Florence M. Rohr.
"The Lost Rocks" by David La Vere
Lost Rocks" is a book written by David La Vere about the Dare Stones.
David teaches American Indian History at the University of North
Carolina at Wilmington. His
book is available at major online bookstores, as well as in the used
seeks, in his book, to sift through the various pieces of evidence to
determine whether or not the stones were real, or elaborate fakes.
If they are real, they offer the answer to the oldest mystery in
American. If they are fake, they are one of the most elaborate hoaxes
ever wrought, and managed to fool, or at least confuse a great number of
very intelligent people for a long time.
In fact, the jury is still officially "out" on at least
one of the stones.
book begins by providing historical detail about the colonists and how the
first stone was found, which we have already covered.
It also covers a great deal about the political background
occurring at that time in North Carolina at the time that might have
influenced the climate about the stones.
For example, the state and some groups desperately wanted an
increase in tourism, and someone suggested that "stones" be
found. While I'm not going to
delve into these factors, I do suggest that the book is a great read for
anyone interested in the nitty gritty details of the saga of the Dare
Stones. It's a great mystery
and well written.
first problem with these multiple stones is that two of them, both
purporting to be Virginia Dare's tombstone, found in vastly different
locations, give different years of her death, one in 1591 and one in 1597.
The 1597 stone, found by a retired surveyor in response to the $500
reward offered, was quickly dismissed as a forgery.
this time Eberhardt arrived with another stone, this date being 1589, and
he was pretty quickly dismissed by the Pierce's due to the fact that his
date was both too early and in conflict with the already found 1591
tombstone date. Not to be
dissuaded, Eberhardt reappears a couple of week later....with....guess
what....a stone with the names of seventeen colonists, including Ananias
and Virginia Dare, and the date of 1591.
Now he had the Pierce's interest as this is more in line with what
they were expecting....and they had told him so previously.
next grouping of South Carolina stones gave the Pierce's pause. They
contradicted some of the information on the original Chowan River Dare
Stone which indicated that the colonists were there, or someplace nearby,
in 1591. The South Carolina stones said they were there in 1589.
If so, what were they doing back on the Chowan in 1591?
stone was dated 1587 and had an arrow pointing southwest.
Knowing that both Mrs. Harvie and Eleanor Dare had given birth in
August of 1587, and the colonists strengthened the fort (according to what
White found in 1590), and were expecting supplies in the spring of 1588,
this seems very unlikely, yet the stone begged for an explanation.
1940, new stones, beginning with stone 15, moved the colonists out of
South Carolina into Georgia. In one haul, Eberhardt showed up with 9 different stones.
By now, the total of stones was up to 23, plus the original Chowan
River stone which bore no resemblance to the other stones.
There was also the issue of the names of some colonists on the
stones which did not appear on John White's manifest.
Pierce decided that a possible explanation was that White had made an
error on the manifest and that the first stone could be explained by the
fact that Eleanor Dare, after Ananias and Elizabeth were killed in South
Carolina on the Saluda River, had the original Chowan Stone carved as a
message to her father and send it by friendly Indian messenger to be
placed back at Roanoke. The
Indian made it as far as the Chowan River, was perhaps killed, and there
the stone lay for the next three and a half centuries until it was found
in the 1930s.
same year, 1940, Breneau wrote and produced a "romantic comedy"
about the colonists and their trek through South Carolina into Georgia,
ending on the Chattahoochee River. Recall
that the Lost Colony play by Paul Green had opened on Roanoke Island in
1937, the same summer that the first Dare Stone was found.
was about this time that the Pierces undertook background investigations
of the three men who had found all of the stones.
Louis Hammond found the Chowan River Stone, Isaac Turner found one
stone and amazingly, all of the rest had been found by Bill Eberhardt.
Hammond has in essence disappeared and no one really tried to
investigate him. The
investigators did little more than interview Eberhardt and Turner.
story needed an end. It was left with Eleanor Dare and 6 other colonists living
with a Cherokee King at Hontaoase town in the Nacoochee Valley in northern
Georgia. What happened to
to leave the story untold, Eberhardt steps up to the plate once more and
finds even more stones for the Pierce's.
One would think that by this time, even the most naive of people
would be highly suspicious of this continued good fortune by Bill
Eberhardt, and Bill alone. And
not only did he find stones, he found a lot of stones.
October of 1940, just in time for the scientific conference to determine
the authenticity of the Dare Stones, stones 25 through 47 had been found
and added to the collection. These
stones detailed the deaths of the remaining colonists, including Eleanor
Dare. The last remaining
colonist, the stonecarver himself, was purported to be Griffen Jones.
score at this point is as follows:
Louis Hammond of California
found the first stone on the Chowan River in August 1937.
Bill Eberhardt of Atlanta
found a total of 41 stones: 13 on the Saluda River in SC, 9 in Habersham
Counthy, Georgia and 19 in Fulton County, Georgia near Atlanta
Isaac Turner of Atlanta
found 3 stones, one on the Chattahoochee north of Gainesville, one on
Ball's Creek at the Jett homestead when Eberhardt was with him, and part
of broken stone 46, also with Eberhardt's involvement.
William Bruce found two
stones in Fulton County.
Vere totals the stones accounting for either 62 or 64 colonists, although
only 51 names were mentioned. The rest of the 117 colonists are unaccounted for.
the last stones, Eleanor Dare marries the Cherokee chief and has a
daughter, Agnes. In the end,
the fate of Agnes remains unknown, and of course that of Griffen Jones as
seems obvious, at least to me, as too much of a good thing, maybe wasn't.
At least one stone had lichen covering three letters.
Even the best forger wouldn't be able to do that.
And so, the scientists convened in the fall of 1940 to study the
Pierce's speech at the conference, he gave the good, the bad and the ugly.
He said that no other evidence had been found, that there were no
artifacts or anything else to support the stones, but he also said that
the stones were in perfect harmony with history.
geologists and other scientists probed and testified, collaborating.
However, a bombshell was about to drop.
Eberhardt's shady past caught up with him. He had been previously implicated in the selling of forged
November the committee issued a statement in which they said that the
"preponderance of evidence points to the authenticity of the
stones", but they had concerns and made a list of recommendations and
suggestions, which is summarized below:
A search for graves, relics, and artifacts should be pursued.
Fraudulent proposals connected to the 1937 "Lost Colony"
play launch and with Eberhardt's sale of fraudulent Indian relics should
Complete check of words and phrases on stones for authenticity, in
particular the suspect words "reconnoiter" and "primaeval"
as to whether those words were in use at that time or whether they are
Check of dialect usage.
Study of the forms of letters on the stones.
Comparative study of names on the stones.
Study of the stones as to the age of the inscriptions.
Study of topographical and ethnological maps.
Genealogical study of the White and Dare families as to the name of
Seeking cooperation and collaboration with other agencies and
Application for grant funding to do the above.
If future stones are uncovered, that they be left where they are
found so they can be evaluated.
only one or two exceptions, Eberhardt had ignored the repeated requests of
the Pierce's to leave the stones where he found them and to take them to
continued to find stones and Dr. Pierce, anxious to move forward, not
wanting to wait for the slow wheels of academia and believing that the
stones are genuine, make the mistake of writing the story for the Saturday
Evening Post, opening a can of worms he was never able to close again.
was crushed by the story run by the Post.
It wasn't anything like he had written.
His story was one of "mystery solved" and theirs was one
of "hoax perpetuated."
done yet, Eberhardt showed up with another stone in late 1941 but Pierce
refused to purchase any more stones out of context.
He would only pay for stones left in their original setting.
Pierce was becoming more distrustful of Eberhardt because some of
the information on the new stones was contradicting information on the
previous stones. It looked
like someone was getting sloppy with their information and wasn't being
later, Eberhardt shows up again, this time with word of a cave and an
inscription in the cave, from Eleanor.
Dr. Pierce went to the cave, without Eberhardt, but with a geology
professor. Both declared the
cave inscription a fake, but then the bottom fell out.
The geology professor, Dr. Gibson, discovered a glass bottle of
sulfuric acid which had been used to smear on the rock to give it the
appearance of age. Pierce
confronted Eberhardt. The gig
that wasn't the end for Eberhardt. He
called Dr. Pierce Sr.'s wife and asked to meet with her.
At the meeting, he shows up with yet another stone, but this one
was quite different. It said
"Pearce and Dare Historical Hoaxes.
We Dare Anything."
was a blackmail attempt. He
threatened to turn this stone over to the Saturday Evening Post and admit
faking all the stones, unless he was paid $200.
In order to entrap Eberhardt, Pierce paid him the $200, with a
witness, requiring him to sign for the money, and then took the entire
ordeal to the newspaper, exposing Eberhardt as a forger and the entire
episode as a hoax. On the
front page of the Atlanta
Journal on May 15, 1941 the headline read "Hoax Claimed by 'Dare
Stones' Finder in Extortion Scheme, Dr. Pearce Charges'.
when finally located, told the story a bit differently.
He said he never faked the stones, only looked where the Pierce's
had told him to.
thing is for sure, the second and subsequent stones were not genuine,
regardless of how this hoax was perpetuated, by whom and with the
assistance of whom. Not for
one minute do I believe that Bill Eberhardt with a third grade education
was capable of composing Elizabethan English without some type of mentor.
All of that makes a wonderful mystery and great reading, but the
important part is that those stones can be dismissed from consideration as
part of the solution to the mystery of the lost colony.
is not as clear is whether the first stone is authentic or not.
Louis Hammond was never found which seems a bit suspicious.
The stone has neither been authenticated or proven unreliable.
It was found "at the right time in the right place" to
generate tourist interest for the Outer Banks and the new Lost Colony
play, and there had been earlier discussion, and reports even of stones,
as suggested "plants" to do just that.
But whether the Chowan River stone was part of an earlier hoax or
whether it is the real McCoy remains part of the mystery of the Lost