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Finding the lost colony of Roanoke

By Travis Childs
Pioneer Sentinel

There are many theories about the disappearance of the colonists on Roanoke Island.  Today, the most accepted view is that they moved inland and mixed with some group of Indians.  Over the next few decades further attempts at colonization also sought to find the settlers that once lived in Roanoke.  There were several reports of later English colonists of encountering Indians who spoke English, and had Anglo physical characteristics such as light skin, light eyes, and facial hair.

It seems likely that in the early 1600s as the Jamestown Colony grew, not far away the Roanoke settlers were living peacefully with the Indians.  There are several theories about what happened to the Roanoke/Indian group.  Outbreaks of disease were known to sweep through Virginia, and perhaps killed off the Roanoke/Indians as it did so many others.  Chief Powhatan, the powerful leader of the Indians that struggled against the Jamestown settlers, might have killed off the Roanoke/Indians in an attempt to prevent them from uniting with Jamestown and threatening his people and power.

Several tribes claim to be the descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  They too have Anglo physical characteristics, and while that indicates that somewhere back in time, Anglos and Indians intermarried, it does not necessarily mean that it was the Roanoke settlers. There are ongoing DNA and genealogical studies to prove which if any of the tribes in Virginia and North Carolina are Roanoke descendants.  Though C.S.I. makes it seem that DNA tests are quick and conclusive, in reality it is laborious and difficult.  To be linked too specific Roanoke settlers, you have to find their present day English relatives.

What is for sure is that the disappearance of the Roanoke settlers was not a viewed as a positive development back in England and quenched colonization movements for almost twenty years.

Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.


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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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