The mystery and legend of Virginia Dare began over four hundred years ago.
This was when the Europeans were trying to set up colonies in the New World (North and South Americas).
In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh established his third try at establishing a colony on Roanoke Island. This island was part of the colonial Virginia, present-day North Carolina.
The Expedition To The Americas:
Heading the expedition was Governor John White, who was also accompanied by over 150 men, women, and children.
These included the Governor’s daughter, Eleanor, as well as her husband, Ananias Dare.
The expedition left England on April 26, 1587, and reached the colonies on July 22, 1587. Its fleet included a flyboat (called Lyon) and a small sailing ship for carrying supplies.
The Birth Of Virginia Dare:
After reaching the previously unsuccessful English settlement, they started repairing the houses to settle in.
On August 18, 1587, Eleanor Dare gave birth to a baby girl who was named Virginia Dare.
Virginia Dare is the first English child born in the New World. She was also the second person baptized into the Church of England in the New World on August 24, 1587.
Unfortunately, the colonists were struggling to settle into the area. They begged the Governor to return to England for additional supplies.
So, on August 27, 1587, just nine days after the birth of his granddaughter, the Governor set sail for England.
He planned to get the relief supplies and quickly return to the colony to provide aid.
The Mysterious Disappearance Of An Entire Colony:
While in England, the Governor’s plans ended up delayed. This is because of the Spanish Armada’s attack on England in 1588.
This delayed Governor White’s return to Roanoke Island by three years.
Even so, he returned with the supplies promised on his granddaughter’s third birthday, August 18, 1590.
However, what he found was an abandoned colony without a single soul around. This included his daughter, Eleanor, and granddaughter, Virginia.
His men checked high and low but found no indication of attack or a hurried evacuation. The houses were taken down, and the remaining buildings had collapsed.
The key evidence against anything happening to the settlers was the lack of a Maltese Cross carved on any trees.
The governor had instructed this symbol to be carved onto a tree to indicate something happening to the colony.
They did find ‘Croatoan’ and ‘Cro’ in two of the colony’s posts.
This indicated that they might have moved to the Croatoan island but later searches found no indication of the colonist’s arrival.
In the end, there was no trace of the 80 men, 17 women, and 11 children that were present in the colony.
This mysterious disappearance has labeled the Roanoke Island as the Lost Colony.
The Legends Behind The Disappearance Of Virginia Dare And The Lost Colony:
The lack of information and solid evidence has led to several legends surrounding the disappearance of the Lost Colony.
Taken In By The Locals:
The theory that’s most accepted is the one where the settlers were taken in by the local Indian tribes.
This theory claims that the colonialists either integrated with the locals by intermarriage or were killed off.
17 years after the disappearance of the colony, John Smith from the Jamestown Colony conducted an investigation.
One report indicated that a friendly Chesapeake Indian tribe gave them refuge.
However, Chief Powhatan stated that the tribe killed the colonists. The chief also provided evidence in the form of a musket barrel and a brass mortar and pestle.
That said, the archaeological evidence was not found to support this claim.
Ended Up In Captivity
In 1612, William Strachey published The History of Travel into Virginia Britannia.
Strachey was a secretary of the Jamestown Colony, and that claimed to find evidence of colonist’ influence on the natives.
He stated that reports of two-story houses with stone walls were found in Indian settlements, Ochanahoen and Peccarecanick.
The report indicated that the Indians learned to build the houses from the Roanoke colonists.
Other reports indicate sightings of various Indian settlements with European captives.
Chief Eyanoco of the Eno settlement was said to have 4 men, 2 boys, and 1 maid as captives.
The captives were said to have escaped from an attack before fleeing up Chowan River to the Eno settlement. As captives, they were forced to beat copper.
Virginia Dare As The White Doe
Another fairytale surrounding Virginia Dare was of the White Doe.
In 1901, Sallie Southall Cotton wrote ‘The White Doe: The Fate of Virginia Dare.’
This is a long narrative poem that claims to explain the mysterious disappearance of Virginia Dare.
According to the poem, Virginia Dare ended up growing up in a friendly Indian tribe.
In the tribe, she was known as Winona-Ska and grew up to be a beautiful young woman.
As she grew older, she gained the interest of Okisko, a young Indian chieftain. However, Chico, an old witch doctor also intended to marry Winona-Ska.
Unfortunately, the witch doctor was rejected by Winona-Ska who wanted to marry Okisko.
After this, Chico used dark magic to turn Virginia into a white doe. This was to ensure that if he couldn’t get her, no one could either.
To undo the magic, Okisko found a way to reverse the spell. This required him to shot the white doe with a pearl-tipped arrow purified in a magical fountain.
Unfortunately, at the same time, Wanchese wanted the glory of killing the white doe for himself. To do so, he used the silver arrow given to his father by Queen Elizabeth I.
One faithful day, both Okisko and Wanchese came across the white doe at the same time. They both shot their arrows, one to turn the doe back to Virginia, and the other to kill the doe.
Okisko’s attempts were successful with the white doe turned back into the young woman, Virginia (Winona-Ska).
However, the silver arrow from Wanchese also found its mark, going through the heart of Virginia Dare.
Okisko tried his best, but she died in his arms. However, this was not the end, according to Cotton’s poem.
In a panic, Okisko is said to run and begged the magical fountain for Virginia’s life.
When he came back to where Virginia was shot, he found that Virginia Dare had disappeared.
However, later on, he saw the same White Doe looking at him with soft eyes. He tried to get closer, but she ran and disappeared into the woods.
Even today, there are many reports of a ghostly White Doe around the area of the Lost Colony.
In the end, we still don’t know what actually happened to Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony.
This looks like a mystery that’s going to be unsolved for a long time to come.