"The first Discovery and Settlement of this Country was by the Procurement of Sir Walter Raleigh, in Conjunction with some publick-spirited Gentlemen of that Age, under the Protection of Queen Elizabeth; for which Reason it was then named Virginia, being begun on that Part called Ronoak-Island, where the Ruins of a Fort are to be seen at this day, as well as some old English Coins which have been lately found; and a Brass-Gun, a Powder-Horn, and one small Quarter deck-Gun, made of Iron Staves, and hoop'd with the same Metal; which Method of making Guns might very probably be made use of in those Days, for the Convenience of Infant-Colonies." - John Lawson
Nearly 20 years before Jamestown was settled, the English established one of the earliest colonies in North America around the Chesapeake Bay region, until the colony had over 100 inhabitants. Like other early settlements, Roanoke struggled to survive in its infancy, to the extent that the colony's leader, John White, sailed back to England in 1587 in an effort to bring more supplies and help. However, the attempts to bring back supplies were thwarted by the Spanish in the midst of the Anglo-Spanish War going on at the time, and it was not until 1590 that White reached Roanoke again.
What White found when he came back to Roanoke led to one of the most enduring mysteries in American history. Despite the fact he had left over 100 people in Roanoke in 1587, White returned to literally nothing, with all traces of the settlement gone and no evidence of fighting or anything else that might have explained the disappearance of the inhabitants.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors