It was in the 16th century. Europeans were living in a period called
the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a time period when people were interested
in learning, finding new ideas, and were also looking for adventure.
Elizabeth I was the queen of England at this time. She is one of the
most important characters in this mystery because without her help and influence
this story would never have taken place. Elizabeth wanted England to be
powerful and rich. There was also a lot of competition between England and
Spain during this time. The two countries were having a race to be the most
powerful. Elizabeth I wanted England to win and she didn't want Spain to
have control of the New World.
Sir Walter Raleigh comes into the story at this time. Raleigh wanted
great things for England but he also wanted them for himself. He wanted
to become famous and to do this Raleigh needed Elizabeth to give him money,
supplies, and ships to find treasures and colonies for England. Raleigh
and Elizabeth both wanted a new empire across the ocean for England. They
knew the lands across the ocean had great things.
Queen Elizabeth thought Raleigh was very nice and charming. He convinced
her to give him the ships. Raleigh quickly sent two explorers, Philip Amadas
and Arthur Barlowe, to the New World. He wanted the explorers to search
for new places to begin new colonies for England. They arrived in the New
World on July 13, 1584. Everything was green with piney woods when they
reached the shore. They thought the land had plenty. It was summer time
and there was plenty of game and fish. They gathered different types of
plants to take back to England. One of the plants was potatoes. Amadas and
Barlowe returned to England with good news about the new land. They told
Raleigh about the friendly natives and other riches. They even brought along
two Indians for Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth to see. Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth
were happy with their reports. Elizabeth named the new place Virginia.
After hearing the good reports, Sir Walter Raleigh sent his cousin,
Sir Richard Grenville, back to Virginia. Grenville left with seven ships
of men and the two Indians for the New World. They left Plymouth, England
on April 9, 1585. They arrived on Roanoke Island and quickly started to
build a settlement which they called Fort Raleigh. Near the end of August,
1585, Grenville returned to England for more supplies. He left 107 men with
Ralph Lane as Governor of the island so that the place would remain an English
colony. This group was to become the first English settlers in America.
Governor Lane and his men explored the land but Lane caused problems with
the native Indians. He lead his men on raids and attacked the Roanoke Indians
in their village. Lane's men murdered their chief. In June of 1586, Sir
Francis Drake arrived with his ships and anchored near Roanoke Island. The
food supply was getting low and things were turning bad with the Indians
for Lane and his men. Governor Lane decided to leave the island. He and
his men went back to England with Sir Drake.
Sir Richard Grenville returned to Roanoke Island a few weeks after Ralph
Lane and the men left with Drake. He had three ships loaded with supplies.
Since everyone was gone, Grenville decided to go back to England but he
left 15 of his men there to keep the island an English colony.
In England, Sir Walter Raleigh got together a group of 91 men, 17 women
and 9 children who wanted to go to the New World. He named John White to
be the Governor. The group sailed from England in May of 1587 and arrived
at Roanoke Island in July of 1587. They landed there to pick up the fifteen
men left on the island by Grenville. Then they were going to sail up the
coast about 150 miles to Chesapeake Bay. When their small boats reached
the shore, White found a human skeleton. They continued searching Roanoke
Island for Grenville's men, but they couldn't find them. White's group quickly
began repairing and making their homes in the houses at the fort already
built. They met friendly natives called "Croatoans". The Croatoans
lived on an island south of Roanoke. The natives taught the colonists how
to fish and hunt. It was too late in the year to plant crops.
White and the colonists were excited that Eleanor Dare was expecting
a baby. They were also excited about two friendly Indians who were baptized
on August 13, 1587. One of the natives was the leader of the Croatoans.
His name was Manteo. Then on August 18, 1587, Virginia Dare was born. She
was the first English child born in America.
It was near the end of August and summer time would soon be ending.
The colonists had plenty of supplies that they had brought with them including
fish and game caught on the island, but winter and bad weather would be
coming. So on August 27, 1587, Governor John White decided to leave the
group and sail back to England for more supplies. He had to leave quickly
because it was the hurricane season.
England and Spain were getting ready for war when White got back to
England. Queen Elizabeth told him that England needed all her ships and
supplies to fight the Spanish. John White didn't get to return to Roanoke
Island that year. Actually he didn't get to return until August 17, 1590.
Three years later White returned to Roanoke with a search party. They
anchored their ships off the outer banks of what today is the coast of North
Carolina. They sailed their small boats to shore. Some men drowned when
their boat turned over in the rough waters. These rough waters are called
the "Graveyard of the Atlantic".
When White and his men reached the shore they saw a fire blazing in
the woods on the northern end of the island. White got excited because he
thought the fire was a signal from the colonists. White and his men searched
the island but could not find any of the people or his family, but there
The men found no people but only the letters "CRO" carved
on a tree and on another part of the island they found the word "Croatoan"
carved on a wooden fence post. These carvings were the only clues they could
find. White wanted to look for the lost people because he didn't see any
signs of their deaths. He wanted to look for his family but fall was quickly
coming. They knew it was the hurricane season and they could see a storm
coming. White decided to return to England before the bad weather came.
They left without ever finding the lost people.
Where was Virginia Dare?
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