During this time of year the Undertaker and I are busy coordinating our schedules for family gatherings for Thanksgiving. It’s not easy to leave our Burial Day behind for even just a day, especially now with a new Monster to care for.
While I have been organizing plans and meals for the holiday this week I stopped to think about the first Thanksgiving that so many of us are taught about as children, the gathering between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. It is believed that what we call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated in 1621 between the Pilgrims and a group of Native Americans. The Pilgrims settled the Plymouth Colony in about 1620. Yet, what many people do not know is that there was a colony before theirs, the Lost Colony.
Around 1584 Queen Elizabeth I called for an English colony to be settled in the New World to be managed by Sir Walter Raleigh. The order stated that Raleigh establish a colony in present day North America. The intent was purely economic, in hopes that the colony could obtain riches from the New World, as well as product as seized by raids on Spanish vessels. Raleigh called for Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to travel to the New World in 1584, and they did, landing on Roanoke Island on July 4. After establishing relationships with Native Americans in the area, Barlowe traveled to England to report their status. A second expedition was ordered, led by Sir Richard Grenville. Eventually, the settlement grew to over 100 people. In 1587, Raleigh dispatched more colonists, over 150 more to join the settlers, led by John White. When they arrived they found nothing – there was no trace of the original settlers. Fearful for their lives, White’s group demanded to return to England immediately, even though the weather was poor. They returned to England and White vowed to return.
Experiencing difficulty in obtaining financing, White had to wait until 1590 to return. When he arrived the settlement was deserted and there was no trace of any of the men or women who had once lived there. The area also showed no signs that a struggle or a battle had occurred. The only thing that White found curious was the word “Croatoan” carved into a wooden post.
Theories abound about what happened to those that disappeared, from them being integrated into Native tribes or that the Spanish landed and destroyed the colony, and then killed everyone there. To date, historians are unsure exactly what happened to the settlers of the Lost Colony.
When you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving meal this Thursday give thanks that you were not part of that great pre-American mystery.