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Therefore at my departure from them in Anno 1587 I willed them, that if they should happen to be distressed in any of those places, that then they should carve over the letters or name, a Cros And having well considered of this, we passed toward the place where they were left in sundry houses, but we found the houses taken downe, and the place very strongly enclosed with a high palisado of great trees, with cortynes and flankers very Fort-like, and one of the chiefe trees or postes at the right side of the entrance had the barke taken off, and 5 foote from the ground in fayre Capitall letters was graven CROATOAN without any crosse or signe of distresse; this done, we entred into the palisado, where we found many barres of Iron, two pigges of Lead, foure yron fowlers, Iron sackershotte, and such like heavie things, throwen here and there, almost overgrowen with grasse and weedes.
Then George Howe, one of the leading colonists, was killed while crabbing some distance from the camp.The unarmored Howe was pierced by 16 arrows and then clubbed to death.White took Manteo to Croatoan Island to ask Manteos tribe members for help in assessing the cause of these deaths.He had made an agreement with the colony leaders that, if they should leave before his return, they should leave a sign to indicate their new location.When White was finally able to return after three years, he had only one day to search Roanoke Island for the colonists. as we entred up the sandy banke upon a tree, in the very browe thereof were curiously carved these faire Romane letters CRO: which letters presently we knew to signifie the place, where I should find the planters seated, according to a secret token agreed upon betweene them & me at my last departure from them, which was, that in any wayes they should not faile to write or carve on the trees or posts of the dores the name of the place where they should be seated; for at my comming away they were prepared to remove from Roanoak 50 miles into the maine.During the preparation of that history, I became aware of a settlement on the Dare mainland called Beechland.
A number of Dare natives have claimed that their ancestors lived undiscovered in Beechland for hundreds of years before it was abandoned in 1840 because of a black tongue plague.
None of these theories stand up to all of the available evidence. Surely they died, as they had begun to live, inside what is now North Carolina.
In his 1985 book, How did these people, over a hundred of them. Had they not, as seems most probable, somehow dispersed themselves among the Indian population?
The northeaster had continued and made the failed attempt to return to Croatoan a near disaster for the entire ship.
The ship and crew were lucky to survive the trip back to England, and White would never again return to Virginia.
Oral histories and physical evidence suggests that Englishmen and Indians lived together at Beechland without official recognition by any authority for hundreds of years, until abandoned in 1840 because of the black tongue plague.