Father, soone after yov goe for Englande, we came hither. Onlie misarie and warretow yeare. Above halfe deade ere tow yeere
from sickenes..... moore
Eleanore Dare, 1591, The Roanoake Colony
Gold leaves of the sassafras
shudder along with the shoulders
of a woman recording her name
and plight in stone.
Her hair tendrilled loose
as if to patch, lessen the tear
of a blouse ripped on burrs
while heading toward the river.
The wind breathes cool, smelling of that sweet plant
as her hands crudely carve
a cross and clues into large quartzite.
There's barely enough time
to finish. And like those other things:
unhung herbs, damp kindling --grief
for a lost husband and child,
they must be left. Something shines
in the distance She turns around
reaching for a shawl. Her shadow
widens across the rock
like floodwater leaving
its hopelessness in the letters. Its darkness
felt by passing birds. Their bleak cry
fallen through clouds
shattering the gray lull; and with them
draped in tufted wool, she takes flight -- vanishing
into the south.
Translation of epigram ( in 16th C. English)
Father, soon after you went to England, we came here. Only misery and a war torn year. About half are dead for two years or more from sickness...
In 1587, one of the first, experimental colonies in the New World inhabited the wild
island of Roanoke off the coast of .
They came with hopes of establishing a productive settlement on The American Coast with a certain amount
of autonomy and goals of achieving both personal and mercantile success.
However, they were confronted with not only harsh climate factors but disease, hostile
Native Americans, and rapidly dwindling supplies. Out of desperation, the
governor of the colony, John White,
decided to sail back to North Carolina
and petition his sponsors for more supplies and money. In his absence, the
colony began to suffer a number of misfortunes. On the brink of starvation and
impending Indian attacks, something had
to be done. And that became the mystery. When Governor White returned to England after two years, he found the
settlement completely dismantled with no trace of anyone or any building
foundations. He set out to find his people and came across a series of carved
stones along the woodland trail. And these were supposedly carved as clues by
his own daughter , Eleanor White Dare,
who had been married to another colonist and had given birth to a girl, the
first white child to be born of English descent in Roanoke . ( According to some accounts -- including her own on the stone), her husband was slain by Indians
and her child lost or possibly slain as
well). The first stone had the longest message and yet briefly described what
occurred and why they left.. The rest of
the stones (47 in all with various short clues as to the direction of their
whereabouts) were deemed fraudulent by scientists and historians. Yet, the
mystery of why and how Eleanor Dare
carved these stones lingers. And even greater, the disappearance of an entire
It should also be noted that "sassafras" grew rampantly in the
woods and surrounding territories.
It was one of the most coveted plants of the new world -- known for its
medicinal properties along with sweet taste and fragrance. Carolina