“In no State is it unlawful for Mongolians [Asians] and Indians, Negroes and Mongolians, or Negroes and Indians to intermarry. The only exception to the last is that in North Carolina it is unlawful for Negroes to intermarry with Croatan [later Lumbee] Indians or to go to the same school with them. To this statute hangs a beautiful historical tradition….
“All that is left of Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony is this tradition supported by the presence of Indians with fair skin and eyes, and the statute of North Carolina that the blood of these early settlers shall not be further adulterated, by miscegenation, with the blood of the Negro.”
— From “Race Distinctions in American Law” by Gilbert Thomas Stephenson (1910)
In this letter the Pembroke town council explains to Atlantic Coast Line why its new station needs to include three waiting rooms rather than two (1913).
“A rare 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I resided for nearly 60 years at the Lost Colony site in Manteo. Proud locals dubbed it ‘the Manteo Queen.’
“Late last year, however, the North Carolina garden club that owned the portrait shipped it quietly to Britain where a buyer acquired it for a reported $51,000 at Sotheby’s, although it had a $100,000 appraisal.
“The buyer, Philip Mould, a London dealer in historic portraits, said he has since resold it to a private collector ‘enthusiastic of royalty.’ ‘It will be staying in England,’ said Mould, who stars in a BBC television show called ‘Fake or Fortune?’
“The abrupt loss of the monarch’s portrait to an overseas dealer – there are only a few of her portraits in the United States – has outraged the American scholars who helped bring international attention to the painting in 2010 after a battery of scientific tests.
“ ‘I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut,’ said Larry Tise, a historian at East Carolina University, who spearheaded the analysis of the painting. ‘This unique portrait – both as a work of art and as a historical artifact – was a great treasure to North Carolina.’ ”
— From “The Lost Colony of Roanoke loses its portrait of Queen Elizabeth I” by Andrew Lawler in the Washington Post (Dec. 21)
“The most famous ghost that is said to haunt the shores of North Carolina and pop culture in equal measures is the spirit of Virginia Dare… the New World’s first Christian ‘wild child.’ The sweet babe likely never survived infancy, but her name is immortal.
“She has been the subject of numerous romance and supernatural novels, including the rather cringe-inducing 1908 book ‘The Daughter of Virginia Dare,’ where Virginia is revealed to be the secret mother of Pocahontas (a later 1930 novel would in contrast place Virginia in a love triangle with John Smith and the teenage Pocahontas)….”
— From “Roanoke: The Real History of the Lost Colony & How Its Legend Haunts Pop Culture” by David Crow at Den of Geek (Sept. 20)
Indeed, “American Horror Story: Roanoke” is only the latest modern knockoff of the Lost Colony story. What would “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” have been without it?
“In the hands of its literary interpreters, the Roanoke colony… became the literary property of post-Confederate nostalgia, the ‘lost colony’ linked symbolically to the ‘lost cause.’
“In an 1866 novel called ‘Roanoke; or, “Where Is Utopia?” ‘ Calvin H. Wiley, who had been superintendent of public schools in Confederate North Carolina, set the colony’s descendants in a place where ‘the wild and restless demon of Progress has not yet breathed … its scorching breath on the green foliage of nature,—filial reverence, parental tenderness, conjugal fidelity, neighbourly kindness, and patriotic integrity.’
“In 1875, an anonymous ‘M. M.’ published a story in Our Living and Our Dead, a North Carolina magazine dedicated to Confederate nostalgia and anti-Northern fomentation, in which Indian magic had turned Virginia Dare into an enchanted white doe who haunted the coastal forests for a century and witnessed the Indians’ ‘extinction, and the wide occupation of their forfeited patrimony, by that superior race, the Anglo-Saxon, with their bondsmen, the sable African, the red man’s inferior.’ M. M.’s Virginia Dare also prophesied the Civil War as a national disaster: ‘divided, brave brothers fall beneath the yoke of despotism.’ ”
— From “The Earliest American Heroine” by Duke law professor Jedediah Purdy in the New Yorker (Oct. 10)
— What was his great-great-great grandfather thinking?
— A play about Harriet Jacobs, a film about Carl Sandburg.
— Death noted: Clyde King, whose long baseball career began with an overnight transformation from Tar Heel to Brooklyn Dodger.
— Roadside marker in Fayetteville is state’s first to recognize a Muslim.
— Lost Colony researcher‘s “two drops of Croatoan blood… have boiled over.”
— Looking for the Lost Colony in all the wrong places?
— “Bear hunting highlights Asheville’s cultural divide”
— Who you calling “Buddy row“?
— How a Confederate veteran did right by five Union dead in Richmond County.
— Neogenealogists eager to shepherd black sheep.
— Can Vollis Simpson “put Wilson on the map”?
— Before you pocket that arrowhead….
….maybe you’ve found the vanished village of Secotan!
— Inspired by Bill Ferris, he mined the obits for Southern nicknames that deserve eternal life. (Unfortunately absent online is the full list that appeared in print.)
In the July 2009 North Carolina Historical Review, David La Vere, professor of history at UNC Wilmington, argued for taking seriously the “Dare Stone” found near the Chowan River in 1937:
“Scholars have dismissed the stone as a forgery, but a closer look shows it might well be what it purports to be: a last message from Eleanor Dare and the Lost Colony…. It tells a credible story….”
Now Dram Tree Books in Wilmington has published Dr. La Vere’s “The Lost Rocks: The Dare Stones and the Unsolved Mystery of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony.”
I asked him whether the stone might yield its secrets to modern forensic science.
“The Stone’s language has been examined many times,” he replied. “I had an Elizabethan scholar look over the language. He went in with the idea to discredit and came away amazed how it all fit Elizabethan English. He was particularly interested in the word ‘salvage’ (for savage) which was used in English (from the Italian word for forest) during only a few years…. The Lost Colony fit in with that period.
“I don’t know when the physical aspect of the stone was examined last. In the 1980s it was looked over, but they found they could not come to any new evidence on it. It still looks like a chisel did it. The problem was that it was ‘corrupted’ from the time it was found — gone over with a wire brush, pencils and nail. New techniques would entail destroying parts of the stone, and Brenau [University, where it resides] doesn’t seem willing to do that.
“So it could be real, or it could be a good fake.”
Paging Sam Spade….