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Virginia Dare - White Doe Legend
Over four hundred years ago, in the struggling little colony of Roanoke in what is now North Carolina, a child was born. Virginia Dare became the first white child born in America. Virginia also became one of the most famous subjects of American folklore and mythology. The Legend of the White Doe grew out of the mysterious disappearance of Virginia Dare.
Virginia Dare was born to Eleanor White Dare and Ananias Dare August 18, 1587. Eleanor's father, John White, was the Governor of the little Roanoke Colony. When he returned to England to secure more supplies and support for his colony, little did he know that was the last he would ever see of not only his family, but the entire colony. Three years later, when he once again stepped foot in Roanoke Colony, there was not a soul to be found.
The search for the people of his lost colony provided no trails to their whereabouts. The only possible clue was the word CROATOAN which someone had carved on a tree. Who had carved that -- and was it a message for John White to decipher? What did "Croatoan" mean?
Croatoan was the name of an island not far from the colony. Because a large storm was brewing in the area, and because the captain of the ship had his more important task of heading south to search for Spanish treasure ships, there was not enough time for White to search for his family and colonists.
Not until seventeen years later, in 1607, were more inquires made into the strange disappearances. John Smith of the Jamestown colony, along with other members, tried to find answers. Search parties combed the area with no success. It was finally assumed no one from the Roanoke colony had survived whatever their fate had been. But that was not the end of the story.
It is speculated by some that Virginia's mother, Eleanor Dare, was the one to carve CROATOAN on the tree. Also claimed to be the work of Eleanor were stones carved with messages to John White. These stones were apparently found throughout northern Georgia and the Carolinas. The first stone found told of the death of Virgina and her father, Ananias. According to this message, they had been killed by Indians in 1591.
Forty-eight stones in all were claimed to be carved by Eleanor and gave information on the fate of the lost Colonists. These stones were found by various people and made exciting news from 1937 to 1941. Were the stones found at this time? Or were they found at a much earlier time and held on to? Were they authentic and actually carved by Eleanor Dare? Or was it all a hoax to add to the mystery and myths of the legends that sprang up since the disappearances?
One stone, dated 1592, claimed the colonists found a home in Nachoochee Valley in Georgia and lived there in peace. Yet another dated 1598 claimed Eleanor married a King of a tribe and by him had a daughter named Agnes. The death of Eleanor in 1599 was indicated on the last stone. Who had carved that stone?
The Legend of The White Doe has a few variations. One is that the Indians often saw a beautiful pure white doe grazing among the grounds of the deserted fort of Roanoke Colony. Sometimes the White Doe only stood and gazed out to the sea. The Indians decided the charmed creature should be killed and the hunters went after her. When a silver arrow pierced the heart of the White Doe, the hunter ran over and knelt down by it. The White Doe opened her eyes, gazed into the eyes of her slayer and whispered, "Virginia Dare", and died.
Content copyright © 2013 by Phyllis Doyle Burns. All rights reserved.
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