After we got back to our cars, Anita went on and then Lisa and I drove a few blocks to the North Carolina Museum of History to check out something that I've been wanting to see since it started in October...
For more than 400 years, one of the greatest enigmas of American history has been that of the Roanoke Colony, more commonly known as "the Lost Colony". 116 English colonists had simply vanished when Governor John White returned to Roanoke Island with fresh supplies in 1590. The only thing left behind amid the ruins of their fort was a cryptic word "Croatoan" carved in a tree.
What happened to them? Were they killed off or did they move elsewhere or did they (as some believe) inter-marry with neighboring tribes of Native Americans... which raises the possibility that descendants of the Lost Colony are living among us today?
"Mysteries of the Lost Colony" is an exhibit of the British Museum currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of History. There's lots of good stuff about the Lost Colony itself, but the real centerpiece of the show is the large number of original watercolors by John White (whose daughter Eleanor would be the one to give birth to Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World). A talented artist by trade before he was appointed to be governor of the colony, White did many depictions of the natives and wildlife of present-day coastal North Carolina. A lot of them have been reproduced in history books over the years, and it was quite a thrill to be able to see the originals, made by White himself. Toward the end of the tour, there's an interactive video with one of the actresses of CBS's CSI shows that lets you vote on what you think was the fate of the colony. When we left, "Killed" had a slim lead over "Absorbed", which is what I've come to believe is what happened to them. Maybe in the next few years the Lost Colony DNA Project will be able to come up with some indication about whether the colonists did indeed become the ancestors of the modern-day Lumbee and other Native American tribes in the state. If you want to see "Mysteries of the Lost Colony", it's on display until January 13th, 2008.