Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lost Colony was the First of the Tarheel Mysteries

The legends and stories of North Carolina are infinitely fascinating. In 1946 and 1947, John Harden hosted a radio show called Tales of Tarheelia, in which he recounted many of the state's legendary stories and mysteries. Interest in that radio series and Harden's commitment to preserving these stories that could be lost forever if not put down in writing led to the publication of this book, The Devil's Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories, in 1949. The stories collected here are mysteries as opposed to, say, ghost stories (of which North Carolina can boast of her fair share); these stories won't give you the creeps, but they will fascinate you and sharpen your interest in the history of the state of North Carolina.

When you talk about North Carolina mysteries, you must start at the very beginning - the Lost Colony. The first English settlement in the New World was made in the late 16th century at Roanoke, and it was here that the first non-native American child was born (Virginia Dare); when John White and the long-delayed supply ship returned to these shores, the entire colony had disappeared completely, leaving behind a single clue as to the colonists' fate: the carving of the word Croatoan on a tree. This, North America's first mystery, remains as compelling and unsolved today as it was over four hundred years ago.