Monday, June 2, 2008

Lost Colony's Croatan Connection

The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina:

Their Origin and Racial Status

A Plea for Separate Schools


There is a tradition among these Indians that their ancestors were white people, a part of Gov. White's Lost Colony, who amalgamated with the coast Indians and afterwards removed

to the interior, where they now reside. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Indians are a people of "traditions," being entirely destitute of written records. These traditions would be of little value were they not supported by authentic historical data.

Governor White left a colony of 120 men and women from England on Roanoke Island in 1587, and when he returned in 1590, he found no trace of the colony save the word "Croatan" carved upon a tree. According to a secret understanding which White had with the colonists before he returned to England, if they departed from Roanoke Island before his return they were to carve upon the trees or posts of doors "the name of the place where they should be seated." When White and his men returned in 1590 where they had left the colony three years before, they saw upon a tree carved in Roman letters the word "CROATAN" without any cross or sign of distress about the word, for he had the understanding that if any misfortune came to them they should put a cross over the word.

One of the early maps of the Carolina coast, which appears in Lederer's Travels, prepared in 1666, represents Croatoan as an island south of Cape Hatteras. Croatan is made as a part of the mainland directly west of Roanoke Island. Governor White indicates that the colony originally removed to Croatoan, and not Croatan.

The term Croatan, or Croatoan was applied by the English to the friendly tribe of Manteo, whose chief abode was on the island on the coast southward from Roanoke. The name Croatan seems to indicate a locality in the territory claimed by Manteo and his tribe. Manteo was one of two friendly Indians who had been carried to England by Sir Richard Grenville, and returned with Governor White, on the occasion of his first voyage in 1587. By direction of Sir Walter Raleigh, Manteo was baptized and in reward for his services to the English he was designated "Lord of Roanoke."

McMillan in his pamphlet says:

"It is evident from the story of Governor White, that the colonists went southward along the coast to Croatoan Island, now a part of

Carteret County, in North Carolina, and distant about 100 miles in a direct line from Albemarle Sound."

Dr. Hawks, in his history, speaks of this tribe as the "Hatteras Indians." From the first appearance of the English, relations of the most friendly character were known to exist between this tribe and the colony. Manteo was their chief.

The Hatteras Indians are described in the Hand Book of American Indians as follows:

"HATTERAS;--An Algonquian tribe living in 1701 on the sand banks about C. Hatteras, N. C., E. of Pamlico Sound, and frequenting Roanoke Id. Their single village, Sandbanks, had then only about 80 inhabitants. They showed traces of white blood and claimed that some of their ancestors were white. They may have been identical with the Croatan Indians (q. c.), with whom Raleigh's colonists at Roanoke Island are supposed to have taken refuge."

Full Text of John Lawson's Journal

John Lawson was an early English explorer who left a permanent record of his travels among the tribes of the Carolinas. He commenced his journey on December 28th, 1700. Lawson's History of North Carolina is regarded as the standard authority for the period it covers, and he says that there was a band of Indians in the eastern part of North Carolina known as Hatteras Indians, that had lived on Roanoke Island and that these told him that many of their ancestors were white people and could "talk in a book." That many of these Indians had grey eyes that were found among no other Indians, that they were friendly to the English and were ready to do all friendly services.

He says it is probable that White's Colony miscarried for want of timely supplies from England, or through the treachery of the natives, for we may reasonably suppose that the English were forced to cohabit with them and that in process of time, they conformed themselves to the manners of their Indian relations.

John Lawson travelled among the Indians of North Carolina before they had come in contact with any of the white settlers, and found the same tribe of Indians residing on the south side of the Neuse River known as the Coree Tribe. One

of the head men of this tribe was an Indian of the name of Enoe-Will, who travelled several days with Lawson as his guide. Speaking of this Indian Lawson says: "Our guide and land-lord, Enoe-Will, was the best and most agreeable temper that ever I saw within an Indian. Being always ready to serve not out of gain but real affection."

Lawson had with him his Bible, and Enoe-Will, his guide, was accompanied by his son Jack, 14 years old, and Enoe-Will requested Lawson to teach his son "to talk in his book" and "to make paper speak, which was called our way of writing."

From McPherson's Report, commenting on the above, we copy as follows:

"The presence of grey eyes and fair skin among these people in Lawson's time can not be explained on any other hypothesis than that of amalgamation with the white race; and when Lawson wrote (1709) there was a tradition among the Hatteras Indians that their ancestors were white people 'and could talk in a book;' and that 'they valued themselves extremely for their affinity to the English and were ready to do them all friendly offices.' I have already referred to the fact that Enoe-Will, a Coree Indian, who had been raised on the coast and who was probably nearly 70 years of age when he acted as Lawson's guide, knew that the English could 'talk in a book' and as he further expressed it, 'could make paper talk,' indication that he was familiar with the customs of the English.

"Couple this with the fact that the guide had an English name, 'Will,' which he probably assumed at the age of 20 or 21, and the information previously given by him that he lived on Enoe Bay when he was a boy leads quite certainly to the conclusion that the Corees had come in contact with at least some portion of the lost colony. It must be remembered that when Will was a boy there were no English settlements on the east coast of North Carolina other than White's Lost Colony.

"Their religion and idea of faith was more exalted than was common among the savages, and leads to the belief that they had had communication with the more civilized race from the East.
"There is an abiding tradition among these people at the present time that their ancestors were the Lost Colony, amalgamated with some tribe of Indians. This tradition is supported by their looks, their complexion, color of skin, hair and eyes, by their manners, customs and habits, and by the fact that while they are, in part, of undoubted Indian origin, they have no Indian names and no Indian language--not

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even a single word--and know nothing of Indian customs and habits.

'Speaking of the language of this people, Mr. McMillan says: 'The language spoken is almost pure Anglo-Saxon,' a fact which we think affords corroborative evidence of their relation to the Lost Colony of White. Mon (Saxon) is used for man, father is pronounced 'fayther,' and a tradition is usually begun as follows: 'Mon, my fayther told me that his fayther told him,' etc. 'Mension' is used for measurement, 'aks' for ask, 'hit' for it, 'hosen' for hose, 'lovend' for loving, 'housen' for houses. They seem to have but two sounds for the letter 'a,' one like a short 'o.' Many of the words in common use among them have long been obsolete in English-speaking countries."

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Continued here:

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