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The Mystery of Croatoan

Croatoan is one of those words that sets the mind afire with curiosity and possibility. For those of us invested in such things, it is a deep-seeded mystery going back to the 1500s and reaching forward as early this century.

So much so that the word Croatoan has been used in such shows as Supernatural, Freaky Links and American Horror Story. What’s the actual story behind Croatoan and what can we learn about it? Let’s look deeper.

It all began in 1587 in what has become known as ‘The Lost Colony.’ That year the English were making a second attempt at colonizing Roanoke Island which sits just off the coast of North Carolina, USA. The expedition was led by Governor John White, a capable and experienced man, and financed by Sir Walter Raleigh.

It all started very well. The new settlers landed July 22, 1587 and immediately began to establish themselves. John Whites own daughter gave birth to the first American born English child on August 18. They were also able to make friendly relations with a local tribe of native Americans called the Croatans. Through them they were able to learn the ins and outs of politics in the region.

One tribe in particular, The Secotans, were difficult to reach. They refused to sit with the colonists and were outwardly hostile. The Secotans outnumbered the colonists considerably and growing even bolder they killed a settler while he was fishing for crab near the shore.

Now in a panic the colonists convinced Governor White to sail back to England, to explain their dire situation and ask for reinforcements and assistance. Leaving behind 115 colonists, in late 1587 White made the dangerous winter crossing back to England.

Unfortunately due to the war and funding, it would take three years for White to make his way back to Roanoke Island. White landed on August 18th, his granddaughters birthday, only to find not a soul was there. The entire settlement was deserted. Not a trace of the 90 men, 17 women and 11 children could be found nor was there any sign struggle or fighting.

Cabins had been taken down, livestock were gone and two graves were all that remained. The word ‘Croatoan’ was carved into a post next to the fort and on a nearby tree the letters CRO were also carved. This was the only evidence they found of the settlers.

White took this to mean the colonists had gone to stay on the nearby Island of Croatoan but further research shows this never happened. The settlers are never heard from or found again and it goes into the history books as one of early Americas great mysteries.

The word Croatoan makes it back in the 1800s when Edgar Allan Poe, days before his death and fallowing a disappearance for several days that goes on unexplained, is brought to his death bed whispering over and over again: ‘Croatoan.’

It doesn’t end there. It’s said that the word Croatoan is scribbled in the journal of Amelia Earhart, it was carved in the bed post of Ambrose Bierce before he disappeared and it was even scratched on the wall of the notorious Black Barts cell before he was released and never seen from again. Very disturbingly, Croatoan was also found on the last page logbook of the ship Carroll A. Deering as it was run aground on Cape Hatteras in 1921.

What we know of Croatoan is that it’s somehow related to disappearance. In almost every case the where Croatoan is found, something or someone has vanished. Or vanished, comeback and gone mad.

Unfortunately that doesn’t leave us with much to work with but it’s what we have. Maybe one day we’ll know more about the mystery of Croatoan, for now we have to look out for clues and keep building the case because something is out there and it’s creepy.

Written by Danny Beauregard

Danny is the founder of and your resident raving loon. When not writing and researching for the site he's busy being a husband and a father.

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