Most people know about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the mystery surrounding it. But, did you know the story has a Georgia connection?
What we know about Roanoke
Let’s recap what we know. A group of English settlers landed at Roanoke Island North Carolina in 1587 in an attempt to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America. John White led the expedition.
In 1587, White returned to England to procure more supplies for the colony and planned to return in 1588. However, the Anglo-Spanish War delayed his return until 1590. When he returned, he found the fortified settlement abandoned and the word Croatoan carved into the palisade. He assumed that meant the colonists abandoned Roanoke for nearby Croatoan Island. However, as the ship attempted to visit Croatoan Island, a storm forced the vessel to return the England.
The Dare Stones
One of the few clues about the fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is tied to the Dare Stones. The Dare Stones are inscribed pieces of stone found in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The first stone (known as the Chowan River Stone) was found by Louis Hammond in 1937. Hammond brought the stone to Emory University and asked for help interpreting words on the rock he claimed to find by the Chowan River in North Carolina. Thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, here are the inscriptions on the stone (both sides are inscribed):
ANANIAS DARE &
VIRGINIA WENT HENCE
VNTO HEAVEN 1591
ANYE ENGLISHMAN SHEW
JOHN WHITE GOVR VIA
The opposite side reads:
FATHER SOONE AFTER YOV
GOE FOR ENGLANDE WEE CAM
HITHER ONLIE MISARIE & WARRE
TOW YEERE ABOVE HALFE DEADE ERE TOW
YEERE MORE FROM SICKNES BEINE FOVRE & TWENTIE
SALVAGE WITH MESSAGE OF SHIPP VNTO US SMAL
SPACE OF TIME THEY AFFRITE OF REVENGE RANN
AL AWAYE WEE BLEEVE YT NOTT YOV SOONE AFTER
YE SALVAGES FAINE SPIRTS ANGRIE SVDDIANE
MVRTHER AL SAVE SEAVEN MINE CHILDE
ANANIAS TO SLAINE WTH MVCH MISARIE
BVRIE AL NEERE FOVRE MYLES EASTE THIS RIVER
VPPON SMAL HILL NAMES WRIT AL THER
ON ROCKE PVTT THIS THEIR ALSOE SALVAGE
SHEW THIS VNTO YOV & HITHER WEE
PROMISE YOV TO GIVE GREATE
While the authenticity of the Chowan River Stone has never been established, Hammond tried to sell it to Emory University. The institution declined, so Hammond sold it to Emory Porfessor Haywood Pearce, Jr. with backing from Brenau University (owned by Pearce’s father)
The Dare Stones and Georgia
The connection doesn’t stop with the Chowan River Stone, however. After Brenau acquired the stone, they offered a reward for additional stones. And they got them! Many of the stones were provided by a stonecutter named Bill Eberhardt. Eberhardt claimed to have found stones in Greenville County, SC (13 of them). With the Chowan River Stone regarded as Dare Stone #1, the Eberhardt stones were numbered 2-14. Isaac Turner of Atlanta found Stone #15 in Hall County, GA.
Eberhardt continued to uncover stones and added stones #16-24 in 1939. This group was allegedly found in Habersham County, GA. I could detail other finds in Fulton County, Ga (near Eberhardt’s home) but you get the drift. Stone #36 was found by William Bruce of Atlanta (also found near his home). All told, Haywood Pearce received 48 Dare Stones.
In 1940, a conference looked into the stones’ authenticity. The conclusion seemed to support the claims, but the report also said that it was still under investigation.
Haywood Pearce sent an article to The Saturday Evening Post, but the article triggered an expose article challenging the Dare Stones’ authenticity. The expose uncovered the fact that Eberhardt, Isaac Turner (Stone #15), and William Bruce (Stone #36) had known each other for years. After these facts and many others surfaced, Dare Stones 2-48 were considered fakes.
The Dare Stones Today
All 48 Dare Stones remain in Brenau’s possession, though only Dare Stone #1 (Chowan River Stone) is on display. Louis Hammond remains an enigma since researchers couldn’t find any information on him.
The debate continues on the original Dare Stone. Scholars weigh in on both sides of the argument, so unless additional information surfaces, we’ll likely never know the truth. You can see the stone with permission from the President’s Office at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, but as I understand it, Brenau owns all rights to any photos or videos of the stones.
So there you have it. The Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Dare Stones, and the Georgia connection. There is much more to the story, so I encourage you to do your own research. If you do, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest and let me know what you find out.