The lost colony of Roanoke is one of the most puzzling mysteries in American history. An entire colony of over a hundred men, women, and children, including Virginia Dare, the first English baby born in the New World, disappeared without a trace. What happened to them? Where they killed by Indians? Did they die of some strange disease? Did they leave Roanoke and go somewhere else? Where? And why has no one ever found a trace of them?

In order to solve the mystery, three questions must be answered:

  • Why were the colonists lost?
  • Where did they go?
  • Why weren't they ever recovered?

The answers are surprising. The entire expedition, led by John White, was sabotaged. "Accidents" happened, one after another, and with each one, the expedition became smaller and weaker. Finally, they were marooned on Roanoke, even though their destination was ninety miles north. And as for why no one ever found them — it was a coverup. Search teams did find them, and then hid the report of their survival, saying everyone on Roanoke had died.

Why? Revenge. Money. Power. Jealousy. Some of the same reasons why crimes are committed today. What happened on Roanoke Island 420 years ago? Take a trip back into history, examine the evidence, and find out.

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.