The story of Jamestown was one of America's first documented mysteries. There are clear facts about this voyage that have been documented. In 1587, John White did make a temporary establishment on or near Roanoke Island, and that after leaving for three years did return to the island in 1590. On his return, all traces of the colonist having lived there for those three years had vanished. No Jamestown colonist is known to be seen from again. So what happened to them during those three years?
Jamestown, which was led by Governor John White, landed on Roanoke Island between April and late July 1587 and was a royal grantee of Sir Walter Raleigh. Jamestown was a small, self-supporting community that was suppose to be protected by the Chesapeake Indians who were know to help English visitors. The colony was made up mostly of people on the middle to lower social and economic ladder. These people were willing to work for a living, farming or do crafts to form an English society on American soil. Each colonist was in turn given 500 acres for their trouble.
150 persons intended to start the voyage to America in the spring but because of financial troubles only 118 were finally able to set sail. The voyage was an unhappy one because White and his chief pilot, Simon Fernandes, spent a majority of the time quarreling. Fernandes was a suspected of wanting to steal the Spanish ships, but White interfered with his plans and the ship arrived safely at Hatarask Inlet on July 22, 1587. Fernandes was not finished yet, he left the settlers on the island and did not go on the Chesapeake Bay as the arrangements stated. This distraction was only a minor disaster compared to the ones to come.
Summer was ending and it was getting late in the year to establish a new settlement. They would have to make the supplies they had last all winter up to the following summer, which meant they would have to depend on the Indians for more surpluses. On top of all that, the Indians had become hostile to the last English settlers that tried to set up a new settlement.
Manteo and Towaya were two Indians that accompanied the settlers and gave them advice. Manteo was the colony's most important advisor to the new land. His community was located on the Croatoan Island.
It did not take long for the colonist to realize that they needed supplies as soon as possible, but since they did not land at the specified location the supply ships would not be able to get effective directions to deliver the new supplies. So it was decided that White must sail back to England to ensure that the supplies would get to the colony. It was then agreed that a small party of colonist would stay on Roanoke Island with a few small boats to await the supply ships and guild then to the new settlement. The group, though not known for sure, consisted of around twenty-five unmarried men. This left the settlement on Chesapeake Bay with only sixty men together with twenty-seven women and children, to survive.
The Hardships for White at sea were no less. He had to leave his family, his colonist and the fate of the whole enterprise in other hands. His return trip to England was no easy thing either, the weather was bad and he had to land in Ireland instead of England. White returned to Southampton six months after his departure from Roanoke.
White went and talked to Raleigh about a return trip to the colony. Raleigh wanted it to be soon as possible and also wanted to establish a fortified post on Chesapeake Bay, but because of the Great Armada threatening England's very existence the American exhibition was put to aside. All squadrons were forbidden to sail, but on April 15, 1588 White slipped away bearing only fifteen additional men. The travelers got only half way across the ocean before they were beat, robbed, and wounded by pirates, but lucky they worked their way back to England barely alive. On there return, White was ready to voyage out again but Raleigh was unable...
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