All Episodes

June 24, 2024 6 mins

In the 1930s, stones surfaced that might explain what happened to the settlers of the lost colony of Roanoke. Learn their story -- plus how modern science might help determine whether they're real -- in this classic episode of BrainStuff, based on this article: https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/dare-stones-forgery-or-key-to-lost-colony-roanoke-mystery.htm

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Brainstuff, a production of iHeartRadio, Hey.

Speaker 2 (00:07):
Brain Stuff, I'm Lauren Wogbomb in today's episode is another
classic from our archives. In this one, we dip into
the enduring mystery of the lost colony at Roanoke and
the further mystery of the Dare Stones, which may be
forgeries or may explain what happened, Hey brain Stuff, Lauren Vogelbomb.

Speaker 1 (00:26):
Here an unsolved mystery can drive people crazy and the
fate of the first English settlers ever to establish a
colony in the New World. Roanoke is a puzzle that
will probably never be entirely solved, but it doesn't keep
people from trying. In July fifteen eighty seven, a ship
carrying ninety men, seventeen women, and eleven children landed on
Roanoke Island on the outer banks of modern day North Carolina.

(00:50):
A year before, when the site was discovered, fifteen men
had volunteered to stay and hold down the proverbial fort,
but they were nowhere to be found, so the one
hundred and eighteen colonists disembarked and set about carving a
colony out of the wilderness. There was much excitement when
eleanor Dare, the daughter of leader John White, gave birth
to the first English baby born in the New World
and named her Virginia. After a time, John White left

(01:13):
the settlers to return to England, telling them he'd be
back within the year with fresh supplies. However, England's war
with Spain slowed the process considerably, and nobody was able
to check on the settlement again until fifteen ninety, when
White returned, his daughter, granddaughter, and everyone else was gone.
They had dismantled the buildings, carved the word Croatoan into
a tree, the name of the friendly Native American tribe

(01:35):
on a nearby island, and vanished. There was no sign
of the cross White had told them to carve on
a tree if they had left under duress. Frankly, White
didn't look very hard for his daughter and granddaughter before
heading back to England. For centuries, the story of the
lost colony of Roanokes seemed pretty cut and dried to
most historians. The settlers went to live with a Crowatoin tribe,

(01:56):
but whether they stayed there or not, nobody could say.
The thing they could say is that no definitive sign
of any of the one hundred and eighteen colonists was
ever found, despite rumours in the later established Jamestown colony
of massacres and men wearing European clothes deep in the wilderness.
No definitive sign, that is until more than three centuries later,

(02:17):
when in nineteen thirty seven, a produce dealer from California
named L. E. Hammond showed up at Emory University in
Atlanta with a stone he found while hunting hickory nuts
in a recently cleared North Carolina swamp some fifty miles
or eighty kilometers inland of Roanoke Island. It was inscribed
with a message he wanted the experts at Emory to decipher.
It turns out the carved stone told a story allegedly

(02:40):
written by White's daughter Eleanor. The colonists endured two years
of only misery and war after her father left for England,
ending with half the settlers killed in armed combat and
many of the others, including Eleanor's husband and daughter, slaughtered.
When a spiritual leader of the tribe they lived with
warned that the presence of the English settlers was angering
the spear. According to the stone, only six men and

(03:02):
one woman escaped. The stone was found to be authentic
by the Emery experts. At the time, it seemed legitimate,
and better still, it satisfied everyone's thirst foreclosure around this
dusty old riddle. The story captured the imagination of the
entire country, and Emory professor Heywood J. Pierce Junior published
a paper describing the stone in the Reputable Journal of

(03:23):
Southern History in nineteen thirty eight. But soon the plausibility
of the stone came into question. We spoke with John Bentz,
archivist at the Rose Library at Emory University. He said
Emory became suspicious of Hammond after some professors and administrators
traveled with him to Edenton, North Carolina, where he found
the stone. The search for the original location of the

(03:44):
stone was fruitless. This added to the growing list of
details about Hammond's discovery that were hard to corroborate. Emory
had someone in California look into Hammond, but couldn't find
much more than an address. After Pierce and his father,
another academic, paid Hammond for the first stone and offered
a five hundred dollars reward for any additional stones people
might find. You can imagine how many dair stones came

(04:06):
out of the woodwork. The Pierces paid a man named
Bill Eberhardt, a stonecutter from Fulton County, Georgia, two thousand
dollars for forty two forgeries he brought them. These stones
had Eleanor marrying a Cherokee chief, giving birth to another
daughter named Agnes, and eventually dying in a cave in Georgia.
In April of nineteen forty one, the Saturday Evening Post
ran an expos on the Dairstones, dismissing them all as forgeries,

(04:29):
citing anachronistic language and a consistency of spelling that was
unheard of at the time. The Pierce's career suffered, and
the daarstones were stuffed in a basement at the father's university,
an embarrassment to everyone involved. But every so often academic
interest turns again to the Chowan riverstone, the original dairstone
found by Hammond in that North Carolina swamp. It's made

(04:51):
of different rock than the others, a bright white quartzite
interior and dark exterior that would have made a good
choice for Eleanor Dare's missive to her father, and in
the nineteen thirties, the patina on the stone would have
been difficult to chemically replicate. In addition, it doesn't contain
the anachronistic language of the other stones. Some experts have
determined the only problem might be in eleanor Dare's sign

(05:12):
off the initials E W D, which would not have
been a typical signature in the sixteenth century. Many experts
still dismiss the Toowan riverstone as an obvious phony, but
it's possible that new research into Elizabethan epigraphy, chemical analysis,
and other rock inscriptions of the time period will yet
shed light on this still unsolved mystery. Today's episode is

(05:40):
based on the article the Dare Stones Forgery or Key
to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Mystery on hostiff works
dot com, written by Jesslyn Shields. Brainstuff is production of
iHeartRadio in partnership with houstuff works dot com and is
produced by Tyler Clay. For more podcasts from my heart Radio,
visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen
to your favorite shows.

BrainStuff News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Jonathan Strickland

Jonathan Strickland

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Lauren Vogelbaum

Lauren Vogelbaum

Cristen Conger

Cristen Conger

Christian Sager

Christian Sager

Show Links

AboutStore

Popular Podcasts

Who Killed JFK?

Who Killed JFK?

Who Killed JFK? For 60 years, we are still asking that question. In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's tragic assassination, legendary filmmaker Rob Reiner teams up with award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien to tell the history of America’s greatest murder mystery. They interview CIA officials, medical experts, Pulitzer-prize winning journalists, eyewitnesses and a former Secret Service agent who, in 2023, came forward with groundbreaking new evidence. They dig deep into the layers of the 60-year-old question ‘Who Killed JFK?’, how that question has shaped America, and why it matters that we’re still asking it today.

Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang

Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang

Ding dong! Join your culture consultants, Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, on an unforgettable journey into the beating heart of CULTURE. Alongside sizzling special guests, they GET INTO the hottest pop-culture moments of the day and the formative cultural experiences that turned them into Culturistas. Produced by the Big Money Players Network and iHeartRadio.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.