This original research was the culmination of a five-year study by Fred Willard and Barbara Midgette, who worked almost full-time during this period. Sometimes it is more important to be lucky than good. The chance happening of a major hurricane (Emily) enabled a major washout to gratuitously take place in the most important midden area of what, eight years later, was confirmed as the Croatan Indian Site. Many supporting people helped in identifying the location and artifacts two years before the site was brought to the attention of Dr. David Phelps, director of the Archaeology Department of East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC. One of the most important individuals involved with hundreds of recovered artifacts was Zander Brodie, who had accumulated many artifacts over the previous 15 years from the site, which stretches on the sound side of Hatteras from Cape Creek (the original location of relict Chacandapeko Inlet) almost a mile and a half westward to the Buxton Village Bookstore. Many historians and archaeologists, including Dr. Phelps, had always suspected that the village was at this location, but no confirming significant artifacts were found to justify excavation, until the above discovery on September 11, 1993, where seven or eight hundred mixed English/Indian artifacts were collected. Many of these artifacts were donated to the Native American Museum in Frisco, NC. Almost three years of archaeological testing was accomplished in ruling out much of the site as having post-Contact-Period 17th-century artifacts. Mr. and Mrs. Ron Midgette, who own the original discovery site, were the first to give permission for excavation, and their site is the location where thousands (4,000+-) of artifacts have been recovered.
The gold signet ring depicted above is the most important 16th-century English artifact ever found in North America. It is the culmination of 40-years-worth of work by the eminent archaeologist Dr. David Phelps, director of the Archaeology Department of East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. The Lost Colony Center for Science & Research, Inc. was the driving force and discoverer of the Croatan site, which has always been assumed to be associated with the famous 1587 Lost Colony of Roanoke. A partnership was formed between the original Croatan Group (now the LCCSR, Inc.) and Dr. Phelps, called “The Croatan Project”. The Croatan Group was the major funding source for Dr. Phelps, and all the money raised was directly given to East Carolina University by the donations of hundreds of individuals in North Carolina. Even more importantly, the complete community of the Outer Banks, including Buxton, Hatteras, Salvo and Avon, gave major support to the project. Special consideration must be given to Tom Hranika, who served as executive director of the project, and was responsible for bringing many local businesses in a supporting capacity for housing, food and donations. In addition to Tom, appreciation of the most important four people must go to Barbara Midgette, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bornfriend of the Native American Museum in Frisco, NC, and Gee-gee Rosell of the Buxton Village Bookstore, who along with Fred Willard were the original founders of the Croatan Group.
Memorial to Dr. David Phelps, a brilliant Archaeologist
who partnered with the Croatan group to unearth one of
the most important archaeological sites in North America.
The Croatan Group was formally recognized as the Lost Colony
Center for Science and Research by Barbara Midgette and Fred
Willard, who founded the group. However, without the leadership and
guidance of David Phelps, this organization would not exist.
His passing was a huge loss to North Carolina indian history.
Archaeologists look for signs of English among Croatans
The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA, July 2, 2006
Written by Catherine Kozak