Researcher brings pursuit of Lost Colony to town

The Daily Reflector, Greenville, NC, July 11, 2007
Written by Josh Humphries

Fred Willard, director of Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, presents the latest in discoveries regarding the possible whereabouts.

    Researchers in eastern North Carolina are hoping to rewrite history.

    Every North Carolinian learns in history class that the English settlers left on Roanoke Island in the late 1500s by John White were gone when he returned from England with fresh supplies.

    The missing settlers became known as the Lost Colony.

    Fred Willard, director of the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, an independent research group based in Washington, N.C., believes the colonists left the island with native inhabitants and the setters' descendents can be found in the communities of eastern North Carolina.

    Willard described how the research center is using satellite images, archaeology, oral histories and genealogy to unearth the fate of the first English settlers during a fundraiser for the center Tuesday at the Martinsborough, a meeting room in downtown Greenville.

    The center is using a multidisciplinary approach to investigate clues giving credence to his hypothesis.

    "The 1587 Lost Colony migrated with the Croatan Indians 50 miles into the main land to another Indian village and built a new town," Willard said.

    This theory varies from the long-held belief that the settlers were wiped out by famine, natives, weather or some other fate.

    The researchers have compiled 168 surnames that might be connected to settlers in the Lost Colony.

    The center plans to use genealogy and DNA testing to link living North Carolinians with the colonists, the area's native populations, or both.

    "They are trying to solve the greatest mystery in American history what happened to the Lost Colony," said Rick Vernon, television host of DownEast Today, broadcast on SuddenLink channel 9.

    "It will change the history books," he said.

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