Residents believe families' roots tied to Croatan tribe
Director of research center says science helped

Washington Daily News, Washington, NC, May 13, 2002
Written by Sarah Hodges and Lawrence Keech, Staff Writers

Wingina, Indian Chief

    These family names -- Elks, Buck, Carrow, Hodges and Gibbs -- may sound like a reading of telephone listings for Chocowinity, but one researcher is attempting to relate these names with a greater meaning, deep in the Indian history of eastern North Carolina.

    Fred Willard, director of the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, will host a forum on his growing research that ties numerous local names to possible Croatan ancestors on Saturday, May 18, at Southside High School. The lecture begins at 1 p.m., followed by a reception at 3 p.m. at Captain MG & Franny C's Seafood and Steakhouse.

    DNA testing of possible descendants of the Croatan tribe may become the key in proving Willard's theory that Chocowinity was once the village known as Panawicki. He believes its inhabitants are the descendants of the Croatan Indians. Willard further theorizes that those descendants are also related to the 1587 Roanoke colonists, commonly referred as the "lost colony."

    "Our absolute best chance to trace the lost colony is here in Chocowinity," Willard told the Daily News.

    Willard and his associates' research uses maps from the1580 Roanoke voyages and other voyages, land deeds from the 1700s, satellite imaging and oral history to draw his hypothesis that some area families are related to the Croatan Indians.

    "Science and technology are becoming a part of research now," Willard stated. "No one has ever used science the way we are able to."

    Approximately 70 area residents have joined Willard's team as researchers, concentrating on links to the Free Union and Chocowinity communities.

    Carolyn Mahoney, dean of mathematics, science and technology at Elizabeth City State University, will speak at the forum, along with local residents who have become involved in Willards's project.


Area family names Willard links to Croatan heritage include: Elks, Pinkham, Mayo, Moore, Berry, Ange, Buck, Hodges, Pierce, Squires, Brooks, James, Carrow, Gibbs, Hudson, Mackey, Shepard and Paine.

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