The Ghost of Virginia Dare

In 1587 an expedition directed by Sir Walter Raleigh and led by John White  attempted to establish the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Originally bound for the Chesapeake Bay, the settlers landed on Roanoke Island, NC where they set about the hard and laborious task of finding a way to survive. Life was hard.

John White was appointed governor of the colony but left soon after to return to England to gather additional supplies. Among the 115 colonists he left behind was his infant granddaughter Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in the New World.

Due to England’s war with Spain, White was not able to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived he found that all of the colonists had disappeared. The only trace of evidence that he found was the word “Croatoan” carved in the trunk of a tree.

Legend has it that the colonists assimilated into the local Croatan tribe of Native Americans that inhabited the island. Virginia Dare grew into a beautiful young woman who attracted the attention of Okisko and Chico, two prominent warriors of the tribe.

But Virginia only had eyes for Okisko, and when she rejected the advances of Chico it is said that he grew angry and vowed that if he could not have Virginia then no one could have her. Borrowing from the old adage “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, which apparently could be extended to male warriors of the day, Chico set about with his plan to deny Okisko the love of his beautiful maiden.

A depiction of Virginia Dare

Enlisting the help of one of the sorcerers of the tribe, Chico cast a spell on Virginia that turned her into a white doe. When Okisko saw this his heart was broken and he immediately began searching for a way to reverse the spell that had been cast on Virginia. Orisko had a sorcerer friend as well who advised him to make an arrowhead out of Mother of Pearl and to then shoot the doe through the heart with it. The sorcerer convinced Orisko that the special arrowhead would instantly reverse the curse and return Virginia to human form.

Enter Wanchese, another chieftain in the tribe. Unaware of the true identity of the white doe, Wanchese devised a plan kill the doe in an effort to showcase his hunting skills. Wanchese knew that an animal with such an unusual appearance would require a special arrowhead, so he fashioned one out of pure silver for the task.

On the day of the hunt, Okisko and Wanchese spotted the white doe and let loose their arrows at precisely the same instant. Both arrows found their mark and pierced the heart of the doe. Just as Okisko’s sorcerer had promised, the Mother of Pearl arrowhead transformed the animal back to his beloved Virginia Dare. But the silver arrow from Wanchese took her life as soon as she changed back to human form.

While no traces of the Lost Colony have ever been found, legend has it that the ghost of one of the colonists can still be seen on Roanoke island. The ghost of Virginia Dare is said to wander the woods of the island in the form of a white doe, searching in vain for her lost love Orisko.

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