Daughter of Anania Dare and Eleanor White, Virginia Dare was the first English child born in “the New World” in Roanoke. She was born on August 18th, 1587. Virginia’s grandfather, John White, was the governor of Roanoke at the time of her birth. After White left for England to get supplies, he was prohibited from returning due to a war with Spain. Eventually, he returned three years later to discover all of the colonist, including Virginia missing.
While there are many theories about what happened to the colonists at Roanoke, it still remains one of the greatest American mysteries. Theories range from assimilating with the neighboring Native American Tribe or that they were mass murdered by the Powhatan Indians.
This has led Virginia Dare to become a heroine in American folklore and symbology. For example, within North Carolina Virginia Dare is used to both extremes. In Raleigh, one group VDARE believes that North Carolina should “remain white … in the name of Virginia Dare.” While another group of feminists used Virginia Dare as a symbol for equal rights.
Back in 1937, she was memorialized by the United States Mint and was depicted on a half silver dollar making it the first time a child was represented on currency within the United States.
Several other historical fiction writers have used The Lost Colony of Roanoke and Virginia Dare’s story as inspiration. She has been used as a character as early as 1840 in Cornelia Tuthill’s novel Virginia Dare and as recently as 2014 on the television series Sleepy Hollow.
Sadly, we will never know the truth about Virginia Dare or what happened to the other settlers of Roanoke. All we can do is take solace in the fact that the settlers did not appear to be missing due to force.