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The Legend of Virginia Dare

Wisdom from historical legend.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Melissa Slate
Word Count: 414 (approx.)
Labels: Native American 
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As one pursues the quest of their family history, they are sure to run across many tales of local legend and lore. Some of these tales may be just that while others have roots in history. One such tale that has fascinated people across the ages is the legend of Virginia Dare.

Virginia Dare was, in reality, the first white child born on American soil to English parents on August 18, 1587. Virginia was the daughter of Ananias and Eleanor Dare and the granddaughter of John White, leader of the Roanoke Colony. About a month after the child was born, John White returned to England to seek supplies for the colony, leaving behind his new granddaughter and the Roanoke Colony. Circumstances in England delayed his return by three years and upon his return, he found the entire colony gone. The actual fate of the colony has been cause for great speculation, some stories report that they were attacked by Indians, while others say that they left willingly, and others hint of being kidnapped into slavery.

The next part of the story has been told with many variations, but legend has it that the colonists, including Virginia, were adopted by a band of Indians. The Indians were fascinated by the white child with the golden hair. One Indian was especially smitten, and desired Virginia as his wife, but she failed to return his favor. He lured her back to Roanoke Island and once she stepped upon the shore, she assumed the form of a magnificent white doe and ran quickly through the woods eluding him. Many stories of the white doe circulated among the Indians, but no hunter was ever successful in killing the animal.

The son of one of the Indian chiefs had in his possession a silver arrow, which he believed, possessed magical qualities and would surely allow him to capture the quarry. A massive hunting party was gathered. Luck was with the young brave that day, and the doe was sighted. With careful aim, the young brave shot the arrow striking the doe. The Indian ran to the doe as she fell to the ground; as he arrived he heard, much to his dismay, her whisper her final words: Virginia Dare.

While this enchanting story is indeed quite fanciful, it teaches a valuable lesson. As in the stories of family legend it does contain elements of historical truth, our task is to separate the legend from the fact so that we may record the true story.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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