August 18: Virginia Dare

220px-Virginia_dare_stampToday in 1587, Mr. and Mrs. Ananias and Eleanor Dare of the Roanoke Colony welcomed the arrival of a bouncing baby girl named Virginia. Virginia Dare was the first child born in America to English parents and the subject of much mystery.

The facts of Virginia Dare’s life are these: At the end of 1587, Virginia’s grandfather John White, the governor of Roanoke Colony, sailed back to England to get more supplies for the brand new colony. However, England was at war with Spain and every English ship was needed to fight the powerful Spanish Armada, leaving White stranded in England. He eventually returned to Roanoke on August 18, 1590, the day that would have been little Virginia Dare’s third birthday, only to discover that the colony had vanished. All the houses had been taken down and the other buildings had collapsed.

White could find no trace of the 99 settlers of the colony. There weren’t even any indications that a struggle had occurred, as there were none of the traditional signs of a battle or attack. The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved into a post of the colony’s fort. White took this to mean that the colonists had fled to Croatoan Island; but alas, he was not able to search the island. Some researchers have speculated that the Roanoke colonists sought refuge amongst the Chesapeake Indians, where they either intermarried or were killed.

A popular folktale claims that after leaving the colony with her family, Virginia Dare lived amongst the Chesapeake and eventually fell in love with a member of the tribe. However, as the story goes, a jealous shaman turned Dare into a white doe and when her Chesapeake lover saw the doe running through the forest, he shot it. As she began to die, Dare transformed back into her human body, and died in the arms of her mournful lover. Despite the many theories and folktales, the true fate of Virginia Dare and the Roanoke Colony remains unknown.

Today celebrate Virginia Dare’s 425th birthday with a nice strong Virginia Slammer. It’s a hard drink, like a sweet and southern take on the Long Island Ice Tea, and if you drink too many of them your mind might go the way of the Roanoke colonists.

Virginia Slammer

  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Southern Comfort
  • 1 ounce Amaretto
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec
  • Dash Grenadine
  • 2 ounces orange juice

Stir in a tall ice filled glass and serve.

Tomorrow: The oldest commissioned naval vessel.

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