Tracing the Lost Colony Through DNA

Tracing the Lost Colony Through DNA

Genetic genealogy could help researchers figure out what happened to the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, NC. It’s one of America’s most enduring mysteries: What happened to the 100-plus settlers who landed on the island in 1587? When the governor, John White, was finally able to return there in 1590...

Genetic genealogy could help researchers figure out what happened to the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, NC.

It’s one of America’s most enduring mysteries: What happened to the 100-plus settlers who landed on the island in 1587? When the governor, John White, was finally able to return there in 1590, he found it deserted and, inexplicably, the word Croatoan carved into a tree.

Theories abound: Spanish explorers destroyed the settlement, the colonists tried unsuccessfully to return to England, they assimilated into American Indian groups.

The last speculation is what Brighton, Mich., genetics lab DNA Explain, along with the North Carolina-based Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, will study. Researchers will test the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA lines of people identified through genealogical research as possible descendants of Roanoke colonists. For comparison, they also may test the colonists’ known relatives in Britain.

Well, my curiosity is certainly piqued!

Have you solved a family mystery through DNA testing? Let us know by posting a comment.

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  1. There was a fascinating episode of Digging for the Truth with Josh Bernstein on using DNA for genealogical research. It focused on possible descendants of the Lost Colony. More information is at the History Channel website.

    Don Bagwell
    Summerville, SC

  2. Hi, J.
    A DNA test could estimate a percentage of American Indian ancestry, but it would not tell you which Indian nation you belong to. Another important issue: A test can only inform you about a fraction of your ancestry. For example, mitochondrial DNA is pased from mother to child. If your mother’s mother wes an American Indian, an mtDNA test would reflect that heritage. But if your father’s mother was an American Indian, an mtDNA test wouldn’t reflect that, because your father did not give you mtDNA. A good testing company could inform whether a test may help you based on which ancestor you think is American Indian.

    Whether a court would accept a DNA test as evidence of American Indian heritage is beyond our expertise. You probably should contact a lawyer with this question.

  3. Name of interest might be a bit funny when the genetics are so
    mixed up they’re hard to seperate. My parents always told me that we were Scot-Irish with some Native American bloodline,Cherokee. At present, all of this is doubtful. I’ve been working with a DNA project for more than a year and no good answers yet. I’ve had three test done, 1st 20 marker test,
    then a 44 marker test and last the mtDNA. So far the results has a close match with one person, a second cousin. My research was in SC then back to NC. Some of my family has features of Native Americans. Only one place in the US that I’m suppose to have exact matches, in North America there is three locations. A
    personal thing, I don’t think the companies are set up to do this type research yet. mt