In 1587, a colony of 114 men, women, and children became one of the earliest attempts to colonize the new world - America. Traveling from Britain to Roanoke Island, on North Carolina's coast, they were the first true attempt at colonization of the New World. They also became one of the Nation's first great mysteries.
The colony, led by John White, settled on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. John White's granddaughter, Virginia Dare, became the first American born in this new land. But times were tough in the new world and supplies became scarce. Ten days after Virginia's birth, Simon Fernandes, a Portuguese sailor, was forced to return to England for more supplies. After much protest, John White was chosen to return with him.
Upon his arrival to England, John White found that his mother country was engaged in a grave war with the Spaniards. Force to assist in this wartime effort, John White was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 3 years later.
When John White arrived back in the Americas on August 18, 1590, he could not find a single trace of the colony. No people, living or dead, could be found anywhere. All personal belonging were left in place as if the people simply disappeared into thin air. His only clue was a carving on a tree - 'CRO' was all he could decipher. Thinking that the 3 letters may have been a unsuccessful attempt to spell out the word CROATOAN, a nearby island, John White sailed to Croatoan to search for his family and fellow Englishmen. No trace of the colonists has ever been found. Someday, perhaps precise evidence will be found telling what exactly did happen, but until then, the "Lost Colony" will remain one of history’s greatest mysteries.
Orion Williamson was a Selma, Alabama farmer who, on a July day in 1854, simply vanished into thin air while walking across his property. What makes this case especially notable is the fact he did so in full view of his wife and son, as well as two other witnesses (neighbor Armour Wren and his son James).
The Wrens, who'd been riding along a road on the other side of the field in a horse and buggy, immediately ran to the spot where Williamson had last been seen, idly swishing the ankle-deep grass with a small stick, but found nothing. Most of the grass was gone from the spot where Williamson had disappeared as well. The news was quickly carried into town, and soon three hundred men formed a massive search party. They combed the field in three rows an arm length apart from each other, but their thorough search yielded no clues. As news of the inexplicable event spread for miles around Selma, hundreds of curious onlookers arrived at the farm to join in the futile search or merely to gawk at the scene. A geologist and a team of experts dug up the field to see if perhaps the ground underneath was unstable or abnormal at all. They found nothing unusual.
Newspaper reporters swarmed to the place, and all their articles said essentially the same thing: "A man has vanished into thin air." The curious were still coming to gape at the field as late as the following spring. Mrs. Williamson allegedly revealed at this point that she and her son had heard the farmer's voice crying out for help from the area where he'd vanished, but the voice gradually grew weaker and faded away after a few weeks.
A Mr. Ambrose Bierce was said to be very interested in the case. He interviewed members of the search party and studied the grassy, treeless field where Williamson had disappeared. Bierce was so fascinated by the incident that he consulted a German scientist, Dr. Maximilian Hern, who'd written a book entitled "Disappearance And Theory Thereof", which detailed his theories surrounding the spots of "universal ether" that he believed could completely destroy any solid objects that happened to be in them. Bierce scoffed at such ideas. The irony here is that Bierce himself would later become one of the most renowned missing persons in history. For unknown reasons, a reporter would write a fictional account which matched all the details of this event precisely, except that the farmer's name became David Lang, the locale Tennessee, and the date 1880. This mysterious fictionalization has caused a great deal of confusion over the years, with the " David Lang" version actually receiving far more publicity.
THE COWDEN FAMILY
An entire family once disappeared from the Rogue River National Forest Campground in Oregon. On September 5, 1974, Richard Cowden and his wife Belinda, along with their two small
children, David and Melissa, went camping for the Labor Day weekend. On Sunday morning, Richard was seen in nearby Copper, Oregon buying some milk. That was the last anyone ever saw of the Cowden family. When the family didn't show up for a scheduled Sunday dinner at Richard Cowden's mother's place, local authorities conducted a search. The camp scene was like something out of The Twilight Zone. Trooper Lee Rickson stated: "That camp sure was spooky. Even the milk was still on the table". Investigators found cooking utensils resting on a tree stump, fishing rods leaning against a tree and the family car was still parked above the campsite. Richard's wallet and his wife's purse were also discovered, with nothing apparently missing from them. There were no indications of a struggle.
JAMES BURNE WORSON
Worson was a shoemaker who lived in Warwickshire, England. He was prone to bragging about his prowess as a long-distance runner, and on September 3, 1873, he was challenged by two friends, linen draper Barham Wise and photographer Hamerson Burns, to run the 40 mile distance from Leamington to Coventry. Worson accepted and started jogging while his friends followed closely in a horse-drawn cart. Worson ran easily for several miles, conversing along the way with his friends. Suddenly, when he was only a half dozen yards from them, and with their eyes fixed upon him, Worson appeared to stumble in the middle of the road. He then fell forward and, as he went down, gave out an awful cry of terror. He then vanished completely. Burns and Wise searched frantically, but couldn't find a trace of their friend who appeared to have evaporated into thin air right before their eyes. A subsequent extensive search of the area yielded similar results, and Corson was never seen again.
Parfitt was an ex-tailor who lived in the little English town of Shepton Mallet, in the county of Somerset. Parfitt was an invalid, aged about 70, who resided with his sister Susannah in a cottage on what was, for that day and age, a busy turnpike road. One balmy June evening in 1768, Parfitt was carried by his sister and another younger woman, Susannah Snook, downstairs and placed in a chair by the door. He was left alone there, with his coat across his chest, as his sister went upstairs and Snook went home. About fifteen minutes later, the sister heard, according to one witness account, "a noise," and quickly ran downstairs. She discovered Parfitt's chair was empty beneath the coat that was still lying there, but he was nowhere in sight. A massive search was conducted, but to no avail. Old Parfitt was well known around Shepton Mallet, and if somehow he'd miraculously managed to rise from a chair he supposedly was unable to rise unaided from, and make his way to the turnpike road, surely one of the 3000 inhabitants of the town would have noticed him. Parfitt was never seen again.
Forty-six years later, a local attorney in Shepton Mallet, William Maskell, together with a few other locals, conducted a re-investigation of the Parfitt disappearance. There were still direct witnesses living, but not much new information came to light. One witness still alive, Jehosaphat Stone, left an appropriately cryptic comment when he stated (after claiming Parfitt's sister had found the chair in which her invalid brother had been sitting to have moved when she came rushing downstairs in the wake of a noise); "I knew Owen Parfitt well. He was a tailor. Many folk round here at the time believed that Owen Parfitt had been spirited off by supernatural means".
THE ESKIMO VILLAGE THAT DISAPPEARED
In November 1930, Joe Labelle, a Canadian fur trapper, snow shoed into a thriving Eskimo fishing village situated on the shores of Lake Anjikuni in Canada. Labelle was greeted with an eerie silence. He thought this was very strange because the fishing village was a noisy settlement with 2,000 Eskimos milling back and forth to their kayaks. But there wasn't a soul about. Labelle visited each of the Eskimo huts and fish storehouses but none of the villagers was anywhere to be seen. Labelle saw a flickering fire in the distance and approached it gingerly, sensing something evil was afoot on this moonlit night. Upon the fire was a smoldering pot of blackened stew. To make matters more mysterious, Labelle saw that not a single human track had left the settlement. Labelle knew something bizarre had happened to the 2,000 people, and so he ran non-stop to the nearest telegraph office and sent a message about his findings to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Mounties turned up hours later, and they too were baffled by the mass vanishing act. An enormous search party was sent out to look for the missing villagers, but they were never found, and the search party unearthed some strange findings. All the sleigh dogs that had belonged to the Eskimos were found buried 12 feet under a snowdrift at the perimeter of the camp. All of them had starved to death. The search party also established that all the Eskimos' provisions and food had been left in their huts, which didn't make any sense at all. Then came the most chilling surprise of all; the search party discovered that all of the Eskimos' ancestral graves were empty. Whoever or whatever had taken all the living villagers had also dug up the dead as well, even though the icy ground around the graves was as hard as iron. Later, on that unearthly silent night the Mounties watched in awe as a strange blue glow lit up the horizon. The eerie radiance was not the northern lights, but seemed steady and artificial. As the Mounties watched, the light pulsated then faded. All the newspapers of the world reported the baffling disappearance of the 2,000 Eskimos, although many believed that a rational explanation would eventually come to light, but the Anjikuni mass disappearance is still unsolved.