Home Dare Stones Side By Side Photo Gallery Sparkes Debunks Stones White Debunks Sparkes
|To click on any photo to view full size images .|
The great historical mystery of the New World is the disappearance of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Those who vanished represented the third effort of Sir Walter Raleigh to found an English colony in America. The first venturers returned to England, but of the second expedition fifteen Englishmen had remained, and this third party had expected to find them waiting at Roanoke. But Fort Raleigh, made of logs, had been pulled down. They found one skeleton. Within three days they guessed the fate of the fifteen. As George Howe, one of Governor John White’s twelve “assistants,” was catching crabs, arrows struck him. Then he was clubbed to death. Governor White returned to England with two of the three ships that had brought the third party. Before he left, his daughter, Eleanor, wife of Ananias Dare, bore a daughter who was named Virginia, the first English child born in the New World. White left behind in 1587 eighty-nine men, seventeen women, nine boys and two babies. He returned on August 18, 1590, the third birthday of his grandchild. The 117 men, women and children were gone. Houses had been taken down. The colonists had made “a high palisade of great trees . . . very fort-like.” The bark had been removed from one of the big posts at the fort gate and on it, five feet from the ground, “in fair capital letters was graven C R O A T O A N, without any cross or sign of distress.” Croatoan was home to their friend, the chief Manteo. But storms obliged the ships to give up the search and return to England. The Roanoke colonists never were seen again by white men. The rest is mere Indian gossip. The Jamestown colony heard that the Roanoke group had been massacred except for four men, two boys and a maid who fled up the Chowan River, where they were aided by a chief. That is all. Discovery in the past four years of a strange and tragic diary inscribed on slabs of stone has reopened this centuries old closed book. The story, chaptered on pieces of quartz and soapstone found in places more than 400 miles apart, bears the signature of Eleanor Dare, mother of Virginia. What follows here is based upon a manuscript of Dr. Haywood Jefferson Pearce, Jr., professor of American history at Emory University, Atlanta, and a vice-president of Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia, the custodian and sponsor of the stones. The record seems to reveal that the Roanoke colonists migrated nearly 500 miles as the crow flies southwestward to the Chattahoochee River, near Atlanta’s present site. There are forty-eight stones, to date. They were found, beginning in September, 1937, in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, the latest recovered in January of this year. The first was brought to Professor Pearce through a fortunate coincidence. Thereafter he directed the search and the investigation. All the stones are now in the museum of Brenau, of which school his father is president. Last fall thirty-four scholars, headed by Dr. Samuel E. Morison, of Harvard, president of the American Antiquarian Society, journeyed to Brenau and after two days’ study pronounced that “the preponderance of evidence points to the authenticity of the stones.” The stone diary, if genuine, accounts for seventy-one of the colonists. The fate of the others is conjectural. I give you the painstakingly deciphered story of the seventy-one; and the even more exciting story of a modern archaeological paper chase. In mid-September, 1937, L. E. Hammond, a small produce dealer of Alameda, California, was touring in North Carolina. He wanted hickory nuts. On a causeway by a swamp about three miles from Edenton, North Carolina, he stopped his car. This swamp, until the causeway was built shortly before, had been as inaccessible as any jungle. About a quarter of a mile in the woods, on the east bank of the Chowan, the tourist stumbled over a rock slab. It bore an inscription. A clue to buried treasure? The thought is not uncommon in a section long the resort of pirates. The stone was heavy, but he lugged it to his car. In November, 1937, he came into Atlanta, in search of a translator. Chance brought him to Emory University. A colleague urged Professor Pearce to look at the stone. He and others of the faculty were able to make out with fair certainty the words “Ananias Dare & Virginia went hence vnto heaven 1591.” Professor Pearce knew that someone was perpetrating a colossal hoax-or else the stone was an unbelievable historical find.
The First Stone
Pearce and his colleagues had
stereopticon slides made to facilitate translation, Elizabethan English being
another language to modern Americans. Two days later, with Hammond and faculty
colleagues, Pearce went to North Carolina, but rains had obliterated all trace
of where the stone had lain. Professor Pearce was disheartened. He had hoped
that the stone marked the grave of Ananias and Virginia Dare. Back at the
university, after a week of effort by English, geology, physics and history
professors, the stone was deciphered. On the smoother side was a crude Latin
cross. Beneath were these words: “Ananias Dare & Virginia went hence vnto heaven
1591.” On the same side: “Anye Englishman Shew John White Govr Via.” On the
back: “Father soone After yov goe for Englande we cam hither/ onlie misarie &
warretow yeare “Above halfe DeaDe ere tow yeere moore from sickenes beine fovre
& twentie/ salvage with mesage of shipp vnto vs/ smal space of time they affrite
of revenge rann al awaye/ wee bleeve yt nott you/ soone after ye salvages faine
spirts angrie/ suddiane mvrther al save seaven/ mine childe ananias to slaine
wth mvch misarie/bvrie al neere fovre myles easte this river vppon smal hil/
names writ al ther on rocke/ pvtt this ther alsoe/ salvage shew this vnto yov &
hither wee promise yov to give greate plentie presents E W D” The bars in the
text represent conjectural sentence divisions. Professor Pearce determined to
hunt that second stone with the names of the dead, which, he calculated (seven
survivors out of twenty-four) had been seventeen. The immediate problem, though,
was to test the authenticity of Hammond’s find. It was a piece of rough veined
quartz weighing twenty-one pounds four ounces. The inscriptions could reasonably
have been made with tools possessed by the colonists. The language was
competently declared to be Elizabethan in character, spelling and idiom.
Botanists said leaf mold in the grooves had been there “a long time.” The
Smithsonian Institution said the rock showed “no evidence of fraud.” That was
all they could honestly say. Professional stonecutters were asked to duplicate
the wording on similar quartz by short-cut methods, sandblasting, drilling and
acids. It couldn’t be done. Professor Pearce still had reservations, conscious
of past historical hoaxes. Stories of the find had got out. Soon Professor
Pearce was represented as actually finding the grave of Virginia Dare. So he
permitted publication of the translation, January 31, 1938. This brought him a
letter from Capt. J. P. Wiggins, a former mayor of Edenton, North Carolina, who
as a young man had cut logs in the swamp east of the Chowan River. He remembered
seeing, upon a knoll, a moss covered stone. He could not promise it was still
there, but he would try to take Pearce to the stone. As the description seemed
to fit into the stone’s story, Professor Pearce went to Edenton on February 5,
1938, and with Wiggins searched in the swamp. The second day they found the
rock. An inch deep with moss, it weighed about two hundred pounds. Moss was
carefully removed but no carving was found. When the university term ended,
Pearce, his father and Wiggins returned and excavated beneath the rock,
believing it might be an unmarked gravestone. They found nothing. Both Pearces
then were still confident the rest of the story was hidden in the Edenton-Chowan
area. And in August they went back again, this time excavating the entire knoll.
Negro helpers labored five days without uncovering anything significant. Old
residents told the Pearces that in their youth they had seen the mast of a ship
above the swamp trees. Could this be the pinnace left with the colonists? The
next March, 1939, they made their fifth excursion to the swamp, a further waste
of time. The Pearces had spent about $500 of their own money. They were
discouraged. Now they offered a $500 reward to anyone finding the stone and
bringing authenticating evidence. This was to encourage farmers and others to
search. Seventeen months after the tourist Hammond’s appearance, a man named
William Eberhart, a carpenter and stonemason in the Atlanta area, brought them a
rock. He said he had found it about twelve miles south of Greenville, South
Carolina, near the Saluda River and the town of Pelzer. He had heard they were
offering money for old stones bearing inscriptions. Although the date 1589 was
plainly readable, the Pearces couldn’t decipher the rest at the time. They told
Eberhart the stone they sought was in North Carolina; his was probably a Spanish
grave marker. Two weeks later Eberhart brought two stones dated 1589. The
Pearces said they would try to read these-when they had time. Thereupon Eberhart
said he had several more stones and would bring them. The Pearces emphasized to
Mr. Eberhart the stone or stones they were interested in were 300 miles from his
find and would probably bear the date of 1591. A week later Eberhart was back
and he had a fourth stone. On the back of this were names; on the front, some
sort of inscription. The date, 1591, was readable. The first had said seventeen
persons had been massacred, their names carved on a rock. Professor Pearce
counted. There were seventeen names. This is what they read eventually: “Heyr laeth Ananias & Virginia Father Salvage mvrther AI save seaven names written
heyr mai God hab mercye Eleanor Dare 1591.” On the edge: “Father wee goe sw.”
Vertically listed on the back were: “Sydnor Boane Wigan Birge Polle Carewe
Bowman Spague Tuckers Bolitoe Smythe Sakeres Holborn Winget Stoate.” Fifteen
names; Ananias and Virginia on the other side made seventeen. The check was
complete. The emotions of Professor Pearce and his father can be imagined. But
how did Eberhart find all these stones? Could he possibly have carved them
himself? They questioned him. He had gone three years to grade school. He had
worked at various trades until the depression. Then he peddled a product for
which he found demand among mill workers. On a journey into South Carolina in
1931 he happened to go off the road in a lonely spot. At the base of a hill, he
saw several soapstones, half buried. He made out early dates on some, and one he
took to Atlanta as a “good-luck stone.” When the Pearces were uninterested in
this stone, Eberhart returned to South Carolina. Fortunately, he found the
others still in the side of the gully.
On the Trail of History
IN SOUTH CAROLINA, Eberhart showed them the indenture of the stones in the ground. Of the thirteen, ten were burial stones. Three bore messages to Governor White. One said: “Father looke tow barke of tree certan signe amang thame Eleanor Dare 1591.” Another: “Father wee goe sw with fovre goodlie men they shlew moche mercye they are god sovldiovrs theyr saide theyr browt vs tow yov Eleanor Dare 1591.” On the edge: “with moche labovr wee pvtt certan names heyr.” On the other ten stones, with such notes as: “Heyr laeth nolan Ogle & wyfe 1590 mvrthed bye salvage,” were forty-eight names of dead. The Pearces investigated Eberhart exhaustively. A commercial agency confirmed that he had had only three years’ schooling. During twenty-five years his chief work had consisted of hauling stones around Atlanta. His financial situation had not varied in years. Certainly Eberhart knew nothing about Elizabethan English. They found no connection between him and any persons having sufficient knowledge to conceive and execute a historical hoax. As for the stones brought by Eberhart, no fraud could be discovered about them. Like the stone found by the tourist, the carvings could not be duplicated by short-cut methods. Tests for patination and a chemical test for weathering were made. The report was favorable. Weathering in the grooves did not differ appreciably from that on the surfaces. Scholars declared that no one other than a scholar in that field could write a dozen words of Elizabethan English without giving himself away. On forty-six rocks are 704 words to test Elizabethan usage. No evidence of hoax in this regard was detected by the many experts who examined them. Two later stones are still to be tested. But how did the story on the stones jibe, piece by piece, and with historical records? The stones checked with White’s letter, Strachey’s account, and Capt. John Smith’s corroborative references in his True Relation. Each piece was a sequence with its place in the jig-saw puzzle. Thirteen stones were found about a mile from the Saluda River. Here the check was imperfect, but this might constitute internal evidence of good faith; also, of forty-eight names, twenty-four do not appear in White’s list. Sixteen colonists are tallied, but not named. For example, one stone says, “5 lae hyee mrd bie Inde 1589.” Professor Pearce supposed the twenty-four were recorded by nickname or by the place from which they came. A man in those days might be known as “Jack of Holborn.” The uncultivated hill was virtually abandoned. The Pearces were determined to find traces of the dead who might be buried there, an expensive undertaking for college professors. They decided to buy the hill and got it for $800-paid out of their own pockets. They started excavating, but no graves were uncovered. Had the stones originally been placed higher on the hill, later moved down by the elements or ignorant slave labor? Excavation of the crest awaits funds and opportunity. When they were buying that hill, the matter of paying the $500 reward came up. Eberhart and the stones had been tested and no flaws found. Yet the Pearces determined on one further test. They told Eberhart they would pay him $500 or give him $100 cash and a half interest in the hill, valueless, they told him, unless the colonists had really lived there. Eberhart took the half interest and the $100. One of the South Carolina stones said, “Father we go sw.” Pearce put Eberhart to searching to the southwest along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. The next call Pearce received came, not from Eberhart, but from I. A. Turner, of Atlanta, in late August, 1939. Turner told them, in March, hunting along the Chattahoochee, he had picked up a peculiarly carved stone. Thereafter he saw an illustrated story about the stones in an Atlanta newspaper. Would the Pearces like to see his find? After study this is what they read: “Father looke vp this river to great Salvage lodgement Wee pvtt moche clew bye wage.” On the other side: “Father the salvage shew moche mercye Eleanor Dare 1591.” The Pearces urged Eberhart to redouble his searching in Georgia. Thereafter he brought nine stones from a bend of the river about eighteen miles above Gainesville. One stone said: “Father looke 5 dae tow backe trale bvrie al vppon Hil neere river.” On the back: “Eleanor Dare 1591.” From where these stones were found to the Greenville County site is about seventy-five miles. Another stone said: “Father shew moche mercye tow salvage weste of hilwhere Ananias & Virginia slayne.” On the back: “Eleanor Dare 1591.” A third said: “Father thee accvrse salvage of the easte they hab slayne Al save seaven Revenge Eleanor Dare 1591.” On the edge was: “Anania & mye dowter,” seemingly the ones to be revenged. Other stones related this story: “Father day by day some amang vs endeavovr tow Reconnoittre For signe of yov Eleanor Dare 1591.” “Father wee goe tow greate Hontaoase lodgement ther king shew moche mercye Eleanor Dare 1591.” “Father it Has bene 5 yeeres sithence yov hab departe maie God brynge yov hither Eleanor Dare 1592.” “Father wee ben heyr 5 yeeres in primaeval splendovr Eleanor Dare 1592.” Here the story seemed to end. The seven survivors had reached a peaceful haven among friendly savages; lived, in fact, in “primeval splendor” in this Nacoochee Valley area, a long-time seat of the Cherokees. A year had elapsed without much progress when the Pearces enjoyed a triumph. Up to this point the professor had been troubled by his own skepticism, as much as by that of others. What proof was there the stones had not been strewn over three states by some diabolical hoaxer? Then through the enterprise of Professor Pearce old Georgia farmers were found who had seen some of the stones half a century ago. They had always supposed the inscriptions were “just Indian writing.” The fresh leads came through the appearance of T. R. Jett, of Henry County, Georgia. This was in a period during August and September, 1940, when twenty-two stones had been found by four different people along the Chattahoochee about forty miles from Gainesville to the south and about ten miles northeast of Atlanta Mr. Jett had been reared there. When he was a small boy two peculiarly carved stones had been found. One, placed on the floor of his father’s mill on Ball’s Creek, which flows into the Chattahoochee, became an object of common remark. People who brought grain to the mill always said the stone bore “Indian writing.” Jett couldn’t remember what became of those two stones, but I. A. Turner, a neighbor in those days, remembered that when the mill had been torn down, the stone had been thrown into a ditch. Turner found it after a month of hard searching. Not only Jett but several old-time residents identified this find as the stone that had lain on the old mill floor. The Pearces could make out: “anye Englishman Shew John White Eleanor Dare & Salvage kinge ha.” The rest was broken off. Jett remembered the second stone had been brought from the river by his brother as part of a load of stones. Broken in two by his father, half was placed in an unmortared pillar under a barn about forty years ago. It seemed almost hopeless to search. Nevertheless, the effort was made. The farm of Mr. Jett’s father had been purchased by a cousin, Henry Campbell. He was enlisted and the half was found in a ditch near where the barn had stood. The other piece was found by Mrs. Jett in an old tool chest left fifteen years with her family near Jonesboro, Georgia. After all these years, the two halves fitted together unmistakably and the Pearces finally were able to decipher: “Father wee dweelde in greate rocke (v)ppon river neere heyr Eleanor Dare 1598.” On the stones found last August and September, Professor Pearce deciphered: “Father skew moche mercye tow greate salvage lodgement Ther King hab mee tow wyfe sithence 1593”  “Father hab mercye”  “Father I hab dowter heyr al save salvage king angrie”  [Pearce is not sure whether this means the Indians had desired a male infant or whether they resented the relationship.] “Father sithence 1593 wee hab mange salvage looke for you”  “Father I beseeche yov hab mye dowter goe to englande”  “Father some amange vs pvtt manye message fo yov Bye Trale”  “Father I -hab moche svddiane sickenes” [1599, fixing the year Eleanor Dare died] “Father hab salvage shew yov greate rocke bye trale”  [This is probably the last signed by Eleanor Dare, corroborating an earlier find.] The “greate rocke bye trale” seemingly was a cave about a quarter of a mile from the riverside where many stones were found. Search inside on a wall revealed this inscription: “Eleanor Dare Heyr sithence 1593.” The order of the finding does not correspond to the chronology of the story. This, of course, added to the difficulties of Professor Pearce’s labor. Meanwhile Eberhart, searching incessantly, found a few more stones. William Bruce, of Fulton County, a hauler of stones for Atlanta contractors, found a stone. Later he found another. With these the odyssey was gratifyingly complete. Some recorded the deaths of William Wythers, Robert Ellis, Henry Berry, Thomas Ellis and James Lasie. These, with Eleanor Dare, accounted for six of the seven who survived the South Carolina massacre. Ellis and Wythers were listed by Governor White as “boys.” Apparently they reached manhood among Indians. A stone found by Bruce was dated 1599. It said: “She (w) (J) oh (n White) eleanor (Dare) dye februa(ry) dowter name Agnes heyr.” There was a poignant change here; it was signed, not by Eleanor Dare, but by Griffen Jones, identified by Pearce as the probable carver of all but the first stone. Names of the seven check, name for name, against those in White’s roster. So ends the story. Is the story true? Disregarding everyone’s desire to believe it true Professor Pearce says: “I cannot answer categorically. Much scientific study remains to be done. But this I can say: The stones are here for all to examine. The story told jibes with itself and with available outside sources. If hoax it is, the hoax is more incredible, more fantastic than the story itself.” This account of the Dare stones has been condensed from a manuscript sent to The Post December 13,1940, by Professor Pearce, writing on the stationery of Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia. He said: I submit herewith article concerning my three-year investigation of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. A good deal has appeared in the press concerning this investigation, but this is my first presentation of the subject. The article modified the editors’ previous skepticism, and they wrote to Dr. S. E. Morison, of Harvard, for his judgment. He replied: I personally went to Gainesville to investigate the Eleanor Dare stones and believe them to be genuine, as did the other professors present. A geologist pronounced the inscriptions to be over 40 years old (they can’t tell whether they are 41 or 401), and some of them have been knocking around farms of perfectly honest Georgians for the last fifty years, but were only produced when the story got around. The Post decided to buy Doctor Pearce’s manuscript and sent it to me with an invitation to check his material. For companionship on the Georgia trip I had my son-in-law. The stones are locked in the museum, a basement room in one of the main buildings of Brenau. First sight of the relics is overwhelming: more than a ton of rock slabs; heavy to lift, tedious to decipher. I am not an Elizabethan scholar, geologist, historian, archaeologist or paleographer; but I am a reporter. In writing an article, the professor had moved into my field. I thought we could get through in a day. It took longer. Before the end of my investigation Pearce was calling me “Hawkshaw.” Haywood Pearce becomes resentful when his stones are challenged. When I said of one of his conjectures that it must have been an exceedingly friendly naked savage who had carried a twenty-one-pound stone message across hundreds of miles of South and North Carolina he scowled. I insisted each swamp then was a maze, each stream an obstacle, each forest an ambush. But he brightened when I said the stones ought to have great value to Gainesville and the college. “I want my father to hear you say that,” said Professor Pearce. “He’s the businessman around here; not me.” Before we left the museum he had me re-examine the two parts of Stone No. 46. “I was doubtful myself,” he said, “until we got this. Part was in a barn pillar for years; the other half stored in a tool chest miles away. Who can question this one?” He gave it affectionate pats. But in the next breath he was saying, “I’m still open-minded. I never say they are authentic. It’s too early.” Introducing us to President Pearce, he said: “Father, these gentlemen have intelligence and imagination. I want you to hear what they think.” Brenau is a college for women, originally Baptist. In 1893, Pearce, Senior, bought a half interest; later he became sole owner. In 1917 he donated the college property to a self-perpetuating board of trustees upon condition an endowment fund be raised. In 1928 he executed a quit-claim deed. An alumna, Mrs. Aurora Strong Hunt, class of ‘82, gave to Brenau the Dixie Hunt Hotel, valued at $250,000. A later bequest increased her gifts to $400,000. Last year the board decided to continue the campaign until $1,000,000 has been raised. The Pearce family runs Brenau. Pearce, Senior, is president; Pearce, Junior, vice president. Both, along with Mrs. Pearce, Senior, the professor’s stepmother are trustees. Thomas J. Pearce, a son, is treasurer. Miss Eva Florence Pearce is dean and professor of English. A son-in-law of the president also holds an administrative position. My companion, an alumnus of North Carolina and its law school, pestered Professor Pearce about the lack of interest at Chapel Hill. North Carolina, Pearce said, was jealous. North Carolina people thought they “owned” Virginia Dare.
A Hollywood Angle
What about Paul Green? This playwright is a member of the faculty at Chapel Hill, and author of The Lost Colony, a play produced each summer since 1937 on Roanoke Island, within the palisaded walls of a restoration of old Fort Raleigh. Why had Green ignored the stones? Professor Pearce said, “You know, Cecil De Mille, the Hollywood director, was dealing with Green for movie rights to The Lost Colony. He broke off negotiations when these stones turned up. I’ve had several letters from De Mille.” The movies! Gone With the Wind will gross about $10,000,000 as a movie; Margaret Mitchell has grown rich from royalties almost in sight of Emory University, where the salary of a full professor is only $3600 a year. Her raw materials? History. American history! Atlanta is headquarters in the Southeast for press agents representing Hollywood. Had any of these been imposing on Professor Pearce? The professor, asked to discuss the possibility of a hoax, said: “It could have been conceived and executed only by a man of brilliant mind; deranged, but brilliant, with great imagination, tremendous creative ability.” I suspected that a Hollywood press agent’s expense account would stand the strain of buying the stones, having them carved, strewn around. Moreover, the “tourist” said he came from California. At any rate, the professor had too little in his article about him. Pearce said Hammond had been checked in California by Pinkertons and other investigators. But he could tell me less about Hammond than about Eleanor Dare.
New Settlers for Old
I found Anthony Buttitta in New York. A theatrical press agent, in the summers he has charge of publicity for the Roanoke Island play. “Is there to be a movie of The Lost Colony? Who’s been making those Dare stones?” He looked frightened. “Word of honor, we’ve never used the stones in our publicity. I got positive orders. Mustn’t refer to ‘em. Everyone at Manteo knows they’re fakes.” “How?” “That man who came there in 1937 during the first season and tried to sell a fake stone just before one turned up at Emory - but you better ask Mr. Fearing! “ I saw Bradford Fearing in Raleigh; he is a state senator, his election a reward for helping Dare County weather the depression when the fishing industry was flat. One way out was to exploit historical background. Fearing assumed leadership, coaxed prominent North Carolinians into a permanent organization. Senator Fearing told me: “This fellow Tony Buttitta told you about showed up about ten years ago. He was promoting the Coastal Highway, Maine to Miami. He came to Roanoke frequently. He would say, ‘Brad, we got a world beater on this island.’ He was trying also to promote a real-estate development for summer cottagers. “Then he proposed a scheme for creating a bogus stone relic of the Lost Colony to get newspaper headlines. He said we could use one of the English ballast stones uncovered when we prepared to restore Fort Raleigh. He said: ‘We’ll cut down an old oak, carve CROATOAN on it. In a year or so we’ll have fishermen catch their nets on it, “discover it.”’ Another idea of his was to ‘find’ one of Governor White’s chests. He had the doggonedest ideas! He said he could get men who could prepare the inscription, carve the rock, do the whole job. “I said, ‘Now look, you would ruin us. Your ideas would spoil something fine.’ I warned him the island would resent such talk.” But he continued coming to Roanoke until others took over the management of the Coastal Highway and felt obliged to change the name to the Ocean Highway. Bishop Alexander, in Charleston, South Carolina, now in charge of the highway’s advertising, gave me an interesting dossier on the man’s past. He left Norfolk several years ago, deeply in debt. But the night Paul Green’s play opened he was in the audience, boldly cranking a fullsized motion-picture camera, with what ultimate purpose it was never disclosed. Paul Green ordered him to take down his tripod. About that time a stranger appeared and offered to sell a stone relic of Virginia Dare. He carried it in a suitcase. Several could identify him. Were these incidents connected with the stone of the “tourist,” Hammond? Hammond’s own story places him within fifty miles of Roanoke Island in the same season a stranger offered to sell “a Virginia Dare stone.” This much I knew: When Professor Pearce mailed his article, December 13, 1940, he had been aware, certainly since October, that a stone had been offered for sale in Manteo. I got his word for it that he never personally troubled to investigate. At Emory, staff and faculty had been “suspicious” of Hammond from the beginning. Dr. Harvey Warren Cox, the president, said then of the stone: “It’s a fraud. Why should I let you spend the university’s money just to prove it’s a fraud?” Because members of the Candler family have given about ten million dollars to Emory University, it is sometimes referred to ungraciously as “the Coca-Cola university.” I received sincere co-operation there in my hunt for light on the Dare stones. When Hammond agreed to show where he had found the stone, university officials arranged for Legare Davis, president of the Atlanta Better Business Bureau, to go along. The university was represented by Pearce, Dean Harris Purks, Prof. James Lester, geologist, and J. C. McCord, of the athletic department. They traveled almost six hundred miles before they learned where Hammond was taking them. On the causeway near Edenton the man brought out a crude map scrawled on a piece of paper bag.
The Banks of the Chowan
He said it was about a quarter of a mile away. But after wandering a mile and a half in the swamp the professors lost patience. Finally Hammond saw a barge grounded on the bank of the Chowan. A sand shoal near by, he said, was where he had washed the rock. Thereafter he “cleaned it” with a steel brush, used an indelible lead pencil to intensify the lettering. Whatever his motives, he had frustrated future efforts to determine how long the stone could have been in the swamp. Hammond had said he was traveling in a car with his wife. None ever saw Hammond’s car. None ever saw his wife. George Mews, treasurer of Emory, tried to shadow the man one night, but was eluded. Another university man tried to get Hammond’s fingerprints on a drinking glass. He failed. Because the inscription on the stone produced by Hammond had reported seven surviving of a band of twenty-four colonists, after an attack by savages, Pearce figured seventeen had been killed. So, when Eberhart turned up with a stone roster of seventeen dead, Pearce logically cited the obvious relationship of Stone No. 1 to Eberhart’s find. It seemed to me it should be equally true that if the first was a fraud, all were fraudulent. My hasty conclusion got me nowhere with a professor I consulted. He is one of the five scholars authorized by the thirty-four who met at Brenau to issue a statement and study further the problems posed by the stones. “This matter will be determined finally,” he said, “only on the basis of internal evidence, something in the inscriptions, or the stones themselves.” “But the character of Eberhart? Those phony Indian relics he sold?” “We know about that accusation. Who makes it? An antique dealer! Those Indian relics have yet to be examined competently. This Atlanta region has been shamefully neglected by archaeologists. They prefer to devote themselves to far-off places.” “But why would Pearce omit from his article facts challenging authenticity of the stones?” “Oh,” he said contemptuously, “a popular article!”
The Man From the Golden West
Thus, seeming to condemn all journalism, he irritated me. However, the mere revelation that Pearce had written an article for persons other than scholars to read, before the committee had completed its work, had really shocked this colleague of Pearce. Yet in a moment his scholarly mind seemed on an even keel. He said, “The poor fellow! He’s just trying to get some money to pursue his field work.” Because of Hammond’s furtiveness before he vanished, the Pinkerton agency was hired to trace his past. They were unable to find anyone who had ever known him. Later the man corresponded with Dean Purks, giving as his address P. O. Box 212, Alameda, California. Then came a proposal from Hammond to exhibit the stone at twenty-five cents a head. That was when Emory washed its hands of the affair, directing Hammond to come and get his stone. Thereafter Professor Pearce carried it to Brenau College. Months later a commercial credit agency sent a representative to see Herbert M. Dove, Oakland, California, whom Hammond finally had named to Pearce as a reference. Dove was found in a little jewelry store. He said he only knew Hammond to be married, about forty; that he had some kind of a pension; that his first name was Louis. The Pearces still knew nothing about a single day in the life of Hammond before he appeared at Emory, but they bought his stone, paying him $1000. Brenau College funds were sent to an Oakland bank. The payee on the bill of exchange was L. E. Hammond P. O. Box 212, Alameda. Pearce’s article suggests stones were found by various persons widely scattered, unacquainted. Indeed, Doctor Morison, of Harvard, seems to have formed just such an impression when he attended the Brenau conference, else he would not have written: “… some of them have been knocking around farms of perfectly honest Georgians for the last fifty years, but were only produced when the story got around.” There are really forty-nine stones, as two pieces of No. 46 were delivered separately. Seventeen months after Hammond appeared with the first, Eberhart appeared. The score thereafter: Eberhart, 42; Bruce, 2 (?); Turner, 2; Eberhart and Turner, 1; Mrs. Jett, 1. After telling about Eberhart bringing the first thirteen, Pearce writes: “The next call we received, though, came not from Eberhart, but from a Mr. I. A. Turner, of Atlanta, in late August, 1939. Turner said he had been hunting in March of that year up along the Chattahoochee. . . .” Not a word about the boon companionship of Eberhart and Turner during more than ten years! On page 29 of his manuscript, Pearce writes: “Then, however, came more stones. During August and September, 1940, twenty-two stones were found by as many as four different people.” The “four different people” are the same four, but are not so identified, nor does the article disclose anywhere that Eberhart, Turner and Bruce were cronies; nor does it reveal Eberhart participated in the “finding” of all but two stones-Turner’s first and the one Bruce admits finding. Bear in mind that except for the two stones remembered by a man named Tom Jett, a boyhood friend of Turner, no living soul is known who ever saw or heard of such stones before they were produced by Hammond, Eberhart and Turner, and Bruce. The two Jett farm stones, then, are vital to the case for the Dare collection. In the Brenau Bulletin, November fifteenth, under the signature of Pearce, Senior, this appears: “We looked around the vicinity [the old Jett mill site] and found nothing, but Wm. Eberhart and Turner . . . had accompanied us returned the next week and made a more thorough search, and found the stone. . . . They immediately took the stone to Mr. Jett, who had moved to a farm fifteen miles south of Atlanta about fifteen years ago. “Mr. Jett immediately identified the stone . . . by what he thought were three figure 8’s in the carving . . . the 8’s proved to be g’s. We also visited Mr. Jett and heard him tell his story. . “ “Immediately” seems to be an exaggeration. “Were you able to identify that stone easily?” I asked Jett. “No,” he said. “You see, I had to shoot the man I lived with last year, so I was in the McDonough jail when old Doctor Pearce and old lady Pearce asked me to identify it. They showed it to me through the bars. I was in no humor to mess with any stone.” Mr. Jett did not identify it, he said, until they let him out of jail. Using a shotgun, he had seriously wounded his landlord. Mr. Jett was in need of friends then, but he was not indicted because, as he says, he fired in self defense. When the scientists met, Mr. Jett made a fine impression with his story of the old stone with “Indian writing” on it. He had described 8’s on the stone many times before the stone was produced. When found, there were g’s on the stone that looked like 8’s, whereas other g’s in the inscriptions looked like g’s.
Enter the Jetts
The Jetts are introduced by Professor Pearce on page 30 of his script: “At this time a Mr. T. R. Jett, of Henry County, told us he had been reared near where these stones had been found by Eberhart and he remembered that as a small boy two peculiarly carved stones had been found and one had been placed on the floor of his father’s mill . . an object of common remark and considered to be ‘Indian writing.’ However, just as our hopes were rising, he added he didn’t remember what had become of it. “However, Mr. I. A. Turner, a neighbor in those days, remembered the stone had been thrown into a ditch when the mill had been torn down.... Turner did find it after a month’s search and it was identified by Jett, together with several other old-time residents. . .” “Neighbor” Turner, Eberhart’s pal during ten years, told me that Pearce, late last summer, had hired him at ten dollars a day to hunt for people who had “seen old stones.” He said he went to Jett before Jett came on this archaeological scene. He says he worked thirty-four days for Pearce, hasn’t been paid and is going to sue. Pearce commented: “That’s absurd.” On page 31 Pearce wrote: “Jett also remembered a second stone had been broken in two by his father and placed under a barn for support about forty years ago. After a deal of search and effort, one half of the stone was found at the home of Mrs. Jett’s family near Jonesboro, Georgia. . . It had been in a tool chest with some Indian relics. . . A Mr. Henry Campbell who had purchased Jett’s father’s home was enlisted and the other half was found. . .”
Does that not suggest that Campbell (Jett’s cousin) found the stone? In the Brenau Bulletin, November 15, 1940, Pearce, Senior, writes: “’Since these publications [previous bulletins] twenty-three stones have been found in three different places in Fulton County near the Chattahoochee by five different people - two of them being concerned in previous discoveries.” He identifies these five as Eberhart, Turner, Bruce, also “Henry Campbell-R.F.D. 1, Roswell, Georgia; T. R. Jett-Ellenwood, Georgia, R.F.D.” Neither Jett nor Campbell found stones. The scientists were coming! Mr. and Mrs. Jett, in serious trouble, knew there was a reward for finders of stones. Somehow Mrs. Jett remembered then that when they were moving, fifteen years before, she had thrown a curiously marked rock in a tool chest; that they had stored this chest at her father’s home and had had no occasion to move it since. According to her recollection that was about October fifteenth; just a few days before the scholars were to meet. She made the journey and found a rock in the old tool chest. Never before had she been able to read it. But now she could decipher most of the words. This half of Stone No. 46 was delivered, apparently by Turner, to Professor Pearce. I decided to do something Professor Pearce has never done-go see the chest and talk with Mrs. Jett’s father, J. H. Whitmire. Mr. Whitmire dragged the wooden chest out of a shed littered with grindstones, broken harness and farm implements. He required help to shift it. Once the chest contained a full set of tools of a railroad-car maker. Mr. Whitmire said there had been a rock in the chest. There were marks on it. Old man Jett had told him it was “Indian writing,” but he never recognized any letter on that rock, although he reads the Atlanta Journal every night. There were two other Indian relics of stone in the chest. There was a rusty broadax in the chest. Unhinged trays slanted to the bottom in which there were a heavy jack plane, a brace, rusty bits and other steel tools. It is difficult to believe any stone could have been stored for fifteen years in that often-visited chest without becoming chipped. Heavy tools had been taken, tossed back, and taken unnumbered times. Mr. Whitmire showed us the barn where the chest had been stored when Mrs. Jett came in his absence. Anyone disposed to substitute another stone for the one Mr. Whitmire remembered could have done so. One of the least credible facts about the collection is that the half of Stone No. 46 represented to have been for twenty-six years part of a barn pillar, and then for fifteen other years somewhere on the ground, and the half that had been knocked around fifteen years in a chest of heavy tools, after such varied experiences fit as neatly as a freshly broken teacup. The very color challenges credulity; an evenly applied rust tone that grows gradually lighter throughout its length. There is no perceptible variation in that reddish tint where the halves meet; yet from the mere adventure of being rubbed together by occasional handling on the museum table, some crumbling has occurred. A blow, rock on rock, would chip it. For fifteen years or more, Tom Jett and his wife have been tenant farmers. They have moved from farm to farm. Sober, he is amiable; but drunken driving and fighting have brought him into conflict with the law several times. Just now the Jetts are living at Dunwoody, Georgia, on the farm of a man named Tom Bailey, who runs shows for Negroes in the South. The interior of the Jett house, with bare board floors and board walls, is kept neat by Mrs. Jett. When Tom Jett told the scholars gathered at Brenau about the two stones with “Indian writing,” seemingly none thought to ask how it happened that this man, who can read, never had been able to distinguish anything but 8’s on those rocks, whereas now, in the Brenau collection, the two he identified are inscribed with many letters of the alphabet as plain as newspaper headlines. From the standpoint of the Jetts and their friends, what harm is therein “remembering” something that makes them more important, wins friends and the prospect of a reward? I suspect these two stones were made with eightlike g’s to conform to recollections of well-intentioned witnesses of the existence of two stones that are still missing and never had any bearing on the lost colonists.
The Yahoo Temptation
Who is Isaac A. Turner? He makes his living as a carpenter, has worked in the Texas oil fields, was in Florida during the boom. He met Eberhart about 1930 on some building job. Thereafter they often met for “fun,” drinking, dicing. We met him carrying a chip basket of coal, picked up along the railroad tracks, for the kitchen stove. He was inconsistent in his stories about finding stone No. 15. He has a lawyer and is planning to sue Professor Pearce for pay for thirty-four days’ work hunting rocks and witnesses, at ten dollars a day. Turner slyly offered one comment: “If those stones were crooked, Pearce knows who crooked ‘em.” He says Eberhart told him they would go “halfers” on the stones. Questioned, he is cautious, suspicious. Once a man came and offered him $30,000 to find a rock with “Yahoo” on it. Said his name was “L. E. Martin.” That was Hammond, finder of the first stone. He had returned to Georgia and told Pearce, “Those [later] rocks ain’t so”; offered to prove it by getting a stone bearing any word Pearce asked for. Unfortunately for Hammond, he didn’t look as if he had $30,000. At the time, Pearce was with Hammond by day, with Eberhart by night, or vice versa. Pearce suggests Hammond’s failure to tempt them is proof Eberhart and Turner were acting in good faith-they didn’t produce a stone with “Yahoo” on it. Who is Bruce? He is credited by Pearce with stones No. 36 and No. 45. William Bruce lives outside Atlanta in a house covered with tar paper; he built it himself. There is some secret joke about Bruce’s find. He grinned when he told us Eberhart hadn’t liked his finding it. They have known each other for years. Possibly it is significant that although Eberhart always found his stones when nobody was looking, sometimes he was able to show Pearce an indenture in the ground which a new “find” would fit precisely. Then Eberhart began finding inscribed rocks within a few miles of his shack, and within a mile or so of Bruce’s home. For years Bruce has been picking up rocks along the river and selling them as building stones.
“Never found but one of those stones,” said Bruce. Occasionally he builds summer camps along the river, one for a brother-in-law of Pearce. Knowing the professor slightly, having read in the Atlanta papers about Eberhart’s finds, and the reward offer, he was alert to Eberhart’s presence where he so often loads his truck with stones. Last August and September, when Eberhart found a score, Bruce examined every rock he saw; so did his boys. Then Bruce” got” one. He telephoned Pearce. Pearce came and offered twenty-five dollars, Bruce says. Bruce says he told the professor if he didn’t get his price he would “build it into a chimbley.” So, Bruce says, Pearce paid him fifty dollars for that stone. Pearce’s comment: “I paid him twenty-five dollars each for two stones.” Bruce’s rock, too, I discovered, was “clean” when delivered; somebody had scraped the grooves of the inscriptions, as had been done with all the stones. Concerning Eberhart, Professor Pearce had written: “First of all we investigated Eberhart exhaustively. A commercial agency offered its services. “ I talked with R. W. Milor, who had made the investigation. In my opinion it was not “exhaustive.” Mr. Milor relied largely on Eberhart’s apparent frankness; he had admitted jail sentences for drunken driving. Actually very little is known about his past by Professor Pearce. Pearce told me that what he called in his article a “product” sold by Eberhart was actually moonshine whisky. But as to this he was relying on Eberhart’s story, accounting for trips to South Carolina. The Pearces have known for a long time that Eberhart had been accused of selling phony Indian relics. This challenging accusation did not appear in his article. I asked him about it. He said Eberhart had told him an antique dealer who wanted 90 per cent of the proceeds was vengeful because he refused to trade any more. I went to see the antique dealer, who told me that he never had been able to sell a collection unloaded on him by Eberhart before Eberhart is known to have dealt with Pearce. On eight occasions Eberhart received from the dealer sums that total $271.50 for an assortment of “Indian relics.” The latter is willing to sell them for much less. They, too, are soapstone, carved as rough-surfaced, snoutish masks. The dealer thinks they were treated with a blowtorch after carving. The design of several suggests Aztec or Mayan culture. State-employed geologists who examined Eberhart’s “relics” believed the objects to have been recently chiseled. It was night when we found Eberhart in his shack in the woods. The unseasoned boards had shrunk. In the darkness, strips of light shone through. Bill was in bed. On his head was a khaki deer-stalker hat. He was wearing the jumper of his overalls. The overalls were hanging stiffly on a nail in the wall. He is a disorderly hermit. He was reading the picture section of an Atlanta paper. He had been sick, he said, for months. Oughtn’t he to have a doctor? Bill, displaying a bottle labeled “Quit,” said: “Fellow that sold me that told me if I would take it all and then say I wanted a drink, he would buy me a gallon.” Sensing fresh customers, Bill offered to take us to a cave he had found. Concerning transactions with Pearce he had little to say. But he asserted something contrary to the terms of documents he signed for the Pearces. Seemingly he sold all interest in most of the stones. But on this occasion he said he still had “a big interest.” “How big?” “Plenty.” Eberhart acknowledged that for more than ten years he had known Turner and Bruce. They can get together any half hour. Eberhart is a sly, cagey fellow with a streak of humor. According to an Atlanta newspaper article, it became his habit, some time ago, to call a taxicab any time he wants to go miles downtown to buy a morning newspaper.
A Hill in Carolina
On page 23 of his manuscript Professor Pearce wrote: “About this time the matter of paying the $500 reward came up. Eberhart had found ‘the stones and tested as he and they were, no flaw could be found. But we decided on one further test. . . . We told Eberhart . . . either we would pay him the $500 cash now; or we would give him $100 cash and a half interest in that hill . . . valueless unless . . . his stones were genuine and that was where the colonists had lived. He took the half interest and the $100. We considered this strong evidence of Eberhart’s good faith.” Yet this test had ceased to be valid. On September 17, 1940, Eberhart surrendered his interest in the sixteen acres, and the Pearces gave him $1400 of Brenau College funds. Previously he had received a payment of $100, another of $75 made for the Pearces by Milor; also various sums from the professor or his father ranging from $10 to $25. Pearce said he was unable to tell me the total. On my first visit he had said they paid Eberhart “about $500.” The revealed investment of Brenau funds in this enterprise is $1000 to Hammond; $1600 and more to Eberhart; $50 to Bruce, $25 to Turner; $800 for the hill. In his article, referring to the sixteen acres, Pearce wrote: “. . . it was possible . . . to secure the land for $800. That was paid out of our own pockets.” By inference, this was said of the $500 reward. On page 16, concerning five trips to North Carolina, he wrote: “. . . and it had cost my father and me just about $500-of our own money.” President Cox, of Emory, authorized expense vouchers for at least two of those trips. As Brenau funds were used to pay Hammond, to pay Eberhart, and to buy the hill, I assume expenses likewise were paid with Brenau funds. Pearce wrote: “The hill . . . in South Carolina was uncultivated. Practically speaking, it was abandoned.” There is a cotton patch on top of that hill, cultivated by Charles Bennett. His father, who died seven or eight years ago, aged ninety, lived there all his life. I showed Mr. Bennett photographs of the stones. “Never saw anything like ‘em. Been around that hill all my life. They just weren’t there.” Bennett’s brothers and sisters said the same. After my first talk with Pearce I could find no excuse for believing the story. When fourteen stones had accumulated, the only clue was “Wee goe sw.” The hypothetical area to be searched could scarcely have been less than a strip 100 miles wide, possibly 500 miles long-50,000 square miles. At times, when and where Eberhart was “searching,” many searched; professors, students, the Pearce family, others; yet only Eberhart seemed able to find stones; and never when he was watched except for one “find” he shared with his intimate, Turner. Consider the coincidence: Indian trails were often crooked. Eberhart had placed his first “find” in South Carolina, in a line possibly 300 miles from Hammond’s “find” and about 100 miles from where Eberhart lives. Yet finally he was making all his finds within four miles of his bed! The story told on the stones disputes a wealth of legends. As early as 1669-70, a German explorer encountered bearded Indians in North Carolina who wore clothing and lived in houses. At intervals others met civilized Indians. They spoke English. Many had gray eyes. They raised crops. Traditions, generations old, among a people officially identified in 1885 by the North Carolina legislature as “Croatans,” relate that their “faythers” came from “Roanoke.” “What about those Croatans?” I asked Pearce. “Their existence is not incompatible with the stones.” But it is. Today around Pembroke, North Carolina, there are 15,000 of these people. About forty-five of the common family names check with names on Governor White’s roster. Eleven with names that survive among these people of mixed white and Indian blood, with speech still marked by Elizabethan idiom, are recorded on the stones as early victims of hardships and Indians. Are they descendants of the colonists? The case is circumstantial, but more convincing to me than the stones. These ask you to believe that Eleanor Dare and six white males, escorted by four Indians, survived crossing a vast region inhabited by tribes mutually jealous and suspicious. By automobile today the shortest practical route is about 600 miles. From Doctor Pearce’s article: “The stones have been subjected to every scientific test I could command.” “What about that?” I said. “What tests have been made?” “Well, a test on patination - Jim Lester’s report on patination.” (Professor of geology at Emory.) I read Lester’s report. Long paragraphs dealt with the geology. Attached was a special report on Stone No. 25. The most significant point was the “freshness” of the rock in the grooves of letters forming “sithence 1593.” These had been revealed under a binocular microscope as the “freshest in the entire stone.” Lester also reported: “The lower letters . . . give the impression of having been cut within the past few days or weeks when compared with the letters on the upper part.” In two instances he had found a letter poorly incised where a lichenous stain showed at places where grooves would have been if the letters had been plainly formed. The implication was that the inscriber had tried to avoid disturbing the lichen growth. Professor Lester had written: “. . .I am forced to believe less in the authenticity of this stone. than in any. . . . It makes me believe it has been doctored . . . the lack of lichenous material in the grooves seems to be the first glaring drawback to any of the stones that I have seen.” Concerning that stone, Professor Lester says flatly that it is a fake.
Stone and Science
He told me he never made a thorough geological examination of the stones. “That would take,” he said, “from two hundred to three hundred hours. I didn’t have the time.” He is the only geologist who has made any considerable examination of the stones. Lester’s report was made July 26, 1939. So, when Pearce’s article was mailed, he had long known this stone was, in the opinion of a valid expert, fraudulent. I said, “Well, this represents the scientific test made by a competent geologist. You say, ‘Every scientific test at my command.” “Well,” he said, “that was the only scientific test at my command.” On page 14, Pearce wrote: “Efforts were then made by professional stonecutters to duplicate the wording on similar quartz [the first stone] by short-cut methods, sandblasting, drilling and acids. It couldn’t be done.” On page 21: “As for the stones themselves [the collection] no fraud could be discovered about them. They, too, were examined as the first stone. . . The carvings could not be duplicated by the short-cut methods.” In New York I took photographs and geological descriptions of the stones to the Mount Airy Granite Company. The telephone directory showed it to be the most convenient. I asked Abe Goldsmith, in charge, “Could you do work like this?” “Sure. Any stonecutter could.” “Could you make the work look old?” “All stones are old. But it would be easy enough to ‘age’ the surface-tumble it in a barrel. Acids. Wrap the stone with wet sacking sprinkled with iron filings. Any number of ways.” Then he read from a book, Stone Industries, by Oliver Bowles, Ph.D., U. S. Bureau of Mines. I learned that sandblasting marks an advance in granite carving comparable to the advent of explosives or compressed-air drills in rock quarrying. It is more precise, capable of greater detail, and much more rapid than any other carving process. A rock surface is coated with a mask, a gluelike compound. Lettering or designs can be imprinted on this surface. With a scalpel the coating is removed from parts to be cut below the surface. A stream of fine carborundum under air pressure is then used to “carve” the design. At Emory, Professor Lester told me he had taken Hammond’s stone to a stone-carving plant at Marietta, Georgia. There older workmen said they could reproduce it with hand tools; but younger men said they would prefer the sandblasting method. Lester himself had carved an inscription on quartz, using the sandblasting method. I asked the geologist if Eberhart’s stones might have been inscribed by sandblasting. He said: “You could scratch them with your fingernail. You could do the job, using the head of a ten penny nail as a cutting tool.” To Professor Pearce I read aloud from his article statements in conflict with these findings. He looked unhappy, then conceded: “Well, that part’s not accurate.” Pearce wrote: “The language of the stone was declared by competent scholars to be Elizabethan in characters, spelling and idiom. . . There are 704 words on the forty-six rocks by which to test Elizabethan usage. No evidence of hoax in this regard has been detected by the many scholars who have examined the stones.” I questioned this. He admitted “primeval” and “reconnoitre” had “raised doubts in some.” Chided for not having said so in his paper, he said: “I didn’t think the Post would want a technical article.” “Technical? One word is within nine years of being as anachronistic as technicolor movies purporting to show Grant and Lee at Appomattox. Another word violates reason nearly as much as an effort to show James Monroe speaking his second inaugural address into a microphone.” In New York I saw Dr. Samuel Tannenbaum, Elizabethan scholar and paleographer. Doctor Tannenbaum is the author of Shakespeare’s Penmanship, The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore, Shakespeare Forgeries in the Revels Account, The Handwriting of the Renaissance. He writes in the Gothic script of the Elizabethans almost effortlessly. Doctor Tannenbaum examined photographs of the stones a full twenty minutes. Then he said: “There isn’t a Gothic letter here. And this settles the whole matter! The forgery becomes obvious to anyone who knows how the Elizabethans wrote. In England in 1590 only men like Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser, Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney could write Roman script. Few enough could write at all. Even those men wrote their text in Gothic, but as a mark of culture used Roman letters in their signatures. Every letter on these stones is a Roman letter. The best man in England would have slipped, made here and there a Gothic letter.”
Following Doctor Tannenbaum’s advice, I had the 712 words on the stones assorted and counted. Without variation of spelling the word “laeth” appears 9 times; “chew,” 11; “Eleanor,” 26; “Dare,” 32; “Father,” 24; “Salvage,” 18; “mercye,” 7; “hither,” 5; 4,vppon,” 5; “wee,” 11; “Englishman,” 3; “Englande,” 2; “hab,” 8. Said Doctor Tannenbaum: “No Elizabethan was ever so consistent in spelling. Francis Bacon spelled his own name something like thirty different ways. Walter Raleigh spelled his name, I think, forty-five ways. Elizabethans had no principles of spelling because they had no dictionary. Here the consistency is supposed to have been observed through twelve years of forest wandering by people shut off from white civilization. “Shakespeare had a vocabulary of fifteen thousand words. Next best was John Milton with eight thousand words. The average person today has at most three thousand words. Isn’t it extraordinary to find ‘primeval’ and ‘reconnoitre’ when they do not appear in Shakespeare . . . ?” Doctor Tannenbaum is Professor Pearce’s own witness; he was one of a number invited but unable to attend the Brenau conference. Doctor Morison, of Harvard, wrote me: “I believe them [the stones] to be O.K. The chief obstacles are three words: trale, primeval, reconnoitre.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, the earliest known use of “primeval” was in Urquhart’s Rabelais, 1653. This is sixty-six years after the colonists said farewell to Governor White. “ Reconnoitre,” according to the Oxford Dictionary, has not been found earlier than 1707 in English. In 1590 the word “trale” [trail] was used to denote the scent of a quarry rather than a pathway. I wrote Dr. Morris Tilley, of the University of Michigan, where they are combing manuscripts not available to Oxford Dictionary editors. Doctor Tilley: “An assistant assigned by me to examine the files of the Early Modern English Dictionary files . . . can find nothing earlier for ‘primeval’  and ‘reconnoitre’  than is in the Oxford Dictionary.” Doctor Tilley added: “I examined once the pictures of the Dare stones and felt convinced they were clearly forgeries.” In our conversations, Pearce several times reminded me that he had never said the stones were authentic. Nevertheless, skepticism makes him glum, uncommunicative. He has another attitude-for people who appear to accept the stones as genuine. They are “intelligent and imaginative.” Despite the fire-escape clause, he has lectured on the stones, so he told me, “about fifty times,” appearing three times on the radio. At Emory he is regarded as a “sparkling lecturer.” Brenau College has made use of the collection as a means of publicizing the school. Replicas of some stones were displayed in Georgia’s exhibit at the New York World’s Fair and as a reward June 9, 1940, was celebrated as Brenau College day. On my second visit to Gainesville I asked to see that which I supposed Pearce would be least eager to show me his correspondence with Cecil De Mille. To my surprise I learned Pearce, not Hollywood, had initiated the business, writing De Mille October 25, 1940 four days after the conference had reported, “the preponderance of evidence points to the authenticity,” and so on. His first letter: According to press dispatches you have been to Roanoke Island . . . become interested in the Lost Colony of Roanoke. I do not know how much you know of the investigation of the last three years, undertaken since Mr. Green wrote his pageant dealing with the Lost Colony. . . . In addition to these stones . . . a diary of the colony subsequent to Mr. Green’s treatment, we have found, too, a cave . . . in which is carved the legend: “Eleanor Dare heyr sithence 1593.” . . . In this connection I would refer to a play written by Miss Maude Fiske LaFleur of the Brenau College faculty which deals with the history of the Lost Colony subsequent to Mr. Green’s treatment. Miss LaFleur calls her play This Heritage. . . I am sure Miss LaFleur would be glad to send you a copy upon request.... We would be glad to receive you or your accredited representative at Brenau College and provide any further help in our power. . . I gave him a look. I had wasted days running this trail in reverse, suspecting Hollywood had imposed on the professor. Mr. De Mille’s reply said: The Lost Colony data . . . is extremely interesting and with the probable verification by you and a committee whose integrity cannot be questioned . . . makes the Dare story one of the most fascinating in’ American history . . . there may be the making of a motion picture in the Lost Colony. . . . I am studying the subject. . . . Pearce replied: . . . perfectly satisfactory for you to have copies made of the translations. . . I said in my last letter that Miss Maude Fiske LaFleur wrote a very interesting play . . . in the light of the information provided by the stones . . . I am sure that she will be glad to place a copy of her play in your hands upon your request. I hope very much that you will come to a decision to make a picture covering . . . one of the most fascinating stories in American history. Questioned, Professor Pearce revealed that Miss LaFleur had written her pageant with his help. It was presented in Gainesville last summer and is scheduled to be performed again the summer, rivaling the play at Roanoke, which opens July third. The latter now has been underwritten by the State of North Carolina to the extent of $10,000 a year.
A New Clue?
I had seen Paul Green. He told me: “Whoever inscribed those stones plagiarized at least the framework of my play. There is no basis in history for such an Eleanor Dare. Her name is mentioned; she had a child, Virginia. After research, I conceived the need of a pioneering type of woman, capable of leadership. “As for movies, I didn’t discuss this with De Mille. I couldn’t sell without consent of the Roanoke organization. We all hope the play will be produced during many summers on Roanoke Island. The community has been helped through the depression by those who have come to see the play. Professor Pearce had worked three years on these stones when I began. However, I found out something which may be news to him. One morning in my hotel before breakfast I found a word staring at me from a picture of the back face of Stone No. 15, which Turner says he found all by himself in Hall County, Georgia, in March, 1939. I let out a shout to my companion. “I find what looks to me like ‘Emory.’ If it’s an acrostic, there ought to be other concealed words.” He said, “How’s ‘Atlanta, Ge’?” True enough! “Atlanta Ge” and “Emory” seem to form a band around this rock. They are as easily read as many words deciphered by Professor Pearce. Then, accepting literally the inscription’s boast, “Wee pvtt moche clew bye wage,” I looked for more clues. We found “shed” vertically arranged acrostic style. Then we found “Pearce” reading up on the front face. A little “forcing,” as the cryptographers express it, was needed. Yet, thereafter it was impossible for me to look at the stone and not see “Atlanta” and “Emory.” Is it an acrostic? I don’t know. But I am sure Eleanor Dare had nothing to do with it. Then I found what seems to me the final word in this matter. It is in “fair Roman” capital letters, beginning at the top of the stone. When a picture of it is held sidewise, a child would be able to read, “F A K E”!
Any information you have on this stone, the people involved, or help to authenticate it, would be greatly appreciated. To contact me send an e-mail to Steve Horrillo at email@example.com