The word “Croatoan” was found carved into a fence post at the abandoned colony, and its presence at the site is one of the most confusing mysteries of Roanoke. Why was it found there? The word “Croatoan” is also connected with other mysterious happenings over the centuries, each one more puzzling than the last. Right before he died, Edgar Allen Poe disappeared for a short time.
When he was seen again, he was delirious. In this final state of delirium before his death, allegedly one of the last words he said was “Croatoan.” Poe’s official cause of death is unknown, and his medical records and death certificate are lost, so we will never know what happened to him the night that he died.
The word has also appeared at several other famous disappearances in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1888, the stagecoach robber Black Bart carved the word into the wall of his cell before he was released from prison. He was never seen or heard from again. It was found in Amelia Earhart’s journal after she disappeared in 1937.
The last bed that horror writer Ambrose Bierce slept in before he disappeared in Mexico in 1913 had the word “Croatoan” carved into one of the posts. In 1921, “Croatoan” was written on the last page of the logbook of the ship Carroll A. Deering when it crashed on Cape Hatteras, near Croatoan Island. The ship was missing its entire crew.