Wondering about wild grapes

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wondering about Root Beer and Ginger Ale.

After reading the blog that Hermit Jim posted yesterday, memories from long ago visits to Roanoke Island came popping into my head.  My first taste of that island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina came when I was kid and my parents took me to that area where we rented a beach front cottage which was shared by my uncle and his family.  That was the uncle that owned the old Gibson guitar that I posted about.

That was the first time that I saw the play about the Lost Colony. Later in life, I took my family to the Outer Banks for many vacations and took my wife and sons to see that play. And no, in case you were going to ask, I am not old enough to have rented the cottage from the English settlers from the colony. (grin)

I remember also going to an “Indian Village” set up on Roanoke Island and hearing about some of the history of that area. One thing that I remember them telling us was how bad the drinking water tasted in that area at that time. (It didn’t seem that much better to me when I was there, either) They told us that the Indians showed the English settlers how to put flavorings into the water to make it more palatable. The Indians used roots (probably Sassafras) and then the settlers started using ginger. Being from England, they were familiar with beer and ale, and therefore they named them root beer and ginger ale.

I have no reason to doubt what I was told. It made perfect sense to me and why would they make up something like that. The so called “Indian Village” was run by archeology students to earn some money to help them with excavations in that area. Everything else that we were told was based on the facts, so I also believe that there were enough facts to base the story on of how those names came about. I am sure, as with all unwritten history, there is some amount of conjecture. What do you think? Do you think it is true? We may never know for sure, just like we may never know what happened to the settlers.

You all have a good day now and don’t drink to much ginger ale or root beer. . .


  1. Grant, it is what I have believed all these years.

  2. Beats me if it's true, but makes a good story. Goggling Root Beer I came up with In 1876, Charles Hires first sold commercial root beer to the public. Maybe he is a descent of those Indians?