Which 'AHS: Roanoke' Characters Are Real? The "Based On A True Story" Claim Isn't False
Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy is kind of American Horror Story's expertise and Season 6's My Roanoke Nightmare is no exception. While the Lost Colony of Roanoke is a true story, other parts of AHS Season 6 are clearly fiction, so are any American Horror Story: Roanoke characters real? This season is set up like a documentary, but the characters of Shelby, Matt, and Lee (whether it's their reenactment actors or their "real-life" counterparts) are pretty solidly just from the mind of Ryan Murphy. Yet, the anthology series always has a huge ensemble cast, so are any of the new characters on AHS real?
The third episode of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare revealed the most about Season 6's theme with Cricket Marlowe rolling onto the scene and explaining the connection to Roanoke. The Roanoke colonists are inspired by history, but, of course, the series has taken significant liberties with this actual American mystery. And, the Roanoke story line is only one part of this bizarre season with psychics, local mountain men, and murdering nurses also in the mix — some of these characters are fascinatingly closer to reality than you'd expect.
As more secrets get revealed (and more questions come up), here is the real or fake status of some of the main players on AHS: Roanoke to help you keep track of reality and fantasy — a luxury that Shelby, Matt, and Lee clearly don't have anymore.
Fans not only have Leslie Jordan's Cricket to thank for some vital origin story, but also for breathing some life into this Roanoke Nightmare. The medium claims to have worked with the FBI to find missing children and while psychics using their gifts to help solve mysteries isn't unheard of, there seems to be no real Cricket Marlowe. (If you do Google his name, the first thing you'll probably find is the Marlow Cricket Club in the U.K.) Rather than thinking Jordan's character is real, the better theory is that he's somehow related to his Coven character, Quentin Fleming.
While Bates' accent is certainly not real, her character kind of is. The governor of the real Roanoke colony was John White, like Cricket said, and while the National Parks Service (NPS) wrote that not much is known about John White's life before he explored the New World, some websites do have information about his wife. Encyclopedia Virginia from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities wrote that Smith "married Thomasine Cooper in 1566 . . . in the City of London." The NCpedia confirms that White married Cooper in 1566, but that source spells her first name as Tomasyn. No matter how her first name is spelled, Thomasin appears to have been in John's life before his journey to America with the NPS writing, "White's wife is never mentioned and she probably died before he joined [Sir Walter] Ralegh's efforts." So while Thomasin was a real person, she was not a part of the Roanoke colony and thus, her hatchet backstory is pure fiction.
John White's daughter Eleanor has been documented as being a part of the Roanoke colony (and giving birth to the first British child on American soil), but there's nothing about a son. Well, just like Encyclopedia Virginia had something on Thomasin, it does reference a son that John and Thomasin had writing, "The couple had a son, Thomas, born April 27, 1567, who died in infancy." The Roanoke Colony arrived in the New World in 1587, so Thomasin's son was dead long before the colony was formed and no Ambrose White seems to have ever existed.
Bridget & Miranda
Those creepy nurse murder sisters from Roanoke actually have some truly frightening real-life roots. The Huffington Post wrote that Bridget and Miranda's story from AHS is inspired by Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine Wood. The women became involved as they worked at an nursing facility in the '80s and were eventually convicted of multiple patient murders. Like the AHS sisters, they were allegedly trying to spell out the word "murder" with their victims' names. Both women were sentenced to jail, so this real-life horror story at least has some closure.
The Feral Boys
One of the most disturbing images of AHS this season was when Shelby, Lee, and Matt discovered the two feral boys nursing from a pig. Unfortunately, stories of children living with animals are not unheard of with Huffington Post writing in a non-AHS story that, "Instances of such feral children have been reported from 1845 to 2008, in habitats ranging from Cambodia to Russia to the United States." While these feral pig boys are thankfully not a real example, there was a boy found to be living with pigs in China in 2015. Like the two boys in AHS, he suffered tremendous neglect and was unable to communicate with humans, so this terrible plot is depressingly not complete fiction.
Welp, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Gaga's unnamed satanic character is definitely not a real person — unless you believe in demonic beings living in the woods. But even as a person who grew up in New Jersey with tales of the Jersey Devil, I think it's safe to say Gaga's character is purely a fictional creation. Phew, at least that's kind of a relief after discovering how much of American Horror Story: Roanoke isn't just make-believe.