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Henry Berry 
. . LOWRIE. . 




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The Bank of Lumberton 

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Assets and Responsibility 
Over One-half Million 
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with its patrons; that pays the highest possible rate of 
interest, within conservative bounds, for your idle 
money; in fact, if you are seeking the services of an ex- 
perienced, safely managed Bank, call on us or write for 
information. We invite small accounts as well as the 
large ones ......... 

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Four per cent, interest paid on Savings Deposits, Com- 
pounded Every Three Months 



Henry Berry Lowrie, 


Great North Carolina Bandit, 




Being a Complete History of the Modern Robber Band in the County 
of Robeson and State of North Carolina. 



Lumbee Publishing Company, 
lumberton, n. c. 


E. E. PAGE, 





s® <IN 

In re-publishing this book which records the events 
of a period of Robeson county's history in the years of 
1 864-' 74, the publishers have thought it fitting and 
proper, in justice to the race of people, (some of whose 
representatives figure in and are the leading characters 
of the facts recorded), that a supplement should be 
added, showing the growth and steady improvement of 
the Indians of Robeson County, and to accomplish this 
desired end we do not know of anything better than to 
copy, in part, an article written by Col. A. F. Olds, of 
Raleigh, N. C, who visited this saction of Robeson 
County and came in personal touch with the Croatan 
Indians, and has therefore written from personal ob- 
servation. We are therefore indebted to Col. Olds 
for this interesting bit of history, which forms the ap- 
pendix to this volume. 

It will be remembered that the facts recorded in this 
book were written by one who knew the cause and 
result of this unfortunate period of Robeson's his- 
tory, having lived "through the thick or the fight", and 
gained the information recorded by actual experience. 
The historian referred to is Mrs. Mary C. Norment, of 
Elrod,N. C, from whom the copy-right of this book has 
been purchased by the publishers. 

This is the fourth edition of this history. 


The Lowrie History. 


James Lowrie, a tall well-proportioned, fine looking, 
respectable Indian first settled in Robeson county about 
the year 1769. This was Bladen county at that time. 
On the 9th of August, 1769, James Lowrie bought a 
tract of land containing one hundred acres from Wil- 
liam Fort, to whom it was granted by George II. in 
1748. He also entered another tract of land contain- 
ing three hundred acres adjoining the above tract, the 
grant being signed by George III. On the above men- 
tioned tracts of land, now owned by the heirs of the 
late Col. Archibald McEachern, James Lowrie first 

About five hundred yards below the residence of Col. 
McEachern, in a bend of the swamp, is shown the place 
where James Lowrie resided. McPhaul's mills, on the 
same swamp, are distant about three miles. This swamp 
was called Lowrie Swamp, after James Lowrie, who re- 
sided on it. A ford at the time he lived there crossed 
the swamp at his residence. Here he raised stock, 
farmed in a small way and kept a tavern during the 
Revolutionary War. James Lowrie first came to Robe- 
son (then Bladen county)from Bute county, (now Frank- 
lin and Warren counties) in company with Silas Atkins, 
who emigrated also from Bute county, from that por- 
tion now called Franklin. OLher families also, viz. the 
Thompsons, Kitchens Coles, Drakes, Moores, Humphreys, 
Bridgers, and whose descendants still live in Robeson, 


came to Bladen county, (now Robeson) from that part 
of North Carolina embraced now in the counties of 
Franklin, Warren, Nash and Edgecombe and settled 
here about the time that Silas Atkins first built on the 
tract of land now owned by "William H. Graham. 

James Lowrie, frcm whom all the Lowries in Robe- 
son descended, lived in Franklin county before he em- 
igrated to Robeson. It was in Franklin county, N. C, 
that he was manumitted by his father, James Lowrie, 
of Virginia, who when Virginia became one of the 
United States, was elected a Judge, and was ever after- 
wards known as Judge Lowrie. He was of cavalier 
stock and characterized by elegance and refinement of 
manners, tall and commanding in personal appearance, 
urbane, courtly and genteel in his whole deportment. 
It was in Franklin county that James Lowrie married. 
His wife's maiden name was Sarah Kearsey, (nicknamed 
Sally Kearsy,) a half-breed Tuscarora Indian woman, 
and from this couple all the Lowries in Robeson trace 
back their origin. 

The above statement in regard to the origin of the 
Lowrie family in Robeson county is not current rumor, 
but a true statement, as given by James Lowrie him- 
self and corroborated by Silas Atkins, with whom he 
came to Robeson county in 1769, also confirmed by the 
late Neil Brown, Esq., who lived on Richland Swamp; 
by the late Mrs. Nancy Smith, mother of Rev. A.Smith, 
who also lived on Richland Swamp; by the late Samp- 
son Bridgers, * father of J. D. Bridgers, Esq., by Henry 
Thompson; by Nathan Thompson; by John Thompson, 
by Peter Monroe, and last, though not least, by the late 
John Gilchrist, Esq., long a practicing lawyer at the 


Lumberton Bar, whose father bought out James Lowrie 
in 1791, at the close of the Revolutionary War. 

James Lowrie had three sons, viz: William, Thomas 
and James, and at the commencement of the Revolu- 
tionary War William, his oldest, being then about 
grown, entered into the struggle for independence and 
joined the brave and patriotic band, then under the 
command of that noble Whig patriot, Col. Thomas Rob- 
eson, after whom and in honor of whom Robeson coun- 
ty was named. William Lowrie made a good Whig 
soldier and fought side by side with the whites in every 
skirmish and battle in which Col. Robeson was engaged. 
Whilst piloting Col. Wade and his men across Drowning 
Creek, after a massacre at Piney Bottom, in Cumber- 
land county, William Lowrie received a severe sword 
cut in his left hand from a Tory named James McPher- 
son, who resided on the place then owned by Col. 
Charles Malloy, now Laurel Hill Church, in Richmond 

The skirmish between Col. Wade's men and the To- 
ries took place on the spot of ground on which Mont- 
pelier Church was erected, near Bettie's bridge, now 
Gilchrist's bridge, in the upper portion of Robeson coun- 
ty, immediately on Drowning Creek, in Robeson coun- 
ty, and William Lowrie carried the marks of this wound 
to his erave as a token of his devotion to the Whig 
cause. After the close of the Revolutionary War Wil- 
liam Lowrie received a pension for this same sword cut 
from the government up to the day of his death, as the 
records in the Pension Office at Washington City will 

The other two sons of James Lowrie, viz: Thomas 
and James, were of tender age and too young to enter 


the service. The feelings and sentiments of James 
Lowie, their father, were on the Whig side, although he 
took no active part either way. Living, however, so 
near to McPhaul's Mill, (a distance of not more than 
three miles) the then general rendezvous or head-quar- 
ters of the Tories from the whole adjacent country, he 
became obnoxious to them on account of his son Wil- 
liam being in the Whig ranks. 

Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, pre- 
judices becoming so rife against him and his son Wil- 
liam, on account of Whig principles, James Lowrie 
sold out on Lowrie Swamp to John Gilchrist in 
1791, and moved down on Drowning Creek, near his 
old friend Silas Atkins and settled on the place now 
known as "the Harper Ferry place." Here he kept a 
house of entertainment for the traveling public, in con- 
nection with a grocery or drinking saloon. Here he 
died, leaving land and negroes to his children and a 
good name to his posterity. Here, in Lowrie's grocery, 
Col. Vick, then merchandising at Fair Bluff, in Robe- 
son county. (Vicksburg in Mississippi being named after 
him) christened (to use a scotch phrase) all that region 
lying East of Drowing Creek and extending one or two 
Miies East of Bear Swamp with the euphonious soubrique t 
of Scuftietown, from the fact of the half breeds inhabit- 
ing that region congregating in Lowrie's grocery and 
after imbibing pretty freely of whiskey, in engaging in 
the broad shuffle, and also from the fact that it was 
generally a scuffle with these people to live — "to keep 
the soul and body together," owing to their improvident 
habits. After the death of James Lowrie, his son Wil- 
liam Lowrie married Bettie Locklaer, a half-breed 
Tuscarora Indian woman( Locklaer meaning "hold fast"). 


Thomas Lowrie, his second son, married Nancy Deas, 
a white woman. James Lowrie, his third son, never 
married. Allen Lowrie, a son of William Lowrie, mar- 
ried Pollie Cumba, a woman of Portuguese extraction. 
He raised a large family of sons and daughters; and four 
of his sons, viz: William Lowrie, Steve Lowrie, Thomas 
Lowrie, Henry Berry Lowrie, were concerned in the 
depredations committed in the county of Robeson, from 
their inception, while it is due to history to record that 
his other sons had no connection whatever with their 
four brothers engaged in robbing. Henry Berry Lowrie, 
one of the younger brothers, assumed the command of 
the Robber Band and was styled Chief. Two other 
members of the Robber Band, viz; Calvin and Hender- 
son Oxendine, lineally descended from the Lowrie fam- 
ily, on the mother's side. Boss and Andrew Strong, 
two other members of the band, and Lowrie blood 
coursing their veins, their mother being of the Lowrie 
stock; their father, John Strong was a white man, who 
come into Robeson county and settled in Scuffle- 
town. An accident connected with the history of John 
Strong was related to the writer several years ago. 
At the Fall Term of the Superior Court of Robeson in 
1843, John B. Kelly, Esq., of Moore county, then a 
practicing Lawyer at the Lumberton Bar, meet up with 
John Strong, whom he knew personally, and addressed 
him as Gorman. Strong replied and said his name was 
Strong. John B. Kelly replied and told him to be off, 
for he wns a villian. Having killed a man in Alamance 
county, he fled to Robeson to save his neck and assum- 
ed the name of Strong, but his real name was Gorman. 
Two other members of the Robber Band, viz: William 
Chavis and George Applewhite, (formerly a slave, )were 


connected with the Lowrie family by marriage. The 
only members of the Robber gang that were not con- 
nected with the Lowrie family by affinity or consan- 
guinity, were Zach T. McLauchlin, a low-bred youth of 
Scottish descent, Shoemaker John, a negro and William 
Chavis, a bright half-breed Indian. These- Henry Ber- 
ry Lowrie, Chief; Stephen Lowrie, Wiliiam Lowrie, 
Thomas Lowrie, Calvin Oxendine, Henderson Oedine, 
Boss Strong, Andrew Strong, William Chavis, George 
Applewhite, being all kinfolk, together with Zach T. 
McLauchlin, Shoemaker John, and William Chavis, 
were concerned all of them, in robberies, murders, and 
depredations committed in the county of Robeson, from 
the latter part of the year, A. D., 1864, to February 
24th, A. D. 1874. 


Pen and ink sketches of personages convey very often 
but faint ideas of individuals,although they may be cor- 
rect in every particular. It is very difficult to impress 
most minds with distinct ideas of things without presen- 
tation of the object to the eyes, they being the mirrow, 
as it were, that reflect images on the mental vision. 
However, we will attempt a description of the Lowrie 
Bandits, for the benefit of those who have never seen 


Henry Berry Lowrie, the leader of the band, is a son 
of Allen Lowrie, and a great grand-son of James Low- 
rie, from whom all the the Lowries in Robeson descend- 
ed. He is of mixed blood, strangely commingled, hav- 


ing coursing his veins the blood of the Tuscarora In- 
dian, and the Cavaliet blood of England. He made a 
handsome personal appearance when dressed up. The 
color of his skin is of a mixed white and yellow, par- 
taking of an admixture, resembling copper, the Indian 
color however, still predominating. Such a skin is af- 
fected very little by heat or cold, by sickness or health, 
or by exposure, or good housing. A scar in the shape 
of a crescent and of a blackish color is on his face just 
below his left eye, said to have been made by an iron 
pot falling on him when a child. The contour of his 
face is that of a Southron. His countenance is ex- 
pressive in the highest degree of firmness, decision of 
character and courage. Generally he is reticent, a 
good listener, seldom talkative, manifesting in his de- 
meanor little or no disposition at self importance. When 
he converses, he talks like an illiterate man, conversant 
with no books except of nature, and human nature. 
Considering his long career of lawlessness, his want of 
education and his race, he is a prodigy. Phrenologi- 
cally speaking, his forehead is good, high, broad and 
massive; the color of his eyes is a grayish hazel, and 
when excited and agitated, would dilate and expand. 
A smile generally played over his countenance when quiet 
but when aroused it was a smile of a demon. He wore a 
dark goatee.his hair was straight and black like an Indian's. 
He was twenty-six years old, five feet ten inches high, 
and weighs about one hundred and fifty pounds. Physi- 
cally he was well knit, straight in the back, his arms and 
shoulders fitting on well, a deep broad chest; in short, 
proportioned throughout without a flaw in his frame. 
Like an india lubber ball, he was elastic all over. In 


his dress he was rather careless and negligent. He 
generally wore calf-skin boots, a woolen frock coat or 
blouse, breeches or trousers of the same material, mostly, 
however, of Salem or Kentucky Jeans, with a wide 
brimmed felt hat. Although a tippler, he was never 
known to be intoxicated, he invariably carried a flask 
of whiskey with him wheresoever he went. He did 
this to avoid being poisoned by promiscuous drinking. 
In regard to his arms: a belt around his waist kept 
in place five six barrelled revolvers -long shooters; 
from this belt a shoulder strap passes up and supports 
behind, slinging style, a Henry rifle, which carries the 
extraordinary number of sixteen cartridges. In addi- 
tion to these fifty-two charges, he carried a long bladed 
knife and a double-barrelled shot gun, his whole equip- 
ment weighing not less than eighty pounds. His main 
olqect in thus equipping himself was doubtless to stand a 
long campaign, or to be ready with almost an arsenal at 
at his command, to encounter a large body of men in 
pursuit of him. With all his armor on he could run, 
swim, stand weeks of exposure in the swamps, walk 
day and night and take sleep by little snatches, which 
in a few days would tire out white or negro. Being 
fond of blood he has waged for the past ten years 
a savage predatory warfare against the county, State, 
Confederate and United States authority. Without ad- 
vantages other than nature gave him, without fear,with- 
out hope, defying society, he carried out his tactics in a 
peculiar way, impressing the whole population with his 
superiority, power and influence as a brigand leader 
and executive spirit. Occasionally his blood and in- 
clinations will crop out, and two natures of white and 


Indian will come forward and show themselves to the 
close observer, and in a way unlooked for. He plays 
on banjo, together with the Juba beating and dancing 
of the Indian giris, has on several occasions come very 
near betraying him to his pursurers. His Indian nature 
may be traced in his character, by his using women as 
an auxilliary to war and plunder. He himself is the 
Don Juan of Scuffietown. Women have been employ- 
ed to betray him, but they either repent or he discovers 
their purpose. He sleeps on his arms and never seems 
tired; ever active, ever vigilent, he is never taken by 
surprise. His cavalier scrupulousness may also be ob- 
served in the matter of a promise or a treaty. Those 
most robbed aud outraged by this bandit give him credit 
for complying strictly to his word. Like the rattle- 
snake, he generally warned before he stuck. Two 
things he has never done— he has never commited arson, 
nor offered to insult white females. In these two things 
may be traced his cavalier blood. 

The price offerd ($10,000) for his capture by the con- 
stituted authorities of the State is probably the greatest 
that has ever been offered for any offender of common 
law — any criminal or outlaw in American history since 
Jefferson Davis' fight; and why should it not be? fcr 
Henry Berry Lowrie, the Robber Chief, has made a 
personal and bloody campaign against society, longer 
than the whole Revolutionary war, killing sometimes 
for plunder, revenge, or defense, refusing to trust any, 
even those of his own color, except those who, like him- 
self, had shed innocent blood and put themselves out of 
the path of society. In this way he collected a pack of 
murderers, whom he commanded with absolute sway. 


He also arrogated to himself a protectorate over the in- 
terests of all the Indians in Scuffletown, which they re- 
turned by a sort of hero-workship. Cold-blooded, 
malignant and murderous bandit and robber he is, and 
blood-stained with many murders, he is without de- 

In the twentieth year of his age he led up to the mar- 
riage alter, as his bride, Rhoda Strong, a cousin of his; 
a daughter of John Strong alias Gorman, deceased, said 
to be in her sixteenth year, and one of the handsomest 
and prettiest Indian girls in all Scuffletown, sartirically 
nick-named by some white young wag "the Queen of 
Scuffletown." The marriage ceremony was performed 
by Hector J. McLean, Esq., at the old Lowrie home- 
stead, in the presence of Alexander Cobb, a white man 
a score or two of Indians, relations of the bride and 
bridegroom. As soon as the ceremony was through 
with, A. J. McNair, with a posse of men, arrested Hen- 
ry Berry Lowrie as the murderer of James P. Barnes, 
and hurried him off to jail in Lumberton, from whence 
he was carried to Whiteville, in Columbus county and 
placed in jail there, where he was heavily ironed. Here 
he filed his way out of the grated iron window bars, 
escaped to the woods with hand cuffs on, and made his 
way back to his wife in Scuffletown. This was in 1866. 
This was the first escape ever effectedby a criminal con- 
fined in the jailatWhitesville. How he came in possession 
of a file, no one in the confidence of the whites can tell. 
Again in 1868 Henry Berry Lowrie was formally com- 
mitted to jail in Lumberton by B. A. Howell, Sheriff of 
Robeson. This time also he made his escape by frighten- 
ing the jailor when he carried him his allowance of 


food, with a cocked pistol in his hand. He told the 
jailor to stand aside and let him pass out of the door, 
threatening to kill him if he made an alarm in fifteen 
minutes. Although twice in the hands of the officers of 
the law, he has never been held to answer at the bar of 
justice for his many crimes. 

From the day he made his escape from the jail in 
Whiteville, he has led the precarious life of a hunted 
man, robber and murderer, showing at all times and 
under all circumstances a ferocity, insolence and pre- 
meditation frightful to behold, destructive of all order 
and subversive of all good government. 

Here an accident showing the insolence of this outlaw 
to the civil authorities of the county will be sketched for 
ths outside world, which is literally true in every par- 
ticular. When for prudential reasons the County Com- 
missioners ordered the Sheriff of the county to arrest 
Rhoda Lowrie, the wife of the outlaw chief, he, with 
the whole robber band, went to Mr. John McNair's 
residence, (Mr. John McNair having been robbed by 
them more than a score of times), the Robber Chief 
addressed Mr. McNair as follows: "Mr. McNair I want 
you to gear up and go to Lumberton, where they have 
put my wife in jail, for no crime but because she is my 
wife. That ain't her fault and they can't make it so. 
You go to Lumberton and tell the Sheriff and County 
Commissioners that if they don't let her out of jail, I'll 
retaliate on the white women of Burnt Swamp Town- 
ship. Some of them shall come to the swamp, with me, 
if she is kept in jail, because they can't get me." 

The swamp alluded to above, was the Back Swamp, 
in which the outlaw band had their secret camp, and 


on the banks of which Henry Berry Lowrie had erected 
a log cabin for his wife to live in. This eabin was built 
pretty much after style of the other cabius in Scuffle- 
town, except that it had two doors, on the sides opposite 
each other, a plank floor, a small window on the end 
near the chimney, with a trap-door on the floor, lead- 
ing into an underground passage some sixty yards in 
length, which terminated in the swamp near by, through 
which the Robber Chief had escaped on several oc- 
casions when surprised by his pursuers. This cabin 
now lies in ruins, being deserted, the yard covered with 
tall weeds and the underground passage filled up. 
Desolation seems to brood over it, and nothing but the 
long, foreboding note of the ill-omended owl, when he 
utters his "tuwit" near by in the swamps, break the si- 
lence of the night there. 


Steve Lowrie, when killed was in his thirty-sixth 
year; he was five feet ten inches high, and would weigh 
about one hundred and seventy pounds;thick set, round- 
shouldered, heavy and of great muscular power, impu- 
dent in manner; insolent in speech, showing the high- 
way-robber and exhibiting in his personal appearance 
more of the Indian brigand than any of the outlaw gang. 
His hair was thick, black and straight; his moustache 
thin, black and short; a mean countenance, with black- 
ish hazel eyes, indicating the robber and murderer of 
the Murrel stamp; just such a character as needed no 
prevocation to prowl around the county by day and 
night. He, too, is a son of Allen Lowrie, and the oldest 
of the gang. He had an insatiable love for robbery, and 


possessed an imperious temper, which involved him on 
one occasion in a quarrel with his younger brother,Hen- 
ry Berry Lowrie,who shot him in the eye for insubordi- 
nation. He had the meanest look of any of the gang, 
and he was more feared by any unlucky victim that 
happened to fall into the hands of the outlaws. Steve 
Lowrie has been concerned in every robbery and shoot- 
ing committed by the outlaw gang. He it was that 
raised his gun and filled the unfortunate prisoner, John 
Sanders, the detective, with a charge of buck-shot 
when blindfolded and tied to a tree. For being impli- 
cated in the murder of ex-Sherift Reuben King he was 
outlawed, apprehended, confined in jail and tried as a 
murderer at Whiteville Court and found guilty. His 
lawyer taking an appeal to the Supreme Court, Steve 
was remanded back to jail, and before his case came up 
for a hearing before the Judges on the Supreme Court 
Bench, made his escape and returned to his old haunts 
in Scuffletown. 


Another member of the outlaw gang, and a brother to 
Henry Berry and Steve Lowrie, was Indian-Gipsy look- 
ing. Tom Lowrie, was a darker hue and exhibiting in 
his countenance a more sneaking look than his brothers. 
He has been described elsewhere under the caption, 
"The Killing of Tom Lowrie," which the reader can see 
by referring to that head. An incident not mentioned 
there will be related here. When the unfortunate John 
Sanders, the detective, was condemned to be killed, Tom 
Lowrie plead for his life, and being unwilling to see 


his blood shed, slunk away until after the affair was over. 

Andrew and Boss Strong, two brothers, were also 
members of the robber band, and are sketched else- 
where. They were nearly white, their father being a 
white man and their grand mother a white woman. 
These five, viz: Henry Berry Lowrie, Chief, Steve 
Lowrie, Tom Lowrie, Andrew and Boss Strong consti- 
tuted the robber band after the general jail delivery in 

John Dial, who turned State's evidence, was probab- 
ly as bad as any of the gang. He had a wart as large as 
a marble, directly under the left eye on the side of his 
nose. He had a fierce look. The other members of the 
gang charged him with perjury on his evidence before 
Court at Whiteville. He charged George Applewhite, 
with the killing of ex-Sheriff King. The rest of the 
outlaws said that it was John Dial who fired the fatal 
shot, with a pistol, that terminated the earthly career of 
that hale old citizen. It was John Dial who shot S. E. 
Ward in Reuben King's parlor. 

Henderson Oxendine, another one of the gang, has 
been portrayed in the section headed "the fate of Hen- 
derson Oxendine, " which see. Calvin Oxendine a brother 
of Henderson, belonged also to the gang. They are both 
Indians and somewhat resemble each other. Calvin had 
black eyes and in their searching round, are indescribable 
in their glare. They partake of the expression of the 
Bummer and of the Gypsy, furtive, plaintive, touching 
and at the same time repelling. They look like genius, 
but are not; the study of them is a mystery. 



Shoemaker John, so named from his occupation, be- 
in^ a shoemaker by trade, was a negro, as black as a 
crow. He possessed a round, full face, and if he were 
good for anything it was stealing, being an adept in that 
business. He, together with some of the followers of 
Lowrie's gang, went on a robbing expedition some time 
in the autumn, of 1869. They first went to the house of 
Mrs. Elizabeth Carlyle, on the "Saddle Tree Swamp," 
in the north-eastern part of the county. Here they 
broke into the smoke-house of Mrs. Carlyle, took near- 
ly all of her bacon and then entered her dwelling by 
force and robbed it of all its valuables. From Mrs. 
Carlyle's they went to the store of Messrs. Biggs & 
Hodgins, at Antioch Presbyterian Church, in upper 
Robeson, and with augers bored into their store and 
took various articles of merchandise. They next went 
to Billy Purcell's residence, a colored freeman, and took 
everything from him of any value. They then went 
to Flora McFarland's residence, near Blue's Bridge, in 
Richmond county, and robbed her. They then pounced 
on the gun shop of ex-sheriff "William Buchanan, of 
Richmond county, and depleted it of every gun in it. 
They then wended their way back to Scuffietown, in 
Robeson county with their booty. For this offense 
Shoemaker John was apprehended and tried at the 
March term of the Superior Court held in Robeson in 
1871, and found guilty and sentenced to serve ten years 
in the State's penitentiary. He appeared to be glad to 
get in the penitentiary, for the Lowrie gang had threat- 
ened to kill him on sight, having utterly repudiated him 
and his acts. 



The Chavis family in Robeson claim their origin 
from the celebrated Cheves family of the South, Chavis 
being an abbreviation of the name Cheves, but this 
version of their origin can hardly be correct, unless it 
be admitted that the founder o f the family in Robeson 
was a fugative, many years ago, who made his escape 
to Scuffletown in North Carolina, and took up his abode 
in this settlement. Be this as it may, there are a good 
many of the name now in Robeson county, and among 
the numbor "William Chavis has become distinguished 
as an outlaw. He is a tall bright, fine looking man, 
about thirty years of age, well built and very muscular. 
As soon as he was outlawed by the civil authorities in 
Robeson county he made his escape to Effingham coun- 
ty in Georgia, near Savanah, where he broke into a 
store, and made his way across the Savanah River into 
the State of South Carolina. When in Georgia he was 
employed by a man who owned a sawmill by the name 
of Foy. Since he came over into South Carolina noth- 
ing has been heard about him. 

The only white man outlawed by the civil authori- 
ties of the county was Zach T. McLaughlin, who was 
hired by Henry Berry Lowrie, for fifty dollars to in- 
flict the mortal wound on the lamented Owen C. Nor- 
ment. This man Zach T. McLaughlin was probably 
the meanest specimen of the Scotch that could be found 
in the county. He justly merited the fate he met up 
with, at the hands of Henry Biggs, 

One other white man, viz: Bryan Gilbert, not a na- 
tive of the county, had dealings with the outlaw gang. 
On the day the outlaws made what is known in Robe- 


son county as the "Brandy Raid" on Angus Leach, 
this George Gilbert, was along and acccmpanicd the 
outlaws to Mrs. "William McKay's residence, near Floral 
College, and being disguised, that is, blackened, was 
not recognized by Miss Pat McKay, nor by Mrs. Wil- 
liam McKay. Here he played several pieces on the 
piano forte in Mrs. McKay's parlor. Subsequently he 
went with the outlaws to Mr. David Townsend's resi- 
dence, on Aaron Swamp, near Asbury Church. Hav- 
ing gone into Mr. Townsend's yard and being discover- 
ed. Mr. Townsend opened fire on them with a double- 
barreled shot gun. There Bryan Gilbert was wounded 
and carried off by the outlaws to their secret camp in 
the Back Swamp, where he lingered a short time and 
died. Thus fell another one of the associates of the 
outlaws: and now as we have given an imperfect out- 
line of these land pirates, or human moccasins, we will 
proceed to delineate their mode of warfare. 


A stranger, to see these outlaws armed as they ap- 
peared sometimes at Moss Neck, Eureka and Red 
Banks, would be surprised at the load they carried. 
They generally moved about armed with a Spencer 
rifle, two double-barreled shot guns, one of the latter 
and the rifle being slung from their shoulders by a 
leather strap, and three or four six barreled revolvers 
in their belts, with cartridge boxes in a heavy canvass 
haversack, the whole armor weighing not less than 
ninety or one hundred pounds. Where these outlaws 


procured their improved fire-arms (breech-loading guns) 
remains to this day a mystery, but they had them and 
knew how to use them. 

In regard to their mode of warfare, it may be stated 
that they seldom went about at night, except when they 
wished to commit robberies; they would then take ad- 
vantage of the darkness to put their adversary to a dis- 
advantage, slip up and arrest a whole family before 
they would be discovered, and then plunder at their 
leisure. They generally slept at night in the cabins of 
their relatives and well-wishers and befrienders. Sel- 
dom were they exposed to inclemencies of the weather 
or night air; every negro and every Indian in Robeson 
county would befriend them and share with them their 
last morsel of bread and meat. 

When they wished to put one of their enemies — one 
who was hunting them — out of the way, they would go 
and make a blind or two on the road or path he was ex- 
pected to travel, and get in this blind, and remain there 
until their victim would come along, then fire on him 
without even halting him, killing him without a mo- 
ment's warning. They were such adepts in construct- 
ing blinds that the traveler along the road, unless his at- 
tention had been called to these blinds by one who 
xinderstood them, would pass them by unnoticed. 

It was by ambuscading that they succeeded in killing 
J. Brantley Harris, James P. Barnes, Owen C. Nor- 
ment, Murdoch A. McLean and his brother Hugh, John 
Taylor, Archibald A. McMillan, Hector McNeill, 
Alexander Brown, Col. F. M. Wishart and Giles Inn- 
man. All these most excellent citizens of Robeson county 


met their sad fate at the hands of these modern Robeson 
county Apaches— these North Carolina Modocs; not in 
a civilized warfare— not in accordance with modern 
military tactics, but by the bullet of the high-way robber 
and midnight assassin. Even ex-Sheriff King, although 
In his own house, sitting by his own fireside, reading 
the news of the day; came unfortunately to the end of 
his earthly career through the stealthiness of these sub- 
tle villians, who blackened their faces and hands to 
disguise their identity and race, and then crept up slyly 
and pushed the door open as easily as possible and de- 
manded him to surrender. 

Daniel Baker, too, as peaceable and harmless a man 
as could be found in the county, was shot in his own 
yard, after nightfall, by these inhuman bandits. 

It is a misnomer to call the Lowrie war in Robeson 
county by any other name than the war of the Bush- 
men, or the Bushman War. It was waged on the part 
of Henry Berry Lowrie and brothers in a spirit of re- 
venge. They wished to retaliate on the white race be- 
cause the Home Guard of the county found Allen Low- 
rie, their father; and William Lowrie, their brother, re- 
ceivers of stolen goods from various parts of the sur- 
rounding country in the month of February, 1864, and 
having courtmartialed them and found them guilty, 
sentenced them to be shot. There is but one opinion 
in regard to this whole matter among the lawabiding 
citizens of Robeson county, and that is that Allen Low- 
rie, the old man, as he is termed, should have acted a 
better part to his white neighbors, who had often be- 
friended him, than to have received into his house stolen 
goods, taken from his neighbors, and then found to en- 
deavor to screen himself and his son William from 


punishment. The verdict of the public is that he was 
"particeps criminis, " equally guilty with his son Wil- 
liam, and that the Home Guard did right in passing 
sentence of death on them both and in carrying that 
sentence into execution. And right here is a moral 
lesson: "The way of the transgressor is hard;" "Ven- 
geance is mine and I will repay, saith the Lord," "The 
wicked live out half their days." Behold -see! Henry 
Berry Lowrie and his associates in crime have gone to 
the criminals bourne, "to answer for the deeds done in 
the flesh," and may their like never again appear on 
this world's arena, for they were the veriest cowards— 
the most arrant poltroons, that ever disgraced the an- 
nals of warfare. 


Scuffletown proper is located a little to the north- 
west of the centre of Robeson county, the centre being 
near Pates about 15 miles north-west of Lumberton, on 
the Carolina Central Railway. Eight miles north-west- 
ward of Lumberton, on the Carolina Central Railway, 
is the station of Moss Neck. Seven miles from Moss 
Neck, on the Carolina Central Railway, is the station of 
Red Banks, between Moss Neck and Red Banks are 
Eureka and Blue's store, so that properly speaking 
the Carolina Central Railway cuts into parts the 
territory of Scuffletown, which extends on both sides 
of the railway tracks some three or four miles, inter- 

*Scuffletown, in the common parlance of the country, means a large Indian set- 
tlement, without streets or public buildings, having no municipal laws or regula- 


spersed with branches, swamps, and bays. It is a 
part of the great swamp district of North Carolina be- 
low the sand hills. Standing at Lumberton, the coun- 
ty site, and looking north-westward you see the Ten 
Mile Swamp, with Dockery'smill on it (formerly Rhode's 
mill), then the Big Raft Swamp, Richland Swamp, Burnt 
Sawmp, Bear Swamp, all north of the railway track, tra- 
versing the country and running into Lumber River 
south of the Carolina Central Railway. North of the 
railway track "the Lowrie Band" never committed a 
murder. South of the railway track runs Lumber River; 
and paralel with Lumber River runs Back Swamp for 
twenty miles, the river and swamp being at some places 
two miles apart, at others three miles. On Back 
Swamp, about ten miles from Inman's bridge across 
Lumber River is the place where the Lowrie Robbers 
kept their secret camp. Around Moss Neck station are 
the scenes of their boldest murders and assassinotions. 
This part of Robeson county was doubtless first set- 
tled by the ancestors of the present Indians, on account 
poverty of the soil and the half inundated condition of 
that region, it being within the reach of their means, or 
in other words, lands there being cheap. In wet weather, 
when much rain has fallen, and the Lumber River and 
its tributaries rise, this region is almost flooded, and re- 
mains so for some considerable time. In summer a 
luxuriant undergrown covers all the swamps and low 
places, and even the pine land; while in winter the 
streams are full of water and the swamps more ex- 
tensive. The growth is sweet gum, black gum, maple, 
ash, popular, cypress, post oak, white oak, hickory and 
the gallberry bush in abundance. In the margins of the 
swamps the yellow jessamine, poison oak and bamboo 


vines grow luxuriantly and stretch out eccentrically, 
making almost an impenetrable abatis; in short, Scuffle- 
town is a tract of country interspersed and traversed 
by swamps, covered at wide intervals with hills, 
with here and there a log cabin out of half dozen of 
rude and simple construction; sometimes, however, a 
half dozen of these huts are in sight of each other. 

They are great lovers of tobacco, and are always 
begging a chew of tobacco from those they meet up with. 
An anecdote is handed down in regard to Duncan Mc- 
Alpin, a former Sheriff of Robeson. He lived on the 
borders of Scumetown, near Philadelphus Presbyterian 
Church, at the mills on Richland Swamp now owned 
by W. J. Brown. It is related of Duncan McAlpin that 
whenever he would meet an Indian on the road, know- 
ing the habit of begging tobacco, that he would say: 
"How do you — how do you? Can't you give me a chew 
of tobacco? Goodbye — good bye." 

If a traveler wishes to visit a Scuffletown shanty he 
will be compelled to leave the public road and take a 
foot-path leading through the woods, across branches 
and swamps, until he reaches a worn fence made of 
pine rails, inclosing a half cleared patch of land con- 
taining three or four acres, in the centre of which gen- 
erally stands the Indian cabin, constructed of pine poles 
about five or six inches in diameter, notched one above 
the other until it reaches the height of eight feet and 
then covered with pine boards; the chimney built against 
one end of the house on the outside of poles and clay as 
far up as the body of the house goes, and the balance 
of the chimney with sticks and clay, where it narrows 
to the funnel or smoke hole; a door is cut on the front 
side and the chinks stopped with clay; no windows gen- 


erally; sometimes a cut hole is left on the door with 
numerous peep holes in the body of the cabin. A little 
distanse from the cabin will be found in the yard a 
well of water, or rather a hole dug in the ground, sur- 
rounded with a cypress gum or curb to keep the chil- 
dren from falling in and getting drowned. In the cor- 
ner of the chimney on the outside will be found a half 
barrel sawed off and set up on boards one foot above 
the ground for running off lye, from wood ashes, for 
the purpose of making soap, the other half of the barrel 
being used as a washtub. A poor, half-starved fice 
dog, used for hunting "possums" and "wild varmints," 
will generally be found inside of the inclosure. The 
two or three acres cleared are ploughed and planted in 
corn, potatoes and rice, which come up puny, grow 
puny and mature puny. The woman of the house com- 
monly has a baby at the breast, and from a half dozen 
to a dozen children playing outside of the enclosure in 
the woods. The bed is made on the floor (generally a 
clay floor); two or three stools to sit on; no division in 
the cabin, one apartment comprising the whole es- 

The above picture is true of the great majority of the 
Indians, but there are a few honorable exceptions. 
The Oxendines lived in better style and in much more 
comfortable dwellings; in fact, were well-to-do citizens, 
whilst the old set of the Lowrie family lived in good, 
comfortable framed houses, several of them being good 
mechanics, or house carpenters. 

The habits of the Indian are peculiar and eccentric, 


sometimes assuming a religious aspect as austere as the 
most rigid Pharisee could desire, at other times plung- 
ing headlong into immoral excesses degrading to human 
nature. Piltering chickens; steading pigs and killing 
sheep for mutton were of frequent occurance among 
the denizens of Scumetown from time immemorial. A 
love for spirituous liquors characterized the who pop- 
ulation with some few exceptions. The entire race are 
intemperate whenever they have the means of gratify- 
ing their taste for spirituous liquors, and when under 
the influence of liquor they are remarkably quarrel- 
some and fussy, often fighting and cutting and stabbing 
each other with knives, or shooting each other with 
guns or pistols. But notwithstanding these immoral 
evils, nearly all Indians, when they arrive at years of 
discretion, join either the Baptist or Methodist church 
in Scuffletown, which they claim as their church or 
churches, being supplied with ministers of the race, ed- 
ucated, licensed and ordained in their peculiar style. 

Ever since the Methodist denomination had a circuit 
in the county the ministers of that denomination preach- 
ed regularly to them, and seemed to outsiders to take an 
unusual interest in their spiritual welfare, sometimes ad- 
mitting to membership, on the profession of their faith, 
in the course of the year as many as fifty or sixty. Pres- 
byterian ministers also labored assiduously among them 
for a number of years. The Baptist denomination also 
sent their ministers in among them to impart spiritual 
instruction to their benighted minds. 

Since the late war between the States, they have shut 
the doors of their churches against all ministers of the 
white race and installed in their places in the pulpit per- 
sons of their own race. 



When the Scotch first commenced settling in Robeson 
county in 1747, after the disasterous battle of Culloden, 
(Robeson being then a part of Bladen County) the an- 
cestors of the Locklears, Revels, Cumbos and Chavis' of 
today were living where their decendants now live. Af- 
ter the Revolutionary War, the Lowries moved down 
into scuffletown and built on the place now known as 
the 'Harper Ferry place," and kept a ferry there across 
Lumber River. In process of time the Ransoms came 
from Halifax county and took up their abode in this set- 
tlement. The Woods' came from Sampson ; the Oxen- 
dines from Franklin, also the Cummings', the Goins and 
the Braboys. The Jacobs, Hunts, Morgans, Scotts and 
Dials, made their way to Robeson and lived. James 
Murphy lived on the farm now owned by the heirs of 
the late Daniel H. McLean, near Maxton on the Caroli- 
na Central Railway. He amassed considerable proper- 
ty and was the owner of slaves. He married a Cumbo 
— a half-breed Tuscarora Indian woman, with a good 
countenance. He left Robeson county about 1792, 
with one of the Hunts, and settled on the Great Pee Dee 
in South Carolina, near Hunt's Bluff. 

The Bell family lived on Saddle Tree Swamp, some 
t mi or twelve miles from Lumberton on the old stage 
roadfiom Lumberton toFayetteville. One of the family, 
namely: Hardy Bell, moved to Lumberton about 1840, 
and commenced merchandising. He succeded in this 
line of business very well until he died. For several 
years he was the most prominent merchant in Lumber- 
ton, Lumberton being called in Robeson "Hardy Bell's 
town," as a burlesque. 


They married and intermarried with each other so 
often that the distinctive features of one was represen- 
tative of all. Straight black hair, high cheek bones, 
straight backs and great muscular power characterized 
the whole race. Traces of the Indian and Anglo-Saxon 
race can be discovered in the contour of their faces and 
observed in their demeanor and deportment. As a race 
they are remarkably superstitious. They believe in 
fairies, elfs, spirits, ghosts and goblins, and in conjura- 
tion. They are as a race very prolific. It is no un- 
common occurrence to find women among them who 
have born a dozen of children, and some few as many 
as fifteen or sixteen.. They generally, as a race, not- 
withstanding their love for whiskey, die of old age ; sel- 
dom sick — seldom in bad health. By the censusof 1860 
Robeson county contained the extraordinary number of 
1,459. Before the late war Scufnetown demoralized the 
entire slave population and not a few of the ''white 
trash," whilst the interminable diabolism of the Scuff le- 
tonians forever kept the State Docket in the county 
crowded with cases, so much so that in each and every 
year an extra term of court had to be held to finish the 
cases on the docket, and the worst feature in the whole 
business was that the county had to "foot the bills," or 
pay the costs in almost every trial, even to paying jail 
fees; consequently taxes have ever been high in Robe- 
son when compared with other counties in the State, so 
that in the language of the immortal Cicero, we might 
exclaim, somewhat paraphrased : Quandier, oh! Scuffle- 
town, abutere nostru patientia?" "(How long, oh! 
Scuffletown, will you abuse our patience?.") 



This chapter will give the true condition of affairs in 
Robeson county, commencing in the latter part of the 
year 1864, and continuing until the latter part of 1870. 
At the time the Lowrie robbers commenced their oper- 
ations in the year 1864, all our able men were at the 
front, fighting for rights and homes, while their unpro- 
tected families were exposed to a band of merciless 
marauders, who, when requisition was made by the 
Confederate authorities for their labor on our fortifica- 
tions, betook themselves to the forests and swamps. 

That portion of the county in which this gang organ- 
ized and commenced operations was confined to Scuffle- 
town, as has been made to appear by false representa- 
tions as to the locality. The Lowries lived in Scuffle- 
town. Old Allen Lowrie, held in contempt the com- 
mon Scuffletonians, purchased a tract of land from a 
white man, who was a small farmer, in a neighborhood 
which comprised families equal in point of education, re- 
finement and wealth to any community in the county 
of Robeson or elsewhere throughout the State. The im- 
mediate vicinity in which commenced the horrible 
scenes of plunder, so soon to be followed by bloodshed, 
was not thickly settled, the plantations being large; con- 
sequently families in some instances lived a little remote 
from each other. This neighborhood is situated on the 
west side of Lumber River, about twelve miles north- 
west of Lumberton, and fifteen south from Floral Col- 

At the time of their organization in the year 1864 
there were no men at home, "except a few who were ex- 
empt from service by age and other causes ; in some 


families there was no gentleman left. The citizens of 
upper Robeson, becoming aware of our utter helpless- 
ness to defend ourselves, formed into a Home Guard 
and very kindly came down to endeaver to learn who 
comprised the gang, their strength, and also to become 
conversant with their mode and line of operation. 
They quartered themselves at McLaughlin's Bridge, 
on Lumber River, for about two weeks. Within that 
time they were convinced that their force was entirely 
too weak to effect much with the gang, and it was 
positively learned that it numbered as high as forty or 
fifty. An appeal for aid was sent to Richmond county 
The Home Guard of that county, though few in number, 
hesitated not to join the gallant few who were chaffing 
to be in action. They soon succeeded in capturing 
and killing their leader, William Lowrie, and his father, 
Allen Lowrie, as his house was their headquarters, and 
therein was found some of the stolen property. This 
did little towards ending the troubles in Robeson; it 
ceased only for a short time, to break out with renewed 
zeal and ardor. Younger sons, with those allied by 
blood, re-organized, and with the Indian stealthiness 
and spirit of revenge, go forth plundering and spread- 
ing terror throughout the community by their un- 
limited acts of lawlessness and terrible threats of 
vengeance. In the meantime peace being declared, our 
men returned, worn down and disheartened, not only 
by the turn affairs had taken, but also the condition in 
which they found their families. For months the robber 
gang go on undisturbed — and why? Simply this: those 
who were willing and ready to make an attemp to ar- 
rest them, could get no aid from others in their vicinity. 
When they would go and request them to "come with 


its and we will stop it," almost the invarible reply was, 
"No, if they will let us alone, we will let them alone," 
refusing even to lend their guns to those without arms. 
Some gave as a reason that they lived too near the line 
of their operations; their hands were tied, for if the 
robbers found it out they would be revenged on their 
persons or property. A refusal in such cases seemed 
to say: They may kill my friend, or devastate my 
neighbor's property, but if they will let me and my in- 
terests alone, why then I will be content for them to re- 
main forever at large." 

Prompted by selfish motives to refuse to aid and abet 
the noble men who would have risked life and all to 
secure peace and quiet for those in more immediate vi- 
cinity of the gang, they thereby secured to themselves, 
by permitting those living fiends to go unmolested, a 
punishment equal in some degree to those who did all 
in their power to arrest them. Nearly every family for 
miles, who was possessed of any property, were annoyed 
by their visits and depredations. 

The first election held there after the surrender, as in 
almost every other county in the State, placed radicals 
in office; and in our county some of her petty officers 
assumed more power in the control of local affairs than 
the Constitution of the State allowed; yet they were 
quietly permitted to use that authority. Such was our 
condition when the citizens of Robeson rose up to 
throw off the yoke that was galling them sorely. They 
started out, determined not only to demolish the robber 
gang, but all against whom they had unquestionable ev- 
idence as being friends and informants for the gang. 
They killed one or two of their allies ; the supposed per- 


petrators were pointed out by friends of the robber 
gang, and evidence taken sufficiently to outlaw, by a 
Radical Judge, a company of nine as noble young men, 
from good families, as our country can boast, and forced 
them to flee beyond the limits of their native State to seek 
that protection they could not claim within her borders. 
To further intimidate the citizens of Robeson the hue and 
cry of "Ku Klux, Ku Klux, " is raised, and loud threats 
by her officials of Kirk and his men are heard. Some of 
our best men were arrested and kept before a "Justice" 
Court for days. All the young men who were engaged 
in hunting the robbers stood in daily expectation of 
undergoing the same ordeal. Surrounded on the one 
hand by the robber gang and their friends, through the 
th'ck pine woods, and, to a white man, the almost 
impenetrable swamps; on the other, Radical officials 
dispensing their so-called justice to the noble fellows 
who would have captured them, and you have the 
situation. Instances could be given where young men 
received orders from the High Sheriff to search the 
houses of some of the suspected parties, and on obey- 
ing their orders were notified to appear before the 
"Justice of the Peace" in Lumberton, to answer char- 
ges preferred against them for ill treatment to inmates 
of said houses. On appearing for trial, the parties al- 
leged to have been ill treated, swore in open court to 
the falsity of the charge. They were therefore neces- 
sitated to release the men without having a chance to 
vent their individual spite on the heads of their inno- 
cent prisoners. Thus the citizens of Robeson were in- 
timidated. Their situation not being realized beyond 
their county limits, they were branded in many places 
throughout the county as cowards; but could their 


nightly vigils and midnight tramps, with knapsack and 
gun, all be chronicled; their days of exposure to cold, 
and often to hunger, in the dense woods watching for 
the enemy, be recorded, "Cowards of Robeson" would 
be changed to her gallant heroes. 


This chapter comprises the statement of Rev. C. M. 
Pepper, of the North Carolina Conference, giving a cor- 
rect account of the state of affairs during his sojourn in 
Robeson county. He says: I resided in the neighbor- 
hood in which the Lowries lived in the year 1865. I 
was well acquainted with Allen Lowrie, the father of 
Henry Berry, and have, I suppose, often seen the latter, 
as I knew several of the old man's sons, though not 
well enough to distinguish all of them by name. 

Allen Lowrie was a sort of chief in the community 
in which he lived. He attended church every Sabbath. 
He was perhaps the wealthiest, and most intelligent and 
respectable of all the free people in that community. 
He was a tall, fine looking Indian, with straight hair, and 
a physiognomy that indicated Indian blood greatly 
predominant in his extraction. He lived in a com- 
fortable frame building, had a farm, and made a good 
living. He was respected by the whites of the commu- 
nity and looked up to by the colored. 

I do not know so much about his sons, but if I re- 
member correctly they were all of them like their 
father in complexion, and hair indicating a large mixture 
of Indian blood. 

I found when I reached the neighborhood of that 


settlement that this race had been in some excitement, 
the cause of which was an attempt on the part of the 
authorities to put them in the army. Some of them 
were skulking in the bushes and swamps, and among 
these were some of the sons of Lowrie. I was startled 
at the account they gave me of the murder of a good 
man, an excellent citizen (J. P. Barnes) of that com- 
munity, whom I had known for years. This was about 
the first of the long list of outrages which have been 
psrpetrated in that community since that time; this was 
the beginning, I may say, of a reign of terror- 
Soon after the murder of James Barnes the people 
were almost petrified with fear at the intelligence of 
the fact that there was an organized band of marau- 
ders, of how great a number no one knew. "We had 
been informed, or did afterwards learn, that this band 
was composed of Yankee prisoners, escaped from the 
Florence prison in South Carolina, of Indians, and, as 
we supposed, of some few mean white men and slaves. 
The community was terror-stricken as they heard of 
new depredations and outrages committed each night; 
almost every day we heard that the robbers had entered 
a house the night before, ransacked and taken what- 
ever they wanted, caroused, insulted or attacked some 
of the family, and producing terror and consternation. 
In every instance they took all the ammunition and 
liquor they could find, and generally seized or broke 
the fire-arms. There was a panic in the community; 
so great was the fear that persons were afraid to step 
out into the yard after dark — everything was done be- 
fore night. The doors were bolted securely; the in- 
mates would gather around the fire and sit with hearts 
palpitating at every sound they heard, momentarily ex- 


pecting the appearance of the dreaded band of des- 
peradoes. No one knew how many were in the gang, 

or who belonged to it, except a few who had been rec- 
ognized. They went in the dark, and on entering a 

house extinguished the lights, or only those entered 

who were strangers to the household. The gang had 

been estimated as high as fifty m number, and we were 

satisfied that the Lowries had in it a prominent place. 

The evidence was satisfactory that one of them killed 

Mr. Barnes, and some of them had been identified 

amongst the clan. 

I was boarding at that time at Mrs. Nash's, widow of 

Dr. Nash, who was a son of Judge Nash. Her house 

was right on the border of Lumber River. It was on 

an island in that river, as we afterwards learned, and in 

a quarter of a mile of Mrs. Nash's, that the robbers 

rendezvoused during the day, and from this den sallied 

forth at night. They visited Mrs. Nash's house on 

several occasions, but did her no damage in any way. 

"We had prepared for them, or at least made out our 

plan of receiving them. I advised Mrs. Nash if they 

should come to treat them with as much kindness as 

possible. They came the first time when I was from 

home, and although there was not a white man on the 

premises, and the three ladies were almost paralyzed 

with fear, Mrs. Nash went out and spoke to them in the 

yard. The first intimation the ladies had of their 

presence was from the servant girl, who came in 

hurriedly and told them that the robbers were there, 

and had sent her to tell, the ladies to send out all the 

keys at once. Mrs. McCormick, a sister of Mrs. Nash, 

handed the key basket to the girl, and told her to tell 

them, if they pleased, notto enter the house, that they 


were alone. Mrs. Nash was more calm; she stopped 
the girl and bade her light a candle, that she would go 
with her. The other ladies objected strongly to this; 
but she thought best to put on as bold a front as possible, 
which she did, and stepped out to speak with them. She 
addressed them in a pleasant tone, and told them that 
they were three unprotected ladies, requested and 
begged them not to harm their persons, that they could 
have anything they wanted. The man who seemed to 
be leader, and who was an escaped Yankee prisoner, 
was completely disarmed and tamed by the eloquence 
of her tongue and blandness of her manners. In the 
case of their leader, "the lion seemed changed into the 
lamb," and he said. "Madam, we are obliged to have 
something to eat." "Certainly," said Mrs. Nash, "walk 
into the house and be seated, and I will have supper 
prepared." Two strange white men came in, filthy and 
ragged, well armed with double-barreled shot guns, &c. 
They sat down, and while suppsr was being pre- 
pared Mrs. Nash entered into conversation with them, 
and entertained them as few ladies in North Carolina 
could have done under the circumstances. She told 
them of the gang of robbers in the neighborhood,, en- 
deavored, and no doubt succeeded, in making the 
impression, on their mind that she did not even suspect 
them of being connected with the gang, and begged 
their protection against their assault. While she was 
talking with these men, quite a number of their ac- 
complices were stationed as- a guard outside, and stand- 
ing in the yard awaiting orders. After a while they 
seemed to get impatient for booty, and began to complain, 
and several times one of the men walked out and 
cursed them. After supper they remained until a late 


hour; sang some for the ladies, and had Mrs. Nash to 
perform some pieces for them on the piano. They 
finally bade the ladies good night and went off, 
taking nothing except a case knife, to which the fingers 
of one of the company stuck, and which was after- 
wards returned. 

In a few nights they came again, dressed in broad- 
cloth and boots, shaved and washed, making really a 
genteel appearance. I was again from home, or rather 
I was off on duty. They remained as before until a 
late hour of the night, and left, doing no damage. 

The third time they came I was at home. Hearing 
their heavy footfalls on the long piazza of the old man- 
sion, the ladies insisted that Mr. D. M. McCormick 
(who was there also) and I should retire to another 
room, which I afterwards concluded Mr. McCormick 
was very willing to do. I wished to see them, but 
yielded to the entreaties of the ladies, and we walked 
out of the room just in time to avoid their knowledge 
of our presence. This time they were evidently very 
uneasy. The Home Guard, in considerable force, was 
stationed four miles up the river, and in search of the 
robbers. They seemed very restless, sat with their 
guns across their knees, and were not so pleasant and 
communicative as before. Presently they arose hurried- 
ly, stepped out at the door, and were gone for a few 
minutes, when the silence was broken by several loud 
reports from shot guns, then all was quiet and still as 
death for half an hour. They then walked into the 
house again. 

In our room we had two double-barreled shot guns, 
one six-shooter and one rifle. I proposed to Mr. Mc- 


Cormick that we should take them, but he seemed rath- 
er nervous for the undertaking, and I then made the 
proposition to slip out at the window and go to where 
we knew the Home Guard were stationed. This seemed 
to him also to be rather perilous, so we let them slide. 
This time they did not stay long, and when they left, 
left not to return again. On the next morning, to our 
surprise, we were informed by the negroes that they 
had left one of their number in the negro cabin sick, 
and requested Mrs. Nash, through the servants, to let 
him stay there until he would get well. Mrs. Nash 
went out to see and speak with him. He told her that 
he had been with the robber gang only for concealment 
and sustenance; that he had never joined with them in 
their marauding operations, as he was taken sick the 
first night he reached Allen Lowrie's, and had been 
sick up to that time. He also told her that he was one 
of the escaped Yankee prisoners from Florence, and 
was with the band because he had nowhere else to go. 
He gave his name as Owen T. Wright. He had with 
him a Bible, which had the appearance of having been 
much used. His plausible story was received by Mrs. 
Nash, who began at once to sympathize with him. She 
had the negroes to wash and dress him in clean clothes, 
carry him into her dwelling house and put him in a 
comfortable bed. This was scarcely done before the 
house was surrounded by a company of armed men, 
who proved to be the Home Guard. I walked out and 
spoke to one of them in the yard. He asked me hur- 
riedly about the Yankee. I stated to him the facts of 
the case, 'and others coming up and hearing my statement, 
rushed to the room where the invalid Yankee was, and 
I suppose would, but for the interposition of the kind 


lady, have put an end to his life without taking him out 
of sight of the house. Pocahontas-like, Mrs. Nash plead 
for his life and stood between him and destruction until 
the excitement had subsided. They consented to take 
him and give the case an investigation. Putting him 
in a cart, they hurried him off towards their head- 
quarters; from there he was sent to Lumberton and a 
comfortable room provided for him by Mrs. S. A. Mc- 
Queen, where he remained for a few days. Sherman's 
men made a raid into Lumberton, and carried him off 
with the rest of their booty. 

The evening previous to their visit to Mrs. Nash's 
they went to the house of Allen Lowrie, where they 
found William Lowrie, his son, who was identified as 
one of the gang, mending or fixing his gun. They ar- 
rested him. They searched his father's house, and 
finding much of the stolen property concealed in his 
house, arrested him also. A brief court-martial was 
held. Allert and William Lowrie were both found 
guilty and sentenced to be shot. William attempted to 
make his escape, but a shot from one of the company 
brought him down, but did not kill him. They carried 
him to Mr. Robert McKinzie's, where they had several 
others, who had been also arrested and held in con- 
finement by members of the same company for exami- 
nation. Sufficient evidence was not obtained to crimi- 
nate any of the party except Allen and William Lowrie; 
the others were released. According to the rules of 
war a certain number or men were detailed to execute 
the sentence. Allen requested time to pray, which 
was granted him. They were then led out and bound 
— a short pause — a loud report -and the prisoners fell 
lifeless to the earth. This trial and execution meted 


out summary justice to one of the notorious gang and an 
accomplice in crime, who, though not yet recognized 
among the desperadoes, was as guilty as those who 
perpetrated the crimes. 

The event of Lowries' death which I have just men- 
tioned, it is thought, kindled afresh in the bosom of 
Henry Berry the fires of revenge, which are always so 
difficult to extinguish in the breasts of Indians. Noth- 
ing would quench that fire but blood. 

But now for a time the robberies in the community 
ceased and fora while the minds of the people were com- 
paratively quiet. The assault upon them by the Home 
Guard seemed to scatter the band and destroy their or- 
ganization. Before that they had entered nearly every 
house in an area of six or ten miles square, the particu- 
lars of which, and the names of those robbed, will be giv- 
en by one better acquainted with the facts than I am. 

Henry Berry went to his home, and aftet a little 
time he became so bold that he did not pretend to con- 
ceal himself at all. The other negroes went home also. 
The people felt for several months that there was an 
end to trouble of this sort; and doubtless there would 
have been but few more outrages committed after that 
but for the remarkable turn which government matters 
took at the close of the war. Emboldened by the poli- 
cy of the dominant party, they commenced the work of 
revenge, in which they were so anxious to engage, such 
as robbing and murdering those in opposition to them. 

We will now proceed to give a list of the crimes as 
they were perpetrated, and every outrage committed 
by the Lowrie band, as it occurred: 



The first murder committed by the Lowries was that 
of James P. Barnes, a most estimable man and good 
citizen. He was shot about 9 o'clock a. m., December 
21st, A. D., 1864, and died in the afternoon of the same 
day. The particulars of his murder are these: He was 
post-master at Clay Valley, in Robeson county, about a 
mile and a half from his residence, and was on his way 
to the post office, when he was fired on by three men 
in ambush, twenty-eight shot lodging in his breast. He 
had fallen when Henry B. Lowrie ran up with his gun 
cocked; Mr. Barnes recognized him, and entreated him 
not to shoot him any more, that he would die from the 
wounds already received, but regardless of his look of 
agony, or his earnest pleading, he raised his gun and 
discharged it in the face of Mr. Barnes, knocking out 
several teeth, and taking off part of his under-jaw. 
The cruel, heartless wretches then left him alone in the 
backwoods, almost in the last agonies of death. The 
hour passed for him to be at the office, but still he did 
not come. His brother, Dr. John A. Barnes, who was 
there, knowing his strict punctuality to business, and 
his rigid observance of every duty, felt somewhat alarm- 
ed at his prolonged absence, and started to his house to 
learn the cause. About three-fourths of a mile from 
the office he found him, wounded in the manner above 
stated. He removed him as quickly as possible, but all 
efforts to prolong his life proved unavailing; he died in 

NOTE The view on page 43 illustrates the mill dam near Moss 
Neck where Mr. J. P. Barnes was murdered. The man standing 
near a clump of trees is where the meu were concealed when Mr. 
Barnes was passing on his way to his place of business. 


a few hours. Although so badly wounded, the power 
of speech was not denied him; he told them it was 
Henry Berry Lowrie and two white men whom he did 
not recognize; those were supposed to be Yankee 
prisoners, who afterwards became members of the band. 
Mr. Barnes lived on the Back Swamp, and was a man 
very fond of hunting deer and turkeys; he had no 
family, and his leisure hours were spent in this way. 
Henry Berry Lowrie lived out back of Mr. Barnes, and 
was lurking at that time in the woods to avoid being 
carried to the forts below Wilmington to work. It was 
then he was making up his band to rob and plunder the 
citizens of that community. Knowing the habits of 
Mr. Barnes, and for fear of detection by him, it is sup- 
posed for this reason only, he determined to put him out 
of the way by murdering him in the cruel manner al- 
ready described. There had been some little disagree- 
ment between Mr. Barnes, and old man Lowrie about 
some cattle, and also some hogs that had been stolen 
from Mr. Barnes, but admitting it to be either one or the 
other, it was a trivial cause for which to waylay and 
murder in cold blood a good man, beloved by all, just 
and honest in all Ins dealings. 


The next on record comes the murder of Mr. Harriss. 
This occurred in January, 1865. During the war a 
call was made upon the Indian people to work on the 
defences below Wilmington. George Lowrie, a broth- 
er of Allen Lowrie, had several sons — two of whom 
were carried off, and did work where they were sent. 


After remaining there some time, they got furloughs to 
come home for a few days; they were at home but a 
short time when Harriss had them arrested as deserters. 
It seems that prior to this there had been some feud 
existing between the Lowries and Harriss. However, 
Harriss had them, and left with them, for the purpose 
as he stated, of putting them aboard the train at Moss 
Neck Depot to send them back to their work on the 
fortifications. On the way thither, when some evil 
demon took possession of him, he murdered them both, 
cruelly and inhumanly. A jury of inquest was held 
over them, and the facts of the murder was clearly set 
forth on Harriss. A warrant was issued for Harriss' 
arrest and placed in the hands of Sheriff 'King on Fri- 
day. The Sunday following Harriss was riding out 
with a woman in his buggy; after she got out of the buggy 
he went but a short distance when he was shot and killed. 
The young Lowries killed by Harriss were near relatives 
of H. B. Lowrie, and it was H. B. Lowrie that shot 
Harriss. Harriss was the only man killed by the Lowrie 
Gang that did not sustain a fair character. He had 
been living for several years in or near Scuffietown, 
and was a man feared by all who knew him. He had a 
wife and tw r o children, but they did not seem to pos- 
sess much influence over him for good. 


It was in February, 1865, that they commenced so 
openly to rob and plunder. There were a few families 
that escaped, although each night they were expected 
by all whom they had not visited. It was certainly a 


time to be remembered by all, both old and young. 
The nights of miserable terror and days of dread sus- 
pense, which all endured during their operations in the 
neighborhood are indescribable. The first place that 
the robbers entered a house openly for plunder was 
Mrs. Alexander Bullards. She was alone in the house 
with her five children, her husband being in the army, 
when four men, armed and disguised, walked in. They 
told her they wanted her husband's gun and clothing, 
which they took without much ceremony. A negro boy, 
belonging to Mr. J, D. Bridgers, had a wife at Mrs. 
Bullard's; he was in the kitchen, and hearing voices in the 
house, with that curiosity characteristic of the race, 
slipped out to see who it was. As soon as he saw the 
situation of Mrs. Bullard he turned and ran a mile and 
a quarter to his master's, and on reaching the gate, had 
only strength to call the name of his young master, and 
fainted. As soon as he could be restored to conscious- 
ness, in broken sentences he explained the situation of 
Mrs. B. Mr. Bridgers and his son, A. C. Bridgers, (then 
15 years of age) armed themselves and the negro boy, 
and went as quickly as possible to her aid. On reach- 
ing there they found all q.uiet; the robbers had gone, 
taking the gun and a few articles of wearing apparel. 
At this place they behaved quietly, used no insulting 
language, nor did not seem to have any desire to frighten 


Mr. McNair lived in a few miles of the Lowries. He 
carried on a large farm, having many hands in his em- 
ploy; this necessarily compelled him to have much 


building done on his plantation. Several of the Low- 
ries being carpenters, good workmen, and in good 
standing among the whites, were employed by Mr. 
McNair for this purpose. Being so employed from time 
to time, they had the advantage of learning the situation 
of affairs in general about the premises, which they 
made free use of, much to Mr. McNair's discomfiture. 
It may be well to speak here of Mr. McNair's kindness 
to many of them, their treatmeut afterwards showing 
how utterly devoid of gratitude they were when it con- 
flicted with their love of gain. Mr. McNair was an 
excellent farmer, and made much produce for sale. 
The Indians having very small farms, many of them 
none at all, were often reduced to the necessity of go- 
ing among the whites to purchase the necessaries of 
life. Mr. McNair generously supplied their wants when 
they called upon him, never turning them from his 
door empty; sometimes they paid him, but as often 
failed in making any return for it. The following lines 
will show how much he suffered by them pecuniarily, 
despite all his kindness to them. Their first visit to his 
house for plundei was in April, A. D. 1864. This was 
before any regular band of robbers existed, and the 
Lowries were not suspected at all as having anything 
to do with the stealing at this time that was going on, 
but it was afterwards proven to be them by the missing 
articles being found in their possession and identified. 
At the time of the above mentioned visit they entered 
the study, which was apart from the main dwelling, but 
in the same enclosure, and took a feather-bed. In the 
following June they again entered the study, but as 
everything had been removed except one bed-quilt, 
they did not get anything but that, and it was found 


sometime afterwards in a fodder stack near Allen Low- 
rie's house. It was supposed that numbers of the gang 
had been sleeping in the stack, and as they were operat- 
ing on a small scale, being about the commencement of 
their operations, they were afraid to have anything in 
their houses that could be identified in case search was 
made. Up to this, and for sometime afterwards, the 
citizens of the community did not suspicion the Low- 
ries, and were astonished when some of them were 
recognized among the band, as they had heretofore been 
considered honest, hard-working people. Old Allen Low- 
rie, in his youthful days, had been guilty of taking a 
sheep which he supposed belonged to an uncle of his, 
but it turned out to be the property of a white man. 
He was punished for this, and the circumstance almost 
entirely forgotten except by some of our oldest citizens, 
when the fact of his aiding the robber clan was dis- 
closed. In December, 1864, Mr. McNair's gin-house 
was burned down, containing twelve or fourteen bales 
of cotton and a good many other articles of much value. 
In January, 1865, they robbed his smoke-house and 
store-room; this time taking a large quantity of pork 
and a good many other valuable things. After this, 
except an occasional visit to their poultry yard, they 
were undisturbed until June, 1867, when they again 
entered the study and dining-room. From the study 
they took another bed, bolster, pillows, blankets, sheets, 
combs, brushes, a quantity of clothing, &c. From the 
dining-room they took crockery-ware, knives, silver 
forks and spoons. On the night of the 23rd of January, 
1868, they entered the dwelling-house by means un- 
known to the family, though the probability is that some 
of the gang were secreted in the house be f ore the doors 


were closed for the night, and after the family were 
locked in slumber, admitted the balance of their party. 
They entered the bed-room where the family were 
sleeping, took the candle from the mantle-piece where 
Mrs. McNairhad placed it on retiring, lit it with a match, 
and searched the entire house thoroughly. They took 
from Mr. McNair's pockets his pocket-book containing 
one hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125) in money, 
valuable notes and other articles. They took his guns, 
nearly all the keys in the house, and a fine gold watch. 
Four years afterwards, when those brave men killed 
Tom Lowrie, they took a watch off his person which 
was identified as Mr. McNair's, and returned it to him. 
But to return: They robbed the dioing-room and pantry, 
and searched the pocket of Mrs. McNair's dress, taking 
two bunches of keys from it. They then went into a 
back room, broke open a trunk, took everything out of 
it, evidently searching for money; but finding nothing 
but Mrs. McNair's summer clothing, left it piled on the 
floor, with the contents of the pocket-book, except the 
money, lying on top. About midnight Mr. McNair was 
taken with a violent headache, to which he was subject, 
and aroused Mrs. McNair to give him something to re- 
lieve it. She arose and went to get the candle where 
she was sure she had placed it, and it was gone; she un- 
locked a closet in her room, and got another candle and 
lighted it. She looked around and found Mr. McNair's 
clothes missing. On further examination she discovered 
that the house had been robbed of a good deal. They 
both went out into the yard and about the out-houses, 
hoping that the robbers might have dropped some of the 
keys; but in this they were disappointed. Between that 
and the summer of 1871 they made frequent raids on 


the dining-room, pantry and fowl house, each time tak- 
ing a good supply. At one of their visits about this 
time, they shot the yard dog on the porch. In all their 
raids at his house, Mr. McNair did not discover them 
but once; he found they were in his pantry. They 
soon learned that they were discovered and made good 
their retreat. Mr. McNair fired two or three times af- 
ter them, but they did not return the fire. 

In February, 1871, Mr. McNair was on his way to 
Red Banks; when about a mile or so from the Banks, he 
met four of the robber clan in a turpentine wagon; they 
ordered him to stop or they would shoot him. He 
checked his horse, and Steve Lowrie walked up and 
caught his bridle; H. B. Lowrie and Boss Strong then 
went up to him, took him by his hands, one on each 
side, and inquired if he had a pistol; he told them he 
had not, and pushed Boss Strong from him. Boss 
Strong then took his buggy whip and struck him across 
the head with it one time, and one of the others struck 
him with his gun; Steve Lowrie then called out and 
said: "Boys, I told you not to hurt him." Henry Berry 
then searched his pockets, taking his pocket-book and 
several letters that he was carrying to the office to be 
mailed. He handed the letters to Tom Lowrie, and he 
kept the pocket-book, stepping to one side to examine its 
contents. After he had satisfied himself as to what it 
contained, he turned to Mr. McNair and asked him 
which he preferred, to have his pocket-book and go 
back home, or for him (H. B. Lowrie) to keep the pocket 
book and allow Mr. McNair to go on to the Banks. He re- 
plied that he had business at the Banks, and he intended 
going unless they killed him, and he wanted both the 
pocket-book and letters, which Tom Lowrie had still in 


possession. Henry Berry gave him the pocket-book, telling 
him as he had but fifteen dollars ($15) in it he would not 
take it. Tom Lowrie handed him two of the letters, re- 
taining five. They then told him he could go on, but to say 
nothing to any one about meeting th2m; but he paid no 
attention to the last order. There was a young lady 
with Mr. McNair at the time, and she was badly fright- 

The last raid made on Mr. McNair was in June, 
1871. They entered the dining-room and pantry, this 
time taking nearly everything they could find, leaving 
no place unsearched. They took a barrel and a half 
of flour, a lot of silverware, some clothing, and numerous 
other articles. 

On the morning of the 14th of July, 1871, about day- 
light, five armed men were seen approaching the house 
of Mr. McNair. They supposed them to be the militia, 
who were out at the time in search of the gang. They 
came up in front of the house, and called Mr. McNair 
out to them. They conversed with him for perhaps a 
half hour. Mrs. McNair, thinking that it was some of 
our men who were tired and hungry, went out and or- 
dered breakfast prepared for them. She knew no better 
until breakfast was ready, and Mr. McNair came in 
and told her it was the Lowrie band, and they wanted 
something to eat. She sent them word to go around to 
the dining-room, where they would find breakfast 
waiting. They went into breakfast, taking their arms 
with them. Their object on this visit was to get Mr. 
McNair to write a letter for them, to take it down to 
Lumberton and deliver it to Col. Sinclair and Sheriff 
McMillan, ordering the release of their wives, who had 
been arrested a few days previous. Soon after the 


robber clan ate their breakfast they left. Mr. McNair 
made ready and went to Lumberton, not only to deliver 
the letter to the parties named, but also to use his in- 
fluence in behalf of the women kept in confinement, for 
the people in the country were entirely at their mercy, 
and they had made such threats with regard to the 
ladies of the community that the excitement was so 
great that several families moved from their homes to 
places more remote from their lines of action. Further 
particulars with regard to the success of Mr. McNair's 
visit to Lumberton will be given more fully hereafter. 
A guard of fifty men were proffered Mr. McNair on his 
leaving the village, to accompany him home; this he re- 
fused, well knowing should he return so accompanied 
that it would raise the ire of the robber gang, and as 
soon as his guard would leave him he would be liable 
to be murdered by them. 

Mrs. McNair was left entirely alone (except the ser- 
vants) during the day of this visit, and suffered much 
uneasiness. She expected they would lurk around the 
premises and in the absence of Mr. McNair, return and 
commit more of their depredations, but they did not. 
She talked to them freely of their frequent robberies 
there, which they did not deny. Her greatest anxiety, 
though, was for Mr. McNair's safety. She feared that 
he might be unsuccessful, and they would probably 
meet him somewhere on the road on his return, and on 
learning the truth would become so enraged as to wreak 
their vengeance on him. They did meet him, but forbore 
to injure him personally. This was on Friday, and 
they said if their wives were not released by the fol- 
lowing Monday afternoon, that Robeson county would 
be deluged in blood; after that time they would know 


no man, but would shoot down every one that passed 
them; that hitherto they had not interfered with the 
women, that they had scorned it, but after then they 
might take care, that they were safe no longer. Many 
such threats were made by them on this occasion, 
which is needless to mention. 

A half-mile below Mr. McNair's, on the Lumberton 
road, they called in at Mr. McRaken's and ordered his 
wife to cook some provisions for them, which they had 
with them. They stayed until it was cooked, behaving 
very quietly. They took it and left; came on a short 
distance to Mr. Patterson's, and finding no one at the 
house but the ladies, they remained only a short time, 
but proceeded to a field where Mr. McN. Patterson 
(who afterwards assisted in the killing of Steve Lowrie) 
and his father were at work. They called Mr. Mc P. to 
them and conversed with him for some time, making 
threats to him also as to what they intended doing with 
the ladies of the community. They then came on to the 
house of Mr. Jas. D. Bridgers, where they remained 
until nearly time for McNair's return, when they left, 
going down the road in the direction which Mr. Mc- 
Nair would come. A further account of this will be 
given in the chapter containing the particulars of their 
depredations at Mr. Bridgers'. The United States sol- 
diers, as well as the militia in command of Capt. F. M. 
Wishart, were stationed only a few miles above. The 
friends of the robber gang, scattered here and there 
throughout the county, would convey to them the 
whereabouts of the enemy, and thus they succeeded in 
eluding them on every occasion. 



On the night or the 14th of December, 1864, they 
went to the house of Mr. Richard Townsend and took 
his gun. It was sometime after supper; Mrs. T. was 
sitting in her room, with all the doors of the house 
open. She heard some one speak to a servant in an 
adjoining room, and immediately afterwards footsteps 
approaching towards her room door; she raised her 
eyes, and standing at the door was a man she had 
never seen before. He asked her where her husband 
was; she pointed to the bed, where Mr. T. was asleep; 
he then asked why he was not in the army, and went 
on to say that he (the robber) was hunting deserters, 
and was out of ammunition, and wanted Mr. Town- 
send to give him some powder and his gun. She told 
him that he was not hunting deserters; that he was one 
himself, with a courage and fearlessness that belong 
only to the ladies of the South. "Well," replied the 
robber, "If I am, what is that to you? Give me a shirt, 
the gun and powder." Mrs. T. then arose from her 
seat, awoke her husband, who went to get the gun, 
while she got the shirt. The things brought, the ban- 
dit took them, bidding them both good evening, joined 
his party, who were awaiting him on the piazza at the 
front of the house, and departed for that night. They 
were there several times afterwards, the particulars of 
which will be seen on another page. 


In a few weeks after their visit to Mr. Richard Town- 
send's they called at the house of his brother Jackson. 


He was in the army, and no one with his wife, except 
her children and the servants. Mrs. T. had just gone 
in from supper, and hearing footsteps on the piazza, 
looked out through the window, and discovered a man 
standing in the piazza, near the window; he was a 
white man. Avsoaa ashesawhe was discovered he raised 
the window, and Mrs. T. pulled it down; he then put 
his gun under it and raised it again. This time she 
stepped to one side, and he came in. He asked her why 
she did not open the door. She replied that she did not 
know there was any one there. He was the only one 
that came in on this occasion, and he would not suffer 
the doors to be opened. Mrs. Townsend looked out to 
see if there were anv more, and counted five others on 
the piazza. The one in the house asked her if she saw 
them all. She told she did. He said: "No, you haven't; 
I have a dozen more out in the road." He then searched 
the house, taking the gun and several other articles. 
He then left. A few nights afterwards they came again. 
This time two entered the house — one a very tall, heavy- 
built man, answering the description of one William- 
son, from Columbus county, who was afterwards 
identified as belonging to the robber clan, and killed by 
some unknown person or persons near his old home in 
Columbus. His companion was a very small man, also 
white. The tail man did all the searching that was 
done each time. They asked Mrs. Townsend for wine; 
she told them she had some she was keeping for sick- 
ness. They told her to get it. She brought it out, in 
a demijohn and jng. They took it all and set it in the 
piazza; but when they started off they gave her back 
the demijohn, telling her she might keep that and they 


would take the other, as she would not need it all for 
sickness. They called a few nights afterwards for the 
demijohn, all took a drink, and gave her back the 
balance. The tall man was in the dining room, and 
she requested his comrade to ask him to come out, 
which he did. As he came out she saw that he was 
wrapped in one of her blankets. She told him it was 
hers, but he said no, he had brought it with him. She 
believed it to be false, and was convinced of the fact 
when she found hers was missing. Mrs. Townsend 
went through some of the rooms with him, all the time 
watching, as she thought, his every move, but he was 
such an adept at stealing that he carried off a good 
many articles that she did not see him take. After they 
were through plundering, they told her they wanted 
her horse and buggy, and on her objecting, told her 
they would take them whether she was willing or not. 
They took a lighted candle, went out to examine the 
buggy, and finding it insufficient for their purpose, 
left without taking it. They proceeded again to Mr. 
Richard Townsends, one mile distant, and took his 
buggy, carriage and horses, and went on to Mr. Joseph 
Thompson's and Henry Bullock Jr's. They took a 
negro to drive the carriage, and sent them back just 
before daylight the next morning, very much jaded. 
Sometime during the year 1865 they visited Mr. Town- 
send's again. This time they beat and banged against 
the doors, and on failing to get in, retired a short dis- 
tance and fired two guns into the house, but did no 
further damage. They robbed his smoke-house after 
this, taking a large lot of bacon. In April, 1869, Mrs. 
Townsend, with her sister, went into a back room, and 
discovered a dark man under the bed. She retired 


hastily to inform her husband; but he, guessing from 
her hasty retreat that he had been seen, sprung through 
the window and made his escape. The rest of the 
gang were waiting for the family to retire, and this 
fellow, who had by some means gotten into the house, 
was to admit the others. The tracks of their party 
were plainly discernible the next morning in the garden, 
where they had stolen all of Mrs. Townsend's onions. 
They came several times afterwards, but did no dam- 
age, except to kill their yard dog. Their purposes 
were so often thwarted there that they desisted any 
further molestation at his house. 


The first visit to Mr. Thompson's by the clan was in 
March, 1865. Only white men entered the house, 
eight in number. It was after night, and they came 
up cheering and shouting, "the Yankees are coming." 
The first thing they did after entering the house was to 
take Mr. Thompson, with three other gentlemen who 
were his guests for the night, prisoners. They behaved 
here very roughly, cursing loudly and firing off their 
guns in the house. Mrs. Thompson, an aged lady, in- 
sisted on their giving her some articles that they were 
taking, which she prized, but they refused, at the same 
time firing a pistol over her head, the contents lodging in 
the wall beyond From their conduct on this occasion 
they were undoubtedly drunk, as it was a short time 
previous to this that they had stolen a large quantity of 
brandy from Mr. Bullock. They took guns, clothing 
and bid-clothing to a large amount. They took the hats 


of the gentlemen who were there, and left them to go 
home bareheaded. They went so far as to parole the 
men as prisoners of war. The Lowries remained in 
the yard receiving and stowing away the stolen property. 
In the year 1870 they visited Mr. T. again, this time, 
as they avowed, for the purpose of murdering a man 
by the name of Perry, who was superintending Mr. 
Thompson's farm. When the militia were ordered out 
in the county, Perry was among them. He, with a 
small squad of men, fired on the robber gang. Some 
of their friends and informants reported to them that 
Perry was at the head of the party. This was suffi- 
cient to arouse their resentment, and it was their in- 
tention on this occasion to sate their thirst for revenge 
by taking his life. They had been prowling around 
Mr. Thompson's plantation for some time for this pur- 
pose, but Mr. Perry being very cautious, they had not 
succeeded in meeting him. On this night Mr. T. was 
walking out, when he was hailed and arrested by three 
armed men, headed by Stephen Lowrie. He demanded 
of Mr. T. the whereabouts of Mr. Perry, and compelled 
him to conduct them to his house, saying they intended 
killing him that night. Mr. Perry, hearing voices and 
suspecting it to be the robber clan, made his escape 
through a back door, thus eluding them. After they 
learned that Mr. Perry had escaped, they returned 
with Mr. Thompson to his house, and asked him for 
some tobacco and bacon, which he gave them, well 
knowing that they would take it if he refused. 


In February, 1865, the robber clan drove up to Mr. 
Henry Bullock's in the vehicles pressed into their ser- 


vice at Mr. Richard Townsend's. On reaching his 
gate, they sprang out, entered his yard and burst into 
his house. Eight men came in, several others remain- 
ing in the yard; one of those in the house kept his hat 
pulled over his face, fearing, no doubt, that he might be 
recognized. The captain of the band sat down in a 
corner by the hearth, and ordered Mr. Bullock in a 
very peremptory manner to "raise a light, or they 
would do it for him." With that cool courage that the 
nature of the case demanded he replied, "If you can 
make a light quicker than I can, you may do it," but 
the renegade Yankee kept his seat, allowing Mr. B. to 
make the fire. After he was through he looked around 
on his unwelcome visitors, and discovered seven ran- 
sacking his house from garret to cellar. Their leader 
kept his seat quietly during the plundering, no doubt 
having issued all orders necessary before reaching their 
destination. Those in the house threw the things from 
the windows, when they were taken by their comrades 
on the outside and stowed away in the waiting ve- 
hicles. The Lowries had just commenced their career 
of stealing and plundering, and had not grown bold 
enough to enter houses when there was the least 
probability of their being recognized. They carried 
off a large quantity of clothing, bed-clothing, &c. Mr. 
Bullock had a lot of brandy on hand, of his own make, 
of which they partook pretty freely while there, and 
carried off about thirty gallons. After they were 
through plundering, they turned to Mr. Bullock and 
told him they would not hurt him; he replied: "The 
d — 1 you won't." They referred to his person, but 
he considered himself badly treated in a pecuniary 
point of view. They visited Mr. B. again after this; 


there were only three this time, supposed to be a por- 
tion of the band, or at least co-operating with the Low- 
ries. It was afterwards learned that they were desert- 
ers from the Confederate ranks, two of whom were 
killed, the other is still living. A night or two after the 
robbing of Mr. Bullock, a colored man who was passing 
Allen Lowrie's called in to have a chat with him; on 
going in he fell in with the whole robber gang. They 
were drinking, and some of them were drunk; now and 
then one of the number would take a drink and say, 
"This tastes like old Henry Bullock's brandy," which 
convinced the visitor that it was their party which not 
only robbed Mr. Bullock, but who were also commit- 
ting all the depredations in the neighborhood. One of 
the escaped Yankee prisoners would go up to the old 
man Lowrie, pat him on the head and say, "Ah, my 
old gentleman, or friend, after this war is over you will 
be a great general." In this way they took advantage 
of his credulity, gained his confidence, and by their 
flattery led him to permit them to make his house their 
headquarters, which eventually was the cause of the 
old man's death. The man who called in was badly 
frightened, and made it convenient to leave as soon as 
he could without exciting suspicion. 


Sometime during January or the first of February, 
1865, they went to Mrs. Ashley's and demanded ad- 
mittance; she inquired what they wanted; one answered 
in a feminine voice, "We want your money." She told 
them they could not get it, that she had it in her pocket. 


They then tried doors and windows, but failed to get in; 
left to return in a few nights afterwards. Mrs. Ashley was 
away from home this time, but she had a man em- 
ployed to carry on her farm by the name of Paul, and 
he was there. They had fallen on another plan to 
effect an entrance; they hailed at the door, and Mr. 
Paul inquired who it was; they answered him, saying 
it was Needham Thompson (a brother of Mrs. Ashley) 
and Council, (a negro belonging to her father.) Mr. 
Paul opened the door, and in rushed the robber gang, 
blackened and otherwise disguised, and also heavily 
armed. They ransacked the house, taking off bed- 
clothing, wearing apparel and anything else they could 
conveniently carry. This was the first time that the 
whole band entered a house in disguise. The news 
spread from house to house in a few hours, and the 
reign of terror, which had in some degree subsided, 
again held sway over the entire community. 


February, 1865, they entered the house of Mr. 
Townsend sometime during the night, after the family 
had retired. They raised a window of a back room, 
which was unoccupied, and came in; they could easily 
go over the house after getting in the room, as none of the 
doors were locked except those on the outside. They 
took a large trunk, containing all of Mr. Townsend's 
valuable papers, a small amount of specie, a good 
deal of Confederate money, &c. The trunk was sitting 
in a room adjoining the one in which the family slept. 
A hat, coat, some guns and a blanket off of one of the 
beds comprised about all they took there on that visit; 


they took the guns from a closet in the room where the 
family were seeping. Several months afterwards the 
trunk was found in the woods some distance from the 
house; they had left the Confederate money and most 
of his papers in the trunk. They visited Mr. Town- 
send's several times after this. At one time they took 
his buggy-apron and harness, then went into a little 
out-house, where he kept his carpenter-tools and also 
had a bale of cotton, which they cut open, and carried 
off the most of his valuable tools; awhile after this 
tliey went to his black-smith shop and took a good 
many of his tools from there. In July, 1870, they went 
again; that time for provisions. Mr. Townsend, like 
every one else, was expecting them every night, and 
slept with his fire-arms at his side, all in good fix for an 
attack; he heard a slight noise and slipped out; he found 
they were trying to enter his smoke-house by 
boring, so as to cut out the logs. He quietly went 
back, prepared himself and fired upon them; they im- 
mediately returned the fire, and kept it up for some- 
time pretty sharply. He passed from room to room in 
, both upper and lower stories of his dwelling and kept 
up a continual fire, without being exposed out- 
side of his walls; they, on this account, being unable 
to locate him, fired into the house from all sides, 
leaving as the marks of this visit fully five hundred shot- 
holes. There was no one injured in the house except 
Mrs. Alfred Rowland, (a daughter of Mrs. Townsend) 
who was on a visit there at the time; she had retired 
and was asleep, but was aroused by the firing, and learn- 
ing that they were shooting into the house, rolled off 
of the bed, and just as she reached the floor a spent ball 
struck her in the breast, and almost buried itself in the 


flesh; she picked it out with her fingers, and did not suffer 
any great inconvenience from it. Mr. Townsend made 
a very narrow escape at one time during the fire; he 
stepped out into the piazza and immediately two fired 
on him, scattering the shot all around him, one ball 
passing over his head, crashing the glass and lodging 
in the wall beyond. He, with a renewed energy, opened 
fire upon them again, when one of the gang stepped 
out and called to him with an oath, to shoot— that they 
were fond o* such music; he fired at once to the spot 
from whence the voice proceeded, and gave him the 
wound that sent him in a few days to list to music less 
congenial. The name of this man was said to be Gil- 
berts, the murderer of young Lutterloh, of Fayette- 
ville; he was with the gang under the assumed name of 
Smith. While some of the crowd were firing, others 
succeeded in entering the smoke-house, and carried off 
a large lot of bacon, lard, wool, &c. There was more 
than one of their party who carried off samples of Mr. 
Townsend's shot on this occasion; they openly threat- 
ened to take his life, and went to his house several 
times to? this purpose, but he, unknown to them, had 
removed to Lumberton for safety. They were seen by 
some of the negroes very early one morning, soon after 
Mr. T. left home, lurking around his premises; they re- 
ported it to Mrs. Townsend, and she at once dispatched 
messengers to her neighbors for assistance, Several 
armed themselves, mounted their horses and speedily 
hastened to meet the desperadoes, but on reaching Mr. 
Townsend's found all quiet; they did not enter the 
house, only went up to the back gate, surveyed the 
surroundings and retired. It is very probable that 
some of those around the place gave them an inkling of 


affairs, and they concluded that discretion was the 
better part of valor this time. On their return to their 
homes on that day they calied at the house of Mr. 
Sandy McKenzie; there was no one at the house except 
Mrs. Nevin, (Mr. McKenzie's mother-in-law) and an 
old black woman, those they put under guard, and ran- 
sacked the house, taking all the gentlemen's clothing 
they could find. There were two young ladies from 
Anson count/ 0:1 a visit there at the time, the Misses 
Lilly, and they were out spending the day, but had left 
their mDney concealed between the bed and mattress. 
In their search they found that, and took it as a matter 
of coarse. The last visit of the robber clan to Mr. 
Townsend's was in November, 1870. Some one hailed 
at the gate. Mr. Jones, a man employed at Mr. Town- 
send's, went out to see who it was, and found four of the 
clan; they conversed with him a short time, and re- 
quested him to go in and tell Mrs. T. that they were 
there, and wished to come in. He started in, they fol- 
lowed on and waited at the door until he should 
acquaint Mrs. T. of their presence; they went in and 
behaved very respectfully. They asked her for some- 
thing to eat; she sent out and had supper brought into 
the room where they were sitting. Henry Berry Low- 
rie did not eat anything, but the others, George Apple- 
white, Henderson Oxendine and Boss Strong ate very 
heartily. Mrs. Townsend then asked them if they 
wanted anything else, and they told her they would 
like to have a few potatoes; she sent Mr. Jones out with 
them to the potato-hill, where they had deposited their 
sacks; they took about five bushels and left without fur- 
ther damage. They no doubt went there with far dif- 
ferent intentions, but were completely overcome by Mrs. 


Townsend's kindness. On the night of the 6th of Janu- 
ary, 1874, Mr. Townsend's dwelling-house and kitchen 
were burned down, his loss amounting to between five 
and six thousand dollars; there is no doubt but Steve 
Lowrie led the party that applied the torch, as he had 
threatened to kill or burn out those who fed or in any 
way aided the men who were in search of him. 


Those foul robberies were all committed on the same 
night, viz : 28th of February, A. D. 1865. The robber 
band on this night was composed of about thirty men. 
They first went to the house of Mr. Daniel Baker, who 
lived about two miles from the Red Bank bridge across 
Lumber River. Here (at Baker's) they forced their way 
into the main dwelling and at once commenced their di- 
abolical work, taking everything of value, and when 
they could not get keys to open locks, they broke them, 
bursting open trunks, drawers, &c. Not being satisfied 
with what they obtained in the house, they proceeded 
to the smoke-house and helped themselves to the finest 
and best bacon there. They then hitched up Mr. Baker's 
horse up his buggy they, and putting their plunder in the 
buggy proceeded up the road about four miles to the res- 
idence of Mr. McKay Sellers. At Mr. Sellers' they enacted 
the same, taking everything in his house of value. Here 
also they hitched Mr. Sellers' horse to his buggy, placing 
their plunder in the buggy. They went up the main road to 
Mr. William A. Sellers,' about a mile off (a brother of 


Mr. McKay Sellers). Here they arrested all the negroes 
on the premises, and demanded Mr. Sellers' keys, and 
put him also under arrest. Some delay occurring in re- 
gard to finding all the keys, they proceeded to ransack 
the house of Mr. Sellers, taking everything of value, 
$800 in Confederate bonds and a small amount of specie. 
Piling everything in front of the dwelling, they divided 
the plunder among themselves, and then ordered a negro 
to gear up a pair of mules to Mr. S3llers' carriage and plac- 
ing everything in the carriage, they drove up the road about 
half a mile to the residence of Mrs. Dr. Neil McNair, at 
Argyle. Acting here pretty much after the same man- 
ner as at other places, they ransacked the house, taking all 
the valuables. Here they were fired on by a sick Con- 
federate soldier. They returned the fire and acted very 
roughly to the inmates of the house. After consultation 
here among themselves, the captain of the band ordered 
the others to take up their line of march in the direction 
of Scuffletown, inasmuch as they had as many things as 
they could carry conveniently. To Scuffletown they 
went. About sunrise next morning the vehicles that 
were taken to haul off their plunder were brought back 
by the negroes that were forced to go with them. 

At the time these robberies were committed the Low- 
ries were not "outlawed," and in all probability they 
were led and instigated by some Yankee prisoners, who 
had escaped from Florence, S. C, and made their way 
into Robeson county, N. C. Mr. William A. Sellers says 
that this robbery broke him up, and did him more real 
injury than Sherman's army. 



In the year 1870, on the 21st of April, H. B. Lowrie, 
Boss Strong, Andrew Strong and George Applewhite 
made their appearance at the house of Mr. John Pur- 
nell, about sundown. Here they took the gun of Mr. 
Purnell, and ordered Mrs. Purnell to prepare supper 
for them, which she immediately set about doing. Af- 
ter they had partaken of a bountiful supper, they ran- 
sacked the house, and took everything of value, and 
went to the smoke-house and took therefrom about fifteen 
hundred pounds of meat, together with other things. At 
last, about ten o'clock at night, they started off with 
their load to Scuffletown, telling Mrs. Purnell that if she 
or Mr. Purnell would tell any one of their being there 
they would come back and kill Mr. Purnell. Many 
other robberies were committed about this time, such as 
the one committed on Mr. Peter McFarland, from whom 
was taken one hundred and fifty dollars in currency; 
Mr. Duncan McNair's smoke-house of seven or eight 
hundred pounds of meat; Mr. J. C. McMillan's smoke- 
house; Mr. John McCallum's; Mr. James H. McQueen's 
residence of all its valuables. But whether or not the 
Lowrie bandits did any or all of these outrages is un- 
known, inasmuch as the race of freedmen, together with 
the tribe, had become so demoralized that it is now a 
difficult task to say who committed this or that robbery, 
for they sympathized with each other to such an extent 
that no white individual knows, nor ever will. 



It was during the month of February, 1865, that they 
went to the house of this gentleman, and finding all the 
doors closed and securely fastened, called loudly to Mr. 
McK. for admittance. He, with his family seated 
around the fireside, gave no heed to their demands; 
whereupon they burst out a panel of the door and 
crowded through into the room. They acted there in 
the roughest manner, going from room to room, turning 
up beds, cutting open mattresses, breaking locks, search- 
ing bureaus and trunks, behaving after the manner of 
Sherman's raiders. Failing to find money, which was 
the object of their search, two of them teized Mr. Mc- 
Kenzie, placed a rope around his neck, and told him if 
he did not produce it they would hang him. He told 
them he had none. They went out and consulted with 
his servants, returned and in a furious manner renewed 
the search, failing as before ; held another consultation 
with those in the yard, came in and searched more 
thoroughly, with a like result. They turned to Mrs Mc- 
Kenzie and told her if she did not give them their money 
they would hang her husband, and started out with him 
for this purpose; she screamed and begged them to spare 
his life. They told her then to tell them where the silver 
was concealed. She told them they had none, all the 
time entreating and pleading with them, as only a wife 
can plead when the life of the one who is all the world 
to her is at stake. Perhaps it was her agonizing appeals 
that touched their stony hearts and caused them to desist 
from their fiendish purpose. They, too, had wives and 
little ones, and it is to be hoped that, notwithstanding 
their crimes, they were not wholly lost to the influence 



of home affection. After releasing Mr. McKenzie from 
custody, they took his watch (a fine gold one), dishes, 
knives, forks, spoons, clothing, bed-clothing and every- 
thing of value that they could carry. 

When the band became disorganized from the killing 
of their leader, the Federal prisoners who belonged to 
the band made their escape to their Northern homes. 
On their way to Wilmington one of them was conversing 
with a lady on the train, and acknowledged to her that 
he had been with the robber gang in Robeson county, 
and, as a proof of it, showed the watch of Mr. McKen- 
zie, which he had in his possession. 

Allen Lowrie lived in less than a mile of Mr. McK., 
and continued to annoy him in almost every way possi- 
ble, robbing his smoke-house, gin, pantry, cutting and 
spoiling his fruit trees, grape arbors, Sec. He finally 
moved away from his plantation and went to Florence, 
South Carolina, where he continued to reside up to the 
time of his death, in the fall of 1872. A brother of Mr. 
McKenzie took charge of his plantation in Robeson, and 
fared but little better so far as robberies were concerned. 
They were driving his hogs off one morning. He fol- 
lowed them. They told him to ^o back, but he refused. 
They turned and fired on him, wounding him in the leg, 
which disabled him for some time. He finally left the 
place with Mr. Phipkin in charge. They did not trou- 
ble him so much, but he frequently met them around 
the place, and they were several times at his house, but 
offered no personal injury. At one time H. B. Lowrie 
hung his canteen of brandy on the fence and went off, 
forgetting it. He, however, returned in a few days 
and found it where he had left, it but being very cau- 
tious, and knowing that he justly deserved death at the 


hands of the Robesonians, concluded that his brandy 
might possibly be drugged. He called on Mr. P. to take 
a drink before he would touch it. Mr. P. told him it was 
not poisoned unless he (H. B. L.) had done it. He told 
him he had not. He then drank some thus setting the 
fears of the outlaw at rest. 


Sometime in February, 1865, the family of Mr. McCal- 
lum were very much startled by a band of armed men 
in their dwelling, numbering from eighteen to twenty — 
four white men, the balance Indians. They called for 
supper, which was prepared and set for them in the 
dining-room. Before calling in all their band to sup- 
per, those that were in the house lowered the curtains of 
the windows, tucking them down at the sides in order to 
prevent the family from seeing and recognizing the Low- 
ries. After eating their supper they proceeded to search 
the different rooms of the house thoroughly, throwing 
the things from the windows to the party on the outside. 
Here they robbed the ladies' wardrobe, an act that they 
had omitted at any of their preceding visits at other 
places. The sons of Mr. McCallum were at that time 
in the army, and he a gray-headed citizen, the sole pro- 
tector of his wife and two daughters. They took his 
clothing, guns, and seven hundred dollars in Confeder- 
ate money, which was almost valueless, it being a short 
time before the surrender. A lot of clothing, bed-cloth- 
ing and a purse of silver comprised the balance of their 
booty on this occasion. They had a quarrel over the 
silver in the yard before leaving. After their search 
was completed they prepared to convey away their 


gains by going to the horse-lot and harnessing two horses 
to separate buggies, and removed the things to some 
place of deposit, and continued their raid by visiting the 
houses of Messrs. John McCallum and Robert Graham. 


They reached this place about 11 o'clock. Mr. Mc- 
Callum and his niece were the only white people on the 
premises, and the first intimation they had of the pres- 
ence of this marauding party was the report of a pistol 
on the front piazza of their dwelling. The yard dog felt 
the effects of this, as he was found dead the next morn- 
ing on the piazza. They called loudly to Mr. McCallum 
to open the door, threatening him in a rough manner; 
he very reluctantly admitted them, abovit thirty in num- 
ber, as near as he could guess. They stationed a guard 
at every door, and the parlor was crowded with them. 
The white men told Mr. McC. that they were escaped Fed- 
eral prisoners. They would only allow adim light, and 
when that would chance to fall on their faces, they would 
immediately drop their blankets over them. They were 
very profane, and showed no respect for age or sex. They 
thoroughly searched the house, upper and lower story, 
emptied all the bureaus and trunks, taking every key on the 
place. They didnot leave a change of wearing apparel, and 
scarcely any bed-clothing. Two guns, and nearly ev- 
erything else of value that could be carried off conveni- 
ently, were taken. After they completed their search 


a few of the party went down to Mr. Robert Graham's, 
taking a horse and buggy, with one of the negroes to drive 
it, and the balance remained there until their return. 
They came back before day and demanded of Mr. Mc- 
Callum his money and brandy. He told them that he 
did not have any; whereupon, they cursed and threat- 
ened to kill him if he did not produce it. They com- 
pelled him to accompany them to his gin-house, taking 
with them a lighted candle to search in the cotton for it. 
They would make him dig down in the cotton while they 
stood sticking the burning candle to it. He begged them 
not to burn it, and kept trying to assure them that he 
had neither money nor brandy. The negro boy who 
had accompanied the party to Mr. Graham's told them 
that his master had something concealed in his gin-house 
and he thought it money and brandy; for this reason 
they renewed the search on their return. Meeting with 
no success, and it then being nearly daylight, they took 
their departure, still retaining the negro, horse and bug- 
gy in their service. The boy returned in a few hours, 
but was too much intoxicated to tell anything about it. 

Mr. John Purcell lived about a half mile from Mr. 
McCallum's, on their direct route home, and in passing 
there T. C. Bridgers was standing on the piazza, and 
they saluted him by firing a pistol into the house, the 
ball passing just over his head. They never at any time 
entered the dwelling of Mr. Purcell, but his gin, store 
and smoke-house were robbed several times by the gang. 
They were 'often seen in the day lurking arounnd his 
plantation. Mr. P., in the spring of 1862, came upon 
Steve Lowrie asleep in the corner of the fence, with his 
gun standing a short distance from him. This was near the 
house of a family of Indians, who were Mr. Purcell's 


tenants. Steve, no doubt, was waiting for his breakfast, 
as the family were known to not only cook and wash for 
him, but also to give the band all the information they 
could gather. They were near relatives of the Strongs 
and Lowries. The same day that Mr. Purcell saw 
Steve Lowrie, he, with Andrew Strong, went to the 
house of Mr. Henry McCallum, a son of Mr. John Mc~ 
Callum, and took his gun and watch. Mrs. McCallum 
asked them to give her the watch, and they did it. 

Thus for years they continued to roam the country, 
day and night, plundering, dropping in here and there 
when least expected. The citizens were afraid to let 
more than one or two at a time into a plan to capture 
them; the friends of the gang were so numerous, scat- 
tered throughout the country, that it was impossible to 
make a move without their becoming apprised of it. 
Their friends were as loud in denunciation of them as 
their enemies; for this reason it was impossible in many 
cases to discover between the two. 


When the party, fifteen or twenty in number, which left 
Mr. McCallum's for Mr. Graham's, reached there it was 
between twelve and four o'clock in the morning. They 
immediately posted sentinels in and around the yard, and 
on every road leading to the house, with instructions to al- 
low no one to pass in, out, or advance from any direc- 
tion. These warlike orders were issued and obeyed 
with promptness. Some of the band -three whites, the 
other Indians- rushed into the piazza of the dwelling, 
and with loud oaths and threats demanded admittance. 


None of the family were at home except Mr. Graham 
and his daughter. He went to the door and asked who 
it was and what they wanted. They replied with hor- 
rid oaths for him to open the door, saying if he did not 
they would set fire to his house. Hearing this awful 
threat, he opened the door; they went in, at once mak- 
ing him prisoner, at the same time demanding his guns, 
ammunition, and every key on the place. This demand 
was made by a white man, who termed himself Captain. 
After getting the guns and keys in possession, they 
lighted their candles, with which they seemed to be well 
supplied, and proceeded to plunder and ransack the house 
of many valuables. In this they seemed to be well dis- 
ciplined, as they would take according to rank, viz: 
Captain, first of the most valuable articles, and so on. 
The three white men, being all officers, had the best of 
the spoils, consisting of money to the amount of two 
thousand dollars, a purse of silver, a watch which Mr. 
Graham prized very highly, having worn it from boy- 
hood, several pieces of jewelry belonging to different 
members of the family, and also the rings from Miss 
Graham's fingers. The privates all being well supplied 
with large bags and haversacks, took wearing apparel 
of every description, bed-clothing, boots, shoes, hats, &c. 
After they had completed their search they ordered sup- 
per to be prepared immediately, with directions how 
and what to prepare; they then ordered Mr. Graham 
and his daughter to take seats in the parlor for their en- 
tertainment. None were allowed to enter except the 
officers, the privates being left out in the cold, who, by 
the way, seemed highly elated over the spoils they had 
captured. After some time spent in asking Mr. Graham 
(the old man, as they called him) many questions about 


his sons in the army, war matters and the "rebs" gener- 
ally, they told him that he or his daughter had to go 
with them as prisoners of war. This they possitively 
refued to hear, when some of the officers proposed to 
take them by force, and put a handkerchief around Miss 
Graham's neck for this purpose, when the Captain with 
a millitary air, ordered that no violence should be 
used. To this they quietly yielded. Finding that their 
time (night) was limited, they issued orders to prepare 
to leave, not waiting for supper, as they had counter- 
manded their orders to have it prepared. This was 
supposed to have been done for fear that some of the 
servants would recognize their colored soldiery, which 
was afterwards found to be true. 

On leaving they went to the smoke-house and helped 
themselves to the largest bacon hams they could find. 
Here the Captain again interfered, saying: "Boys, we 
have done enough here, let us go." They took one or 
two hams, and said they would be back in a few nights 
for a large supply of bacon and corn. They made ready 
to leave, which was to Mr. Graham the most agreeable 
part of their night's proceedings. In bidding them good 
night, the Captain handed Mr. Graham one of his guns, 
first discharging it, then breaking the rammer and 
throwing the flint away, saying: "Take this old man, 
it will do to shoot the robbers with; they are becoming 
very troublesome these war times, and everybody should 
be prepared for them." After this piece of advice, they 
left for headquarters, then in Back Swamp. 

On evidence of John Dial, a member of the robber 


clan, but who turned State's evidence against the clan, 
Calvin was arrested and lodged in "Wilmington jail with 
Steve Lowrie and George Applewhite, as one of their 
number, at the time of the robbery and murder of ex- 
Sheriff King. Calvin refused to leave jail with them at 
the time of their escape, alleging afterwards as his rea- 
son, that he was innocent and would be proven so on 
trial. He being cousin to the outlaws, did not believe 
that he could get a fair trial in Robeson, his native coun- 
ty, where all their bloody scenes were enacted; it was 
therefore removed to Southport, in Brunswick county, 
where he proved an alibi by a gentleman from Rich- 
mond county, in whose employ he had been, and was at 
the time of the said robbery and murder. He also 
proved by the same gentleman so good a character for 
honest industry thattheevidence of the notorious Dial was 
discredited by the jury, and consequently a verdict of 
"not guilty" was rendered, and he was acquitted. 

He was brother to Henderson Oxednine, the only out- 
law that died on the gallows. 


On November 18th, 1866, (Monday night) the Lowrie 
bandits visited the house of Mr. Daniel Baker, who re- 
sided about two miles from Red Banks Bridge across 
Lumber river. Here they commenced plundering, tak- 
ing cotton from his cotton house, &c. Mr. Baker dis- 
covering them, ordered them away, whereupon they 
fired on him, shattering the bones in his right leg so ter- 
ribly that amputation had to be resorted to in order to 
to save his life, which was successfully accom- 


plished soon after the occurrence by Dr. W. D. McCal- 
lum, the family physician. Now this act of the Lowrie 
bandits was nothing more nor less than wanton cruelty, 
inasmuch as Mr. Baker was their neighbor and friend. 
A. more industrious, hard-working, clever and kind- 
hearted man could not be found in the county than was 
Mr. Daniel Baker, yet this act of the Lowrie bandits 
made him a cripple for life, and hastened doubtless his 
earthly career, for he suffered much pain ever after- 
wards until death released him from his sufferings. 


On the 1st of November, 1871, the Lowrie robbers 
went into the residence of Mr. Angus S. Baker, broke 
to his house about 9 o'clock p. m., arrested Mr. Baker 
and wife, and ransacked the house, taking beds, bed- 
ding, blankets and wearing apparel, in short, everything 
of value they could find, and left about 2 o'clock a. m., 
with their plundei, for Scuffletown. 


In the year 1868, the robber clan would sometimes 
employ artifice to gain access into dwellings to obtain 
such articles of food or clothing as they deemed neces- 
sary. As an instance of their cunning I give the fol- 
lowing particulars of a visit by them to Mr. McPhaul's : 
A white man, appearing to be a traveler, called at his 
house and told him he was from "Whiteville, (the coun- 
ty-seat of an adjoining county, where a brother of Mr. 
McPhaul resided); that his brother was at the point of 


death, and desired him to go down immediately if he 
wished to see him alive. Mr. McPhaul made arrange- 
ments to take the first train ; arriving at his brother's, 
what was his sin-prise at finding him in excellent health; 
he at once understood the ruse that had been employed 
at his expense; with a nrnd filled with dread forebod- 
ings and distracting fear, not knowing to "what indignity 
his family had b2en subjected, he hastened back home. 
He was, however, much relieved to find them unhurt, 
although the robbers had been there in his absence. 
After he was fairly on his way to his brother's a party 
of three men went to his house and demanded the keys 
of the smoke house of his wife, which she refused to give 
them, but offered to unlock the door for th-em, to which 
they consented. They took bacon and other articles 
of food, then left without further molestation. 


On the night of the 23rd of January, 1869, the quiet 
little village of Lumberton, in Robeson county, was 
thrown into consternation by the startling intelligence 
that Sheriff Reuben King had been shot in his own house 
(one and one-half miles from Lumberton) by the Low- 
rie gang, afterwards known as the outlaws. The gang 
at this time was composed of Stephen, Thomas and 
Henry Berry Lowrie, Andrew and Boss Strong, George 
Applewhite, Shoemaker John, William Chavis, Hender- 
son and Calvin Oxendine, Zack McLauchlin and John 

They had been concealed near the house all day, 
watching for Sheriff King. Late in the afternoon King 


returned from the village, and while seated at his fire- 
side, part of the band entered his house with the inten- 
tion (it is supposed) of robbing the Sheriff. Henry Ber- 
ry, who led the van, approached him with his gun pre- 
sented, and demanded of the Sheriff his money. Had 
he complied with the bandit's demand, his life would 
probably have been spared; but King instantly sprang 
up and seized the gun of the robber chief, and refused 
to give up his money. It has been admitted that the 
intention of the gang was merely to get money, and not 
to kill the Sheriff. The impression was that he had a 
large amount of money on his person or in his house, 
but they were sadly disappointed, as will be shown 

In the scuffle that ensued between the robber chief- 
tain and the Sheriff, the gun was discharged, the con- 
tents passing through the floor. George Applewhite, 
who was standing on the piazza, near the door, rushed 
to the rescue of his comrade by firing a navy revolver 
at King, the ball taking effect in his back, under the right 
shoulder blade, lodging in the lung. Mr. S. E. Ward, 
a neighbor, was on a visit to the family for the night, 
and at the time the shooting occurred, was sitting by the 
fire near a table. He arose from his seat and raised his 
arm, when John Dial fired at him, the load of shot tak- 
ing effect in his arm and side, inflicting a very painful, 
though not dangerous wound. They then proceeded 
to search the house; breaking open trunks, drawers, &o, 
carrying off a large quantity of wearing apperal, bed- 
clothing and other articles, many of which were after- 
wards found in George Applewhite's house and identi- 
fied as those taken the night of the wounding of the 
Sheriff. Some of the bed clothing was produced as evi- 


dence in the subsequent trial of the parties for the mur- 
der of Sheriff King, and indeed was one of the strongest 
links in the evidence against them. The robbers had 
disguised themselves by blacking their faces, &c, and 
consequently escaped detection by the family or Mr. W. 
Taking advantage of the confusion and fright their ap- 
pearance and outrages had occasioned, they made well 
their escape. 

Physicians were immediately summoned, who care- 
fully examined the wounded men, and pronounced Mr. 
Ward's case not at all serious, but not so Sheriff King's. 
The deadly weapon in the hands of the fell assassin had 
made sure its aim and entered a vital part. The 
wounds of the Sheriff were found to be mortal. With 
blanched cheeks and agonized hearts, relatives and 
and friends received this decision of the physicians. The 
fiat had gone forth —Sheriff King must die; he would 
Jive a month, perhaps six weeks. He lingered seven 
weeks and died, such a death! — by the hands of a 
band of desperadoes, in the midst of his family, and at 
his own hearth. Ah! methinks if there is punishment 
greater meted out to one than to another, it will certainly 
be inflicted on those midnight assasins who committed 
crimes of the blackest dye. 

Every effort was made to capture the murderers, but 
without success. The dense swamps of Robeson county 
(impenetrable to all save the outlav/s) afforded them 
protection from justice for some time. After a while, 
however, Henry Berry Lowrie was prevailed upon to 
surrender to Sheriff Howell and Dr. Thomas, Agent of 
the Freedmen's Bureau. John Dial was arrested by 
Deputy Sheriff McDonald. George Applewhite was ar- 


rested at Red Banks; Shoemaker John was also ar- 
rested, and Dial became State's evidence in the murder 
of ex-Sheriff King. Stephen Lowrie, Calvin and Hen- 
derson Oxendine were also arrested and confined in Wil- 
mington jail, tried, convicted ancl sentenced to be 
hanged; but an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court. 
As is often the case, before the decision of said appeal, 
Henry Berry and Steve Lowrie, George Applewhite, 
Henderson and Calvin Oxendine effected an escape 
from jail and took up their abode in the swamps of Robe- 
son county — thence arose the band of outlaws. Their 
escape from the Wilmington jail is, and ever will remain, 
enveloped in mystery to those outside of the parties who 
aided and abetted them. The jail, it must be remem- 
bered, was a very strong one, closely guarded, and the 
jailer residing within its walls, though this is only one 
of the many mysteries connected with the proceedings 

of the "Lowrie Band." 

After Sheriff King was wounded he removed his mon- 
ey from his pocket, placing it under the collar of his 
coat, to prevent the robbers from getting it. He was 
detected in the act by one of the robbers, and they suc- 
ceeded in getting about $155 in currency and $20 in 
gold. At the time they were searching the house, the 
Sheriff was lying in the door beseeching some one to 
give him water. The family had left the premises 
through fright, and not one of that merciless band would 
gratify his request, but heaped curses and abuses on 
him, telling him that he ought to have died long ago, &c. 


In May, 1869, early in the evening, Mr. Bullock was 
surprised by several men disguised as negroes coming 


into his field where he was superintending his farm 
hands. He was an aged veteran of the war of 1812, 
and though he was ninety-five years of age at the time 
of their visit, was able to attend to his farm. One of 
the clan walked up to the old man, and, notwithstanding 
his age and feebleness, jerked him around, ordering him 
to go to the house and give them his money. He told them 
he had no money, but could go to the house with them. 
On their way they had to cross a fence, but did not al- 
low the decrepit old man to get over the fence, but 
pushed him over. When they got to the house they or- 
dered the old gentleman and his wife to go in, and left 
his laborers under guard in the yard. They arrested all 
who chanced to pass the house while they were there, 
and kept them under guard until they left In their 
search they found thirty dollars ($30) in specie belong- 
ing to Mrs. Bullock, which they appropriated. They 
carried off all of his valuable papers, clothing, bed- 
clothing and provisions to a large amount. They found 
a jug of brandy in the house, and before they would 
drink any themselves, compelled the old lady to drink a 
glass of it pure. They, no doubt, thought it was drugged, 
and used this precaution to ascertain. They cursed the 
old people in a shocking manner. You, reader, can pic- 
ture in your own imagination, after reading this one 
short sketch, the character of the gang with whom the 
people of Robeson had to contend. Age and decrepi- 
tude could claim no mercy at their hands, but regardless 
of all — reckless of all save their own inordinate love of 
plunder, they rose up, sometimes in one place to-day, 
ten miles hence to-morrow, casting a shadow, throwing 
a gloom around many a hearth-stone in a large portion 
of Robeson. 



In May, 1869, the robber clan visited the house of Mr. 
McKellar, in his absence, and took three hundred and 
fifty dollars ($350) and some clothing. 


This was the next house they visited in that neighbor- 
hood; they were also in disguise, and armed with dou- 
ble-barreled guns. They rushed into the yard with guns 
presented, and took Mr. Griffin prisoner, at once de- 
manding his money, cursing and using very abusive 
language towards him. There were only three at his 
house; they searched his person, placed one of their 
number to guard him, while the other two proceeded to 
search the house. They took all of his and his wife's 
most valuable clothing and his gun; they afterwards 
threw the gun into the garden and left it. They inquired 
of Mr. G. about his neighbors, the number of men about 
the different houses, their strength of arms, &c. "When 
they started off, they turned to Mr. G. with an oath, and 
told him to stay at home that night, or they would see 
him again if he did not. The wife of Mr. Griffin was so 
badly frightened that she never recovered from the ef- 
fects of it. 


In the year A. D. 1869, the robber gang went to Mr. 
Geo. "Williams' and broke a door down that was on the 
front side of the house, and fired at one of his sons, but 
did not hit him. The family fled, and left the house and 


its contents in their hands; they, however, took nothing 
off. The firing at young Mr. Williams seemed to have 
been merely venting their ire on account of some old 


Among the many families harassed by the "Lowiie 
Band" there were few that suffered to the same extent 
as Mr. W. C. McNeill, one of Robeson's most quiet, inof- 
fensive and law-abiding citizens. Living as he did on 
the very borders of their settlement, he was more fre- 
quently subjected to their insults and depredations than 
those more distant, and being also a well-fo-do farmer, 
his larder and farm-yard possessed for them great at- 
tractions. Mr. McNeill had also incurred their marked 
displeasure by freely expressing his opinion, and treating 
with the utmost contempt this band and all that he knew 
to be its friends. 

Their first visit to his house was in 1869, at which 
time they entered his pantry and dining-room, relieving 
them of all available articles and eatables, which was to 
Mr. McNeill and family a considerable loss. This act of 
lawlessness supplied their homes with many useful arti- 
cles, and themselves with many necessaries and luxuries. 

In the early part of 1870 they again entered his din- 
ing-room (which had been refurnished) and stripped it as 
before of every available article. On this visit they at- 
tempted an entrance to his smoke-house by digging un- 
derneath it aud trying to open it with false keys (having 
a goodly number of them), but failing to effect an en- 
trance here, they quietly left, no doubt to attempt it 
somewhere else. 


One night in 1862, Mr. McNeill was out walking in his 
lane. Hearing footsteps in the direction of his barn, and 
suspecting who they were, he hastily concealed himself 
in order to learn their intentions; immediately one man 
walked to the barn and^endeavored to open it. Mr. Mc- 
Neill called out twice to know who they were; receiving 
no answer, he told them if they did not leave, he would 
force them to; one answered, "Do you know to whom 
you are talking?" Recognizing the voice, he made no 
reply, but returned to the house, took his gun, and again 
went out; they in the meantime had left the barn and 
repaired to a corner of the fence nearer the house; as 
Mr. McNeill walked out they halted him; he again asked 
"Who are you?" One, with an oath, cried out, "It is 

Mr. McNeill at once commenced retracing his steps 
into the house, when they fired at him; the contents of 
the gun passed him, lodging in the breast of his beauti- 
ful daughter and accomplished wife, inflicting painful 
though not dangerous wounds. Mrs. McNeill and her 
daughter were standing on the piazza anxiously watch- 
ing the husband and father when the shot was fired. 
On the following day Henry Berry Lowrie visited Moss 
Neck, a depot on the Carolina Central Railway, and 
within a few hundred yards of Mr. McNeill's residence; 
he denied all knowledge of the shooting, and expressed 
great indignation at the guilty parties for having shot 
two ladies; he sent for Mr. McNeill to go to the depot; 
he wanted to tell him that he did not do it, but he (Mr. 
McNeill) refused to see or to have anything to say to 

On the next day he again visited Moss Neck, and was 
under the influence of liquor; he seemed to be excited, 


and several times asserted that he did shoot at Mr. Mc- 
Neill and tried his best to kill him. 

Their visits to this family did not cease; frequently 
they made raids on their fowl-house, helping themselves 
lavishly to all it contained. On their return from one 
of these raids they called at Mr. Dougald McCormick's, 
passing themselves for a squad of men in search of the 
outlaws, and requested him to accompany them; he, 
not being satisfied as to their identity, made some ex- 
cuse to remain at home; they then gave him a bucket, 
demanding some flour; he gave them some, and they 
went off, making no further demands. 


On the night of the 19th of March, A. D. 1870, a 
quarter to 9 o'clock, Mr. Norment was shot in his yard, 
only a few feet from the door. The party who com- 
mitted this deed had stationed themselves at each cor- 
ner of the house, and had entered the yard by taking 
down the palings of the enclosure, just large enough for 
one man to crawl through at a time. I suppose the fam- 
ily would have heard the noise of the drawing out of the 
palings had it not been for the noise of the children 
frolicking with their father at the time. Circumstances 
seemed to favor them on this occasion. With the laugh- 
ter of innocence ringing in their ears, they took their 
positions to commit the deed so horrible to relate. Mr. Nor- 
ment was in the habit of putting his children to sleep by 
telling them little nursery stories, and took them to the bed 
nearest the murderer for this purpose, little thinking so 
soon his home would be made desolate, and the place 


desecrated, yet made memorable to his stricken family 
by the life-blood of the husband and father. The fiend 
who stood there and listened to the merry laughter and 
innocent prattle of his little ones, with the dark purpose 
in his heart of taking from them their kind and loving 
father in so cruel a manner, must have had a heart of 
adamant, or he would have yielded to the gentle influ- 
ence, and turned from so bad a design. But no; he stood 
there nursing the resolve that would blacken his soul 
with crime, and doom him to a punishment as only such 
criminals merit at the hands of an avenging God. Af- 
ter the children were quietly shtmbering, he arose and 
took a seat by the fire, conversing for a short time, when 
he remarked to his wife, in a low tone, that he heard a 
noise. She replied that she had dropped a hair-pin on 
the hearth, and supposed that was the noise he heard. 
He said no, it was not that, but expressed no uneasi- 
ness. In a short time he opened the door and stepped 
out, leaving it open. His wife was looking out at the 
door and saw the flash of the gun pass. Simultaneously 
he groaned, and she sprang to the door screaming; she 
has no recollection of hearing the report of the gun. When 
she saw the flash of the gun, she comprehended in an 
instant the situation of her husband, but thought that he 
had been shot down in the yard, and her intention was 
to get to him; but he had not fallen. After going into 
the yard he thought he heard a footstep, and turned to 
go in the house, when they fired; he leaped to the door, 
where he was met by his wife just in the act of falling, 
when she caught and pulled him into the house. He 
whispered to her to close and fasten the door, and hand 
him his rifle, as they might attempt to enter and com- 
plete their bloody work. She did as he desired, and 


kneeling by him, supported him, in order that he might 
have both hands in the use of his gun, and in case they 
entered, he might at least kill one. She continued 
screaming until her father (Mr. J. D. Bridgers), with sev- 
eral members of his family, got there. On getting to the 
door and finding it fastened, they called to her to open 
it. Knowing her support was necessary to the comfort 
of her husband, she replied she could not; whereupon, 
they burst it open and rushed in, finding them in the situ- 
ation described. They at once inquired of Mr. Nor- 
ment how he did it, thinking he accidentally wounded 
himself. He soon explained. Mr. J. D. Bridgers and 
his son, John Bridgers, started in pursuit of the perpe- 
trators; they had only gone a short distance when Mr. 
Norment requested some one present to go and tell them 
to return, as they were risking their lives without a prob- 
ability of coming up with them. They returned, and after 
placing Mr. N. in a more comfortable position and 
binding up the wound, one of his brothers-in-law (J. T. 
Bridgers) started for Dr. John Dick, who lived about four 
miles distant, at the same time dispatching a negro boy 
for Dr. R. M. Norment, a brother of Mr. Norment, who 
was also a physician, living in Lumberton, a distance of 
fourteen miles. When they were momentarily expecting 
the arrival of Dr. Dick, they were again startled by the 
loud report of a gun in less than a mile on the road 
which the doctor would come. The family were fear- 
ful that they had fired on the doctor to prevent his com- 
ing to the sufferer's relief. After a lapse of about an 
hour and a half, the doctor came, accompanied by J. F. 
and T. C. Bridgers, reporting that three-fourths of a 
mile above the house a man stepped from behind a tree 
and shot the mule; that they jumped out, in their haste 


and excitement leaving the medicine in the buggy. As 
they crossed the road to the opposite side from where 
the man was standing who did the shooting, they passed 
in arm's length of two others. A negro, who was at the 
house of Mr. Norment when the doctor came, volunteer- 
ed to go for the medicine if Mr. Bridgers would lend him 
a gun. The guu was furnished, and he, with three others, 
started after the medicines. A short distance from the 
house of Mr. Norment, one of the negroes stated that he 
saw a woman, or man dressed in women's clothes, run 
from the road into the bushes. The supposition was 
that it was either the wife or mother of some one of the 
number who did the shooting at Mr. Norment's. The 
negroes returned just before daylight with the medicines, 
reporting the mule dead, and the parties near the place, 
as they had distinctly heard voices close by. They no 
doubt expected John Bridgers to go for the medicine, 
and in case that he did they would murder him also, 
as they openly declared that it was their intention to 
shoot both Mr. Norment and John Bridgers on that 
night They had both been very active in attempting 
the capture of the murderers of ex-Sheriff King, and for 
thus transgressing the assumed rights of the murderous 
gang their lives were to be the forfeit. Drs. R. F. 
Lewis and R. M. Norment reached Mr. Norment's 
about 4 o'clock in the morning. They, with the assist- 
ance of Drs. Dick and Barnes, proceeded to examine the 
wound, and pronounced amputation necessary, as the 
bones of the right leg were completely shattered. About 
5 o'clcck in the afternoon the operation was completed, 
and Mr. N. was found to be in almost a dying condition, 
from which he revived for a few hours. From the 
shock, loss of blood, and the use of chloroform, all com- 


bined, reaction never took place, and he expired a 
quarter to 7 o'clock the morning of the 21st, living 
about thirty-six hours after he was wounded. 

This diabolical deed spread gloom and terror through- 
out the community, and may well be said to have been 
the beginning of the war in Robeson county with the 
Lowrie Banditti. For weeks and months the citizens of 
this county slept with their guns by their sides; the 
young men, armed and equipped, went forth in search 
of the vile desperadoes; with steady tramp and hushed 
voices they traversed the country for miles, but with 
little or no success. 

I will here state the true causes which led to the shoot- 
ing of Mr. Norment. After the surrender he was com- 
missioned captain of the militia. The robber clan had 
then been operating in the county about two years, rob- 
bing and plundering at their pleasure — unmolested. 
After the murder of Sheriff King, Mr. Norment received 
orders to take out a portion of the militia and endeavor 
to capture his murderers, which he did, but was unsuc- 
cessful. He also had orders to arrest Zack McLaughlin 
on the charge of stealing. On taking him to trial, suffi- 
cient evidence not being elicited against him, he was re- 
leased. Although he knew Mr. Norment acted under or- 
ders, it did not tend to quell the revengeful ire of his na- 
ture, and he determined to kill him. Sometime prior to 
this Andrew Strong had been arrested by Mr. N. for rob- 
bing the gin-house of Mr. John Purcell; he was also re- 
leased on the same grounds. These two were the principal 
actors in this deed of blood, urged on by others of their 

Mr. Norment was a mechanic by trade. Those in the 
vicinity where he lived can testify to his usefulness. 



A few weeks after the murder of Mr. Norment four of 
the robber clan were discovered making an entrance in- 
to the enclosure of Mr. Bridgers; two of his sons, John 
and A. C. Bridgers, fired on them from the windows, 
and they hastily retired without doing any damage. 
They were often around the premises for the purpose, 
as they afterwards declared, of shooting his sons above 
named, as they had been active in attempting their cap- 
ture. For this purpose they visited his house on the 
17th of August, 1870, after dark; they made various 
noises around the yard, hoping to draw them out, but 
they did not succeed. The Messrs. Bridgers know 
ing the superiority of the number of the gang (about 
fifteen) with whom they had to contend, and 
hearing them at different points around the yard, kept 
within doors, impatiently waiting for them to come in 
closer quarters. The robber gang having been informed 
that their opponents here were well prepared to meet them, 
and that they would have bloody work should they ever 
enter the yard, concluded on this occasion to satiate 
their thirst for blood, and also to vent their spite in an- 
other quarter. Zack McLaughlin remarked to the gang, 
"Well, boys, we have come to-night for blood, and must 
not be disappointed, we'll shoot the old man's cattle." 
According, they passed on to the cow-lot, and com- 
menced shooting in a shocking manner the harmless 
brutes. The Messrs. Bridgers fired on them from the 
house, but the night being extremely dark, could only 
tell of their whereabouts by the flash of their guns; they 
fired only a few times after the boys opened on them; 
they then retired, leaving two cows shot down and sev- 


eral others badly wounded. This cruel, inhuman act 
shows in a proper light the character of the fiends with 
whom the people of Robeson had to contend. 

Just after the robbers commenced firing on the cattle, 
the family learned from the simultaneous flashing of their 
guns that their number was more than they at first an- 
ticipated. They concluded to blow the trumpet, hoping 
that some of their neighbors might hear and come to their 
aid; as soon as the first sound of the trumpet rent the 
air, the robbers fired more rapidly, fiercely yelling, at 
the same time the dogs barking, and the firing going on 
from the house making quite a discordant sound. The 
excitement for a short time is past description. Their 
next visit to Mr. Bridgers' was on the 14th day of July, 1871, 
the same day on which they sent Mr. McNair with the 
letter to Col. Sinclair and Sheriff McMillan, orderingthe 
release of their wives, who were kept in confinement 
in Lumberton, for the purpose, as it is said, of "starving 
out the outlaws." Such a thing, though, was preposter- 
ous, for they certainly had many friends, white and col- 
ored, that aided them at any time and in any way de- 
sired. They came to Mr. Bridgers' about 12 o'clock; 
they ate dinner, and conducted themselves very quietly. 
Steve Lowrie did not come until after the others had 
eaten; he came up picking his "banjo" and singing, 
seemed in excellent spirits. The five desperadoes, heav- 
ily armed with repeaters, bowie-knives, double-barreled 
guns and Spencer rifles, until they were burdensome to 
carry, formed really a formidable looking party. They 
all started to meet Mr. McNair about 4 o'clock in the 
afternoon; they did not go far before they met him; he 
delivered them Col. Sinclair's reply, which seemed in 
no wise to suit their wishes. With an angry scowl they 


perused each line, and the deep, dark anger which set- 
tled in their faces reminded one of the heavy mutterings 
that precede the thunder storm, and, no doubt, would 
have fallen in all its fury on many an innocent head 
but for the timely interposition of some of our grey- 
headed citizens, who succeeded in getting those in 
authority to release the wives of the desperadoes. The 
last visit of the entire band to Mr. Bridgers' was in 
August, 1871. Several of the neighbors were there 
working on his gins; among them was Mr. Thomas Bul- 
lard, whom H. B. Lowrie had determined to kill; he 
went there on this occasion, as he openly avowed to a 
gentleman on his way, for this purpose. The cause of 
his animosity to Mr. B. was this: He, in company with 
Boss Strong, had met Messrs. Bullard and Holcomb a 
few days before, and gave them positive commands not 
to mention seeing them to any one; they mentioned it to 
some one, and it finally reached the ears of Henry Berry, 
and for this reason only he determined to kill him. He 
told Mr. Bullard to walk with him a short distance, as he 
wanted to talk with him privately; they walked off about 
a hundred yards and sat down; in a few minutes som; 
of the young men followed, and learned that H. B. Low- 
rie was very much enraged with Mr. B., and that his 
anger must in some way be appeased, or another victim 
would also be added to the list already on record against 
him. The gentlemen were unarmed, and therefore 
helpless to give any aid by force of arms; two of the 
gentlemen present affirmed that they had been with Mr. 
B. the day after he had seen H. B. L., and he did not 
mention seeing him at all, and that he had been misin- 


formed, &c. This quieted him somewhat, and he con- 
cluded to release him for the present, provided he would 
be more careful in the future. 


On the third Sabbath in May, 1870, they went to the 
house of Mr. Fulmore during the absence of the family 
at church. There was a negro left in charge of the 
house, and he had fallen asleep; he was aroused from 
his nap by four armed men in disguise. They went in- 
to the dwelling, broke open trunks, drawers, &c, ran- 
sacked the house, and carried off a large amount in val- 
uable articles and money. Mr. Robert Chaffin and wife 
were on a visit to Mr. Fulmore at the time, but had also 
gone to church, leaving their trunk there; this they en- 
tered, taking a suit of Mr. Chaffin's, a watch-case, key 
and some very valuable papers that were in the trunk. 
They did not trouble Mrs. Chaffin's clothing beyond 
robbing the pocket of a dress of a small pen-kr;ife. 


On Sunday morning, 12th of September, 1870, five of 
these desperadoes made their appearance at the house 
of Mr. McMillan. The Messrs. McMillan were at the 
gin-house near the dwelling, engaged in making a coffin 
for a child of one of their neighbors, when they ap- 
proached them in their usual disguise as negroes. They 
at once took them prisoners and marched them into the 
kitchen, placed them under guard of one of their num- 
ber, while the others searched the house. Breakfast 


"for the family was on the table, to which their guard 
quietly helped himself. They robbed the house of a 
large quantity of bed-clothing, wearing apparel, guns, 
pistols, and five dollars in money. They presented a 
gun at the breast of Mr. Alexander McMillan, and curs- 
ed both him and his sister in a shameful manner. The 
Messrs. McMillan had been expecting a visit from the 
robbers for some time, and were in the constant habit 
of keeping their guns with them, but it being the Sab- 
bath day, omitted their usual precaution. The robbers 
no doubt had been watching their opportunity, and took 
advantage of their separation from their arms that morn- 
ing to put their plans into execution. They rushed first 
into the house and got possession of their guns and pis- 
tols, and then there was no difficulty in deterring them 
from anything like resistance. They came after this, 
and robbed his smoke-house of four or five hundred 
pounds of bacon. The Messrs. McMillan discovered 
them at another time inside their enclosure, and fired 
upon them; the robbers returned the fire without any 
damage. Scarcely a week passed up to this time with- 
out some citizen of Robeson being robbed; no matter 
how cautious, watchful and circumspect the people 
were, at an unwary hour the fiends would suddenly 
fall upon them, and before they could realize their sit- 
uation or prepare for defense, have them unarmed and 
helpless, unable to raise a hand in defense of their 


Thursday the 4th day of August, 1870, dawned bright 
and beautiful. The sun shot up from beyond the 


eastern horizon, and shone as it were with increased 
brilliancy, and "nature in her glory smiled." That day 
was to decide the great political contest between the 
two parties of North Carolina. The last month had 
been one of great excitement, and was said to have wit- 
nessed the liveliest campaign that had ever taken place 
in the State, but it was over; the speakers had retired 
from the field, and all was quiet. Every effort had 
been made by the good people of Robeson county to 
throw off the yoke of Radical tyranny that had been for 
the past five years galling them so bitterly. Here the 
true citizens were fully aroused to their duty, as well as 
interest, and resolved to discharge that duty, they 
went to the polls determined to elect good men — men 
that would adhere strictly to a just administration of 
the law, and aid them in bringing to justice the band of 
murderers that cut off so many of her best men, and re- 
store the peace and quiet of former years. 

These dastardly thieves, taking advantage of the nec- 
essary absence of the voters from their homes, planned 
and perpetrated one of the coolest and most daring rob- 
beries that ever shocked a community. "While Mr. E. 
H. Paul, a young man who then resided in Alfordsville 
Township, and who ow T ned a store and turpentine dis- 
tillery, was absent at the polls, they went to his house 
and demanded of his sister the key that opened the 
store; she having thrown it away when she saw them 
coming, replied that she did not have it; whereupon 
they arrested her and her cousin, Mr. Richard Paul, 
and all the domestics, put them in the kitchen, placed a 
guard at the door, and proceeded to the store. One 
of the party (who was afterwards ascertained to have 
been Saunders, the. detective) took a key from his pocket 


and opened the door. They then seized such things as 
they wanted, which consisted of dry goods and grocer- 
ies, to a large amount. Taking the mule and cart of 
Davis Bullard (who had arrived while they were plun- 
dering, and had been put with others under guard), they 
conveyed their booty to some place where it was re- 
ceived by their allies and conveyed away; returning the 
mule and cart, they coolly took their departure. Steve 
Lowrie was recognized as one of the plundering party 
by one of those placed under guard. 


On the 3rd day of October, A. D. 1870, the whole 
band of outlaws, together with four other men, all 
blacked and disguised, made their appearance at the 
residence of Mrs. William McKay, near Floral College, 
in the hope of finding Mr. John Taylor there, as he had 
spoken of going to Mrs. McKay's to live, she being his sis- 
ter; and as he had been recently burnt out at Moss 
Neck by the outlaws, they supposed that he had already 
moved, but in this they were disappointed; Mr. John 
Taylor was not there. Six of the number were stationed 
outside of the yard, whilst the other five rushed in at 
the gate, shooting a large Newfoundland dog as they 
went along. Entering the main residence they went 
through where the family of Mrs. McKay were at the 
time. On seeing them, Mrs. McKay ran to see where 
her children were. The outlaws ordered her to stop, 
bringing their guns to bear upon her; she told them that 
she only wanted to gather her children up, as any good 
mother would have done. They then put the family 


under arrest, the negroes fleeing in every direction. 
Leaving one of their number to guard Mrs. McKay and 
family, the rest commenced ransacking the house, first 
taking the jewelry, then every other thing of value, in- 
cluding bed-clothes and wearing apparel. After getting 
through, they told Miss Pattie McKay (a step-daughter 
of Mrs. McKay) that she must play some on the piano- 
forte for them, which she did, in order to keep them in 
a good humor; after she finished playing for them one 
of them told her that she had a gold ring on her finger 
which he wanted, and that she must give it up; she 
readily pulled the ring off and tossed it to him, remark- 
ing that he was cruel. Considering that the outlaws 
were just from the brandy still of Mr. Angus Leach, 
a near neighbor of Mrs. McKay's, and had taken a con- 
siderable quantity of brandy from the still, aid consid- 
ering, too, that they all loved brandy, and that a goodly 
number of them were drunk, it is surprising that they 
behaved as well as they did at Mrs. McKay's; they of- 
fered no insult to either her or family, except arrest- 
ing and holding them under arrest until they had plun- 
dered her house; they remarked to her on leaving that 
they needed everything that they had taken, that they 
had to live as well as other people, etc. 

Reader, imagine a highly cultivated widow lady, with 
her two little boys and an accomplished step-daughter, 
under the arrest of drunken outlaws, and you have the 
situation ! Some time elapsed afte^ the outlaws left Mrs. 
McKay's ere she could get a negro to carry a note to 
one of her neighbors, informing them of her situation. 
How true it is that no one knows what a day may bring 




On the morning of Oct. 4th, 1870, the entire band of 
outlaws visited the premises of Mr. Angus Leach, near 
Floral College. He hah a brandy still, and distilled for 
the neighborhood. From this fact it was afterwards 
known as the "Brandy Raid." After placing a guard 
over Mr. Leach, they proceeded to help themselves to 
anything they could find, and the brandy especially; of 
this they carried off a large quantity. On the same day 
the news of the affair reached Maxton, Capt. Murdock 
McLean gathered together seven or eight men and went 
in pursuit of the robbers by way of the Lumberton 
road on the other side of Lumber River from Mr. 
Leach's. This movement took the outlaws by surprise, 
as they did not expect any one to be after them on that 
side of the river. It was on this side of the river that 
George Applewhite lived, and the robbers called up 
at his house to have a "good time" over the captured 
brandy. About this time Capt. McLean, with his squad, 
arrived. The outlaws ran into an old pine field near 
by, and endeavored to conceal and protect themselves 
by getting the stumps and bushes between them and the 
militia. The firing now began in real earnest. Dur- 
ing the fire Stephen Davis rusherd into the midst of the 
robbers, and Henry Berry shot him in the head, wound- 
ing him mortally. Mr. Davis did not fall, but reeled 
and staggered off into the river swamp near by, and 
was reported among the wounded and missing. Angus 
McLean swam the river and got to Mr. Gilbert's house, 
he being slightly wounded in the foot. This was, as I 


before stated, October 4th, 1870. Next morning, the 5th, 
search was made for Mr. Davis, but he could not be 
found; all who were engaged in the fight were sure that 
Davis was wounded, as they saw him turn his head to 
one side when fired upon by H. B. Lowrie. A messen- 
ger was dispatched to Maxton, his place of business, to 
ascertain if he had arrived, but found he had not. 

Sheriff McMillan having received intelligence of this 

affair, came to the Red Banks with five or six men, who 
joined him on his way; he reached the Banks at 3 

o'clock the morning after the fight. Nothing could be 
done towards searching for the wounded — perhaps dy- 
ing— man before daylight. All were satisfied that he 
was killed, mortally wounded or captured by the out- 
laws. He was found at 10 o'clock the day after the 
fight, in the river swamp, lying on his face in the mud, 
unconscious and nearly famished, not having drauk 
any water since the evening before. He was taken to 
the house of Mr. Roberts, where medical attention was 
given him, but to no purpose; the fatal shot had pene- 
trated the brain of the brave and gallant Davis —he 
who had stood the storm of shot ai.d shell on many a 
battle-field, to be slain by the hands of a robber and 
midnight assassin. Mr. Davis was placed on the cars 
and conveyed to Maxton, where all that kind friends 
and physicians could do was done, but it was of no 
avail; he could not be aroused from the lethargy into 
which he had fallen, and he passed quietly away to the 
spirit land. A brave, daring man, in his death Robeson 
county lost one of her best and most noble citizens. 



On the morning of the 8th of October, 1870, the dead 
body of one Malcomb Sanderson was found near the 
saw mill of Mr. William C. McNeill, of the county of 
Robeson. An inquest was held over his body by Coro- 
ner Robert Chaffin, and the verdict was, "Deceased 
came to his death by gun-shot wounds from parties un- 

Mr. McNeill's son-in-law, Mr. John Taylor, was living 
with him at the time, and had been persecuted by An- 
drew Strong and others of the Lowrie band for the rea- 
son that he would not aid them in their atrocious 
crimes. He was the victim upon whom they determined 
to fix this murder. They therefore set about arranging 
their plans, and by some means succeeded in fixing the 
crime upon Mr. Taylor. A warrant was forthwith is- 
sued for his arrest, and he was brought before a Justice 
of the Peace, arraigned and tried for the murder of said 
Sanderson, and found guilty by said Justice of the 
Peace. Mr. Taylor's friends (and he had many) were 
indignant at the idea of such an outrage, and immedi- 
ately determined to have him released on a writ of 
habeas corpus. The ^Sheriff, Roderick McMillan, car- 
ried him to Rockingham, in Richmond county (Court 
being in session at that place) before his Honor Judge 
Russell, who, upon investigating the case, released him 
upon Mr. Taylor's giving a bond for his personal ap- 
pearance at the next term of court held for Robeson 
county in the sum of five hundred dollars, and Mr. Tay- 
lor returned to his distressed family. His enemies not 
being satisfied in their efforts to deprive him of his liber- 
ty, set about the second time to annoy hirn. One Mar- 


tin Ransom sued out a peace warrant against him, and 
he was re-arrested and arraigned before a magistrate 
again, who bound him in a heavy bond to keep the 
peace. One of Mr. Taylor's friends endeavored to com- 
promise the affair, but did not succeed in effecting any- 
thing, and Mr. Taylor must await his trial at the next 
term of the court. After refusing to comply with Mr. 
Taylor's terms of compromise, Martin Ransom returned 
home, and, it is supposed, held a conference with the 
outlaws, who must have given him an inkling of their 
intentions, for he retraced his steps to Lumberton and 
withdrew the warrant. Not exceeding three days there- 
after, in going from his home to the depot at Moss Neck 
Mr. Taylor received his death wounds from the hands 
of Henry Berry Lowrie, Stephen Lowrie and Boss 
Strong, who, from the side of the mill-dam, fired on him, 
the entire load from one of their weapons passing through 
his head, scattering his brains and sending them floating 
on the waters of the pond. Thus fell at the hands of 
these fiends incarnate another of Robeson county's high- 
toned, noble sons, leaving a young wife and one son to 
mourn for him. My pen almost fails to be guided to re- 
cord the atrocious deed. At the time Mr. Taylor was 
killed there was a detachment pf Battery A, 4th U. S. 
Artillery, stationed within two hundred yards of the 
spot where Mr. Taylor fell. Right here a very natural 
question arises, viz: Why this detachment allowed such 
a crime to be perpetrated in broad open daylight, and 
so near them? 

Perhaps those soldiers can best answer, but we will 
take the liberty, notwithstanding, of saying they were 
well pleased, if not aiders and abettors in all the deep, 
dark wrongs committed against the people of Robeson 


county by that band of desperadoes that so long infest- 
ed our country, making the hearts of her sons and 
daughters to throb with anguish, and weep tears that 
naught can ever dry. 


In the year A. D. 1869, in the month of November, 
John Sanders, a police officer from Boston, and a native 
of Nova Scotia, at the instance of some leading Conser- 
vatives in Robeson countv, settled in Scuffletown, and 
commenced teaching the Indian children how to spell 
and read. To cover up and conceal his design he was 
accredited by the Sheriff of New Hanover county to 
some of the leading Republicans of the county. John 
Sanders' scheme of capturing the outlaws was a shrewd 
one. Aware that they were anxious to leave their old 
haunts and the swamps of Robeson, and get safely out 
of the States to Mexico or to the frontier, he proposed to 
show them the way, assume to be their protector and 
friend, and had prepared a wagon, and on the 19th of No- 
vember, 1870, had the wagons packed with their families 
the outlaws having fully agreed to slip off with them 
under the cover of darkness, Sanders having ar- 
ranged beforeharid to have them intercepted at some 
designated point in Georgia. To bind the Scuffletonians 
to his confidence by extraordinary means, he pretended 
to organize Masonic lodges throughout Scuffletown 
whilst teaching school. He spent over twelve months in 
persevering cunning to win the skeptical hearts of the ban- 
dits, and in order to appease the white population, told 
the uninitiaiedthat he was a veritable Ku Klux. He got 


into several fisticuff fights with white men, about his 
manner and mode of living, on account of his living 
among the Scuffletonians and teaching school among 

Sanders was a large, portly man, of great muscular 
power, possessing a kind, benignant look, a high, broad 
forehead, winning manners, with much keenness of ap- 
prehension and undoubted boldness. But he was be- 
trayed, and there is reason to believe that his fate is to 
be attributed to the want of due caution on the part of 
some one who had learned his purposes. He died as he 
had lived — in mystery and out of the reach or sight of 
pitying man. He was taken captive by H. B. Lowrie 
and the other bandits on the morning of November 21st, 
A.. D. 1870,in a bay near the residence of W.C. McNeill, 
and was never again seen by mortal eyes except by the 
outlaws. On the night previous to his capture H. B. 
Lowrie and his associates had fifty-six of the Indians 
of Scuffletown as accomplices, guarding the roads to 
give the signal when Sanders would enter their lines, 
and when poor Sanders entered their lines he heard the 
rough word, "Halt!" Almost immediately the voice of 
Sanders was heard by some other white prisoners say- 
ing, "I surrender." The outlaws then marched Sanders 
off to a secret camp on the Back Swamp, called the 
"Devil's Deer," (den) between Inman's bridge and the 
Back Swamp, not far from the residence of Zach T. 
McLaughlin, and proceeded forthwith with devilish 
malignity to torture him by firing volleys over his head, 
bruising him with gun-stocks and clubs, and finally by 
administering doses of arsenic to him and opening his 
veins with a pen-knife. For three days, or until Thurs- 
day, these horrible wretches surrounded their white 


victim, their dull blue eyes calmly enjoying his agonies, 
and he was reminded every hour that escape or mercy 
were hopeless, or at least out of the question. 

The fortitude and philosophy of Sanders gained the 
respect of his murderers, and before carrying his sen- 
tence into execution they permitted him to write a fare- 
well letter to his wife and family, which they posted by 
mail with a sort of grim and military observance of jus- 
tice. Human or savage nature seldom presents a picture 
so atrocious as this of Sanders, guarded in the wild 
swamps of Carolina, but almost within the sound of 
Christian firesides, looking into inevitable and violent 
death after days of pain. The object of keeping San- 
ders alive so long has never been explained. Whether 
due to divided counsels or love of persecuting him while 
still alive, or the desire to wrest information from him, 
has been, and ever will remain, in doubt and shrouded 
in mystery. To die thus miserably in the swamps of 
Scuffletown, among the human moccasins that infested 
it, was indeed a miserable death. On Thursday night 
the outlaws told Sanders that his time had come, and 
they blindfolded his eyes and tied him to a tree. He made 
a few words of prayer and gave a signal, and Steve Low- 
rie, the meanest of the outlaws, emptied both barrels of 
his shot-gun into the body of the poor, helpless John 

The end of the unfortunate Sanders was related by 
Henderson Oxendine, one of the outlaws, prior to his 
execution, and was fully confirmed afterwards by Hen- 
ry Berry Lowrie, who told several white men in the 
county that "they were compelled to kill Sanders in or- 
der to save themselves; that they all pitied him," &c. 
After the hanging of Henderson Oxendine, a party of 


twenty-five soldiers and citizens, led by Major Thomas 
and Lieutenants Howe and Simpson followed the direc- 
tions given by Oxendine in his confession, and without 
difficulty, found the camp where Sanders had been con- 
fined. It was in the thickest part of Back Swamp, on 
an oak island, and scattered around were the spade and 
some cooking utensils. They proceeded to search for 
the remains, and found them decently wrapped in a 
blanket, with the hands folded in a dignified manner, 
and the daguerreotype of the murdered man's wife rev- 
erently placed upon his breast. The cool particulari- 
ties and deliberation make the tragedy even more hein- 
ous by the awe which they inspired; it was murder with 
the appearance of sovereignty and martial right. No 
crime known to modern society presents such dark fea- 
tures as the killing of Sanders, and to this day the peo- 
ple of Robeson turn pale at the bloody reminiscence. 
This occurrence will frighten the rising generation of 
Carolina for the century to come. The remains of the 
unfortunate John Sanders were decently re-interred in a 
neat coffin by the Sheriff of the county. 
Peace to his ashes ! 


It being positively ascertained that McLaughlin be- 
longed to the robber clan, and accompanied them in all 
their predatory visits in the neighborhood, the Sheriff, 
Roderick McMillan, summoned his posse and went to his 
house to arrest and carry him before a Justice of the 
Peace for trial. Zack not being aware that his com- 
plicity with the "gang" was known, generally remained 
at the house of his mother in the day, and at night-fall 


sallied forth to join his chosen comrades. The Sheriff 
had no difficulty in finding and arresting him. The 
premises were searched, but there was nothing found 
that could be identified; he, however, was carried to 
Red Banks, tried, and proven guilty of robbing the house 
of a Mr. Register in the neighborhood; although black- 
ed at the time, he was recognized by a young lady visi- 
tor, who appeared as a witness against him at the time of 
trial. He was then taken to Lumberton and lodged in 
jail; he soon made his escape and entered the band in 
good earnest. He was recognized as one of the party 
who robbed the house of Mr. Zach. Fulmore. It be- 
coming a certain fact that he really belonged to the 
band, he was outlawed by the proper authorities, and 
killed by Henry Biggs under the following circumstan- 
ces : On the night of the 21st of December, 1870, Biggs 
met McLaughlin at the house of Mr. Noah Duncan. 
After supper he asked Biggs to walk out with him, 
which he did; after going some distance from the house, 
McLaughlin drew a pistol on Biggs and commenced curs- 
ing him, telling him that he had tried to persuade him 
long enough to join their band, and that he should compel 
him that night to go and aid him in robbing some cab- 
ins belonging to turpentine hands in the neighborhood. 
Biggs being unarmed, had no choice but to accompany 
him. The negroes were all sleeping soundly, and Zach. 
had no difficulty in appropriating to himself such arti- 
cles as he thought proper. He left their cabins minus 
clothing, a watch, carpet-sack, boots, shoes, provisions, 
&c. He was drunk, and did not go far before he com- 
plained of being sleepy and very much fatigued; he or- 
dered Biggs to kindle a fire, which he proceeded to do, 
followed up by Zack. with a drawn revolver in his 


hand. As soon as the fire was made, Zach. lay down 
(making Biggs lie down with him) with his gun under his 
head, and a belt around his waist with three large sized 
pistols in it. Soon he was snoring loudly. Biggs con- 
cluded that the time was at hand to put an end to the 
life of one of the villains of Robeson. Reaching over 
he gently withdrew a pistol from his belt, and putting 
the muzzle to the back of the outlaw's head, fired, the 
ball passing through and coming out near the eye. 
Biggs leaped over the body and fired again, the ball 
coming through near the ear. Biggs took his arms and 
concealed them in the woods, then reported to a Justice 
of the Peace. A party going out and identifying the 
body, the reward of two hundred dollars offered by 
the county was paid over to Biggs. 

The reader will recollect that McLaughlin was the 
murderer of Owen C. Norment in March preceding his 
death. He was considered by all who knew him as 
more brutal than any of the gang. He was the first to 
meet his merited fate. 


On Saturday night, February 26th, 1871, the follow- 
ing young men, John S. McNeill, Angus Archie McNeill, 
William McNeill, John K. McNeill, Alexander McNeill, 
Daniel McNeill, Hector McNeill, David McNeill, Archie 
D. McCallum, W. Frierson Buie, Frank McKay, George 
W. McKay, and Archibald Brown, captured Henderson 
Oxendine in the house of his brother-in-law, George 
Applewhite, and formally committed him to jailinLum- 
berton on Monday morning following, showing their 
magnanimity in the act of committing him to jail, for he 


was then an outlaw by the laws of his country. A price 
had been set on his head by the civil authorities on ac- 
count of his many crimes, but these young men were as 
generous as they were brave, and instead of killing him 
outright, delivered him Up to the civil authorities, and 
insisted that he should be regularly tried by court and jury ; 
consequently, on "Wednesday week following he was put 
upon his trial in an open court in Lumberton, before his 
Honor Daniel L. Russell, Jr., and after a fair and impar- 
tial trial, found guilty of the crimes charged to him. 
The Judge then sentenced him to be hanged on the 15th 
of April, which sentence was carried into execution on 
the day appointed inside the jail yard at Lumberton. 

Thus passed away another of the Robeson county out- 
laws, in the 28th year of his age. He was a thick-set, 
but trim, Indian, with straight black hair, and rather an 
indifferent face. He made a full confession of his 
crimes before his execution, and died almost stoically, 
without a sigh. Henderson Oxendine was the only out- 
law that was hanged for being implicated in the mur- 
der of ex-Sheriff King. Steve Lowrie and George Ap- 
plewhite were also found guilty of being implicated in 
that tragedy, but escaped out of jail before sentence 
was passed on them. John Dial, also another Indian, 
outlawed for the same offense, turned State's evidence 
and thus saved his neck although he was equally as guil- 
ty as the others. 


was an old colored man living on the plantation of Mr. 
Sandy McKenzie. He had incurred the wrath of the 
robber clan and their friends, not only by standing aloof 


from them, but also by casting his vote in every election 
with the whites and avowing his principles to be con- 
servative. They commenced annoying the old man by 
stealing his chickens, vegetables, &c. They came to his 
houe early in the spring of 1871, and told him that they 
heard his house was the headquarters of the colored 
soldiers. He told them it was not so; they had spent 
one night there only; that he was from home when they 
came, and on returning at night, found them snugly 
quartered beneath his roof; that he had no authority 
to order them out, and therefore submitted quietly to 
their company. The robbers then said, "You vote with 
white men." He replied, "Yes; I have a right to vote 
as I please, and that is my choice." They accused him 
of telling falsehoods to Mr. J. M. McNair about them. 
This he denied. Old Billy was badly frightened, and 
to set him somewhat at ease, they told him that they 
would not kill him, but intended giving him a good 
whipping. A voice in the dark said, "No, don't whip 
the old man." Boss Strong said, "Yes, and we will 
take his clothes off to do it." H. B. Lowrie ordered 
him whipped with his clothes on, which Boss did, whip- 
ping him severely. He knew four of the crowd to be 
Steve and H. B. Lowrie and the two Strongs; the other 
three he did not recognize. He had a near neighbor, a 
negro, working on the s'ame plantation, by the name of 
Ben Bethea, who was an avowed enemy of Old Billy, 
and who also belonged to the robber clan. He was in- 
strumental in having the old fellow whipped. Some 
time during the following winter, this Bethea was taken 
from his house by a company of armed men and car- 
ried about three miles off and shot. He justly deserved 


the punishment meted out to him. Not only a co-worker 
with the clan, but if any one gave him the slightest cause 
for offence, sought revenge either on their persons or 
property by carrying malicious tales to his confederates 
in crime, thus setting them on to do harm to the offen- 
der. He was a native of South Carolina, and was an 
accomplice in the robbing and burning of the house of 
a widow lady in that State soon after the surrender. 
The authorities attempted to capture him, and he sought 
refuge in Robeson county, joining the robber band, 
where he was finally overtaken, and a just punishment 
for his crimes awarded him. 


In March, 1871, a plan formed for ridding and free- 
ing entirely Robeson county of the Lowrie outlaws was 
entered into by F. M. Wishart, Mudoch A. McLean, 
George L. McKay, Frank McKay, John A. McKay, W. 
H. McCallum, J. Douglas McCallum, Archie D. McCal- 
lum, Archie J. McFadyen, Malcom McNeill, (Greeley) 
and Faulk J. Floyd, and persistently carried out. Arm- 
ing themselves with navy revolvers, Spencer, Henry and 
Winchester guns, .they immediately entered on the cam- 
paign, and went forth to hunt the outlaws in their 
swampy retreats and fastnesses in Scuffletown, deter- 
mined to kill or be killed — determined to vindicate the 
name and fame of their native county. These brave 
spirits under all the discouraging circumstances which 
surrounded them, stood the stalwart braves of our coun- 
ty, like Warsaw's last champion. 


"Oh heavens ! they said, Our bleeding Country save, 
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave? 

What though destruction sweeps these lovely plains, 
Rise, fellow-men ! Our country yet remains; 

By that dread name, we wave the sword on high, 
And swear for her to live, for her to die". 

This was a "dark and doleful period" in the history 
of Robeson county. Some of our best citizens had been 
forced to leave the county simply because they had ta- 
ken a part in ferreting out these outlaws. Our young 
men and old men had been branded abroad as a set of 
cowards; we had become a bye-word and a reproach 
among our sister counties; we had been considered by 
the outer world as colleagues with them in their mur- 
ders, arsons, treason and rebellion. No people in any 
country have been so abused and villified as the citizens 
of Robeson county, simply because they did not rise up 
and extirpate the Lowrie gang. Few men would have 
essayed to do what these noble, heroic men attempted; 
few men would have gone forth voluntarily as they did 
and encountered the perils to which they were exposed 
by day and by night; often were they wearied, often 
did they suffer from hunger, from thirst, from weary 
limbs, aching heads, wet clothes, cold, frost, heat; yet 
on they went tramp, tramp, through midnight darkness, 
through rain, sunshine, through the almost impenetra- 
ble bays and swamps of Scuffletown, encountering the 
frowns of the Indian, the hisses of the negro race, and 
sometimes the scowls of a few of the white race who 
had blaqk hearts ; often they were ridiculed, slurred and 
censured, yet they braved all with courage and forti- 
tude without being moved. On the 8th of April they 
saw at a distance the whole of the outlaw gang, who, 


on perceiving them, made off precipitately into the low 
grounds of Lumber River. On the following Saturday 
night these brave and intrepid men met again at Plain- 
view. Owing to sickness and other causes only five of 
them reported, viz: George L. McKay, Franklin Mc- 
Kay, W. H. McCallum, Archie D. McCallum and J. 
Douglas McCallum; after consultation they determined, 
however, to go to the house of the notorious outlaw, 
George Applewhite, dark as the night was, and wait the 
dawn of day, which was to be the Sabbath. Stationing 
themselves near his residence, on a path leading across 
the Juniper in the direction of the Carolina Central Rail- 
way, they remained there until 4 o'clock p. m., when, to 
their surprise, they saw George Applewhite proceeding di- 
rectly towards them(all was confusion for a few moments), 
whenW. H. McCallum fired upon him from a distance not 
more than twenty paces, the load taking effect in the neck 
of the outlaw; he returned the fire simultaneously, turn- 
ing his back, however. Frank McKay fired on him, 
his load taking effect in his back. George L. McKay 
and J. Douglas McCallum, hearing the clash of arms, 
rose up and also fired on him when near the edge of the 
swamp. Here he reeled and fell. Fearing that the en- 
tire outlaw gang was near at hand, these young men left 
the blood-stained spot, not, however, before they picked 
up a sack containing a hat and a pair of shoes, dropped 
by the outlaw, also the hat he had on when shot. Send- 
ing a messenger to Lumberton after the Sheriff in order 
to deliver the body of the outlaw to him, they separated 
for the night. Returning in the morning with the Sheriff 
and some other gentlemen, the body of George Apple- 


white could nowhere be found, the other outlaws hav- 
ing removed him during the night. 

He was not killed, as was subsequently learned, but 
was seriously wounded, and was kept concealed until 
his wounds healed so that he could travel, when he 
slipped away from the county, not even his comrades, 
the outlaws knowing, his intention. But he made good 
his escape. Subsisting on fruit and watermelons until 
beyond Fayetteville, where he was less afraid of being 
recognized, he began to ask for work and food. Finally 
he reached Goldsboro, where he remained for several 
months — when his whereabouts was discovered. He 
was again arrested and placed in "VVhiteville jail, was 
tried and acquitted under the "Amnesty Act." Thus 
was the gallows cheated, and he whose hand was stain- 
ed with the blood of the good and honorable and aged 
citizens of our cDuntry, given life and liberty. Alas ! for 

It. will be remembered that George Applewhite was 
outlawed for killing ex-Sheriff King, for which crime he 
was twice tried and condemned to be hanged, but his 
counsel taking an appeal to the Supreme Court, he es- 
caped from jail and returned to his former haunts and 
depredation, where he was wounded: and from whence 
he escaped to Goldsboro. 

After the wounding of George Applewhite by these 
young men the bandts became more wary. The hunt 
for them, however, was still kept up by Geo. L. McKay, 
Frank McKay, J. D. McCallum, A. D. McCallum, F. M. 
Wishart, M. McNeill, Archie McFadyen and F. J. Floyd, 
assisted occasionally by Rod. McMillan and A. M. Mc- 
Lean. From sheer fatigue they became exhausted, and 
on the last day of June they came out of Scuffletown, 


and the County Commissioners called out ten men in 
each Township to serve one week by turns, and placed 
the same men under command of F. M. Wishart, mith 
headquarters at Buie's Store in the heart of Scuffletown. 
F. M. Wishart entered on the duty assigned him on 
the 8th of July following, and kept up the pursuit of the 
outlaws unremittedly. On the 10th of July several per- 
sons suspected of harboring and sympathizing with the 
outlaws were arrested by order of the Sheriff, includ- 
ing the wives of H. B. Lowrie, George Applewhite and 
Andrew Strong. The party who arrested the wives 
of the outlaws were fired on from an ambuscade by the 
outlaws when near Buie's Store, immediately on the rail- 
way, and Archibald A. McMillan was instantly killed, 
and Archibald Brown and Hector McNeill were mortal- 
ly wounded, from the effects of which they died next 
morning. Berry Barnes and Alex. Brown were also 
slightly wounded. Notwithstanding these casualties the 
other four men returned the fire and caused the outlaws 
to retreat to the woods. They carried the prisoners in 
triumph and delivered them to Col. F. M. Wishart. On 
the same evening the outlaws engaged a company of 
men under Capt. Charles McRae, at a point on Lumber 
River known as "Wire-Grass Landing," about 5 o'clock 
p. m. 


On the morning of the 10th of July, 1871, a company 
of the militia called out by the Sheriff, consisting of four- 
teen men from Alfordsville and Thompson townships, 
reported to Capt. Wishart for duty at Buie's Store. 
They were ordered to go to the house of Andrew Strong 


and arrest his wife and carry her to a point on the road 
leading from Harper's Ferry to Red Banks Bridge, 
where they were to meet a party that had been sent to 
arrest the wives of Henry B. Lowrie and others of the 
outlaws. They arrested Andrew Strong's wife and 
proceeded with her to the point designated, where they 
waited several hours for the party that was to convey 
her to headquarters, which, through a misunderstanding, 
had gone another way. During the afternoon, as the 
party did not arrive, the Captain detailed four men 
from the company to escort her to said destination. 
The ten men that were left then proceeded to Wire 
Grass Landing, on Lumber River, below Harper's Fer- 
ry Bridge. A short time after they reached this place 
they heard talking near by, and soon discovered that it 
was a party in a boat on the river, and they were com- 
ing towards them. "When they reached a point about 
seventy-five yards above the landing, they stopped. 
They heard them wading in the water, and knew that 
some of the party had left the boat. After remaining 
very quiet for some time, the canoe again started down 
the river, which, on making a short bend, was clearly in 
view. H. B. Lowrie was the only occupant of the 
boat, and as he was greeted by a volley from the guns 
of the militia, he sprang into the water, keeping the canoe 
between him and the enemy as a kind of portable 
breast-work. His firing was harmless, as was much 
from the random shooting of those in the bushes. (Those 
of the party that had gotten out of the boat were con- 
cealed in the bushes). There were four mulattoes with 
the militia; on opening fire they ran, but when ordered 
back obeyed and behaved very quietly throughout the 
fight. The post was held by the militia until their am- 


munition was exhausted and the command given to retire. 
In this fight Mr. Duncan McCormick and Charles Smith 
were wounded, though not seriously. The damage 
done to the outlaws could not be ascertained. 

On the 14th of July following the Lowrie bandits 
went to the r3sidence of Mr. John McNair and behaved 
very insultingly, although Mr. McNair, previous to this 
feud, had often treated them very kindly, frequently 
selling them corn and meat on a credit and waiting pa- 
tiently for his pay. On this day, however, they ordered 
Mr. McNair to write the following note: 

Mr. James Sinclair : If our wives are not released 
and sent home by next Monday morning there will be 
worse times in Robeson county than there ever has been 
yet. We will commence and drench the county in 
blood and ashes. 

( H. B. LOWRIE, 

They then ordered Mr. McNair to hitch his horse to 
his buggy and proceed with it to Lumberton and deliver 
it to James Sinclair, whi:h Mr. McNair did, leaving no 
white person on the place except his wife (Mrs. McNair), 
Arriving at Lumberton about 10 o'clock a. m., Mr. Mc- 
Nair delivered the note to James Sinclair, who, after 
reading it, directed him to hand it to the Sheriff, which 
he did, and after the Sheriff read it, he told Mr. McNair 
to inform the outlaws that the people of Robeson county 
were not to be tampered with in that way, and driven 
by mere threats into measures by these outlaws, and the 
white men of Robeson in all time to come branded as cow- 
ards. Mr. McNair returned and met the outlaws about 
three miles below his residence, on the road to Lumber- 


ton, and delivered the message of the Sheriff to them, 
which they received with a dark, ominous scowl, but 
offered no violence to Mr. McNair. 

On Monday following, quite a number of the old grey- 
headed citizens of Robeson county went to Lumberton 
and held a consultation with the Sheriff and County 
Commissioners, and the conclusion arrived at was, that 
taking all things into consideration, it was probably best 
to release the wives of the outlaws and send them home, 
inasmuch as they (the wives) were not responsible for the 
acts of their husbands, and also because it was believed 
at the time that their release would have a good effect 
on the rest of the Indian race. They were therefore 
released and sent home next day. 

The next week following, Adjutant-General Gorman 
appeared on the scene of action with part of a company 
of Federal soldiers, asking the county of Robeson for an 
equal number of volunteers to co-operate with him in 
capturing the outlaws, when the following named gen- 
tlemen responded to the call: F. M. Wishart, Colonel; 
James Nicholson McLean, Captain; J. C. McKellar, First 
Lieutenant; James McBryde, Second Lieutenant; John 
S. McNeill, Third Lieutenant; and the following privates: 
Henry McCallum, J. T. McCormic, A. A. McGirt, C. Mc- 
Rae, E. C. McNeill, Gilchrist McGirt, Daniel McKenzie, 
James McQueen, Archie McDonald, James McGoogan, 
Alexander McGirt, Malcom McNeill (Greely), Samuel 
Barnes, John Cobb, Henry Biggs, Frank Currie, Joseph 
Phillips, Archie Johnson, Duncan Campbell, Daniel 
Campbell, Thomas Purcell, W. C. Smith. 

These men remained with Adjutant-General Gorman 
in Scuffletown two months, and were disbanded without 
capturing a single outlaw, simply because the outlaws 


evaded them on all occasions. The volunteers gener- 
ally, and the true men of Robeson county believed at 
the time, and believe to this day, that the Adjutant-Gen- 
eral of the State was in collusion with the outlaws, as 
was every negro in the county. Thus terminated this 
campaign of Adjutant-General Gorman, without accom- 
plishing anything; in the mean time, however, the pred- 
atory warfare on the part of the outlaws went on with- 
out any cessation, robbing whom they pleased and when 
they pleased, depleting the whole country around Scuf- 
fletown of guns and pistols, and whatever else they saw 
fit to take; turning the heads of the Indians and prompt- 
ing negro imitators; and training up the very children 
of Scuffletown to be barbarians, with the lust for plun- 
der and rapine. Indeed, after the failure of Gen. Gor- 
man to capture them, the outlaws showed more desper- 
ation than ever; they seemed to fear nothing, whilst 
they showed a ferocity, premeditation and insolence 
frightful to behold; spreading terror and dismay wher- 
ever they saw fit to go; no one not an inhabitant of the 
county at the time can realize the situation; nearly all 
of our citizens, with here and there an honorable excep- 
tion, seemed terror-stricken and dumb with dismay, for 
they did not know at what hour the Lowrie bandits 
would pounce down on them like an eagle on his prey, 
and murder some male member of the family for some 
imaginary wrong, or take away from them their hard 

Here we will relate an incident that occurred "not a 
hundred miles" from Ashpole Presbyterian church to 
J. C. McKellar and the squad of men under him (some 
twelve in number): Lieutenant J. C. McKellar and his 
men met on the road a well-to-do farmer and informed 


him that he and his squad were going to his house for 
their dinner; this well-to-do farmer told Mr. McKellar 
and his men to go directly to his kitchen and order his 
cook, a negress, to prepare dinner for them, so that it 
might be told to the outlaws that he was forced to feed 
the men that were hunting them. J. C. McKellar and 
his men were incensed at the conduct of this well-to-do 
farmer, but concluded, in order to retaliate on him, to 
do as he had directed. So they went and ordered this 
man's cook to fix up dinner for them, which, after being 
fixed up, they ate with a gusto, and even to this day 
when this circumstance is referred to, the men who par- 
took of that dinner will laugh about the cowardice of 
this well-to-do farmer, and say: "Well, he won't do to 
tie to in a storm". 


On. the 21st of April, 1871, the Sheriff of the county, 
viz: Rod. McMillan, in connection with F. M. Wishart, 
Archie D. McCallu'm, J. Douglas McCallum, Franklin 
McKay, George L. McKay, Archie McFadyen and Mal- 
com McNeill, surrounded H. B. Lowrie's house, when, 
to their surprise, it was ascertained that the whole out- 
law band were within. After consultation, it was 
deemed prudent and wise that the Sheriff and Frank 
McKay should go and hunt up recruits to capture the 
whole outlaw gang. The Sheriff and Mr. McKay im- 
mediately set out on their errand, and coming to the 
house of Mr. Hugh Inman, on Lumber River, about 
three miles from H. B. Lowrie's, his two sons, Robert 
and Giles Inman, went back with Mr. McKay to the as- 
sistance of the men left at H. B. Lowrie's house. In the 


meantime, H. B. Lowrie and the other outlaws made 
their escape through a "trap door and a tunnel", dug 
some distance from the house of H. B. Lowrie, as was 
afterwards ascertained; and they (the outlaws) throw- 
ing themselves back on the road which they supposed 
would be traveled by the Sheriff on his return, ambus- 
caded the recruits as they were crossing the Back Swamp 
and fired on them, killing instantly Mr. Giles Inman, a. 
youth aged eighteen years, and wounded Mr. Frank 
McKay. Mr. McKay returned the fire. Thus fell 
another victim of their relentless fury and vindictive- 
ness. Mr. Inman was a resolute youth, and was anx- 
ious to apprehend these lawless marauders. His father, 
Mr Hugh Inman, was a Republican in politics. Some 
time after this occurrence. H. B. Lowrie informed Mr. 
Inman that he was sorry that he had killed his son Giles 
(and well he might be); but this was only adding insult 
to injury. It was the sorrow which the lion has for the 
lamb when in his power. 


The murder of the two brothers, Murdoch A. McLean 
and Hugh McLean, was committed on the morning of 
July 17th, 1871, on the public road, one mile south of 
Maxton, on the Carolina Central Railway, near a mill 
on Black Branch, in full view of the residence of Mrs. 
Margaret McLean. This feat was achieved after long 
and cool deliberation on the part of the outlaws. They 
had often essayed to kill Murdoch A. McLean, and had 
as often failed in their purpose. Several times they had 


waylaid him; several times they had lurked about the 
premises of his mother in the darkness of the night, but 
all to no purpose. Early on the morning of the 17th 
Hugh McLean carried his sister to the residence of Mr. 
M. C. McNair in an open buggy. On his return home, 
Murdoch A. McLean and Archie D. McCallum jumped 
up into the buggy with Hugh and started off for Maxton 
to hunt the robber band. As the trio rode along about 
three hundred yards from the residence of Mrs. Margaret 
McLean they heard the rough word, "halt!" Almost 
instantly a gun was snapped at close quarters, from be- 
hind a "blind," by Henry Berry Lowrie. Murdoch A. 
McLean reached for his arms, but before he could bring 
his gun to bear, he was riddled with buck-shot, and his 
brother Hugh mortally wounded, the horse in the buggy 
galloping off with the lifeless remiins of the two brothers. 
In the killing of Murdoch A. McLean, Henry Berry 
Lowrie shed the blood of one of the noblest youthful 
spirits in our country; indeed, he was a superb specimen 
of the "Bonnie Scotch." 

"None knew him but to love him, 
None named him but to praise." 

He was in his thirty-first year of age when he fell, 
honored, esteemed and loved by all who knew him for 
the many noble traits of character. Peace to his ashes ! 

But what shall we pen in regard to innocent Hugh 
McLean, who was also killed at the same time? Alas! 
my pen falters — my hand trembles, when I recall this 
double murder! Innocent Hugh was in the twentieth 
year of his age, and bid fair to become as noble and 
generous a man as his brother Murdoch had been. 

Archie D. McCallum, who was riding in the buggy 
with the two brothers, sprang out on the ground, and in 


doing so, his pistol fell out of its case; he, however, had 
the coolness to stoop down and pick it up, and then to 
run, for he saw the whole outlaw gang were at hand, 
and knew if he remained that they would murder him 
also. He had not proceeded far when he was fired on 
and wounded in his leg, but he made good his escape to 
Maxton, although pursued by two of the gang to within 
a few hundred yards of the depot. When the news of 
the occurrence spread abroad, the wildest consternation 
seemed to seize many of the good citizens of Robeson 
county. All was confusion. "What to do next was the 
main question. 


High on the "roll of honor" in the county of Robeson 
stands the name of Col. Frank M. Wishart — a man that 
would be noticed in any crowd on account of his showy 
appearance. He was an old Confederate officer, and 
served throughout the war between the States with 
credit to himself and honor to his native county. He was 
a Republican in politics, and the only Republican in the 
county of Robeson of any distinction who could or did 
rise superior to party politics and take the side of bleed- 
ing, suffering hummtty. He possessed true nobleness of 
mind and a lofty magnanimity of character, and through 
"evil report as well as good," he bore himself with dig- 
nity and disinterestedness, fearless of danger to his per- 
son or reputation. All honor to Frank M. Wishart for 
his noble example — all honor to his name for his exalted 
patriotism. True to his natural instincts, he joined the 
compact of those eleven sjlf-sacrificng men who deter- 
mined to rid Robeson county of the Lowrie cutlaws or 


die in the attempt. He entered this compact early in 
February, in the year 1871, and worked assiduously for 
the capture of the outlaws until he fell a victim to their 
treachery on the 16th day of May, A. D. 1872, in the 

year of his age. He met his sad and melancholy 

fate on the main road leading from Lumberton to Rock- 
ingham, in Richmond county, about one and a half miles 
from Lebanon Presbyterian Church, on the south side 
of Lumber River, and about two miles from Red Banks 
bridge, whither he had gone alone to have an interview 
with the oulaws, in accordance with an agreement made 
with them at Moss Neck on the previous Friday, as the 
following particulars will delineate, taken from the Robe- 
sonian (newspaper) on May 23rd, 1872: 

"We are enabled to present some interesting particu- 
lars of the interview of Col. F. M. Wishart with the 
outlaws at Moss Neck, a few days before his assassina- 
tion by them. On Friday before his death, Col. Wish- 
art was aboard the regular through freight train, which 
arrived at Moss Neck at 3 o'clock p. m., and was at that 
time occupying a seat in the conductor's cab in rear of 
the train. Soon after the train halted, the two outlaws, 
Andrew Strong and Stephen Lowrie, approached the 
car and recognized Col. Wishart, and accosted him in a 
civil and friendly way. Stephen Lowrie inquired 

whether he had any arms, and went aboard the cab to 
satisfy himself on that point, Andrew Strong remaining 
on the piazza of the store, within a few feet of the train. 
Andrew was in his shirt-sleeves and wore only one pistol 
in his belt, but Stephen carrie in his hand a Spencer rifle 
and in his belt five elegant pistols —two Derringers, one 
Smith & Wesson and two Colt's. On entering the car, Ste- 
phen demanded to see his arms, when Col. Wishart drew 


aside the skirt of his coat and displayed the handle of a 
repeater, which he assured the outlaw was the only 
weapon he carried. Stephen at once made a grab at 
the pistol, as if to snatch it from its place, but Col. "Wish- 
art foiled this attempt by dexterously leaping from the 
car to the piazza of the store, where the other outlaw 
was standing, and, confronting Stephen, who was stand- 
ing in the door of the car from which he had just escap- 
ed, stood with his hand upon his pistol. Stephen and 
Andrew both now assured him that they meant him no 
harm, and only wished a friendly conference, and at 
Andrew's request, he walked with him behind the store, 
where they remained for sometime in conversation, 
while Stephen remained on board the car, and seemed 
to take no interest in what was passing between his com- 
rade and Col. Wishart. As the train was about to move 
off, Co!. Wishart returned to the car, and meeting 
Stephen on the platform, the latter was heard to say: 
'When I send for, you come. I'll send a friend for you 
in a few days, and you come and meet us,' and Col. 
Wishart promised to do so. 

The rest of this strange, sad story with its melancholy, 
tragic end, is but too well known. On Thursday morn- 
ing next, after this interview, a messenger — who it was 
nobody knows, or ever will know, bore to Col. Wishart, 
at Maxton, the summons which led him away to his 
death. True to his word, he prepared to obey, and 
saddling his mule, he rode directly, unarmed and alone, 
to the spot named by the messenger. What occurred 
was witnessed by no human eye besides those of the ac- 
tors in the fearful tragedy; but in the afternoon of the 
same day, a citizen of the neighborhood was horrified by 
the discovery of the body of the gallant Wishart, all 


stark and stiff and covered with gore, lying by the road- 
side. Two hideous, gaping wounds, one through the 
body and the other through the head, showed how 
foully he had been murdered. The mule on which he 
rode stood fastened t3 a limb near by, and appearances 
showed that when shot he was reclining on the earth 
whittling the end of a small stick and unsuspecting of 
danger. It is probable that these treacherous and cow- 
ardly fiends had concealed themselves in ambush near 
the spot, and the first intimation he had of their presence 
were the two shots that hurled his brave, unsuspecting 
soul into eternity. 

JAMES McQUEEN, alias donahoe. 

Of all the men that have essayed to exterminate the 
Robeson outlaws, none have been more persevering than 
James McQueen, or Donahoe, as he is sometimes called. 
Slim and slender in form, peculiar and eccentric in man- 
ners, so much so that persons unacquainted with him 
look upon him at times as somewhat wild and romantic, 
quick in movement, showing agility and determination in 
every motion, about six feet high, with a small piercing 
gray eye, without much expression of countenance, he is 
the very personification of a gawky Scotchman, in his 
twenty-fifth year of age, a native of Richmond county, 
N. C. After reaching maturity, or becoming twenty- 
one years old, he left Mr. Donahoe in Richmond county, 
the gentleman who raised him, and after working a while 
in South Carolina, for wages, he purchased first a 
double-barreled shot gun and ammunition, and wended 
his way to Robeson county, going from house to house 
and telling the people that he wished to buy a tract of 


land, and would sometimes examine tracts that were of- 
fered for sale, and then decline purchasing on the ground 
that the price was too high; sometimes, too, he would of- 
fer to lease from some farmer a one-horse farm, &c. In 
this way he became acquainted with the people of Rob- 
eson and found out all about the Lowrie outlaws, and 
who were their friends and who were their enemies — 
in this way. too, he found out who were the true men of 
the county, who would do to trust or confide in and not 
betray him — he found out also the roads and by-paths 
of Scufnetown — he sometimes would go with one com- 
pany that were hunting the outlaws in Scuffletown, and 
sometimes with another — his comrades, however, invari- 
ably found him reliable, always at his post, never 
sleepy or drowsy, very particular where he went, and 
when and how. At last he took to going into Scufnetown 
solitary and alone in the dead hours of the night along 
by-paths and on roads that were not much traveled, 
and when he arrived at the place where he wished to 
watch for the passing of the outlaws, he would ensconce 
himself in some thick undegrowth and remain as quiet as 
a cat, watching for his prey to come along. In this way 
he became acquainted with the personal appearance of 
the outlaws, their arms and accoutrements. After pur- 
suing the above course for some months, he furnished 
himself with a Henry rifle, and had provisions cooked 
up to last him three days, and wended his way to the 
dreary swamps of Scuffletown on the 6th day of March, 
A. D. 1872, and on the night following he arrived at the 
house of Andrew Strong, on the south side of Lumber 
river, about one mile from Harper's Ferry, and about 
ten miles from Maxton, on the Carolina Central Rail- 


way, and now we will permit him to tell his own state- 
ment of the facts in the case of killing Boss Strong: 


Last Thursday night, March 7th, I reached the house 
of Andrew Strong, on the edge of Scuffletown, about 
ten miles from Maxton, at 12 o'clock; I fixed a good 
blind about a hundred and fifty yards from the house, 
and lying down I watched the rest of the night and all 
of the next day, eating some provisions I had brought 
aloi.g. About half-past seven p. m., Friday, Andrew 
Strong came out of the woods, and after stopping and 
looking around him in all directions, he went into the 
house and directly came out and gave a low call, when 
Boss Strong came out of the woods to the house; they 
were each armed with two rifles and two or three re- 
volvers. A little after 8 o'clock, when I thought they 
would be at supper, I slipped up to the house and look- 
ed in through the cat hole in the door, as I supposed 
they were eating their supper by the light on the hearth. 
A Miss Cummings was there, besides Flora, Andrew's 
wife. I kept watching, until Boss laid down on the 
floor with his feet to the fire and his head towards me, 
and commenced playing on a mouth harp; then I saw 
my chance, and I pushed my rifle (a Henry) through the 
cat-hole until it was not over three feet from his head, 
and took a steady aim by the light and shot; when I 
fired the women screamed and said "he's shot!" "no, he 
isn't!'' "yes, he is!" and I looked in as quick as I could 
get my gun away. Boss' arms and legs had fallen 
straight from his body, and there was a little movement 


WW • ' 


Iff* ■ ' V- ■ 

I m 


of the shoulders, as if he was trying to get up. Andrew 
Strong was then standing in the shadow of the chimney 
corner, and he stayed there until I left. He said to his 
wife, "Honey, you go out and see what it was, " and 
opened the door opposite the one I was at and pushed 
her out, but she did not come around to the side where 
I was, but went in directly and said there was nobody 
about. He sent her out again, telling her to look in the 
corners and jams; but before she got well out, he said, 
"Come back honey, he was blowing on that thing and 
it busted and bio wed his head off," and directly after he 
said, "My God, he's shot in the head, and it must have 
come from the cat-hole," and sent his wife out again; 
then I slipped off. When I returned the cat-hole was 
shut up and the house was all dark. I then came back to 
Maxton, made up a party and went back to the house of 
Andrew Strong; arriving there about 10 o'clock a. m. 
on Saturday, we found Rhoda Lowrie, wife of Henry 
B. Lowrie and sister to Boss and Andrew Strong, wiping 
up the blood on the floor that had issued from the wound 
inflicted on Boss Strong. There were several women 
present, but the body of Boss Strong was nowhere to be 
found; upon inquiry, we ascertained from the women 
present, that Steve Lowrie and Andrew Strong had just 
removed the remains of Boss Strong to some secluded 
spot, and had threatened the women present, that if 
they watched them, in order to see which way they 
went, that' they would come back and killthem. So 
I, and the party that accompanied me, returned to 
Maxton the same evening, without finding the body of 
Boss Strong. 

The illustration on page 129 is the house where Boss Strong was 
killed. He was the trusted comrade of Henry Berry Lowrie. 


The above closes James McQueen's statement in re- 
gard the killing of the outlaw, Boss Strong. Subsequent- 
ly it leaked out through the women present that Boss 
Strong was shot through the head, and died almost in- 
stantly, and on the oath of these same women, the Leg- 
islature of North Carolina, at its session of 1873-'74, 
passed a bill authorizing the State Treasurer to pay to 
James McQueen $5,000 for killing Boss Strong. 

Boss Strong was the youngest of the gang of the out- 
laws, and was the most trusted and inseperable compan- 
ion of Henry Berry Lowrie, his brother-in-law. He was 
only in his twentieth year when killed. He was nearly 
white, with dark, short-cut hair that had somewhat of a 
reddish tinge, slightly curling. A thick down appeard 
on his lips, but otherwise he was beardless. He had 
that dull, bluish eye belonging to all Scuffietonians gen- 
erally, and was generally silent and taciturn, but he had 
the demon in him, and when aroused, he had a dogged, 
determined look. He had the courage of a bull-pup, 
and next to Henry Berry Lowrie, the leader, was re- 
garded as the worst of the party. His hands were dyed 
deep in the blood of bothold and young. He was about 
five feet ten inches high, thick set, with a full face and 
would weigh one hundred and sixty-five pounds. Like 
his leader, he generally killed at close quarters, seldom at 
more than five to ten yards. He met up with his match 
though, when James McQueen fired at him through the 
cat-hole with his Henry rifle. After James McQueen 
killed Boss Strong, the other outlaws became very shy 
and were seldom seen, or heard of, for several months. 
James McQueen, however, still kept up the hunt for 
them, and never desisted entirely until the last outlaw 
was killed. The outlaws dreaded James McQueen more 


than any other man that ever took the field against 
them, and well they might fear him, for he moved about 
almost as noiselessly as a cat. 


After the Lowrie outlaws had decoyed and slain in 
cold blood the noble, and patriotic Col. F. M. Wishart, 
they sent a message to his two brothers, viz: A Strong 
"Wishart and Robert E. "Wishart on the 15th of July, 
1872, to leave the county, or they might expect to be 
killed. Instead of obeying the orders of the outlaws, they 
armed themselves with Spencer rifles, and getting Mr. 
James McKay and James Campbell to join them, they 
set out on the 17th of July for the dreary swamps of 
Scuffletown, to hunt the outlaws. On the 18th of July 
they were reliably informed that Tom Lowrie, one of the 
outlaws, was in the habit of visiting regularly, the house 
of one Furney Prevatt. They immediately wended 
their way thither, and arriving there after nightfall, 
secrected themselves in the woods as near as possible 
without discovery. Remaining there that night and the 
whole of the next day until after dark, they ventured up 
nearer to the house in order to watch the movements 
inside. They soon discovered Tom Lowrie come out 
of the house accompanied by a woman and go into a 
crib near by. They also perceived that they could not 
kill the outlaw without endangering the life of the 
woman; so while waiting outside, they heard Tom L. say 
that he intended to go next day to Union Chapel, to a 
public speaking that was to come off there. They then 
withdrew to the woods and concluded that they would 


endeavor to intercept the outlaw on his way to Union 
ChapeL Taking with them a guide, they halted at a 
point where the main road crosses the Holly Swamp. 
Here they stationed themselves, awaiting the dawn of 
the morning of July 20th. Lying in great suspense and 
anxiety, until about 8 o'clock a. m., they heard voices 
approaching them in the direction of the Prevatt house. 
Sure enough, Tom Lowrie and Furney Prevatt soon 
made their appearance. Coming to the place on the 
road where the Wishart company crossed, the outlaw 
stopped to examine the footprints and Furney Prevatt 
walked on. After looking at the footprints of A. S. 
Wishart and associates, the outlaw was heard to say 
that he "Would go to Union Chapel that day or die in 
the attempt." These were the last words ever uttered 
by Tom Lowrie, the outlaw, for just then Mr. James 
McKay fired on him. Turning to run, Mr. A. S. Wish- 
art fired on him also, with a Spencer rifle, the ball pass- 
ing clear through his body. The outlaw, however, ran 
some fifty yards and fell with a heavy groan. Mr. A. 
S. Wishart procuring the assistance of Mr. David Davis, 
and pressing a wagon that was passing at the time, re- 
moved the body of the dead outlaw out of the swamp, 
taking off of his person three pistols, a Spencer rifle, a gold 
watch, which belonged to Mr. John McNair, one hundred 
and thirty dollars in currency and a Spanish dollar. 
The company placed the body in a wagon and proceed- 
ed with it to Lumberton, and formally delivered it to the 
Sheriff of the county, who paid them two hundred dol- 
lars, the amount of the reward offered for his body, 
dead or alive, by the County Commissioners, placing 
also in their hands the necessary papers to draw 
six thousand dollars out of the State Treasury, the 


amount offered for his apprehension by the State au- 
thorities, which was promptly paid by the Treasurer of 
the State, and equally divided between A. S. Wishart, 
R. E. "Wishart, James McKay, James Campbell and 
David Davis. 

Thus passed away another of the Lowrie bandits, 
whose back had been peppered once before by Frank 
McKay, Archie D. McCallum, J. Douglas McCallum and 
others, but got off with a bloody shirt sticking to his 
back. Tom Lowrie was thirty-seven years of age when 
killed; possessed broad shoulders; a strong and active 
body; straight black hair; would weigh about 180 lbs., 
and was five feet ten inches high. A thieving sneak he 
was, capable of murder or anything else mean. He had 
a bluish gray eye, and when observed closely, a furtive 
look that seemed to take in the whole situation at a 
glance. He had been twice captured and placed in jail, 
each time making his escape; but this time he went to 
"that bourne from whence no traveler returns." 

After Tom Lowrie was killed, the "Wishart" com- 
pany did not cease in their exertions to kill the remain- 
ing outlaws. They remained in Scuffletown all the 
time, watching the movements of the outlaws. The on- 
ly member that left the company was Mr. James Camp- 
bell, and he left it on account of his health. Mr. Frank 
Floyd took his place and remained one month. Mr. 
Alf. Prevatt took Mr. Floyd's place and remained eight 
months. Mr. James McQueen staid also with the com- 
pany three weeks; the' remainder of his time in Scuffle- 
town he was alone. Mr. A. C. Bridgers was also a 
member of the company for several months in 1872. 
On the 10th of August A, McE. McCallum joined the 
Wishart company, word having been sent him to leave 


the county by the outlaws, because he had given the 
Wishart company something to eat; instead of leaving, 
he joined the company that was hunting them. Mr. 
McCallum remained with the company until the 10th of 
December, and on the 17th went to the State of Georgia 
to please his father and friends. Staying there seven 
months he returned to Robeson and rejoinedth^ sane 
company. He found the company then composed of A. S. 
Wishart, R. E. Wishart, James McKay, Ernest Lemon, 
Buck Hilliard and a negro by the name of Solomon Mor- 
rison, (the only negro, be it said to his credit, that ever 
voluntarily hunted the outlaws). The hunt for the re- 
maing outlaw, viz: Steve Lowrie, was still kept up by 
this company. Two members of the outlaw band had 
been previously killed viz : Boss Strong by James Mc- 
Queen, and Andrew Strong, by William "Wilson, so that 
Steve Lowrie was the only outlaw that roamed at large, 
and he became so shy that it was a difficult matter to 
see or hear of his whereabouts. However, James Mc- 
Kay, Ernest Lemon and the negro Solomon Morrison 
shot at him a short time before he was killed while con- 
versing with Nat Clark, near Clark's residence, but they 
were too far off to hurt the outlaw. These same men, 
together with A. McE. McCallum, were stationed on the 
main road not more than half of a mile distant from the 
place where Steve Lowrie was killed, on the night pre- 
ceding his killing, waiting for Steve Lowrie to pass. As 
he did not come along, they dispersed to meet again on 
Monday night following, but to their joy they learned 
on Monday that a different party of men had sent Steve 
Lowrie to his "long home." Although they did not kill 
him, they were rejoiced to know that he was out of the 
way, and that the last one of the outlaws had gone to 


the "spirit land" never to return, and that the good peo- 
ple of Robeson county could once more breathe free and 
easy. And here the writer would say that Robeson 
county owes a debt of gratitude to the noble, heroic and 
self-sacrificing men who composed the Wishart compa- 
ny. "When they went into Scffletown to hunt the out- 
laws it might almost be said that the county had been 
given up to the outlaws; there were few men that could 
be induced in the county to take arms against them. The 
county, State and United States troops had been so far 
distanced and "out generalled" by these villains, that it 
really seemed hopeless to attempt their capture; but the 
brave men who composed the Wishart company never 
faltered in their efforts to kill or capture them. Often 
were they sneered at by those who should have been 
their friends; often were they turned off from the houses 
of those who feared the Lowrie bandits, hungry, cold, 
wet and fatigued, to seek food and shelters as best they 
could; but there were five well-to-do farmers in striking 
distance of Scufnetown who never failed to give them 
the "best cheer" possible. These farmers were Mr. 
John McNair, Capt. Willis P. Moore, James D. Bridgers, 
John McCalium, and David Townsend. These five 
were ready at any hour, day or night, to relieve their 
physical wants and aid them in every possible way. 
And now, as the last outlaw has run his race, and finish- 
ed his course, let the good people of Robeson hold in 
great remembrance "the good" done Robeson county 
by the men who composed the Wishart company; let 
their names be handed down to posterity, along with 
those of Mr. John McNair, Capt. Willis P. Moore, James 
D. Bridgers, John McCalium and David Townsend, so 
that the rising generation may know who were the true 


men of Robeson county during the "dark period" in her 
history, and during the time in which the Lowrie ban- 
dits held a bloody carnival within her borders. 


On the morning of the 19th of February, 1872, the 
usual quiet of the town of Lumberton was greatly dis- 
turbed by the announcement that the robber clan had 
been there the night before and committed robberies, 
but to what extent remained to be ascertained. Two 
of the young gentlemen of the place were out early on 
their way to their places of business, and discovered 
the iron safe from the Sheriff's office in the street, about 
fifty yards from the Court House. The alarm was given, 
the citizens aroused, and could be seen hurrying in 
every direction to learn who were the sufferers, and to 
what extent. The next thing found to be missing was 
a horse and dary, from the stebles of Mr. A. W. Fuller. 
The back door of the store of Messrs. Pope & McLeod was 
found open, which had been left locked and barred on 
the inside; on further examination they learned their 
safe was missing, containing a large amount of money 
belonging to the firm, as well as that of others which 
had been deposited with them for safe keeping; all their 
valuable papers and books were also in the safe; in ad- 
dition to this, they took dry goods, ready made cloth- 
ing, boots, shoes, guns, &c. They entered a black- 
smith shop and took tools with which to open the safe. 
Messrs. Pope & McLeod immediately started out in the 
direction which the dray had gone, while squads of cit- 
izens were left standing about the streets consulting on 


what course best to pursue. After some little time a 
party was raised and started in pursuit of the robber 
clan. About a-half mile from town the party pursuing 
came up with Messrs. Pope & McLeod, who had found 
the safe emptied of its valuable contents. The whole 
party then concluded to return to Lumberton, as fur- 
ther pursuit would be of no avail. Several months af- 
terwards one of the books from the store was found in a 
field near Mr. McLeod's residence. A key was found 
in the pocket of Tom Lowrie when killed, which fitted 
the lock of the front door of the store robbed, and it 
was supposed they entered the store with the false key, 
locked it, and passed out through the back door. It was 
the next day after their visit to Lumberton, and over 
the division of that night's spoils, that Henry Berry Low- 
rie lost his life by the accidental discharge of his own 



Early on the Morning of February 20th, 1872, be- 
tween daylight and sunrise, the whole band of outlaws 
returned to the house of Tom Lowrie after their raid on 
Lumberton, having on the previous night entered the 
store of Messrs. Pope & McLeod, and abstracting there- 
from an iron safe, and proceeding thence to the Court 
House and entering the Sheriff's office and taking along 
his iron safe, proceeded forthwith to leave Lumberton 
by way of the turnpike road leading across the country 
by Morrisey's mill. Finding their load too heavy, they 
dropped the Sheriff's safe on the streets of Lumberton 
and went on with the safe of Messrs. Pope & McLeod to 


a distance of about three miles and rifled it of the whole 
of its contents, getting in all about twenty-two thousand 
dollars. The band then wended its way to the house of 
Tom Lowrie,in Scuffletown,and, being fearful of pursuit, 
built up a fire near the crib of Tom Lowrie and com- 
menced fixing their fire arms, in case they would be at- 
tacked by any party in pursuit of them; and here the out- 
law chief, Henry B. Lowrie, terminated his own earthly ca- 
reer. "Whilst attempting to draw a load out of his double 
barrel gun, the gun slipping in his hand, the hammer 
of one of the barrels struck against a sill of the crib and 
the gun went off, the load taking effect in Henry Berry 
Lowries face and forehead, tearing away his nose and 
the greater portion of his forehead. He died almost in- 
stantly. Thus perished the great robber chief of Robe- 
son county. Preparations were set on foot immediately 
for his burial. A party of Indians went to the saw mill 
of Mr. Archibald Buie for lumber, which had to be 
sawed. "When the lumber was obtained. Jesse Oxen- 
dine (being a carpenter) was called in and made the coffin 
the other outlaws standing guard all the time. "When 
all the necessary preparations were completed, the re- 
mains of the dead robber chief were temporarily placed 
in a shallow grave under Tom Lowrie's crib. On the 
following night, near mid-night, the remaining outlaws 
took up the body of the dead robber chief and carried 
it off and buried it, where, in all human probability, no 
white man will ever find out. 

Thus passed away this remarkable bandit, in his 
twenty-sixth year —the greatest scourge ever inflicted 
upon the good people of Robeson county. He was said 
to have had a good deal of money in his possesion at this 
time, as his comrades in arms often reported to outsiders 


that he was in the habit of appropriating "the lion's 
share" to his own use of all the money taken, giving to 
the other outlaws the other booty. No member of the 
band, not even his "fidus Achates," Boss Strong, nor his 
wife, Rhoda Lowrie, knew where he kept his money. 
Diligent search has been made by the remaining mem- 
bers of the gang to find his treasure chest, but as yet, 
"it is love's labor lost." For some time after the death 
of Henry Berry Lowrie. his companions denied all 
knowledge of his fate; even his relations professed to 
be ignorant of it, but the facts, one by one, leaked out 
through different individuals of the Indian race, who 
saw the dead robber chief whilst "lying in state" before 
his interment. The main object in keeping his fate con- 
cealed from the public seems to have been to keep the 
timid whites in awe of the "outlaw gang," and to pre- 
vent those who were endeavoring to capture him from 
getting his body. This course of conduct on the part 
of the "outlaw gang" and the Indians gener- 
ally, was in accordance with their previous course. 
"When George Applewhite was shot, and Boss Strong 
killed, they endeavored to divert public attention by 
telling various tales in regard to the fate of each, in 
in which there was not one particle of truth; but now, 
at this writing, inasmuch as Steve Lowrie, the last out- 
law, has also gone to the "spirit land," and the reign of 
the gang terminated, and there being no need of mystery 
in regard to the fate of the robber chief; several Indians 
in Scuffletown are outspoken in regard to the manner in 
which Henry Berry Lowrie met his fate, and they all 
verify the facts as above recited. This noted Indian 
bandit is certainly gone to the criminal's bourne; he is 
most certainly done making raids on the law-abiding 


citizens of Robeson county; he is assuredly done fright- 
ening the women and children of the white race by his 
martial appearance; his scepter has been laid aside and 
his spirit summoned to appear before "the Judge of all 
the earth," to answer for the long catalog of crimes, as 
long, probably, as the list of Homer's ships. Some have 
compared him to Oceola, or Powell, the noted leader of 
the Seminole Indians in Florida, others to "the bold 
archer" Robin Hood, whilst still others say that he 
was more like Rob Roy McGregor. Be this as it may, he 
certainly played an extended role in his own way, be- 
ing the leader of the most formidable band of outlaws, 
considering the smallness of its numbers, that has ever 
appeared in this country. He developed a cunning, 
bloodthirstiness, and courage unmatched in the history 
of his race. 


Mr. William Wilson, a native of Guilford county, 
aged thirty-eight, being in the employ of A. & W. Mc- 
Queen, incurred by some means or other, the displeasure 
of Steve Lowrie and Andrew Strong, the only two re- 
maining outlaws. Sometime in the month of Decem- 
ber, 1872, therefore, Steve Lowrie, and Andrew Strong, 
on the morning of December 25, 1872, went to the store 
of Mr. John Humphrey at Pates, a station on the Car- 
olina Central Railway, in the heart of Scuffletown, 
where Mr. William Wilson was a clerk, and informed 
him that he had been talking about them. Mr. Wilson 
did not say much, one way or the other, whereupon An- 
drew Strong told Mr. Wilson "that he would give him 
until train time the next day to leave the county, and 


that if he did not leave, that he (Andrew Strong) would 
kill him;" they then left Pates, heavily armed on a 
Christmas Frolic. Mr. Wilson, after their departure, 
loaded up a double-barrel shot-gun with buck-shot, and 
concealed it under a coverlet in an adjoining room for 
use whenever the outlaws would make their appearance. 
So about 4 o'clock p. m., on the same day, Andrew 
Strong alone made his appearance again at the store of 
Mr. John Humphrey, and after purchasing a few articles 
of merchandise, turned and walked out on the piazza in 
front of the shore, and leaning up against a post with his 
back towards the door of the store, Mr. Wilson deliber- 
ately fired on him, the shot taking effect in the neck of 
the outlaw, killing him almost instantly. Several In- 
dians being present, Mr. Wilson informed them that 
whoever touched or laid his hand on the body of An- 
drew Strong, he would kill him instantly with the other 
barrel of his shot-gun, which was then cocked; he then 
pressed a wagon and a pair of mules and compelled John 
Humphrey, Floyd Oxendine and two other Indians, 
(names not recollected) to place the body of Andrew 
Strong in the wagon and accompany him, with the re- 
mains of the dead outlaw, to Lumberton, where the 
whole party arrived sometime after nightfall, and form- 
ally delivered the body of Andrew Strong to the Sheriff 
of the county, who identified it as the body of Andrew 
Strong, and paid forthwith the reward which had been 
offered for the body of Andrew Strong, dead or alive, 
and fixed up the papers for Mr. Wilson to draw from 
the State Treasury the amount offered by the State, 
which amount the State Treasurer paid Mr. Wilson as 
soon as he presented the papers. Thus perished An- 
drew Strong, another of the Robeson county outlaws. 


He was the elder brother of Boss Strong, and was in his 
twenty-fourth year. He was a little over six feet high, 
tall and slim, and nearly white; he possessed beard 
somewhat of a reddish color, and had dark straight hair 
on his head. He was the Oily Gammon of the "outlaw 
gang," and could wear a look of great meekness, and, 
whilst at the same time, his tongue was soft and treach- 
erous, so much so, that it would seem difficult for sugar 
or butter to melt in his mouth. The civil authorities had 
him up once in Court and when the Solicitor in behalf of the 
State read out the indictment, his great soft eyes seemed 
as if ready to shed tears at such unjust imputations. He 
married the daughter of Henry Sampson, another In- 
dian of Scuffletown. Andrew Strong was a cowardly 
sneak; when he would kill a person the honey would 
almost seem to drop from his tongue into the wound he 
had inflicted; indeed he might be called a professor of 
deceit, perfidious, plausible, uncertain, deadly — he was 
certainly the meanest of the gang. 


About the middle of November 1870, a detective who 
had been employed to watch the movements of the 
Lowrie gang of this county, established a camp in a bay 
near Moss Neck for the purpose of prosecuting his mis- 
sion with as much secrecy as possible. The camp was 
near the house of Mr. W. C. McNeill, one of the best 
citizens of our county; and his son Malcom was in the 
habit of visiting the camp occasionally, and giving Mr. 
Sanders such assistance as he could. On Sunday, the 
20th of November, he met with three young men whom 


he knew to be reliable, made an engagement to meet them 
after night at the camp of Mr. Sanders. The young men 
accordingly repaired to the camp about 4 o'clock in the 
afternoon to await the arrival of Mr. McNeill, who did 
not reach the camp until about 7'oclock p. m. The fol- 
lowing is Mr. McNeill's statement of what occurred on 
his approach to the camp: 

"When I approached within a short distance of the 
camp, I saw the young men I was to meet there. They 
immediately informed me that the camp was sur- 
rounded by the robbers, and that if I attempted to es- 
cape, I would be shot, I halted and made a movement 
to draw my pistol, when four men arose among the 
bushes, and presenting their cocked guns, warned me 
that I was a prisoner, and that I would be fired upon if 
I did not immediately surrender. These men I recog- 
nized as Henry B. Lowrie, Stephen Lowrie, George 
Applewhite and Boss Strong. H. B. took my repeater 
from me, saying that I might make myself at home, as 
they would take care of me that night. I then took my 
position with the other prisoners around the camp fire; 
but after a short time H. B. Lowrie summoned me to 
go with him a short distance from the camp; he then 
turned and addressed me in the following language: 
l 'G — d d — n your soul, I want to know where Sanders 
is. You know all about him; a respectable white man, and 
one you do not suspect, has told me you are harboring 
him, and doing all you can to assist him in hunting us 
down. I'm straight on your track now, G — d d — n 
you, and if you don't tell all about Sanders, I'll kill you 
right here; I intend to kill you anyhow, as soon as we 
get Sanders." He asked me when I saw Sanders. I re- 
plied, last Saturday week. He then escorted me back 


to the camp, and very soon Stephen Lowrie took me 
out for a chat; he asked me about the same questions as 
Henry B. had, and received the same answers — he also 
made the same threats, and charged me with harboring 
Sanders. We passed the whole night in the camp — the 
prisoners occupying Sanders' quarters (Mr. Sanders 
was absent at the time), and the robbers stationed around 
us. During the night Stephen Lowrie exhibited to me a 
pack of cards, which he said he bought at the Scotch 
Fair, and boasted of his boldness in visiting that place. 
Messengers were sent at intervals through the night in 
two different directions from the camp, apparently to 
confer with parties stationed a short distance off. About 
daylight the robbers became impatient, and began to 
look out as for the arrival of some one whom they ex- 
pected to come in at that hour. Soon after daylight 
Stephen Lowrie went out alone in the direction of Moss 
Neck; after he had been gone about ten minutes, I heard 
several voices a short distance from the camp cry, "halt!" 
One of them I recognized as the voice of Stephen Low- 
rie, the others of the men whom I had not seen in the 
camp ; I also heard a voice which I recognized to be 
that of Sanders say, "I surrender. " Henry B. Lowrie, 
George Applewhite and Henderson Oxendine now left 
us and ran out in the direction of the voices, leaving us 
in charge of Boss Strong. H. B. and Stephen Lowrie 
returned to the camp singing and rejoicing, saying that 
they had got the buck they wanted. H. B. Lowrie then 
approached me and said, "G — d d — n you, will you tell 
a straight tale now? You said you hadn't seen Sanders 
since Saturday week — d — n you, you saw him last Sat- 
urday." Stephen Lowrie then took me aside and said, 


"Henry Berry is mad with you — he is mad enough to 
kill you, and I am afraid he will kill you, but I'll try to 
prevent it." Henry Berry then called me aside and 
said, "Now, G — d d — n you, you've been doing all you 
could against me — you've been harboring this man San- 
ders and trying to have us captured —I've got a notion 
to kill you right here, but if you'll promise me to leave 
the country I believe I'll let you off this time, but if I 
ever get hold of you again, you may look out." He then 
returned the pistols that had been taken from the other 
prisoners, but he kept mine, saying he would take care 
of it. He then told me he would give me a little advice: 
"I might go to Moss Neck and run my shebang — I might 
have a guard there if I wished, but he would advise me 
to leave the country, and leave immediately." Said he, 
"You are young, stout, healthy, and able to do good busi- 
ness; I hate to interfere with you, but you have done so 
much against us, I've got a notion to kill you. Tell your 
father if he will stay at home and let us alone he needn't 
be afraid, but he must walk a chalk line." They then 
sent me and the other young men they had captured off 
in one direction, and they moved off in an opposite di- 
rection. I did not see Sanders, as he was not brought 
into the camp, but I recognized his voice in pronouncing 
the words "I surrender," when halted near the camp. 


We now come to the closing scene of outlawry in 
Robeson county — when the last desperado of that for- 
midable "Lowrie Band" played his own death march 
on the eve of joining his faithful comrades in crime and 


bloodshed who had gone on before to judgment and jus- 
tice. No tongue can picture or pen portray the great 
sense of relief that swelled in many bosoms at the an- 
nouncement that "the last outlaw is dead." No more 
will suffering mothers and wives, on seeing their loved 
ones depart for their places of business, offer up the 
heartfelt prayer, "God protect our dear son or husband 
from the rage of Steve Lowrie;" never again shall his 
swarthy face peer into our dwellings, sending a thrill of 
horror through our veins, and causing our hearts to 
stand still with fear and apprehension ; no more shall the 
echo of his rifle reverberate through field and forest :-his 
old haunts are desolate; the well beaten paths through 
swamp and woodland are overgrown with briar and 
bramble; his cabin, own deserted, stands crumbling in 
decay, reminding the passer-by that the reign of terror 
is over in Robeson — the glory of the robber chief and 
his clan is ended, and naturally a prayer of thanksgiv- 
ing arises for the long hoped-for deliverance, 

Steve Lowrie was about six feet high, well propor- 
tioned, carrying his head a little forward, giving him 
the appearance of being slightly stoop-shouldered. He 
was always well armed with navy repeaters, a Henry 
rifle and occasionally a double barrel gun. After the 
killing of the other members of the band, and he was 
left the field to himself, he remained for several months 
very quiet. He finally began to grow weary of the 
hum-drum, inactive life he was leading, and he was grad- 
ually becoming troublesome. He drank a good deal, 
and in his drinking hours was really dangerous. He 
made many threats, particularly while drinking, as to 
what he intended doing were he not pardoned, and as- 
serted positively that he had boys drilling, and as soon 


as they equalled him in markmanship they would start 
out, and the past was not a circumstance to that which 
was in store for those whom he believed to be his ene- 
mies. Several times within a few days before he was 
killed he mentioned the names of three young men in 
the neighborhood that he had decided to kill in a few 
days. One of them was Mr. Patterson, who aided in 
ridding the county of his vile presence on the memora- 
ble night of the 23rd of February, 1874. Some of his 
own color stood in much fear of him, as he had whipped 
some of their wives and daughters severely, and threat- 
ened killing them if he heard of their talking about him 

Although he strode from place to place, apparently at 
ease and without fear, his paths were watched. It was 
no easy matter, though it may appear so to those unac- 
quainted with the real facts in the case, to come up with 
him. Those who were eagerly in pursuit of him, 
found it difficult to locate him. To-day he might 
be at the house of one of his many friends for a few 
hours; it might be weeks before he would visit the same 
place again. A few weeks before he was killed, a party 
of three who liad been lying in wait for hours near the 
house of a colored man, where he was known to call 
very often in passing, had the pleasure of seeing him 
emerge from the house and take his place for a chat in 
such a position as to give them an opportunity of giving 
him a taste of powder, but they, so eager for the game, 
fired too hasty — and missed. He ran and made good 
his escape unhurt, amid a shower of shot. This warn- 
ing made him more cautious, and led him to avoid such 
places in future. He left that portion of the neighbor- 
hood and went higher up, where in a few weeks he met 


his just doom at the hands of the young men whose 
names will appear in the following particulars : 

The families of Messrs. D. Holcomb and Davis Bul- 
lard were frequently annoyed by the visits of Steve 
Lowrie. It was at the house of the father of Davis (Mr. 
E. Bullard) that the two young men above named met 
Steve in December, 1873, and jointly resolved to take 
his life or rid their families of his company. They ac- 
cordingly left the house and proceeded to station them- 
selves on the road which they supposed he would go on 
his way home. Steve remained until about 9 o'clock 
and left, taking the direction in which the boys had 
gone, but before getting to them took a by-path, thus 
escaping them. Several weeks after this, Mr. Holcomb 
was on his way to Red Banks, a depot on the Carolina 
Central Railway, when he was met and accosted by 
Steve. He inquired of Mr. H. where he was going. He 
told him, and in turn made the same inquiry of Steve. 
He replied that he was going over to a whiskey wagon 
that had camped a short distance off. Each then went 
on his way. In the afternoon of the same day, as Mr. 
H. was returning from the Banks, he again met Steve, in 
company with the wagon that he had spoken of in the 
morning. He told Mr. Holcomb that he must go back 
with him a mile or so to McLaughlin's (the mother of 
the notorious Zach. McLaughlin) to borrow a jug to put 
some whiskey in, which he had bought from the wagon- 
er. When they reached McLaughlin's Steve asked Mr. 
Holcomb if he brought any letters from the office. He 
told him that he had one for Mr. Purcell. He desired 
Mr. H. to open and read the letter to him. This he re- 
fused, telling him that if he would go to Mr. Purcell's he 


would read it for him. He readily consented to do this, 
requesting Mr. H. to accompany him. He mounted Mr. 
Holcomb's horse, compelling him to take a seat behind 
him. Mr. Holcomb objected to this style of riding, and 
proposed to go to Mr. Bullard's and borrow another an- 
imal, to which he assented. Mr. H. had another object 
in view in going to this place, which Steve did not sus- 
pect. While he was getting another animal he was also 
laying a plan with Mr. Thomas Bullard to go and get 
his brother Robert Holcomb to waylay the road, and on 
their return to pick Lowrie off; but he again frustrated 
them by taking a by-way. "When they reached Mr. 
Purcell's and the letter was handed him, Steve remark- 
ed that his business there was to know the contents of 
that letter. It was read to him, but it was not concern- 
ing the petition for his pardon, as he thought, and which 
was the cause of his showing so much interest in it. Af- 
ter leaving Mr. Purcell's, Steve went to the house of Mr. 
Holcomb and remained about one hour. Davis Bullard 
was also there, and Steve told him and Mr. H. that they 
must go to the house of a Mr. Jones that lived near, and 
get him some chickens. They started, but instead of 
going to Mr. Jones', they went to Mr. Patterson's, 
called him out, told him the situation, and requested him 
to go with him. Before starting they went to the fowl- 
house and took a chicken, in order to disarm Steve of 
any suspicion which might arise in his mind from their 
prolonged stay. They had parted with Steve at a ne- 
gro house, and on their return were to go with him to 
the house of Purcell Locklear, where there was a whis- 
key wagon camped. Mr. Patterson left them to conceal 
himself on the road until they would pass, and he was 
then to go on to the wagon. Steve being ever on the 


c *&. _ _ . 

alert, would have at once suspected some scheme if Mr. 
P. had gone in company with them. Their object in 
getting Mr. P. to go with them was to assist in ridding 
the county then and there of the last outlaw, should op- 
portunity offer. The boys were all unarmed, but Mr. 
H. picked up an axe, intending to kill him with it, but 
Steve turned suddenly, and again they were thwarted. 
Seeing no prospect of a chance that night, they left, 

About two weeks after this, Steve was again at. Mr. 
E. Bullard's, and stayed until after supper. As soon 
as Davis learned that he was at the house of his father, 
he went after Mr. Holcomb to go with him to waylay 
the road, hoping to be more successful. They stationed 
themselves on the road, taking their stand behind the 
posts of a gate to await his coming. This time they 
were doomed to disappointment, for in passing the gate 
he walked so near the post as to render it impossible to 
bring their guns to bear upon him. A short time after 
this, Mr. Holcomb heard of him in the neighborhood, 
and got Mr. Sutton to go with him to endeavor to learn 
his whereabouts; they concluded to get Mr. Patterson 
also, and went to his house for that purpose. Davis 
Bullard had also heard of him, and had been before 
them, and he, in company with Mr. Patterson, had gone 
to try and intercept him. As they were not sufficient- 
ly supplied with ammunition, they went to the house of 
Mr. H. to supply themselves. "When they came near 
the house they heard some one picking the banjo ; on 
waiting a short time they learned it was Steve. They 
were confident that the other boys were somewhere in 
the vicinity, and walked around to see if they could get 
together. They soon found them, and together took 
their places near a hay-loft, where Steve had slept 


sometime before. They sat there until near 11 o'clock, 
when they concluded he would not remain all night, 
and changed their position over near the road that he 
would take should he go home. In a few minutes he 
came out and went into the loft, passing in a few feet 
of their first stand. They gave up the chase for this 
time, but with the determination to try again whenever 
opportunity offered. 

Friday night before he was killed the following Mon- 
day there was a social gathering at the house of Mr. 
Neill Patterson. Two of the boys present walked out; 
a short distance from the house some one hailed them, 
which proved to be Steve Lowrie. He conversed with 
them a short time, and during the conversation laugh- 
ed so loudly as to be heard at the house. Messrs. Mc. 
Patterson and Davis Bullard were sitting at the time 
out in the yard laying a plan to kill him. They heard 
and recognized his voice. Davis walked out and took 
him to one side to have a private chat with him, and to 
learn if possible where he might be for a day or two. 
He proposed to Steve to make up a party somewhere 
in the neighborhood and they would have some fun. 
Steve readily agreed, and appointed one to be at Hugh 
McLean's the following Tuesday night. He told Davis 
he must be sure and attend, told him who to invite, 
and to speak of it to no one else, and particularly to 
keep it a secret from Mc. Patterson and John Bridgers. 
He then left. The next day Mr. T. Bullard and Mc. 
Patterson were at the Banks. There were also two 
whiskey wagons. The above gentlemen heard the 
wagoners say they intended camping at Martin Mc- 
Nair's (colored) that night and until the following 


Monday. They came home, reported the same to 
Messrs. Holcomb and Davis Bullard, and they laid 
plans accordingly ; they knew that Steve was in the 
habit of visiting the wagons that camped at this 
place. The day following (being Sunday) they were 
to meet at church and mature their plans. Messrs. 
Holcomb and Bullard did not return to their own 
homes, but went to the house of a neighbor in order to 
slip up to the wagon after dark without any one's be- 
coming aware of their plans except their own party. 
After dark they crept up in about fifty yards of the 
wagoner's camp to learn if Steve was there. A loud 
laugh rang out on the stillness of the night which they 
at once recognized as Steve Lowrie's. They were sure 
of the game now; they fully intended this night, to end 
the drama; the following day should herald to an out- 
raged people the end of outlawry in Robeson. The 
brave fellows who had dogged his footsteps and wisely 
kept their own counsel, proceeded to the house of Mr. 
E. Bullard to procure their arms. Here they found 
Messrs. Patterson and Sutton. They did not have 
guns sufficient to arm a party of four, and Mr. Hol- 
comb proposed to Davis to lend his gun to Mr. Sutton 
and he (Davis) to go to the wagon, and keep a bright fire, 
and also to arrange so as to give them a chance of a 
fair trial of their skill at the outlaw. Davis, only a boy 
of eighteen, being so eager for the fray, at first refused; 
the others insisted, as Steve had more confidence in Davis 
than any of their party, and had never been known to 
evince any anger or to express a doubt with regard to 
him. It being necessary that some one cognizant of their 
plan should be in company with Steve in order to sue- 


ceed, Davis finally consented, and at once proceeded 
to the wagon before the other boys took their places. 
Messrs. Holcomb and Sutton selected their position in- 
side of a fence on the opposite side of the road from the 
wagon, and about twenty-five yards distant. They 
learned at once that they had an excellent opportunity 
of singling Steve out from the balance of the Indians and 
negroes, about a dozen of whom were also at the wagon. 
Mr. Holcomb raised his gun to take aim, when Mr. Sut- 
ton remarked that he had lost the cap from his gun. 
Mr. H. then took a cap from his own gun, split it so as 
to fit a musket and handed it to him, but he (Mr. S.) was 
so excited that he dropped it. Being now without caps, 
they had to go to Mr. Bullard's (one-fourth of a mile) to 
get some, after which they returned to their position. 
Here they waited some time without an opportunity of 
a shot, and being tired, crawled off some little distance 
and lay down to rest. On going back, they overheard 
Steve making a plan to take some of the crowd and go 
to Mr. John McNair's to get some chickens; they then 
decided to go and waylay the road to Mr. McNair's and 
shoot him as he passed. There they waited some time, 
and as they did not go on, concluded that the party had 
gone another way. They started back to ascertain, and 
met Messrs. Tom Bullard and Charlie Holcomb. They 
informed them that Steve was still at the wagon. And 
it was their impression that he intended remaining. The 
boys all went on to Mr. E. Bullard's and requested Mr. 
Patterson to go home and get his gun and go back to 
their old stand. He at once, in company with Mr. Sut- 
ton, went after his gun, and Mr. Holcomb returned to 
his former position alone, to await their return. Mr. 


Tom Bullard went to the wagon to try and learn what 
was to be the order of the night. In the meantime, 
Messrs. Patterson and Sutton joined Mr. Holcomb, and 
together, they were awaiting Mr. Bullards report; he 
came in a few moments, reporting that Steve had sent 
for his "banjo," and without doubt would remain at the 
wagon all night, and he also learned that Steve had, 
with a party of several, been to Mr. McNair's, entered his 
fowl-house by breaking three locks and brought six chick- 
ens and a large turkey to the wagon; the chickens had 
been cooked and eaten — the turkey was on cooking for 
breakfast. He compelled Davis Bullard to accompany 
him to Mr. McNair's. Steve was a firm believer in con- 
juration, and kept on hand a supply of roots, bones, &c. ; 
before he started after the chickens, he took something 
from his pocket, put it in a bottle of whiskey, and after 
shaking well together, anointed his person with it, re- 
marking at the time with an oath, that there Was not a 
man in the Statethat could hit him with a shot. The party, 
after hearing this report, proceeded to their old stand 
near the fence. They discovered Steve sitting with his 
head down, putting his banjo in tune, and determined as 
soon as he would raise his head that they would fire. In 
a moment he threw his head back and commenced his 
tune, when simultaneously the guns fired which ended 
his career on earth, and sent him, a blood-stained, 
crime-hardened wretch, to answer before a great 
tribunal for the deeds committed while in the flesh. 
"With a deep groan, he fell forward lifeless, without warn- 
ing. As he measured to others, even so was it meted 
out to him. They at once made arrangements to carry 
his body to Lumberton, where it was delivered to the 



Sheriff, amid the shouts and acclamations of a large 
crowd. It being court week in Lumberton, the Judge 
was there, and in his charge highly commended the 
young men for their praise-worthy act. 

Their papers to obtain the reward placed upon his 
head being duly made out, signed and delivered to them, 
Messrs. Patterson and Sutton took the cars for Raleigh, 
where they received the sum offered for the body of 
Stephen Lowrie — the last outlaw in Robeson. 

The above was taken from a photograph of the widow of Stephen 
Lowrie, who still lives (1909). 


RUARY 26, 1874. 

Perhaps no people have been so scourged as the peo- 
ple of Robeson, nevertheless they have been abused and 
villified. The dandified clerk in the city counting-room 
would say, "Why don't those people rise up and extirpate 
the Lowrie gang? If I was there, I could very easily 
stop this thing." The stroller along the side-walks made 
similar remarks. Even dignified and cautious people 
sometimes made censorious remarks of Robeson 
county. A multitude of talkers afar off from the terri- 
ble scenes enacted by this Lowrie band had this and 
that to say about the good people of Robeson county. 
Curt, petulant and sarcastic sayings passed from the 
mouths of bomb-proof assailants, but through it all, the 
killing went on. Not one of the captious critics of Robe- 
son suffered one iota in purse or person. They were 
afar off, although sometimes trembling. We take this 
opportunity, the killing of the last outlaw, to say to the 
country at large, what we know to be strictly true, that 
there is no more courageous, industrious, whole-souled 
people in the world than the citizens of Robeson, and all 
through the Lowrie war, whether under the command 
of a United States officer or the Sheriff, they conducted 
themselves with courage and a high sense of public 
duty. The obstacles these people had to encounter in 
suppressing the Lowrie gang is not a property of the 
bomb-proof critic or the side-walk loafer, but it is the 
province of truth and history to delineate these facts. 




I shall never forget the very curious sensation I ex- 
perienced as I stood on a wagon in the centre of more 
than a thousand of the Croatans, at their Normal School 
at Pate's, in Robeson county, and spoke to them in May. 
Just a month before I had been at Roanoke Island and 
at that classic spot, Fort Raleigh, and had gone to the 
edge and standing on the crest of a sand-dune there, be- 
tween two wind-tossed live oaks, had looked out across 
the yellow waters of the narrow sound at the banks be- 
yond, which separate the sound from the sea, and look- 
ing further eastward yet, had seen the heaving water of 
the ocean, stretching three thousand miles away and 
more, towards that England for which the deserted, 
lonely and terror-stricken third colony of Sir "Walter 
Raleigh must have yearned so hopelessly, in the closing 
years of that fateful experiment at settlement which the 
great Knight made in this State of ours. 


As I looked into the faces of one of the most attentive 
audiences* possible and saw that strange blending of In- 
dian and white, my mind went back through the mist of 
years and there came the reflection that there were no 
stranger people on the continent than those before me. 

* Written by Col. F. A. Old, of Raleigh, N. C. Col. Olds visited 
that section of Rebeson County in which the Croatan Indians live, 
and "wrote a series of newspaper articles as a result of his visit. 
This]appendix contains these articles in condensed form. 


The Croatans owe to one man, Hamilton McMillan, 
their status in North Carolina; their status which forbids 
inter-marriage except among themselves; which makes 
them a tribe, and in a way the wards of the State; just 
as the Cherokees of the Eastern Band; in the mountain 
region, who have about the same numerical strength, 
are the wards of the Nation. The Cherokees, however, 
have had far more done for them than have the Croa- 

These Croatans were found by the earliest people 
who pushed up into North Carolina northward from the 
Charleston settlement to be a blend of Indian and En- 
glish; to have extremely neat houses though of logs; ex- 
traordinarily good roads for that period; well-kept yards, 
and to have many peculiarities of Old English speech. 
Ever since that time those peculiarities have existed, 
and they stand broadly out now. In fact the Croatans 
are marked as a psculiar people. No white man on 
earth knows them nearly so well as Hamilton McMillan, 
of Red Springs, who, when in the Legislature of 1887, 
brought about their official recognition by the State, se- 
curing a small appropriation for the normal school and 
giving them absolutely separate schools, under a distinct 



This much by way of preface. The route into this 
Indian country runs through the fertile section west of 
Lumberton and the lands were found as fiat as a floor, 
with very dark soil and with streams which have all the 
clearness marking those which traverse the cypress and 
juniper region. 

That part of the State has many characteristics of ex- 



- , S 

The above illustration shows the Normal School building at 
Pates. This house has been standing for some years. As proof of 
their appreciation of what the State is doing for them in regard to 
education they have purchased a tract of land at Pembroke, which 
is situated about a mile from the present school site, on which they 
are now (1909) erecting a large modern school building. 


treme eastern North Carolina and these Indians, when 
they originally removed from the mainland, in what is 
now Hyde county and thereabouts, must have found 
the section very home-like indeed. 


It was a short walk along the railway track to the 
normal school, a building half unpainted and standing 
on the edge of a pine grove, with a church to one side, 
and in the rear one of the public schools of this race, 
which is so thickset in the country of which Pate's is the 
centre, for, in a small radius the bulk of the Croatans 
live. In the school were gathered the students, about 
70 in number, and their tints ran all the way from the 
deep copper color of the Indian to almost perfect white. 
Beautiful hair and extremely fine eyes was the rule 
and not the exception and they carried themselves well. 
In a little talk the writer introduced himself and told the 
purpose of his visit, which was to see them in their home 
and school life. They were very kind in their recep- 
tion and presently Preston Locklear, a very striking type 
of their people, drove up his buggy and we made ready 
to make a trip through their settlements. Locklear ex- 
plained that his name had become corrupted from 
Lockyer, which is very distinctly English. "We got pic- 
tures of the house, or rather two houses, occupied by 
Mr. Jacobs, near the school, the people being of the pro- 
nounced Croatan type, the house being extremely well 
built of logs, with a wonderful clean yard of shining 
sand, with abounding shrubbery and trees, and with a 
well curbed with a cypress log and having an old-fash- 
ioned and long sweep. Mr. Jacobs' mother is the widow 
of one of the oldest Methodist preachers. 


The next place visited was the home of Harriet Gra- 
ham, a cozy little cabin, with a garden adjoining, the 
house of logs, and the furniture all hand-made, and the 
surroundings looking very Indian-like indeed. As guides 
there went with us two Croatan girls. 

Locklear said his son was a doctor and had been out 
in the Indian Territory and was at once recognized by 
the Indians there as being of their race of people. He 
said his son had graduated at Baltimore. 


The third place visited was the most striking of all; 
this being the home of the venerable Washington Lowery, 
or Lowrie, known far and near among his people as 
"Uncle "Wash". His home, built of logs like the rest, 
embraces several buildings, and there was a porch of 
unique design, also of logs. The old man was par- 
tially paralyzed, but he talked very well indeed. He 
had a good deal to say about his people and said he 
had heard his "feyther" and "grand-feyther" speak over 
and over again about their having come from Roanoke 
Island. He said there was no doubt about the orgin of 
his people, and seemed to be very proud of it indeed. 
He referred to the fact that he had been out in the In- 
dian Territory a good many years ago and said he had 
looked into the question of citizenship or tribeship there 
and that the Indians had recognized him as of their peo- 
ple, but that their chiefs wanted his papers to show 
whence he came. "Uncle Wash" was seated in a home ■ 
made chair, the seat of which was of cowskin with the 
hair on, and all about inside and out were home-made 
furniture and appliances, old-time things, spinning- 


wheels, looms, etc., and his wife brought out home-made 
cloth for winter and summer use. Her name is Kather- 
ine and some of the cloth of jeans, brown in color, which 
she had made, she said she had dyed with walnut 
leaves. Then there was homespun of several colors, 
some of it dyed with indigo, which has been raised on 
the place for generations. We went all through this 
Lowery home, in one great room being four beds, but 
the walls being quite open, so that there was plen- 
ty of ventilation. Lowery said he was kin to 
the Cherokees in this State and that all his people were; 
that he had known this close kinship always and that 
he had told the Cherokee and Creek Indians, when he 
had visited them in their own territory about this, and 
that they had received him well. He said he had gone 
to the Territory the "year of the shake," by this mean- 
ing in 1886, when the great earth-quake shocks were 
felt. That was the year before the Croatans were given 
citizenship. Lowery said that most of the Croatan 
houses were in the style of his, but some double houses 
were seen with rooms right and left, and a broad open 
space between, all under one roof. Such houses as 
these used to be common in the North Carolina moun- 

It was learned that they felt very proud of how well 
they had preserved themselves as a people, in view of 
the fact that the constitution of 1835, which took away 
from everybody except the whites the right to vote, had 
put them beyond the pales and made them virtually 
Ishmaelites. Under such conditions no race could have 
preserved its purity better than the Croatans. There 
are people, some even in Robeson county perhaps, who 


speak of the Croatans as if they were negroes, but never 
was there anything further from the truth. 


They have the Indian traits of suspicion and of 
revenge. I had been among the Indians in western 
North Carolina and standing there amidst these people, 
could not help thinking that if they could pay a visit to 
their Cherokee brethren they would be greeted as of 
their very own people. Yet as a race they know nothing 
about the Cherokees. Cut off from everything, for so 
many years, for they had always voted up to 1835, they 
are entitled to wonderful credit for what they have 
done. Now they all vote under the "grandfather clause". 
They used to be largely Republicans, but are now 
mainly Democrats. In years past politicians sought to 
use them. 

It is in language construction that the teachers find 
the greatest trouble with them. They have so many 
old phrases and such old pronunciation of not a few 
words that a friend remarked that they talked almost 
exactly like the peoj:>le in some English countries. Upon 
the roll of the pupils in schools were names borne by 
the Roanoke colonists. Assurances were given that 
these people had made as much relative improvement 
in the past 25 years as any others in their section of 
the State or in any other part of it, yet they started at 
zero. Of course there is plenty of room for further im- 
provement. They are domestic in their life and they 
need only two things, these being abstention from liquor 
and the cultivation of a higher standard of morals in 
home life. They have been the prey of designing white 
men, who have gone in their section for evil purposes 


these many years. This and their past treatment by 
the whites have been the chief difficulties in securing 
their confidence. The lack of relics and tradition 
among them is most impressive, but yet what have the 
Cherokees in western North Carolina to show now of 
the old days except what the burial mounds contain? 
In the eastern part of the State the Indians have so 
faded away that they are not even a memory, the last 
remnant of them having been in Bertie county. 


Another Indian trait is the love for bright clothing. 
I have seen this in the West and also among the North 
Carolina Cherokees and among the Florida Seminoles. 
Red, blue and yellow are the delight particularly of the 
girls. The beauty of the girls was a subject of general 
comment, most having straight hair, dense black, but in 
some cases it curled gracefully. 

In the old times these people used to work a great deal 

in the turpentine and lumber interests but these have 

largely passed away. The negroes do not like the Cro- 

atans. There are very few negroes in the Croatan 



Rhoda Lowery, the widow of Henry Berry Lowery, 
who, in 1870, was the terror of that part of the State. 
Those were in the old days when Maxton, now so 
thriving a town and making such a brave show along 
the railway, was but a straggling village and was called 
Shoe Heel, (a corruption of Quhele, it seems). Those 
were the times when the Croatan Indian settlement was 
known as Scuffletown. That was a corruption too, for 


in the long-ago it was "Scoville Town", taking its name 
from a family of the tribe which was prominent. At 
the time of our visit there was not a suggestion of age 
in Rhoda's face, form or hair, and it seemed hard to 
realize that she had figured 38 years ago and must be 
well on toward 60. One would have guessed something 
around 40 as her age. Her father was a Yankee and 
her mother a Sweet, the latter being a family in South 
Carolina, living in a place where there are several of 
the Croatan families, one of these having formerly been 
the Dirigos, though this is corrupted into quite another 
name. Rhoda spoke of Henry Berry Lowery as the 
handsomest man she ever saw. She has several acres 
of ground and raises on this everything she needs. 

The Croatans are no believers in race suicide, Joseph 
Locklear had twenty-five children, one wife being the 
mother of them all. Another woman, Missouri Lock- 
lear, who is only 28 years old and has eleven children, 
there being two sets of twins. Large families are the rule 
and it was a sight to see the farm wagons and other 
vehicles coming to the commencement, packed with 
children, these looking like animated bouquets, as far 
as the girls were concerned, so gay were the colors of 
dresses, hats and sashes. There are some two thousand 
school children of these people and there are seven hun- 
dred voters. They voted always until 1838, and then 
were deprived of the ballot until 1868, being nearly 
twenty years before the time when they were set apart 
by the State as a separate people. No one knows ex- 
actly the number of them, but there are pretty close to 
3,500. Some of them raise as many as 75 bales of cot- 
ton. More of them are Baptist than of other denomina- 
tions, most of the remainder belonging to the Northern 


Methodist Church. There is a number of preachers 
among them. 

The word "mon", an old English form of "man", was 
heard over and over again and one of the chiefs said 
that a favorite gesture and phrase of some of the Croa- 
tans, when excited, was to strike the palm of one hand 
with the fist and say: "Dom my hand to the bone". It 
is said that this was quite an oath in some parts of En- 
gland a long time ago and yet obtains there. The names 
Lowery, Locklear, Oxendine, Dial, Bullard, Sampson, 
Brooks and Chavis were heard, those of Locklear and 
Lowery predominating. It was found that the Raleigh 
colonists names of Lowery, Sampson, Harris, Jones, 
Brooks and Chavis were matched by the students, while 
in the community the names of a score of the white col- 
onists are perpetuated. A subject furnished by this 
community for a poem which if properly wrought out 
would surpass in pathos David's story of the dispersion 
of the Jews or Long Fellow's "Evangeline". To tell 
the truth, down under the surface there was just a tinge 
of sadness in these people. Not all the white people are 
friends to these Croatans. The more pronounced type 
of Croatan, the more solemn and dignified they are and 
as stoical as any red man. 


The great need of the country of the Croatans is good 
drainage. A lot of it is in swamp. As a matter of fact 
a county drainage system for Robeson county, giving an 
opportunity for cross drainage would be a grand invest- 
ment. The land is good to work and the crops show it. 
The normal school house stands in the very centre of 
what used to be "Scuffletown". Mention has been 


made of the isolation of these people. There was, years 
ago a marriage of a Croatan woman to a negro, this 
having occurred before therecognition of the racein 1887. 
This was followed by an arrest and conviction. 

The Lumber river, one of the most striking streams 
in the lower section of the State, runs through the heart 
of the Croatan country. The river is entirely fed by 
springs and is bordered by cypress and juniper, which 
give it the tint of such eastern streams as the Pasquotank 
river, for example, intensely dark in the mass, but very 
clear in a small quantity, and extremely palatable as 
drinking water. This was another similarity between 
the section where these people are settled and that from 
whence their ancestors came. 


Almost every house has nearby it a scuppernong vine 
and nowhere in this State is this grape finer. Of all the 
grapes this one is the best liked by these people. When 
asked if any of them had ever visited Roanoke island 
the reply was made none except the Revels family. 
These went to the island and the site of the old fort a 
good many years ago before the site was marked. They 
went to various places in that section, on the banks and 
on the mainland. Revels was a United States Senator 
from Mississippi and was classed as a colored man, the 
Croatan not then having any distinct status. 

The Croatans increase very rapidly in numbers under 
sanitary conditions, and must soon become important 
factors for good or evil in that part of the State. The 
intelligent and leading men among them are very hope- 
ful for the future and the interest the State has manifest- 
ed in their educational progress lately is arousing general 


interest, if not enthusiasm, as an illustration of which 
they have themselves purchased, near Pembroke 
ten acres of land, upon which to erect a better 
school building. "While many of them own land, none 
of them are wealthy. "Without aid from the State their 
educational progress must still be retarded by many diffi 
cult problems. They are not able themselves to provide 
such a school as they need and the fostering care of the 
State is their hope. Their speech and manners have 
always marked them as a peculiar people. Of course 
they still feel deeply the injustice done them by the laws 
of 1835, which forced nearly all the older men and 
women into involuntary ignorance, but they now fully 
realize the meaning to their prosperity of the State's 
effort to aid them in educating their children. 


Many persons have been told that the Croatans are all 
revengeful and hate the whites. This was a wrong im- 
pression. Those who have been educated at schools 
are now, almost without exception, among the best citi- 
zens of the Croatans. "Whiskey and bad white men 
were once the curse of the Croatan people, but here there 
is a rapid and radical change ; a large part of the Croatan 
vote was cast for prohibition. The law of 1835 closed to 
these people every avenue of hope and said in effect 
that they must submit to being absorbed by the negro 
race. Their white neighbors withdrew many privi- 
leges which had previously been granted them. It must be 
borne in mind that this intolerable condition existed for 
over fifty years. The Croatans have very quick per- 
ceptions, distinguishing readily between a flatterer and 


a friend, and they say frankly that they hold the former 
in contempt, and esteem the latter highly. 


It was found that these people use remedies at least 
which were prescribed in English medical works as far 
back as 1706, and one of these is so singular that it de- 
serves to be recorded, it being three live lice in a drink 
of whiskey, it being esteemed two hundred years ago 
and now as a sovereign for fever. Thus while there 
are a few traditions, things are handed down. I have no 
doubt that houses look now as they did say 200 years 
ago or more. Certainly in no parts of the State except 
among the Cherokees and a few of the whites in the 
wilder portions of the mountains, are there so many 
home-made things. The houses simply abound with 
them. These people are good shots and when they do 
shoot usually kill. One lady at Pembroke still carries 
in her body a ball from the gun of Henry Lowery, who 
fired it at her father. They love to fish and hunt. The 
shades of color are as varied as one can see in a walk 
in Mexico, and some of the pronounced Indian faces are 
wonderfully like those of the Mexican Indians (not the 
peons), while others for tint and outline will com- 
pare with those in a white community. The eyes 
are really the haunting things. There are some women 
of ill repute and there are some who sell whiskey, but 
the race is on the uplift. Yet it has, in largest measure, 
to do the working out of its own fate and destiny. An- 
derson Locklear two years ago went to Washington, 
had an audience with the President and was told bv 


the latter of his appreciation of Locklear's invitation to 
visit North Carolina and Roanoke island, the original 


home of his people, Indians and whites. The President 
said that the history of the Croatans greatly interested 

It is found that the Croatans have, to a remarkable 
degree, that sense of direction which is peculiar to all the 
types of Indians and which is so acute as to be almost an 
instinct. Several of their people spoke about their use of 
cross bows, and so far as can be ascertained they were 
the only Indians in this country who used these wea- 
pons, which originated on the other side of the Atlantic, 
and which the English used up to the time of Sir Walter 

Justice is but too often spoken of as tardy, and surely 
the case of the Croatan Indians of North Carolina is one 
which proves the accuracy of this general statement. 
It required three hundred years for them to come to 
their own again, the descendents of the "Lost Colony of 
Roanoke", and of these Indians on the North Carolina 
coast who were described by the historians of the 1587 
expedition by the English to these shores as a very noble, 
well-favored and splendidly formed people, as indeed is 
shown by the water-color drawing made by John 
White, the artist of this noted expedition sent out 
by that prince of exploiters, Sir Walter Raleigh, which 
landed at Roanoke Island. It is strange, but true, that 
the writer made the first printed suggestion that the Croa- 
tan Indians of to-day are the descendents of Governor 
White's "Lost Colony", this suggestion having been 
made July 31st, 1885, though the idea had been advanced 
by Mr. Hamilton McMillan, of Robeson county, North 
Carolina, who has spent much of his life in the country 
of the Croatans and who knows more of their history 
and tradition than any other living man. It was in 1887, 


while a member of the North Carolina Legislature, that 
Mr. McMillan advanecd the idea and it was through his 
personal influence with that body that this tribe was 
given recognition. In 1888 he embodied his opinions in 
a brochure which advanced internal evidence and tra- 
dition with historical evidence in favor of the survival 
of the "Lost Colony" in the persons of the Croatans of 

this day. 



There was in 1584 the first expedition, under Ral- 
eigh's auspices, which landed on the North Carolina 
coast, passed through an inlet and found the isle of 
Roanoke, the largest in North Carolina with a fortified 
village, the people being declared by these first explor- 
ers to be "gentle, loving and faithful, void of all guile 
and treason and such as live after the manner of the 
golden age". These first English explorers, since they 
could not be called colonists, remained here only two 
months, had friendly relations with tho Indians and 
spent all their time making explorations but made no 
effort to effect a settlement, returning to England and 
carrying with them two natives, both chiefs, Manteo and 
Wanchese, who received great attention in England and 
who were brought back by the next expedition. Man- 
teo remaining to the last the good friend of the white 
men while Manchese became their unlenting enemy. 
The accounts of the Englishmen took back of this new 
world, which Raleigh named "Virginia" in honor of the 
so-called Virgin Queen Elizabeth, set England in a 
flame, and bold adventurers rallied for a new journey, 
the expedition sailing early in 1585, Sir Richard Gren- 


ville, Raleigh's cousin, commanding. Virginia was the gen- 
eral name given all the territory which the English claimed 
on the basis of all discoveries, but it seems that there were 
two provinces, one called Carolana and the other Caro- 
lina, these adjoining, but Carolana soon went out of ex- 
istence, if indeed it really existed, and the name Caro- 
lina covered all the territory within the charter of 1663, 
this being presently divided so that in 1719 the govern- 
ments of North Carolina and South Carolina were made 
entirely distinct. In the second expedition which Ral- 
eigh sent over were some of the greattst minds of that 
great age, including Thomas Chavendish, Thomas Ha- 
riot, John White, Phillip Amadas, who had been on the 
former expedition, and Ralph Lane. Grenville, high- 
tempered always though brave as a lion, burned a town 
of the Indians and destroyed their corn crop because 
one of them had stolen a silver cup. This act was to 
bear fruit which soon brought woe to the white men. 
Grenville set a colony on Roanoke Island with Lane as 
Governor and in the late summer returned to England. 
He and Lane had had hot disputes on the outward voy- 
age and Lane seems to have been aware that no good 
was intended. The colony spent much time in explora- 
tion, and it is remarkable how much of the territory of 
the new world it visited. It went up into what is now 
Virginia, near what is now Norfolk, explored the 
Roanoke river, which the natives called Moratoke, 
this indeed being the meaning for many years. This 
time the natives were unfriendly and there was fighting 
during several of the expeditions The white men had 
depended upon the natives for food, this being usually 
hominy, made from Indian corn, potatoes and various 
other roots, fish and game. Hunger pressed so close 


that this colony had a council on one of its expeditions, 
but the explorers showed their bravery by deciding to 
persevere as long as half a pint of corn was left to the 

They lived on any sort of food, even on the meat of 
dogs, and almost starved, as they had no seed corn, the 
Indians refusing to furnish it, and also planning to starve 
the English to death by going away and leaving all their 
planting grounds on the island of Roanoke unsown. 
The English had no skill in catching fish with weirs, 
which the Indians used to a great extent. The Indians 
formed a league against the whites who were on short 
commons and who had to watch day and night to guard 
against massacre. Governor Lane held as a hostage, one 
of the princes, Skyco by name, and treated him most 
kindly, and this kindness bore fruit, for he betrayed the 
Indian plot to massacre every settler, the English acting 
instantly, notifying their would-be murderers that they 
desired a grand council on the mainland, going there 
well armed and putting the then king and the chief con- 
spiritors to death. The colonists then seized a good 
supply of corn and planted enough to last them two 
years, but suddenly Sir Francis Drake appeared with a 
great fleet of 23 vessels, offering to give the Englishmen 
food, ammunition, clothing and boats, and men for the 
latter. This generous offer was accepted but a great 
storm scattered the fleet and everything became gloomy 
in the extreme. Sir Richard Grenville had promised to 
come over but there was no sign of him and so the colo- 
nists, in the lowest spirits, decided to go home with 
Drake. There had been 108 of them but over a dozen 
had been killed or died. This was the sad end of the 
first actual English settlement in what is now the terri- 


tory of the United States. Directly after Lane left 
Roanoke a ship which Raleigh had fitted out and pro- 
vided with all necessaries arrived there and looked for 
the colonists but found them not and two weeks later 
Grenville came with three ships and also explored the 
country fruitlessly. He was so anxious to retain pos- 
session of it for England that he made the bold venture 
of leaving 15 men behind him on Roanoke island pro- 
viding these with full supplies and plenty of arms. Eng- 
lishmen saw the 15 no more, for when a year later 
John White came over he was told by the savages that 
these men had either been killed by the Indians or 
drowed' while trying to go from Roanoke island to Croa- 


The colonists were charmed with the country, finding 
grapes very sweet and large ; papatour, which is now 
known as Indian corn; opernauk, the native name for 
the potato now known as the Irish potato, and the uppo- 
woc, or tobacco, which was so much affected by the 
Indian and which made itself a wonder among the Eng- 
lishmen at once on both side of the ocean. In 1587 Sir 
Walter Raleigh, with his usual perseverance, made ready 
a new colony, made John "White the Governor with 12 
assistants, who were virtually named as alderman, of 
what was to be the "City of Raleigh in Virginia". This 
colony numbering 117, of whom 17 were women, 10 of 
these accompanying their husbands.* Roanoke has 
really a very poor harbor and Raleigh told his people 
to make their home on the Chesapeak bay, to which one 
party of Governor Lane's explorers had gone, but this 
step was not taken. It was the 22nd of July when the 
little fleet reached this coast and Governor White at 



The above illustration shows the photographs of three typical 
Croatan Indians. Reading from left to right they are — Evander 
Lowrie, Sias Locklear and Rev. Gilbert Locklear. The last named 
is very erect and shows many of the characteristics of the typical 
Indian. He is one of their leading ministers. 


once started to Roanoke island. "White had been with 
Grenville on the 1585 expedition. He was one of the 
best artists of his time and made very beautiful and ex- 
act pictures of the natives, as well as the fauna and 
flora of the new country, these being shown to Raleigh 
and aiding much in developing interest in the work of 
colonization. In 1590 they were engraved on copper 
and printed in a number of languages by Theodore 
DeBray, the chief German artist and printer of that 
time. White was of pacific temper and his purpose was 
to be friendly to the Indians. As soon as his boat had 
pushed off from the ship he said that the sailors in the 
latter had been directed not to take back to England 
any of the planters, but to leave them on the island. It 
was three days before the planters arrived, and they, 
sturdy men and women, prepared to make their home 
on the island. On the 13th of August, 1587, Manteo, 
who remained the faithful friend of the Indians was 
baptized by a clergyman of the established Church and 
was made Lord of Roanoke and Dassamonguepeuk, this 
being the only title of nobility ever given to a native of 
the new world by English authorization. Five days af- 
ter this 'baptism Governor Whites daughter, Eleanor 
Dare, the wife of Ananias Dare, one of the assistants, 
gave birth to a daughter who was christened "Virginia", 
and who was the first child of English parentage born 
in this hemisphere. The colonists found they needed 
many things, in spite of what was thought to be of am- 
ple provision for them, and they by vote decided that 
"White, their Governor, should go home as an agent for 
all, so as to supply every need. 



He sailed nine days after his baby granddaughter had 
been baptized and his eyes were the last which saw the 
ill-fated colonists. England was then in a stir. The 
great fight against Roman Catholic Spain was on and 
the country needed every man to do his duty. "With 
wonderful perseverence, in the midst of all the terrors 
of the time, Raleigh found means to send "White back to 
Virginia in 1588. He sailed in April with fifteen more 
planters and bountiful supplies but his vessels met war 
vessels of France and one of them was boarded and 
plundered. Both vessels returned to England. This 
was the last effort that year to help the Roanoke colon- 
ists, and it was in February, 1591, that "White through 
Raleigh's influence, started for Virginia. The comman- 
der of his little fleet thought more of plundering the 
Spaniards and the French than of the new colony and 
so it was August before the latter was reached. Heavy 
storms came on and seven of the best men were lost by 
the capsizing of a boat in trying to reach Roanoke 
island. One of the paintings made by "White in 1585 
showed a small boat sailing towards that island, in its 
bow standing a man holding aloft the cross. On this re- 
lief visit "White went personally in a boat and after a 
trying journey anchored at night in a little bay near the 
fort which had been built for the colonists; gave a call 
upon the trumpets and also a number of familiar En- 
glish airs, but there was no answer. "When daylight 
came the party landed and saw on the shore, cut on a 
pine tree, "CRO, " advanced towards the fort, found all 
the houses removed and all the place enclosed with a 
palisade of tree trunks of large size. "Within the little 


fortress they found pig iron and lead; iron guns, cannon 
shot and other heavy articles scattered here and there, 
overgrown with grass, chests dug up their contents 
scattered around. "White's own books being rotten from 
the rain and his armor nearly destroyed by rust. On 
one of the gate posts at the entrance to the fort on a 
great pine five feet above the ground, in large letters, 
was deeply cut the word "Croatan". There was not 
another sign. White, disheartened at this vanishing of 
his colony, went back to his fleet and pleaded with the 
captain in command to carry him to Croatan, which the 
latter agreed to do, but delayed day after day, then de- 
clared his supplies were too short and sailed away to 
the "West Indies. Such was "White's farewell to his col- 
ony, his daughter and his grandchild. This was the 
fifth and last voyage of White, for it seems he remained 
one whole year there and this makes it very probable 
he was iu the first expedition of 1584. 


Oblivion fell like a pall upon the colony and it came 
to be known through all the years as "The Lost Colony 
of Roanoke". Time was to lift the curtain and let in the 
light. The Anglo-Saxons have ever had a deep-seated 
antipathy towards intermarriage with people of another 
color, whether it be brown, black or yellow. The French, 
less squeamish in these matters, began at a very early day 
to foster such intermarriages, and this was one of the 
factors which brought about the influence the French 
had with their Indian allies. As a matter of fact the In- 
dians, as the whites found them, certainly in this part of 
the world, were a seemly people, as the well executed 
pictures by John "White, (the originals of which, in color, 


are in the British Museum, the United States and the 
State of North Carolina having duplicates,) show clearly 
that both the Indian men and women were comely to a 
very remarkable degree and the various work they did 
showed if not civilization, something which bordered 
upon it. To tell the truth it has always been the whites 
who have brought upon themselves the Indian hatred 
and revenge and whether it be in Peru, Mexico or the 
United States this has been over and over again the 
case. Yet as to these lost colonists and the Indians with 
whom they were taken to Croatan there must have been 
intermarriage. Many things go to prove this, among 
them being the radical characteristics of the Croatan In- 
dians, who are now in several counties south of Raleigh, 
the capital of the State and at least 200 miles in an air 
line from Roanoke Island. There are blendings of the 
Indian race and that of the Englishmen; the hair, eyes, 
etc., showing the influence of the English strain. Croa- 
tan or Croatoan was southward from Roanoke Island 
and directly upon the coast, and it was very near the 
old town of Beaufort, in Carteret county, one of the old- 
est maps date 1666, showing it under this name. The 
sound directly west of Roanoke Island still bears the 
name of Croatan. Some historians think the name of the 
tribe as Croatan and of their island Croatan. Really it is 
not an island at all but one of those long strips of sandkno wn 
as "banks", which are barriers between the ocean and the 
chain of North Carolina sounds. The Indians called 
their own territory Dasamonguepeuk. The name Croa- 
toan carved upon the great post of the palisade at Fort 
Raleigh was placed according to secret understanding 
between Governor White and his colonists to designate 
the place to which the latter had gone, in case they left 


the island. White knew Croatan was an island south- 
ward from Roanoke because he said Manteo and the 
friendly savages of Roanoke Island were born there. 
When JohnLawson the first real historian of North Car- 
olina, visited this section in 1708 he said the Hatteras 
Indians who lived at Roanoke Island or much frequented 
it told him several of their ancestors were white people 
and "could talk in a book" as Lawson did; that he saw 
frequently grey eyes among those Indians and among no 
other tribes, and that they valued themselves extremely 
for their kinship to the English and showed readiness to 
do the most friendly offices for them. So then the Cro- 
atans were the Hatorask or Hatteras Indians. 

It was in 1730 that Scotchmen arrived in the section 
of the State where the Croatans now are and at the com- 
ing of these their records show that they found on Lum- 
ber river, Robeson county, a large tribe of Indians speak- 
ing English, farming, owning slaves and showing many 
evidences of civilization. These held their lands in com- 
mon and land titles became known only after the advent 
of the whites, The first grant to any of the Croatans is 
dated in 1732, being to Henry Berry and James Lowrie, 
two of the leading men, and covered large tracts in Rob- 
eson county. The Croatans were found to be hospitable 
and entirely friendly to their white neighbors. After 
the white settlers began to come in a part of this tribe 
went north and settled around the Great Lakes, some of 
their descendants now being in Canada, west of Lake 
Ontario, while a number of these people, described as 
whites, emigrated into the great North Carolina moun- 
tain region, the tribe in Robeson county now claiming 
certain families in western North Carolina to be, like 
themselves, descendenants of the lost English colonists. 


When the first whites arrived Indians had built excellent 
roads connecting their most distant settements with the 
principle seat of their government, if so it can be called, 
which was on the Lumbee river, that being the In- 
dian name of what is now termed the Lumber river. 
One of these roads extends for twenty miles to what is 
called Fayetteville, and their greatest highway yet bears 
the name of the "Lowrie road", and is used to this day, 
extending from Fayetteville through two counties to an 
old settlement on the Pee Dee river. 

Many men of this tribe of Croatans served in the Con- 
tinental army during the war of the revolution and a 
number during the war of 1812. Until the year 1835 
they were allowed to vote and to perform militia duty, 
owned slaves, built churches and school houses and 
lived comfortably, many of them after the English man- 
ner, but a State convention which met that year denied 
the right to vote to all "free persons of color". After 
their disfranchisement in 1835 the Indians, who rebelled 
against being classed as mulattoes, became suspicious of 
the whites and it was very difficult to get any informa- 
tion from them regarding their history, though of tradi- 
tions they had no end. The first real investigator was 
Hamilton McMillan, and strange to say his investigation 
was due to an incident during the civil war. One of the 
greatest of all the families of the tribe is the Lowries and 
three young men of this tribe, instead of being sent to the 
front as soldiers, were treated as colored persons, drafted 
and sent to work to build Fort Fisher, the great defense 
below Wilmington. While they were being taken there 
by a white soldier they were killed by him, it was be- 
lieved. There was an inquest and when it was ended 
George Lowery, an aged Indian, made an address to a 


concourse of his people in which he said they had al- 
ways been friends of the white men; that they were free 
long before the white men ever came to America and 
had in fact always been free; that they lived in Roan- 
oke, Virginia, and that when the English came there 
the tribe treated them kindly; that one of the tribe was 
taken to England on an English vessel and saw that 
country; that the tribe had always been friendly with 
the white men and taken the English to live with them 
and that in their veins was the blood of white men as 
well as Indian, and that in order to be great like the 
English they had taken the white man's language and 
religion, for they had been told they would prosper if 
they would adopt the white men's ways. Lowery said 
further on that in the wars between white men and In- 
dians his people had always fought on the side of the white 
men; that they had moved to the section where they 
now were and fought for liberty for the white men, yet 
the latter had treated them as negroes and in this case 
had shot down their young men and given no justice 
and this in a land where the Croatans had been always 


Hamilton McMillan began his investigations in the 
most critical manner in 1875, when his home was in the 
centre of the Croatan settlem2nt, where he had the best 
opportunities of interviewing leading men of the tribe. 
The first step was to find the reason for the striking En- 
glish names found among the Croatans, and so these 
were compared with those on the roll of white's lost col- 
ony. Out of the 120 persons in that colony 90 family 
names were represented and of these "White, Bailey, 
Dare, Cooper, Stevens, Sampson, Harvie, Howe, John- 


son, "Willes, Brown, Smith, Harris, Little, Taylor, Jones, 
Brooks, Coleman, Graham, Bennett, Lucas, "Wilkinson, 
Vicars, Berry, Butler, "Wright, Allen, Chapman, Lasie, 
Cheven, Paiue, Scott, Little, Martin, Patterson, Bridger, 
"Wood, Powell, Pierce, Charman, Payne and Sampson 
are found among the Croatans of this time. The name 
Darr, Dui r and Dorr is variously used by these people 
and is really Dare. Their pronunciation is broad and 
they use great numbers of old English words. Families 
bearing the names Dorr or Durr are to be found in the 
western part of North Carolina and these are claimed by 
the Croatans, who assert that the Dares, Coopers, Har- 
vies and a few others retain the purity of blood and 
were generally the pioneers of immigration. 

They have a tradition of their leader or chief who 
went to England but have not preserved his name, 
speaking of him as Mayno or Maynor, but a woman 
of great age spoke of their head man as"Wanoake, which 
may be a corruption of Roanoke. 

The name Mayno is quite common among them and 
represents in their tongue a quiet and law-abiding peo- 

The great difficulty has been to ascertain the date 
when the Croatans left the coast country for the inte- 
rior, but it seems certain that they have lived in 
Robeson county over 220 years. The traditions 
universal among them show they were seated there 
long before the great war with the Tuscaroras began in 
1711. It seems that in their friendship for the whites, 
some of the Croatans fought under Colonel Branwell, 
who was in command of the troops and friendly Indians 
sent up from South Carolina to aid the North Caroli- 
na settlers in crushing the Tuscaroras after the great 


massacre by the latter. The tradition goes further that 

the Croatans in this war had taken a number of Matta- 

muskett Indians prisoners and took the latter back with 

them to Robeson as slaves, the decendants of these 

Mattamusketts yet living there and claiming this decent, 

some of them being able to locate the region where their 

ancestors lived. It is to be noticed that the Croatans 

always speak of "Virginia" as he place where their people 

lived. They mean the Virginia of Sir Walter Raleigh's 



The tardy justice which North Carolina gave to these 
strange and most interesting people came to them in the 
spring of 1885, and when the act of the Legislature rec- 
ognizing them as Croatan Indians was publicly read, an 
aged Indian, a very intelligent man, remarked that he 
had always heard his ancestors called Hatteras Indians. 
There are those who believe that the settlement on the 
Lumber river was made as early as 1650, for French 
Huguenots, exiled from their homes, who found refuge 
in South Carolina, sent certain of their number as settlers 
to North Carolina in 1709 and these found the Croatans 
with good farms and roads and evidently long settled 

The language spoken by the Croatans is a very pure 
but quaint old Anglo-Saxon and there are in daily use 
some 75 words which have come down from the great 
days of Raleigh and his mighty mistress, Queen Eliza- 
beth. These old Saxon words arrest attention instant- 
ly. For man they say "mon," pronounce "father" 
"feyther;" use mension for measurement; ax for ask; 
hosen for hose; lovend for loving; wit for knowledge; 


housen for houses. Many of the words in daily use by 
them have for many a long year been entirely absolete 
in English speaking countries. Their homes have al- 
ways been neat in the extreme and they are very hos- 
pitable to strangers and always ready to befriend white 
people. They are intensely proud and boast alike of 
their English and their Indian ancestors and blood. 
"While their disposition is peaceable they will fight des- 
perately when aroused. They are shy as a race, though 
under the new conditions and in the more Catholic 
spirit which now prevails they are coming into the 
open. Their life has been away from crowds of other 
races and their homes away from the public roads. 
Some of them now show their Indian traits even more 
strongly than they did a century ago. Their English 
love for good roads is shown by the fact that they have 
been and yet are great road builders and have always 
had the best public roads in the State. No special cen- 
sus has been taken of them, but the number is said to be 
notlessthan 5,000, of which more than half are in Robeson 
county. There are about 1,500 children of school age, 
of these the roll having been made. The State has pro- 
vided a separate normal school for these people; the 
Governor has addessed them; they are being aroused 
to fresh pride in their ancestry and in learning and their 
development is becoming rapid. The Legislature took 
every step to safeguard these people and amended the 
general law by declaring null and void any and all 
marriages between Croatan Indians and persons of 
negro decent to the third generation inclusive. 

They are quick-witted people. One of them was ex- 
United States Senator Revels, of Mississippi, who was 
classed as a mulatto while really a Croatan who 


was born in Robeson county. The Croatans are almost 
universally owners of land and in Robeson county thus 
occupy a territory of more than 60,000 acres, all owned 
by them. They are now beginning themselves to look 
more closely into traditions and some of their leaders 
state that the traditions of every family which bears the 
name of one of the lost colonists point to the Roanoke 
country as that of their ancestors, it being a further tra- 
dition that long after they left the coast country and 
went into the interior they held communication with 
the poople on the coast and it may have been some of 
these very up country Croatans, visiting their former 
home, who were seen by Lawson in 1708 and who spoke 
of their ancestors as persons who could "talk in a book". 
Early French, English, Irish and German immigrants 
who came among the Croatans in the Robeson section 
seem to have frequently married these Indians. The 
name Chavis, now common, is a corruption of a French 
name, as also Blaux, while Leary was O'Leary. In 
building they show much skill. They have the Endian 
love for bright colors and when walking in bodies they 
march in Indian file, one behind the other. They 
brought with them from the coast country the love of 
tobacco and the knowledge of how to grow it and the 
earliest visitors to the Robeson section found patches of 
tobacco near their houses. They never forget an obli- 
gation or a debt, nor do they forget a kindness or an in- 
sult. A century ago they had good inns for travelers. 
Their women are extremely handsome and the most 
noted one among them now is Rhoda Lowrie, the wid- 
ow of Henry Berry Lowrie, a famous outlaw. State 
Auditor Dixon recently visited the Croatans and spoke 
to a great assemblage of them at Pates, the location of 


their normal college. There he saw Rhoda, who used 
to be a great beauty. Her husband's father and sev- 
eral other Croatans, not recognized then as whites or 
Indians, but as negroes, when sent to work during the 
civil war on the forts, left and went home, were pur- 
sued by the Home Guard and several were shot, being 
classed as deserters. Henry Berry Lowrie was then 
only a youth, but he swore by the blood of his ances- 
tors that he would kill every one of the Home Guard 
who had shot his father. He kept this terrible oath to 
the letter, except in the case of one of the Home Guard, 
who fled the State to escape the swift and sure death 
which had come to his comrades. Lowrie associated 
with himself other daring spirits and it required State 
militia and even Federal troops to crush out what came 
to be known as the "Lowrie outlaws". Their leader 
accidentally killed himself with his gun; his brother, 
Steve, for whom a reward, of $5,000 was offered by the 
State, was shot from ambush, and the trouble was 
quelled, but not before many a white man had been 
killed, and a reign of terror existed which attracted na- 
tional attention and brought about action by the Presi- 
dent and the War Department. 


The dominating influence of the English upon this 
race has been shown very clearly by the language and 
by the customs, which have retained nothing of the sav- 
age. There are no Indian words in use, nor have there 
been these hundred years or more, and there are no 
Indian customs. The Indian is shown, however, in 
some of the facial characteristics, in the physique, and 
in the walk, the latter having much of the red man's 


stride and swing, which when once seen is not to be for- 
gotten. The carriag3 of the womsn is superb, and 
they unconsciously look like statues in some of their 
poses. Their color is very rich, their figure ample and 
graceful in every outline. 

Of course there are doubters and among historians, 
too, as to the status of these people, and there are those 
who believe that they are a mixture or blend of the first 
white settlers who it is claimed pushed up into that re- 
gion from Charleston, S. C, and the Indians of that lo- 
cality. A comparison of the typical Croatan and one of 
the Roanoke Island Indians as painted with extreme 
care by John White, Sir Walter Raleigh's great artist, 
shows many points of resemblance between that race 
and the present day Croatans, among whom splendid 
figures are the rule rater than the exception. 


The argument has been advanced by some that Ral- 
eigh's colonists when they left Roanoke Island, did not 
go to the southward, but that they went to the northeast, 
and that they fixed themselves about the point where 
Avoca now is, in Bertie county, and that they there 
built themselves substantial houses; that the Indians fell 
upon them, under the leadership of Wanchese or some 
of his friends, and massacred almost all, great rivers be- 
ing on either side, which the colonists could not cross, 
but that the Indians spared a few, including "a young 
mayde"; that those captured were taken further up the 
country and that the Englishmen of their number were 
made to build houses, partly at least of stone, for their 
Indian masters, and that it was these houses and these 
captives of whom Captain John Smith heard and whom 


he made note, the information concerning them having 
been brought by Indian runners to him and his colonists 
at Jamestown. Those who hold this view that the col- 
onists after leaving Roanoke Island went towards the 
northwest and settled as above stated, say that Governor 
"White and other leaders had been up into that part of 
the country and had fixed on this as a place better for 
a settlement than Roanoke Island, which was and is ex- 
tremely isolated and in a section subject to storms, there 
being entirely open water all about. To get to Avoca 
the colonists had a very good boat, of sufficient size to 
carry them. Those who hold this view believe further 
that the Indians with blue eyes and fair hair and ruddy 
complexions who were seen by latter explorers on the 
North Carolina coast were not the descendants of the 
Lost Colony at all but of Indian women and of the first 
party of Englishmen put ashore, the latter not being on 
Roanoke Island, but on one of the long sand-banks be- 
tween that island and the sea, which form a barrier be- 
tween the sea and the sounds which have always marked 
the North Carolina coast. 


There has recently been found in Robeson county, in 
the heart of the Croatan settlement, an iron tomahawk, 
such as were described by Col. William Byrd as sold 
along the great Indian "trading path" and along the 
"Lowery Road" by traders early in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, Another find is an ancient cross-bow of the En- 
glish make and model, of the type which was still used 
in Queen Elizabeth's time. This bow bears the marks of 
much use. A hand-mill of the most primitive type, but 


showing very clearly its English origin, has also been 
found in one of the Croatan houses, with the tradition 
that it had been used by their people before they moved 
from the coast country. There are a number of Croa- 
tans in the county of Cumberland and there was a stone 
church near the present village of Hope Mills. The 
church itself is gone, but the foundation of brown stone 
can be seen plainly. 

Thus linked together the history of the Lost Colony of 
Roanoke and that of the most interesting of Indians on 
this continent; interesting because in the blending of 
their English blood there comes down through the cen- 
turies so much of the old world and the new; of the 
great Raleigh, the master spirit of his age, and of the 
Indians along this coast, who seem to have been models 
of their race; a strange linking of those first baptisms of 
the baby white girl and the Indian king, and of the new 
awakening of education and hope and pride among the 
Croatans, to whom North Carolina at last holds out the 
hand of recognition. 

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