[Bear in mind, websurfer, that this book was printed in 1909, and the acts of the Lowrie Gang were still fresh in the minds of the white population of Robeson. These wounds did not heal for many years after 1909. So, in reading this, any bias you may detect as you read this is a result of that memory. Also, this is only the first portion of the book. —Webmaster]
The Lowrie History
as acted in part by Henry Berry Lowrie
the Great North Carolina Bandit, with biographical
sketch of his associates.
Being a Complete History of the Modern Robber
Band in the County of Robeson and State of North Carolina
With an appendix
Lumbee Publishing Company,
Copyrighted by E.E. Page, 1909.
In republishing this book which records the events of a period of Robeson countys
history in the years of 1864-74, 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 section [sic] of Robeson County and came in personal
touch with the Croatan Indians, and has therefore written from personal observation.
We are therefore indebted to Col. Olds for this interesting bit of history,
which forms the appendix 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 Robesons
history, having lived through the thick or [sic] 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 William Fort, to whom it was granted by George II in
1748. He also entered another tract of land containing three hundred acres adjoining
the above tract, the grant being signed by George III. On the above mentioned
tracts of land, now owned by the heirs of the late Col. Archibald McEachern [
About five hundred yards below the residence of Col. McEachern, in a bend of
the swamp, is shown the place where James Lowrie resided. McPhauls mills,
on the same swamp, are distant about three miles. This swamp was called Lowrie
Swamp, after James Lowrie, who resided 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 Robeson (then Bladen county) from Bute county, (now Franklin and Warren counties)
in company with Silas Atkins, who emigrated also from Bute county, from that
portion now called Franklin. Other 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, from whom all the Lowries in Robeson descended, lived in Franklin
county before he emigrated to Robeson. It was in Franklin county, N.C., that
he was manumitted by this father, James Lowrie, of Virginia, who when Virginia
became one of the United States, was elected a Judge, and was ever afterwards
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 wifes maiden name was Sarah Kearsey, (nicknamed
Sally Kearsy [sic],) a half-breed Tuscarora Indian woman [There are many Kearseys listed in the Bladen County tax lists of 1768-1789], 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
himself and corroborated by Silas Atkins, with whom he came to Robeson county
in 1769, also confirmed by the late Neil Brown, Esq. ["Whig Neill" Brown], 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 Sampson Bridgers, father of J.D. Bridgers, Esq.,
by Henry Thompson; by Nathan Thompson; by John Thompson, by Peter Munroe, 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 Revolutionary War William, this 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 Robeson, after
whom and in honor of whom Robeson county 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 Cumberland county, William
Lowrie received a severe sword cut in his left hand from a Tory named James
McPherson, who resided on the place then owned by Col. Charles Malloy, now Laurel
Hill Church, in Richmond county.
The skirmish between Col. Wades men and the Tories took place on the
spot of ground on which Montpelier Church was erected, near Betties bridge,
now Gilchrists bridge, in the upper portion of Robeson county, immediately
on Drowning Creek, in Robeson county, and William Lowrie carried the marks of
the wound to his grave as a token of his devotion to the Whig cause. After the
close of the Revolutionary War William 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 show.
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 Lowrie,
their father, were on the Whig side, although he took no active part either
way. Living, however, so near to McPhauls Mill, (a distance of not more
than three miles) the then general rendezvous or head-quarters of the Tories
from the whole adjacent country, he became obnoxious to them on account of his
son William being in the Whig ranks.
Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, prejudices becoming so rife
against him and his son William, 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 connection 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 Lowries grocery, Col. Vick, then merchandising at Fair Bluff,
in Robeson county, (Vicksburg in Mississippi being named after him) christened
(to use a scotch phrase) all that region lying east of Drowning Creek and extending
one or two Miles East of Bear Swamp with the euphonious sobriquet [sic] of Scuffletown,
from the fact of the half breeds inhabiting that region congregating in Lowries
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 William Lowrie married Bettie
Locklaer [sic], 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,
married 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 the 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 Henderson Oxendine, lineally descended from the
Lowrie family, on the mothers 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 [sic]
into Robeson county and settled in Scuffletown. 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 [sic] 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 was a villain. Having killed a man in Alamance county, he fled to Robeson
to save his neck and assumed 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 connected with the Lowrie family by
affinity of consanguinity, 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 Berry Lowrie, Chief; Stephen Lowrie, William Lowrie, Thomas Lowrie,
Calvin Oxendine, Henderson Oxendine, 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.
Description of the Lowrie Robbers.
Pen and ink sketches of personages convey very often but faint ideas of individuals,
although they may be correct in every particular. It is very difficult to impress
most minds with distinct ideas of things without presentation of the object
to the eyes, they being the mirrow [sic], 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 them:
Henry Berry Lowrie, Leader of the Band
Henry Berry Lowrie, the leader of the band, is a son of Allen Lowrie, and a
great grand-son of James Lowrie, from whom all the Lowries in Robeson descended.
He is of mixed blood, strangely commingled, having cousin his veins the blood
of Tuscarora Indian, and the Cavalier blood of England. He made a handsome personal
appearance when dressed up. The color of his skin is of a mixed white and yellow,
partaking of an admixture, resembling copper, the Indian color however, still
predominating. Such a skin is affected 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 expressive in the highest degree of
firmness, decision of character and courage. Generally he is reticent, a good
listener, seldom talkative, manifesting in his demeanor 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. Phrenologically
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 Indians. He was twenty-six years old, five feet ten inches high,
and weighs about one hundred and fifty pounds. Physically 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 and india
rubber 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 barreled
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 addition to these fifty-two charges, he carried a
long bladed knife and a double-barreled shot gun, his whole equipment weighing
not less than eighty pounds. His main object in thus equipping himself was doubtless
to stand a long campaign, or to be ready with almost an arsenal 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 en years a savage predatory warfare
against the county, State, Confederate and United States authority. Without
advantages other than nature gave him, without fear, without 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 inclinations 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 girls, has on several occasions come very near betraying
him to his pursuers. His Indian nature may be traced in his character, by his
using women as an auxiliary to war and plunder. He himself is the Don Juan of
Scuffletown. Women have been employed to betray him, but they either repent
or he discovers their purpose. He sleeps on his arms and never seems tired;
ever active, ever vigilant, he is never taken by surprise. His cavalier scrupulousness
may also be observed in the matter of a promise or a treaty. Those most robbed
and outraged by this bandit give him credit for complying strictly to his word.
Like the rattlesnake, he generally warned before he struck. Two things he has
never done -- he has never committed arson, nor offered to insult white females.
In these two things may be traced his cavalier blood.
The price offered ($10,000) for his capture by the constituted 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? for 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 himself,
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 interests of all the Indians
in Scuffletown., which they returned by a sort of hero-worship. Cold-blooded,
malignant and murderous bandit and robber he is, and blood-stained with many
murders, he is without defenders.
In the twentieth year of his age he led up to the marriage 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, satirically named by some white young wag the
Queen of Scuffletown. The marriage ceremony was performed by Hector J.
McLean, Esq., at the old Lowrie homestead, 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 Henry 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 effected by a criminal confined in the jail at Whiteville.
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 committed to jail in
Lumberton by B.A. Howell, Sheriff of Robeson. This time also he made his escape
by frightening the jailer when he carried him his allowance of food, with a
cocked pistol in his hand. He told the jailer 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 premeditation 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 the outside world, which is literally true in every particular. When for prudential reasons the County Commissioners 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 McNairs 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 aint her fault and they cant make it so. You go to Lumberton and tell the Sheriff and County Commissioners that if they dont let her out of jail, Ill retaliate on the white women of Burnt Swamp Township. some of them shall come to the swamp, with me, if she is kept in jail, because they cant 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 cabin was built pretty much after style of the other cabins in Scuffletown, 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, leading 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 occasions when surprised by this 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 silence 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, impudent in manner; insolent
in speech, showing the highway-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 blackish eyes, indicating the robber and murderer of the Murrel stamp;
just such a character as needed no provocation 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 and insatiable love for robbery, and possessed and imperious temper,
which involved him on one occasion in a quarrel with his younger brother, Henry
Berry Lowrie, who shot him in the eye for insubordination. 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 shooting 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 implicated
in the murder of ex-Sheriff Reuben King he 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 in 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 looking. 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 elsewhere. 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 constituted
the robber band after the general jail delivery in Wilmington.
John Dial, who turned States evidence, was probably 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 Reuben 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 the hale old citizen. It was John Dial
who shot S.E. Ward in Reuben Kings parlor.
Henderson Oxendine, another one of the gang, has been portrayed in the
section headed the fate of Henderson 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, being 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 Lowries gang, went on a robbing expedition
some time in the autumn of 1869. They first went tot he 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 nearly
all of her bacon and then entered her dwelling by force and robbed it of all
its valuables. From Mrs. Carlyles 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 Purcells residence, a colored freeman, and took everything from
him of any value. They then went to Flora McFarlands residence, near Blues
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 Scuffletown, 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 States penitentiary. He appeared
glad to get in the penitentiary, for the Lowrie gang had threatened 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 of the family in Robeson was a fugitive, 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 number 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 county in Georgia, near Savannah, where he broke into a store, and made his way across the Savannah 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 nothing has been heard about him
The only white man outlawed by the civil authorities of the county was Zach T. McLaughlin, who was hired by Henry Berry Lowrie, for fifty dollars to inflict the mortal wound on the lamented Owen C. Norment. 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 native of the county, had dealings with the outlaw gang. On the day the outlaws made what is known in Robeson county as the "Brandy Raid" on Angus Leach, this George Gilbert, was along and accompanied the outlaws to Mrs. William McKay's residence, near Floral College, and being disguised, that, blackened, was not recognized by Miss Pat McKay, nor by Mrs. William McKay. Here he played many pieces on the piano forte in Mrs. McKay's parlor. Subsequently he went with the outlaws to Mr. David Townsend's residence, on Aaron Swamp, near Asbury Church. Having gone into Mr. Townsend's yard and being discovered, 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 outline of these land pirates, or human moccasins, we will proceed to delineate their mode of warfare.
Mode of Warfare, Equipments, etc.
A stranger, to see these outlaws armed as they appeared 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 canvas 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 advantage of the darkness to put their adversary to a disadvantage, 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. Seldom 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 enemiesone who was hunting themout of the way, they would go and make a blind or two on the road or path he was expected 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 moment's warning. They were such adepts in constructing blinds that the traveler along the road, unless his attention had been called to these blinds by one who understood them, would pass them by unnoticed.
It was by ambuscading that they succeeded in killing J. Brantley Harris, James P. Barnes, Owen C. Norment, Murdoch A. McLean and his brother Hugh, John Taylor, Archibald A. McMillan, Hector McNeill, Alexander Brown, Col. F.M. Wishart and Giles Inman. All these most excellent citizens of Robeson county met their sad fate at the hands of these modern Robeson county Apachesthese North Carolina Modocs; not in a civilized warfarenot 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 subtle 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 demanded him to surrender.
Daniel Baker, too, as peaceable and harmless a man as could be found in the county, was hot 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 Bushmen, or the Bushman War. It was waged on the part of Henry Berry Lowrie and brothers in a spirit of revenge. They wished to retaliate on the white race because the Home Guard of the county found Allen Lowrie, their father; and William Lowrie, their brother, receivers of stolen goods from various parts of the surrounding 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 Lowrie, the old man, as he is termed, should have acted a better part to his white neighbors, who had often befriended him, than to have received into his house stolen goods, taken from his neighbors, and then found to endeavor 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 William, 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;" "Vengeance is mine and I will repay, saith the Lord," "The wicked live out half their days," Beholdsee! 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 cowardsthe
A Geographical and Topographical Description of Scuffletown.*
*Scuffletown, in the common parlance of the country, means a large Indian settlement, without streets or public buildings, having no municipal laws or regulations.
Scuffletown proper is located a little to the northwest 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 northwestward 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, interspersed with branches, swamps, and bays. It is a part of the great swamp district of North Carolina below the sand hills.