About Henderson Oxendine
Death: Mar. 17, 1871 Lumberton Robeson County North Carolina, USA
Henderson was the son of John and Christian Cumbo Oxendine. He fathered at least one son with Virginia Cummings. His sister, Macca Jane Oxendine Sanderson, and his brother, Jonathan Oxendine, are also buried at Sandcutt.
During the Civil War, the Confederacy forced non-whites of military age to labor under deplorable conditions at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, and in salt mines. Many young Lumbee men (considered free people of color) hid in the swamps to evade Robeson county's Confederate Home Guard. Henry Berry Lowry (also Lowrie or Lowery) fought back against the Home Guard after they mistreated his family and callously executed his father and brother William for possessing firearms--which at the time was illegal for non-whites.
Henderson was a cousin of Lowry's, and he was a member of Lowry's gang organized to defy the Home Guard. The Lowry gang terrified many whites across Robeson county from 1865 until Lowry's disappearance in February 1872. In March 1871, Henderson was captured and found guilty of murder. He was executed by public hanging in Lumberton, NC. Prior to his execution, it was reported that he sang "Amazing Grace" from a Methodist hymnal.
The following was taken from the Mar. 21, 1871 edition of THE PETERSBURG INDEX (Petersburg, VA):
THE GALLOWS IN N. CAROLINA:
Henderson Oxendine, one of the notorious gang of outlaws who for some time have infested Robeson county, N. C., committing murder and robbery, and otherwise setting defiance to the laws was hung at Lumberton, on Friday last in the presence of a large assemblage. His execution took place a very few days after his conviction, and his death occurred almost without a struggle.
The condemned man denied complicity in the murders of Reuben King, of McLeod and Norment, but confessed that he had a hand in the death of Stephen Davis and J. C. Sanders.
On the day after the sentence of death was passed upon him, he made a full confession to Judge Russell, which that officer wrote down and which has never been made public. In this confesion, seven members of the gang with which he associated--known as "Lowrey's Gang" all of whose names are given, are implicated in the numerous murders and crimes charged against them.
The following extracts from the cofession, were taken from the Robesonian extra, March 18:
THE MCLEOD MURDER.
I do not know anything about the McLeod murder--never heard Henry Berry or any of them say anything about it.
THE NORMENT MURDER.
I know nothing about the killing of Norment--never heard who killed him, until since I have been in jail I have heard somebody say that Zack McLauchlin killed him. I have heard Henry Berry say that Norment was a meddlesome fellow, and laugh about his being taken off, but said he did not kill him.
THE MURDER OF REUBEN KING.
Before God, I was not at the King murder--have never heard Henry Berry or any of them say who did kill King.
MURDER OF JOHN TAYLOR.
Henry Berry, Steph and Boss were the men that killed John Taylor--so they told me. Tom Lowrey or Steph, or some of them--I don't exactly remember which--told me a day or two before Taylor was killed that Henry Berry said he be d-n'd if he didn't take old Taylor off. I heard Henry Berry say that he and Boss and Steph killed him.
MURDER OF STEPHEN DAVIS.
Tom Lowrey was not in the Davis fight. That is so, and it is so, as I expect soon to meet my God. There were there Henry Berry, Boss, Steph., George and myself--that was the crowd.
MURDER OF BRANT HARRIS.
Henry Berry and one of this brothers, a Lowrey, who is now dead, killed Brant Harris
MURDER OF J. C. SANDERS.
All the crowd were at the killing of Sanders--Henry Berry, Boss, Steph, George, myself, Tom Lowrey, Andrew Strong and Zach McLauchlin.
Tom Lowrey found where there was a brandy still hid in the swamp, and insisted that we should go and capture it. We went there on Sunday. While we were there two or three men came up at different times and separately; as they would come in we would make them prisoners. After a while the three McNeill's came in all together, and we made them prisoners. We kept them all night, and next (Monday) morning early after day, Sanders came down there, and we got him. We turned loose the whole crowd except Sanders. Henry Berry told them to go and to keep their mouths shut. He told McNeill that he had caught him in three lies; but would let him go this time, but he had better behave himself.
We carried Sanders off to our camp, and kept him until the following Wednesday evening. We were talking and disputing all this time what we had better do with him. I told them several times they had better let him go; but Henry Berry and Stephen swore that he should be killed. Henry Berry and Steph stuck to it all the time; Sanders didn't have much to say. We sould have one standing guard over him at night. He said several times if we would let him go, he would go clean off and never bother us any more. He seemed very stubborn and proud while we had him at the camp; he got a knife one time and cut a vein in his wrist so he could bleed to death but it didn't bleed a great deal--then he took arsenic--Geo. Applewhite had some in his pocket and gave it to him--he put it in his mouth and swallowed it. It didn't seem to do much--he didn't complain of pain--said one time he felt it burning in his stomach. On Wednesday evening they took him out from the camp and carried him off some distance, and then all stopped. Stephen Lowrey told him that he might have an hour to pray. He prayed a good while. I felt sorry for him and told them they had better let the man go. Henry Berry and Steph swore he shouldn't. I turned round a little and stepped off, for I saw that they were going to kill him. Just then, Steph shot one barrell of his gun into him, and he fell dead. Tom Lowrey was off two or three hundred yards when Stephen killed him--Tom sorter lagged behind.
Sanders first came into our settlement as a school teacher and a friend of the collored people. I never knew Henry Berry to be with him..?..Henry Berry never went about the school house. They killed him because he..?..and tried to pass off for a friend and then betrayed them. I told where Sanders was buried (The body has been found from this description).
Seven or eight more of his gang are still at large, and it is gratifying to know that the chances of their capture are good.
- **NOTE: Henry Berry Lowry is revered by the Lumbee as a Robin Hood type figure and is considered a champion of the mistreated and poor. In 1868, North Carolina Governor W. W. Holden declared Lowry an outlaw and the General Assembly placed a $10,000 bounty in 1871 that was never collected. Lowry's legend only grew with the mystery that surrounded his disapperance. His wife, Rhoda Strong Lowry, is buried at Harpers Ferry Baptist in Pembroke, NC.
- James Cummings (1871 - 1947)*
- James Cummings
Burial: Sandcutt Cemetery Maxton Robeson County North Carolina, USA