About Henry Berry Lowry
Henry Berry Lowrie or "Henry Berry Lowry"
(born c. 1844 – 1847-disappeared 1872)
Led an outlaw gang in North Carolina during and after the American Civil War.
Many locals remember him as a Robin Hood figure, particularly the Tuscarora and Lumbee people, who consider him one of their tribe and a pioneer in the fight for their civil rights, personal freedom, and tribal self-determination. At the height of his fame, Lowrie was described by George Alfred Townsend, a late 19th century New York Herald correspondent, as "one of those remarkable executive spirits that arises now and then in a raw community without advantages other than those given by nature.
Lowrie was born in the Hopewell Community, Robeson County, North Carolina. Born to Allen and Mary (Polly) Cumbo Lowrie, Henry was one of twelve children born to Allen's two wives. As head of one of the most affluent non-white families in Robeson County, Allen Lowrie owned and operated a very successful 200 acre mixed-use farm in Robeson County.
During the Civil War years, several Lowrie cousins, like many free men of color, had been forcibly conscripted to work on behalf of the Confederacy in building Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina. Many resorted to "lying out" or hiding in Robeson County's swamps to avoid being harassed and rounded up by the Home Guard. Two of Henry Berry Lowrie's cousins were killed by James Harris after returning from their brothers' funeral. Henry Lowrie and his gang then killed Harris.
After Allen Lowrie's neighbor, James Barnes, accused the Lowries of stealing food and harboring escaped Union prisoners of war, the Lowrie gang killed him. The Confederate Home Guard convened a kangaroo court, and then executed Henry Berry's father and brother. The Lowrie gang then embarked on a series of robberies and murders with political overtones that continued on-and-off until 1872, a conflagration that would come to be known in North Carolina as the Lowry War.
Lowrie's gang continued its actions after the end of the war. Republican governor William Woods Holden outlawed them in 1869, and offered a large reward for their capture, dead or alive. The band responded with more revenge killings.
Despite their best efforts, law enforcement was unable to stop, or even hinder the Lowrie gang, largely due to their popular support. However, shortly after one of his most daring raids, in which he robbed the local sheriff's safe for more than $28,000, Henry Berry Lowrie disappeared. Shortly thereafter, every member of his gang, save two, were captured and killed. Henry himself is reported to have been accidentally killed while cleaning his gun.
The New York Herald published reports that Henry Berry Lowry had accidentally killed himself. An elderly Lumbee man, John Godwin, said that Henry Berry Lowry "had been trying to shoot the load off his gun for a long time. . . . The load went right up through here, my mother said, and blowed the top of his head off." This and other local legends were recorded by Lumbee historian and teacher Adolph Dial in the 1960s and 1970s. The many legends differ in their account of Lowry's disappearance. A ninety-six-year-old Lumbee man, Mabe Sampson, believed that Henry Berry Lowry escaped from the militia and the United States troops who were trying to track him down. Mr. Sampson said that "Henry Berry left here and was sent off by a white man, loaded right here at Moss Neck. He never was killed."
Since 1976, Lowrie's legend has been presented every summer in the outdoor drama Strike at the Wind!. Set during the critical Civil War and Reconstruction years of Lowrie's career as outlaw-hero, the play portrays Lowrie as a Tuscarora culture hero who flouts the South's racialized power structure by fighting for his people's self-determination and allying with the county's downtrodden citizens, the blacks and poor whites. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Lumbee are a Native American tribe of North Carolina, though their origins are disputed. While Lumbees today identify ethnically as Indians, according to documentary sources they are in origin a mixture of Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans. The name "Lumbee" is derived from the region near the Lumber River (or Lumbee River) that winds through Robeson County, North Carolina.
- Rhoda Strong Lowery (1854 - 1909)*
- Pollie Lowry (1871 - 1962)*
Burial: Body lost or destroyed