Henry Berry Lowrie (Lowery) Papers, 1864-1872

Manuscript Collection #1271

  • Descriptive Summary
     
    Title: Henry Berry Lowrie (Lowery) Papers
    Creator: Seth Kaller, Inc..
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: This collection contains eight documents (1864-1872) relating to the Lowrie (Lowry) Gang of outlaws based in Robeson County, North Carolina. Included are a Grand Jury indictment (1864) of three "free Negroes" (two are named Lowrie) for theft, two summons in Robeson County (1868) and Columbus County (1869) to bring Henry B. Lowery to court for trial for murder, and an affidavit and four Grand Jury payment receipts (1872) related to an indictment of Thomas Brady ("Lowerie Outlaws" sympathizer) for murder.
    Extent: 0.015 Cubic feet, 1 archival folder containing 8 items, consisting of Grand Jury indictment, affidavit, summonses, and receipts
  • Description
     

    The collection concerns activities of the Lowrie (also spelled Lowry) Gang, a group of outlaw men and women who during the Civil War resisted the Confederate Home Guard. Based in Robeson County, North Carolina, they lived off of the land and the support of sympathetic neighbors, and defied local and state authorities. One document, printed on Confederate paper, appears to provide evidence on the origins of the dispute which began the “Lowry War.” Of two warrants for Henry B. Lowrie’s arrest, one dated April 2, 1868, with its struck word, “Confederate,” typifies North Carolina’s period of transition back to U.S. sovereignty.

    Interesting also are several items pertaining to the trial of Thomas Brady, accused of murdering Stephen Locklier a local supporter of Lowrie. In an affidavit dated March 4, 1872, John A. Richardson, attorney for the state attests to the difficulty of Brady to have a fair trial in Robeson County, noting “public sympathy is so strong with the said Thomas Brady that the act of killing the said Stephen Locklier with which he is charged is looked upon and by very many persons in said county is considered to have been a good deed.”

    Four documents issued from February 28-March 4, 1872, record payment of services to Mary Locklear, Charlotte Locklear, James McMillan and Peter Dial as witnesses in the trial of Thomas Brady.

  • Biographical / Historical Note
     

    Henry Berry Lowrie ((ca. 1846- 72?) was a native of Robeson County, N.C. Prior to his birth, his family had large property holdings in the region but by the mid-nineteenth century had somehow lost most of these in a series of lawsuits. The Lowries were of both Scottish and native American ancestry and as such were part of a large Indian and mixed race population in the area, whose fortunes and civil rights were extensively marginalized during and after the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

    Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Henry, his brother William, and their father joined a band of Indian bushwhackers who hid out in the swamps to evade compulsory conscription of Native American labor by the Confederate government. The group soon became known as “the Lowrie (Lowry) band” and engaged in guerilla warfare with the local Home Guard. At some point in an effort to avenge the killing of three of his first cousins, Henry assassinated a local Confederate postmaster, who was also serving as a conscription agent. Though he escaped capture, his father and brother William were executed in March 1865.

    With the fall of the Confederacy, the Lowrie band seemingly vanished until Henry’s marriage in December 1865 to Rhoda Strong. During the event, he was arrested, placed in jail but managed to escape through the aid of his wartime companions. Republican victories in 1866-67, which eliminated the remaining remnants of Confederate control in local government seemed to offer some prospect of a fair trial. Agreeing to the terms offered, Lowrie returned but was soon again on the run after rumors spread that former adversaries were plotting a lynching attempt and that Republican officials were not providing adequate protection.

    With the collapse of the agreement, Republican leaders moved even more zealously than their Confederate counterparts in an effort to permanently undo Lowrie and his followers. Rewards for capture eventually reached the then phenomenal sum of $11,000.

    The conflict dragged off and on until 1874. Though his chief lieutenants were either killed or driven away from the area, Lowrie disappeared after February 1872. The mystery of his death and activities of his gang have since been the subject of a number of articles, books, including Mary C. Norment’s The Lowrie History : As Acted in Part by Henry Berry Lowrie, The Great North Carolina Bandit (1875) and George A. Townsend’s The Swamp Outlaws, and more recently an outdoor theatrical production, Strike at the Wind, in Pembroke, N.C.

  • Administrative Information
     
    Accessions Information

    March 28, 2016, 0.015 cubic foot, 8 items; This collection contains eight documents (1864-1872) relating to the Lowrie (Lowry) Gang of outlaws based in Robeson County, North Carolina. Included are a Grand Jury indictment (1864) of three "free Negroes" (two are named Lowrie) for theft, two summons in Robeson County (1868) and Columbus County (1869) to bring Henry B. Lowery to court for trial for murder, and an affidavit and four Grand Jury payment receipts (1872) related to an indictment of Thomas Brady ("Lowerie Outlaws" sympathizer) for murder. Purchased with Langford Endowment funds from Seth Kaller, Inc., of White Plains, New York.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Seth Kaller, Inc.

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Henry Berry Lowrie (Lowery) Papers (#1271), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

    Processing Information

    Processing completed by Fred Harrison on July 8, 2016.


Preliminary Inventory

Below is material taken from a preliminary inventory and represents content from the collection that is unprocessed.

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