Henry Berry Lowrie

Henry Berry Lowrie

Robeson County, North Carolina, USA
Death unknown
Burial Body lost or destroyed
Memorial ID 77687588 · View Source
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Also known as Henry Berry Lowry, he organized and led an outlaw gang in North Carolina during and after the American Civil War.

He was born in the Hopewell section of Robeson County, North Carolina. He was the son of Allen and Mary "Polly" Cumbo Lowry. As head of one of the most affluent non-white families in Robeson County, Allen Lowry owned and operated a very successful 200 acre mixed-use farm.

Many locals remember Henry Berry as a Robin Hood figure, particularly the Lumbee people, who consider him 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.

During the Civil War years, several Lowry 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 Lowry's cousins were killed by James "Brant" Harris after returning home for their brother's funeral. Henry Lowry and his gang then killed Harris.

After Allen Lowry's neighbor, James Barnes, accused the Lowrys of stealing food and harboring escaped Union prisoners of war, the Lowry gang killed him. The Confederate Home Guard convened a kangaroo court, and then executed Henry Berry's father and his older brother, William. The Lowry 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.

Lowry'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 (please see second note below).

Despite their best efforts, law enforcement was unable to stop, or even hinder the Lowry 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 Lowry disappeared. Shortly thereafter, every member of his gang, save two, were captured and killed.

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." In the 1960s and 1970s, this and other local legends were recorded by Lumbee historian and professor Adolph Dial. 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, Lowry'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 Lowry's reign, the play portrays him as a hero who flouts the South's racialized power structure by fighting for his people's self-determination and allying with his fellow downtrodden citizens, the blacks and poor whites.

***NOTE: According to the 1850 Federal Census, his birth year was about 1846.

***NOTE: Governor Holden was the second governor in American history to be impeached, and the first to be removed from office. He is the only North Carolina governor to have been impeached.

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  • Maintained by: melanie
  • Originally Created by: Bev
  • Added: 5 Oct 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 77687588
  • melanie
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henry Berry Lowrie (1846–unknown), Find a Grave Memorial no. 77687588, ; Maintained by melanie (contributor 47199377) Body lost or destroyed.