Henry Berry Lowrie

Henry Berry Lowrie led a group of American Indian, White, and African-American men in a guerrilla war against the Confederacy and later the upper class after his father and brother were murdered by Confederate Home Guard. He attained a Robbin Hood like status and vanished without a trace in 1872.

Henry Berry Lowry and his armed group, which included Lumbees, African Americans, and one “buckskin” Scot, fought the Home Guard during the Civil War and the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction. Lowry was regarded by some as a local hero and by others as a criminal. The outlaw robbed from planters and redistributed wealth. After stealing $28,000 from the sheriff’s office in 1872, he vanished without a trace.

Lowry was born in 1845 and raised in Robeson County as one of twelve kids. He identified as Tuscarora.

Confederate armies and the state of North Carolina conscripted Lumbees to build fortifications in Wilmington and elsewhere during the Civil War. Many escaped the conscription agents and took refuge in the county. As a result, the Home Guard pursued dodgers, resulting in conflict. Lowry, then eighteen, formed a guerrilla band and fought back.

Lowry Killed two men in 1864. The first accused him of stealing hogs, while the second, a conscription officer, insulted and mistreated women in Lowry’s community. Although the Home Guard was unable to locate Lowry, they “tried, convicted, and executed” his brother and father for the crime.

During Reconstruction, Lowry waged war on the Ku Klux Klan and raided plantations and members of the Democratic White Supremacy movement. In 1869, Republican Governor William Woods Holden outlawed Lowry and offered $12,000 for his capture, dead or alive. Although no bounty hunter ever requested the sum, authorities tried a variety of methods to apprehend Lowry. In one case, the Police Guard kidnapped some of the Lowry band’s wives. If the women were not released, Lowry threatened widespread violence. The wives were released because the Guard colonel knew Lowry made genuine threats.

Lowry’s exploits have become legendary. Many people regard him as a Robin Hood because he robbed (and killed) the powerful in Robeson County. He was also apprehended three times and managed to escape each time, once by filing through jail bars. According to legend, he single-handedly defeated 18 militiamen in a gunfight near the Lumber River. His most recent robbery and disappearance add to his enigma: in 1872, he mysteriously vanished after robbing the local sheriff’s office and stealing $28,000.

His death is being contested. Some believe he died during or shortly after the heist, but others claim to have seen him sitting quietly at a funeral a few years later. Some claimed that he was still alive in the 1930s.

The Lowry Band was without its namesake and leader after his disappearance in 1872. Their exploits came to an end, and almost every member of the band was captured or killed within a few years.

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