At 18 years old, on January 15th, 1865, Henry Berry Lowry killed James “Brant” Harris, who was reportedly the “meanest man in Robeson County.” Because of the killing, the Home Guard kept watch over the Lowry family especially closely, and after the execution of Allen and William, Henry Berry became the most wanted outlaw in the state’s history. The Lowry Gang was unique in its tri-racial composition, despite beliefs that it was an exclusively Native American band.

Between 1868 and 1869, the Gang committed multiple robberies to help combat the harsh conditions after the Civil War. In 1869 and 1870, the Gang killed sheriff, Reuben King, and the head of the Police Guard, Owen C. Norment, respectively. The Gang members were experts at navigating the difficult swamp terrain. Warrants for their arrest were distributed to many surrounding counties in an effort to capture these seemingly untouchable outlaws. The Gang received media attention from newspapers as far away as Washington, D.C., and New York City.

 

“Henry Berry Lowry” Artist’s Books, Digital Prints on Ingres, Cotton Case, Blackadder Font, 8 x 6 x .5” closed, Edition of I, 2005

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Courtesy of Ashley Minner

The tri-racial Lowry Gang consisted of Henry Berry Lowry, his brothers Stephen and Thomas, his cousins Calvin and Henderson Oxendine, and two of his brothers-in-law, Andrew and Boss Strong. Others also joined the cause, including Shoemaker John and George Applewhite.

Wishart Diary- June 16, 1871

Wishart Diary Honey Robbery

Reproduction from original, Wishart Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection

3 of the party went last night to Randall McNeil’s killed his dog stoled a bee hive- Mr. McNeil taken his gun & walked out seeing some partys fired on them twice. The 3 fired at McNeil twice each- and left but carried off his honey

Wishart Diary- September 11, 1870

Wishart Diary Coffin

Reproduction from original, Wishart Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection

Sunday morning while making a coffin for Jackson Townses, Henry Berry, Steve, Geo[rge Applewhite], Boss, Henderson- all walked up on them & demanded a surrender & ordered them into the House & put them under guard in the kitchen eat breakfast = Took 2 new double Btn gun 3 pistols 2 old shot guns all the clothing many able $4 dollars- papers & c.