Colony Research Group
Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology
from William Evans Regarding Henry Berry Lowery Family
McKee Evans wrote the book "To Die Game: The Story of the Lowry Band,
Indian Guerrillas of Reconstruction (Iroquois & Their Neighbors)"
after many years of research. The book is available at the link below:
our August 2011 issue, Sandy Lowery contributed a great deal of
information about her grandfather, Aleck (Alex) Lowery who, on his death
bed, confessed to being Henry Berry Lowery to his surprised family. As
Sandy and her family continue their search for more information, both
genealogically and genetically, her cousin Shirley continues to search
through her records and find additional information. Sandy and Shirley did
not know each other before their genealogy brought them together. We want
to thank both Sandy and Shirley for permission to print this letter.
is a letter written to Shirley Cozo, Sandy's cousin, in 1980 from William
Evans. Sandy says that many of the things that William Evans wrote about
in "To Die Game" were already known within the family. This
letter is on California State Polytechnic University letterhead, dated
Sept. 2, 1980, and the handwriting is beautiful.
to be so slow in answering your letter. I just returned from an history
meeting in the Near East. I just got to the office today. I was digging in
my files for something on the Lowery family when your letter of August 28
are a lot of conflicts and disagreements in the source materials on the
Lowery family. In the first place the spelling of the name: over a period
of years the same individual may be referred to as "Lowry",
"Lowery" or "Lowrie". News papers in 1870-1872 often
speak of "the 10 sons of Allen Lowry" of whom Henry Berry was
said to be the youngest. Yet when people started naming these children
there are usually some daughters mentioned and the sons named don't always
add up to 10. There is sometimes disagreement about what the names were.
Berry's mother is sometimes called "Mary" and this name appears
on her gravestone, which I have seen. Btu she is also referred to as
"Polly", "Polly Cumbo" (which may have been her maiden
name) and "Purt."
census taker interviewing Henry Berry's father, Allen Lowry in 1860
described the family as follows: Allen Lowry was a farmer with $1670 in real
property and $650 in personal property. (Therefore in terms of the value
of money at the time the family neither rich nor super poor.) Allen was 63
and his wife "Mary" was 52. The children he records are Stephen
18, "Henry B.", 15, Purline, 16, Sally J. 9. He also mentions as
a part of the household one "Anith Locklear", 5 months and a
"Frances Carter", 3 months. So he does not seem to have recorded
all the Lowery children, which was not unusual for a census taker to do.
And as was often the case in census reports, there were other people
living in the home that were not a part of the immediate family. Both
Locklear and Carter are common Lumbee names, Locklear being the name that
occurs more often than any other.
a court case which occurred in 1864, and which involved the Lowry family,
the children of Allen Lowry are named as follows: Patrick, Purdie,
Sinclair, Mary Ann (Mrs. William Locklear), James, Orra (Mrs. Zion Lowery)
(The name Lowry with different spellings occurs so frequently among the
Lumbee that Orra's husband could be a very distant relative), Calvin,
Thomas, Stephen, Caroline (Mrs. Griffin Oxendine), Henry Berry, Sally Jane
neither of these lists is William Lowry mentioned. He was one of the older
children and many have been long living out of the home. He was executed
along with his father by the Home Guard in 1865. So as you see I don't
have a very reliable list of Henry Berry's brothers. With some more
digging I think I could find other lists. But there are often
disagreements about numbers and names.
a trip I made to Pembroke, since "To Die Game" was published,
someone told me that Henry Delaney Lowry had gone to Mississippi and had
been killed there in a "shoot out." He may have been taken there
by his mother as there is some evidence that Rhoda Strong Lowry lived for
a time in Mississippi after the death of disappearance of Henry Berry in
subsequent history of Rhoda after 1872 is not clear. The Wilmington Daily
Journal (Mach 20, 1874) reported that she "told a gentleman on the
train that she had married John Chavis." Chavis is another common
Lumbee name. But I (sic) not sure that we can have much confidence in such
a value report. They don't say what gentlemen, which train, etc. And the
Journal had a history of getting things wrong when they reported on the
Lowrys. The Reverend D. F. Lowry, a son of Calvin and hence a nephew of
Henry Berry, told me in 1967 that she married (Hezekiah) Locklear.
Reverend Lowry did not think his uncle had died in 1872. He though that
with the cooperation and secret help of General Gorman, he had made good
his escape. But he had escaped to a place where Rhoda and the children
could not join him. So after an appropriate
time had passed, his aunt Rhoda had remarried. I have more confidence in
him than in the Journal.
interviewed by the Robesonian the year before her death in 1909. The
reporter said she was then almost 60 (but he apparently didn't actually
ask her her age), but that she looked 20 years younger and that her
"face bearing all the traces of the good looks" of her youth.
reporter said there were living in her home several attractive little
girls, 8 or 9 years old, that Rhoda said she had "brought with her
from Mississippi." The reporter got nothing out of her about Henry
Berry except that "he was the handsomest man she had ever seen."
This all was published in the Lumberton, NC, Robesonian, June 25, 1908. I
have never found out where Rhoda was buried.
berry was hiding out Rhoda sometimes would secretly join him. Once she was
reported to have visited him on an island in the Cape Fear River. After
his death or disappearance in 1872, she was closely watched. Some people
thought that if he were still living she might lead them to a man with a
heavy price on his head. It would be interesting to know if she spread the
story around that she had remarried as that she would be less closely
watched and might be able to slip away and join him. That could explain
the years in which she supposedly lived in Mississippi. But of course,
this is nothing but speculation and there has been too much of that
already. What you need is facts.
I hope you
are able to reconstruct your family tree. I hope you can take a vacation
in Robeson County, NC and find out if there is any connection between your
family and the hundreds of Indian Lowerys and Lowrys there. I'm afraid
what I've written will not be too much good to you. Please don't give up
and let me know if you discover any more interesting facts suggesting a
connection between your family and the family of the great outlaw.
a short minute, I got quite excited. It seemed from this death certificate
that we might have found the first real evidence that Henry Berry Lowery
did not die in 1872.
The 1880 census for Robeson
County, NC, shows Rhoda (Rhodie) with her children in the 1880 census.
Note that none were born after 1872.
Molly Polly Lowery was apparently called by many first names at various
times and by different people. This isn't terribly unusual. Nellie was
born in 1870 and 1871, not 1881.
married (as Mollie Strong), age 18, Dec. 24, 1888 to Iron (Oran) Oxendine
(age 21) and the marriage is recorded in the Robeson County marriage
records, male, page 66. The columns are Surname of male, first name and
residence, surname of female, first name and residence, age of male
(above) and female (below), date license issued (above) and date of
marriage (below), marriage performed by whom and where, witnesses
Clearly, Nellie Ann Mollie
Polly Lowery was not born in 1881 as her death certificate implied.
Furthermore, it's interesting that a tidbit of Native maternal ancestry
has slipped into this record. Even though Henry Berry Lower and Rhoda
Strong were clearly
married, Mollie used her mother's maiden name in her marriage record, a
very typical Native American custom.