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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee: Carrie Mabel Johnson Brewington
Interviewer: Dexter Brooks
Date: July 5, 1973
D: Mrs. Brewington, when were you born?
B: August 19, 1907.
D: Who are your mother and father?
B: Simon Johnson and Lucinda Revels.
D: Where were your mother and father from?
B: Cheraw, South Carolina.
D: What was your father's occupation?
B: He was a woodsman, you know, a lumberjack in our early life.
Then he was a businessman, later.
D: What kind of business was he involved?
B: Garage, blacksmith shop, and inventor of the first tobacco
sprayer in Robeson County (called the Monarch sprayer).
D: Did he patent this invention?
B: Yes, sir.
D: He received royalties on the manufacture?
B: As long as he lived. Then, this other man came into
business, Herbie Slegget. After he passed, Herbie took it
D: How would you describe your father?
B: The finest daddy that has ever been known.
D: What size man was he, physically?
B: He weighed a 160 lbs. and was about 5'8".
D: Would you consider him a smart man?
B: Yes. He was a very smart man, but his education was
limited. He never went to school, but three days. However,
my mother finished schooling. She taught him after she
married him, so, I would say he was an average seventh
D: What about your mother, you say her education was better
B: Yes. She finished as much as she could get in that day.
D: Where did you mother go to school?
D: Your mother was Indian?
D: Was there an Indian school in Cheraw?
B: No, there were only two races in South Carolina.
D: So, your mother attended white school. Was your father kind
to his children?
B: Very kind.
D: Was he strict?
B: Yes, sir, very strict.
D: What about your mother?
B: Well, she was kind of lenient, like all other mothers.
D: Did this lead to disagreements among the two?
B: No, they never had a quarrel; unless they had in private,
that I know of. They might have settled their differences
D: Were your parents religious?
B: My mother was a church-goer but, my father was not until
later in life. Just before he died, he was saved.
D: So, your father had nothing to do with religion until later
B: He had his own religious philosophy. He believed in three
things: honesty, truth, and treat other people as you would
have them treat you. That is the way he taught us. But, as
far as a church-goer, or having any religious connections,
he did not.
D: So, your father was a moralist?
B: He was a very moral man; he believed in strict morals.
D: What about your grandparents, do you remember anything about
B: Yes. My mother's mother, I was very close to her. She was
a fine woman and first cousin to Henry Berry Lowry. She was
religious, but, she was very high-tempered, too. My
mother's daddy died when my mother was four years old. My
grandmother did not remarry until after my mother was
married. She married Lee Locklear, Dr. Locklear's brother.
D: Did your mother ever talk about Henry?
B: Not mother, too much, but grandmother told us all about him.
Her version of it, you know?
D: Do you remember any of the stories?
B: Yes, she told us what happened. His mother and father were
killed and he was going to take revenge. He turned outlaw
and was one for a long time. When he got ready to leave he
came to my great-grandmother's house. She was Lucinda Lowry
(married to A. J. Lowry). He was going to eat breakfast
before he left, Lucy had cooked him some biscuits. My
grandmother was a little girl and he picked her up and took
her to a green house. That was the last she heard of Henry
Berry. She told the same story as everyone did.
D: So, your grandmother thought Henry Berry was just dividing?
B: Yes. She thought he needed to take revenge. She told us,
that Henry Berry had a lot of white friends that helped him.
That was how he got along as well as he did.
D: Did she ever give any of the names of any white people?
B: I forgot their names.
D: Was it common for Indian people in the area to give aid and
comfort to Henry Berry's men?
B: Well, I do not know if it was common or not, but, she said
they did. There were some that were good people. They did
give him help in getting his ammunition and other things
that they needed.
D: Did your grandmother ever talk about conditions in Robeson
County after the disappearance of Henry Berry?
B: Yes. She told me about when she came and they were
franchised and she could not go to school. Her father, A.
J. Lowry, would not let his children go to school with the
colored people. That is why she never got an education.
The only way you could get one was with the colored people.
She said that people were more "pure blooded" back then.
She told us that the reason people got mixed up was on
account of the way white people treated them. You know,
they would not let them have things and the slaves would
come over and steal stuff for the Indian people. That is
how they became acquainted with the Indian girls. That is
why we are the kind of people we are, that is how we got
D: Did the Indians and the whites marry during this period of
B: Yes. I think some of them did. Back in the early 1900s,
there were Indians and blacks that married.
D: Was the socially acceptable in the Indian community?
B: No. Well, I do not know how it was when it first went on.
I do not know how they took it. I reckon they did anything
they could to get a livelihood. But after they decided that
there was going to be an Indian people, your family had to
be clear of Negro blood for the fourth generation; before
you could be accepted in the schools--that they paid for
themselves, the parents. Now, I went to this little school
called Luber Hill, up there on Grandpa Preston's place.
That was paid for by the Indian people.
D: Is that the first school you know of in this area?
B: No. The first school was an old building at Prospect. Miss
Shug Moore taught there. Grandpa, Arthur, Gadsen and old
man Moore taught some, and Mr. Anderson Locklear. That is
the first school that I know of. But this little Luber Hill
school, they paid a teacher to teach us.
D: The Indians themselves paid a teacher; was the teacher
D: You mentioned something about fourth degree generation being
free from black, was this a requirement to attend school?
B: Yes, that was the law. You had to prove it. I do not know
how they proved it, but you had to prove that you were clear
to the fourth generation.
D: Would this be certified by a school committee, perhaps?
B: Well, I do not know. It was my understanding that is how
they were trying to set up a school for Indians and that was
a requirement. You see, people were married and had gotten
mixed up and they had to do something to kind of straighten
D: As a girl, did your father ever discuss politics?
B: No, not much.
D: Did he vote?
B: Yes. In later years, but not when I was a little girl. If
he did, I did not know about it. We lived near a sawmill in
what they call the swamps of Cape Fear River. The school we
would have to attend in the winter was down here, because
there were no schools around the mill. After we moved away
from the mill, there was nothing but colored and white
schools. He did not discuss race with us and we did not
understand why. What I got, I got from my grandmother.
Daddy did not tell us why we had to leave home and come down
here. That is one thing that I always hated, that we had
to be boxed up and sent down here and leave mamma and daddy
up there, to go to school.
D: Where was "up there?"
B: In Cumberland County, about thirteen miles out of Pender on
the Cape Fear river. He ran a mill up there and there were
nothing but a few white families. We were the only Indian
family that was at this mill.
D: So, in South Carolina, you were able to go to a white
B: My mother was, I never lived in South Carolina. I was born
near Roland, but the first school that I went to was over in
the Prospect section.
D: When you came to Robeson County to go to school, who would
you stay with?
B: My grandmother.
D: The Lowrys?
B: Yes, Grandpa Lee, did you know him?
D: No, I did not.
B: Well, you know Dr. Patrick, or some of them?
D: No, not really.
B: Gasden Locklear, have you heard of him?
D: I have heard of him.
B: Well, that was Grandpa's brother. We would stay with them.
They lived on the Juniper, between here and Preston, that
old Preston place, in a little log house.
D: How many months out of the year would you have school?
D: And the other six months you spent in Cumberland?
D: When you were in Cumberland, did you have any associations
with white people?
B: Oh yes. We did not know the difference between white and
black. We all played and went together. Everybody was one
thing at the mill.
D: You played with the kids who go to school, but you could not
go to school with them?
B: No. That is the thing I could not understand. You know
that we played together, but still we could not go to school
with them. Finally, when I was eleven years old and Sally
was thirteen, we were fixing to come here, to move to town.
My daddy had bought a business in town and we were living in
the town of Wade. There was a school house that was as
close to us as from here to the charcoal house out there.
We could not understand why we had to come back down here
and could not go to that school; since we were so close.
That is when she first told us that.
D: Your mother? Do you recall how she explained it?
B: Yes, she said we were Indian, part Indian, and if we would
go to school out there, they would probably throw-off on us
and call us Croatans. That is when I first heard about
Croatans. Since then, when they called us Croatans, she
would have to go out there and break somebody's head. She
would rather us come over here. She told us one day, we
would move over to go to school, instead. That is the way
she told it.
D: Then, would you say your mother was the one responsible for
getting your father to come to Robeson County?
B: Yes. You see, my father was white. He did not discriminate
against anyone. At the mill he treated black workers just
like he did any others. They called him a captain among the
men. But, he was like a foreman over the men. He did not
discriminate and never did.
D: How many children did he have?
B: There were eleven of us.
D: How many girls?
B: Seven girls and four boys, that is right.
D: Did most of these children remain in Robeson?
B: No, we have two sisters and three brothers that are not
D: Where do they live?
B: One lives in Detroit. The other four live in California.
D: In the same part of California?
B: No, I do not think so. They are a hundred miles apart.
D: Did your mother have a lot to say about how the household
was run, or did your father make most of the decisions?
B: Mama ran the house and Papa ran the business.
D: That included raising the girls, the children?
B: No, Papa did most of that. Papa did most of the advising.
Mama was kind of a timid woman. She was an only child and
Papa kidded her all of the time, too. She just left it to
him to do most of the spanking, most of the getting up at
night, boxing with us and the like.
D: How did you feel when your mother explained the difference
between white and Indian to you?
B: I hated it. I hated to think that I had something in me
that would make me leave my mother and father. I hated to
have to come down here. I just hated it. You see, we had
to stay with our step-granddaddy. He was not good to us.
My daddy would send a big chest of food with us and then
send another at Christmas time. It had all kinds of good
things to eat: sausage, corned beef. My grandpa would eat
that. Then we would have to carry dried peas, corn bread
and sometimes an egg to school in a four pound lard bucket.
I hated that kind of living, knowing how I could live if I
was at home. He was not good to us at all, or to our
grandmother. Of course, he was twenty years younger than
grandmother, so that must have had something to do with
D: Why do you suppose he did not like you kids?
B: Well, he just did not like children. They never had any and
he just did not care about them.
D: He did not like any children, at all.
B: No, sir. He did not like them in his home.
D: What did you learn in school, here, in Robeson?
B: Well, we had reading, writing and arithmetic.
D: From one teacher?
D: Approximately how many kids?
B: Well, when we were in school up at Beaver Hill, I guess
there were forty or fifty of us in there. Then, when we
went to Prospect, there were oodles of children. I could
not tell you how many there were. But, still, one teacher
would have from the first grade through the fourth. The
other one would have through the seventh. That is as far as
D: Did you have books to use?
B: Yes. We had what they call the Blue Back Speller. We had a
reader called the first reader, the second reader and the
D: Were the books in good shape, or had they been used several
B: Well, sometimes you would get a new one. They would have
them there and the people would pass them on. You would
leave those books and somebody else would get them.
Sometimes you could get a new one and sometimes you did not.
D: What about writing supplies?
B: We did not have any. We had our slate and some crayons.
You bought that.
D: Each child had to buy .
B: His own slate and then you would rub it off, you know.
D: Were they sold right there in the schoolhouse?
B: No. I do not know where Papa got them. I recollect we got
them at the General store.
D: You first went to Luber school and then to Prospect, how
many total years was that?
B: Well, I was in the third grade when we left Prospect. Then
we moved here. Grandpa Bolt mover over here, across the
river at the Herbert Lowery place. That is my granddaddy's
place, over there. I was in the third grade, then we went
to the old building.
D: What first old building are you speaking of?
B: An old wood building.
D: Located where?
B: The first building on the campus, this way. Where the boys
dormitory used to be, what is that building? It was right
there where that first building is.
D: Where the science building is.
B: I do not know whether it is that one or not, but the first
one after you cross the railroads. This old wood building
D: That is the new two-story building?
D: And beside it you say there was a boy's dormitory?
B: No, later. They tore it down and made a dormitory, about
D: The boy's dormitory, was that wood?
B: No, that was a brick building?
D: Brick, right, I remember that.
B: They tore it down the year after they built the new
building, Old Main.
D: Did you attend school at Old Main?
B: Oh yes. That is where I went to high school.
D: Did you finish high school at Old Main.
B: No, I finished the ninth grade.
D: Was Old Main used for anything other than school activities,
at that time?
B: No, later they had different things in it, but not at that
time, just high school. I finished high school the next
year when it became a two year Normal school. I left in
D: Which did you say came first, the boy's dorm or Old Main?
B: Old Main was built before the dorm. See, there was another
old wooden dormitory before the new dormitory was built.
They moved it and made a cafeteria. Remember that? They
moved back to the girl's dormitory and made the cafeteria
D: Can you think of any other brick structures in Pembroke at
the time Old Main was built?
B: The old hotel.
D: That was brick?
B: Yes. It was called Cook's Hotel. It was part brick, if not
D: Then that was torn down.
B: Yes. It might have been just renovated. Then next was the
old hotel, where the LRVA is now.
D: Both of these were built before Old Main?
B: No. This Cook's Hotel was before Old Main.
D: Cook's was before Old Main. Then Old Main, then the old
hotel, you say?
B: Yes, that is my recollection.
D: Do you have some of some idea of the size of Pembroke, at
this time, in the 1920s.
B: Let's see, there was this old house of ours here, called
Breeze's store, down on the corner where the post office is.
Then there was another store that your Uncle Ander ran.
Then there was a drugstore. All of these were wood
structures. Uncle Ander was a doctor here and he had a
drugstore, then. There was a little shoe shop and a general
store right next to it. Then there used to be a little post
office that used to be a fish market.
D: Do you know who the postmaster was?
B: Yes, a man named Gus Taggert.
D: But, he was white?
B: Yes. Let me see, what else was here? There was an old
two-story building beside the post office.
D: Was that a hotel?
B: Kind of, a lot of people lived in it.
D: A boarding house?
B: Yes, a boarding house.
D: Who ran the boarding house?
B: I do not remember who. Then, Uncle Governour had a house
over about where John R. Lowry's house is, a two-story
house. Old man Riley Locklear had a house over there, an
old wooden structure. On this side of town, Willy Lowry had
a store. It burned a few years ago. That old wooden
structure between the Paint Supply Company and Daddy's
store. Do you remember? There was an old house right
across the street from Sonny's.
D: Was there a blacksmith's shop there?
B: Yes, down there about where the poolroom is, now.
D: Who was the blacksmith?
B: Mavis Sampson.
D: What about some sort of law officer?
B: Herbert Lowry was the law officer's name, if I remember
D: Did Pembroke have a mayor, at this time?
B: No, not that I know of. Well yes, one-armed Hubbard looked
D: Who appointed Hubbard?
B: I do not know who appointed him, but he was the law and
D: You said there was an Indian doctor at this time?
B: Yes, Governour Locklear, Grandpa's brother.
D: Where did he receive his training?
B: In Atlanta, Georgia. He married in Atlanta; he married a
white woman and her name was Mercer. They would not let him
live with her; would not let him bring her here and live
with him. That it why he killed himself. He could not have
D: Where was Governour born? Here in Robeson?
B: Yes. Right up here at the old Preston Place. You know
where that is?
D: Yes. How did he get his early education?
B: Well, he went to this wooden building and got his education
there; he finished the seventh grade. His daddy was one of
the big businesses.
D: He owned a lot of grain?
B: A lot of cattle, a lot of sheep, and a lot of everything.
D: Did you say sheep?
D: People used to raise sheep?
B: Yes, he raised his own sheep and he went on to make socks
D: He processed the wool?
B: Oh yes. My grandfather on my mother's side, the Lowry side,
he raised sheep.
D: When they sheared the sheep were they able to take the raw
wool and make fiber out of it?
B: Yes. They had something like cards and things.
D: Then the women would take the fiber and weave it?
B: Yes. That is the way they made their clothes. Only they
made them out of cotton. Granny Line had thirteen children
and Grandpa said that she would make them all pick out their
shoes full of cotton before they go to bed, for her to work
on the next day.
D: In other words, they had to put their feet in the shoe?
B: No, they had to put the lint in the shoe and they had to get
both shoes full. Then Granddaddy would make their shoes out
of the hide of a cow that has been killed.
D: But they could make their own cloth out of either wool or
B: Yes. They made there cloth. Grandmother had this spinning
wheel. After we were married she let Archer Locklear have
the spinning wheel.
D: Does he still have it?
B: No, he told me it fell to pieces. I tried to get it from
him. He just talked grandmother out of it, unbeknownst to
us. I do not know what happened to it.
D: About what time did people stop raising sheep?
B: Well, it must have been around 1912.
D: Back to Governour Locklear, about approximately what time
did he leave the county?
B: Well, he was a doctor when I was ten years old, so he must
have went away to school in the late 1800s.
D: Do you know who he lived with while he was in Atlanta? In
other words, he got his seventh grade education here in the
D: After this?
B: Yes, he finished his doctor. Of course, I know he was a
doctor; he was an M. D.
D: Did he have any relatives in Atlanta?
B: No. He went to the colored schools.
D: In Atlanta, they had a black .
B: Yes, they had black doctors go to school. Now, I do not
know whether they had a black, but that is where he went.
D: Did he attempt to go to medical school here in North
B: Not that I knew of.
D: His father was able to pay for the whole cost of his
D: What year did he return to Robeson?
B: Well, I cannot tell you exactly the year. I know when I was
about eight years old, he was my doctor. I remember well,
because I had throat trouble. He came to the house and took
care of me.
D: Then, Mr. Locklear was the first Indian in this area to
become a doctor.
B: The first that I know of.
D: You say he married a white woman?
B: Yes, while he was living down there.
D: Did she initially come to North Carolina with him?
B: Yes. She came here, but she could not stay. So, she had to
D: How long did she stay?
B: She did not stay too long, because the law stayed after them
all the time while she was here. So, she went back.
D: So, when she left the county she never returned until his
B: Not that I know of. I do not know whether she came home to
visit him or not.
D: Who was doing the harassing, the sheriff's department?
B: I reckon. It was just a law that an Indian could not marry
white, then. I do not know who would take the initiative to
do something about it.
D: Do you have any idea what kind of harassment they used? Did
they physically threaten him, or did they just threaten to
take him to court?
B: They did take him to court, but I do not know whether they
threatened him. Not that they did not make it hard, because
she could not stay here.
D: How long did he practice after he came back?
B: He killed himself in 1921, so he must have practiced, maybe,
D: He never did remarry?
D: Do you recall any of this man's personal characteristics?
Was he a friendly person, outgoing?
B: He looked out for the welfare of the Indian people,
especially the girls. I know Bertie Thomas' people were not
supposed to be very nice people. Granny let me spend the
night with them and he made me go home. He said that was no
place for me. So, he would take us up to Luber Hill for
Sunday school, on Sunday morning. We would walk over to his
house and he would take us up to Preston, to Sunday school.
D: The doctor would?
D: Why do you say he was very nice, especially to girls?
B: Well, I think he wanted the moral standard to be good among
the Indian people.
D: Was he religious?
B: No, he was not what you would call a religious man. He was
just a little more moral.
D: He was not religious himself, but he would take other
B: Yes. He would take us to Sunday school. He drank some
after he got messed up with his wife, but before that he was
really a gentleman.
D: Did he drink heavily?
B: No, I would not say he drank heavy. What happened to him
was, he knew what to take to go to sleep and did everything.
That is what happened to him when he died. He just took an
overdose of sleeping pills.
D: Who did he live with?
B: He lived with Frank and Anny Lowry, right here on the corner
where James Albert's place is. What they call the old
McIntyre house. That is where he lived, with Anny and
Frank, when he died.
D: Did he have any other interests, besides his medicine?
B: Yes, he had an outside son. He was very interested in
track, what you call sports, because of his son.
D: You are saying that he had an illegitimate son?
B: And a daughter. They had a track race that they used to
call "Red Man's Day," here. Like we have Lumbee Day, now.
D: I did not know that.
B: Oh, yes. They wore their feathers and everything. When I
was eight years old. I had a picture, too.
D: Could you describe one of these Red Man's Days?
B: Yes. Oren Locklear was the chief and all the Preston boys
belonged to it. They had feathers and suits and everything.
They would meet and they would have a big speaking and
D: Who would be some of the speakers?
B: Oren Locklear was usually the speaker for the people. He is
the one that would speak at the Red Man's Week.
D: Was Oren a rich man?
D: I mean compared to other Indians?
B: No, he was one of the better educated, but he was not rich.
D: Was he related to Governour?
B: Yes, they were related. That is Archer's daddy, Archie
D: Archie Locklear's father, I see.
B: Yes. Archie Locklee, you mean. Well, I never heard of that
Locklee, until lately.
D: I have heard several things about Locklear.
B: Yes. He built a stand at this old building I am telling you
about. That is where he would give it and all the people
would come here. What was going to happen to the Indian
people and all of that stuff, you know.
D: What were they trying to accomplish?
B: I really do not know (laughter). I know the old people had
the idea that they were going to get something--they were
going to get their Indian money.
D: Did they .
B: I think he was trying to get them registered as Cherokee
Indians, instead of Croatans, a national name. I think that
is what it was.
D: Did you say they also had athletic contests?
B: Yes, that is right.
D: What were some of the contests?
B: This track race. They would run from that old building to
Pate's. They would have a greasy pig--I do not know what
you would call it. I know you tried to catch it.
D: Dr. Locklear was very interested in track and he was also
involved in Indian affairs, did he publicly acknowledge the
two illegitimate children?
D: What was the mother of the two?
B: Do you know Little Tea, you know, Tea Bread Boy? His wife
is his daughter, Eva.
D: His wife is his daughter.
B: Yes. Her mother was a Harris.
D: Was she from Prospect?
D: Why do you suppose they never married?
B: I do not know.
D: You mention something about trying to protect your morals
and you mention a Thomas family. What exactly did you mean?
B: Did you know Bertie Thomas?
B: They had a little store right by the railroad and her daddy
was killed by a white man, Dixon. Her mother was supposed
to be an immoral woman. That is the reason he did not want
me to stay there.
D: Was this before or after the husband was killed?
B: After he was killed.
D: You say they ran a store?
D: What kind of store?
B: Grocery store.
D: Then, what did the woman do to support herself, after her
B: She ran the store after her husband died.
D: But she never remarried?
B: I believe she left here and married. I will tell you who
she was, she was Miss Sarah Margaret, your grandmother's
sister. That is who she was.
D: Do you recall her sister's name?
D: Do you recall her maiden name?
B: Alice Bell.
D: Let's see, that is two of the sisters, were there more?
B: I do not know whether they had another sister, or not.
D: What about brothers?
B: I do not know if they had any brothers, or not.
D: Then, Dr. Gasden's main objection to Mrs. Alice was that she
possibly saw a lot of men in the community?
B: Yes. She did not see to her children like he thought she
D: How many children did she have?
B: I believe she had six children. Ophelia married one of her
D: Earl Thomas?
D: Have you ever heard of an organization called "Order of the
B: I do not know whether they call it an order or not. It was
an organization, that is all I know. One thing about this
organization was the way they would help if you got into
trouble, you know, everyone would come to your aid.
D: You mean financially?
B: Yes, or in sickness or anything like that. Sort of like the
Masons, how they took care of each other if they had bad
D: Was there ever any violence associated with this movement?
B: No, not that I know of. Well, they never could get together
without a fight, you know. Whenever a bunch of red men get
together, there will always be somebody fighting. But it
would be on account of the organization. It would be just
the people there and who had too much to drink. Just like
it used to be at school closings, you know.
D: You think it was the fights were individual disputes and
possibly with drinking involved?
B: Yes. Just something like that. Not on account of the
organization. Because at that time, I think the majority of
Indians stuck together as far as this organization was
concerned. They listened to Oren Locklear, very well.
D: Most of the Indians participated in this?
B: Yes, most of them.
D: Even the outlying communities?
B: Yes. Down around Midway there were some. I know my daddy's
sister's husband, Oxendine, was one. So the people would
come from different areas. His brother Caleb was one, also.
D: Did your father drink?
B: Not too much. Socially, sometimes, but he was not a drunk.
D: How would Indians drink socially, in this period? If
friends came by to visit your family, would your father
offer them something to drink?
B: No, his drinking came at Christmas time. He would order
liquor from Virginia by the gallons and would distribute it
among his men. Every Christmas, Fourth of July, when they
would have a holiday. That is when they would drink. But
he would not get drunk. Some of his men would get drunk and
he would divide this liquor out among the men. They ordered
it just like you would order anything out of a catalog, back
D: How would people celebrate the Fourth of July? What would
be some of the activities?
B: Well, when I was a child, the way we would celebrate, we
would have lemonade and homemade ice cream and have a big
dinner. We always looked forward to having roasting ears and
peas on the Fourth. We would have a big dinner and have ice
cream and lemonade, and make it by the tubs and people would
gather and drink it and eat our homemade ice cream.
D: Would there be fights at these gatherings?
B: No. Now that was when I was a child. After I come up here
to visit Grandmother.
D: You mentioned school closings, what sort of activities would
take place, then?
B: Oh, well, they would have speeches and recitations and
D: You mean students would get up?
B: Yes. [They would have] dialogues and have stands all around
selling ice cream by the cone. The ladies would bring
baskets and they would have dinner at the school house.
Everybody would go in and see what the children would do.
They had readings and funny dialogues and things like that.
D: What do you mean funny dialogues?
B: Well, sometime they would be dressed up like old colored
people, dressed in old raggedy clothes, and have different
pieces to say. A dialogue is kind of like a play, but it
was not that long. Each one would have a part to learn.
D: A real short skit thing?
B: Yes, then we would have poems, we would call them speeches,
then. But, you would learn a long poem and you would get up
and say it. There is one that was the best actor and the
best poem or whatever. They always had a little something
for you. Some of the children could sing, something like
"Mary Had a Little Lamb," just entertainment. We would have
marches and we would go around and around. Then we would
make a cross and have little American flags. Then we would
march around in the yard and then later the Maypole drill
while holding up these flags.
D: What about the points of the church? How many times a week
did you attend church?
B: I went to the Preston church when I was small and I would go
just on Sunday.
D: Was Preston run by the Brethren?
D: Can you tell me something about who began the Brethren?
B: Well, a man by the name of Mr. Green was here. He was a
D: Approximately what time?
B: Oh, it was before I was born. He come through here and
started it. When I was born they had it and it had to do
with Neil Church, Mr. Neil Hall was there.
D: Who replaced Mr. Green in the pastorship?
B: Well, Oscar Sampson took over the leadership, I guess.
D: He was the pastor?
B: Yes. Well, they do not have pastors, they have leaders;
whoever is capable of doing it, knows the scripture. That
is the way our church is run, not like the Baptists and the
D: Who is the leader, today?
B: Charles Oxendine.
D: Of the one in Pembroke?
B: Yes. Well, he goes to all of the different assemblies.
D: How many?
B: He is over all the different assemblies.
D: How many churches do the Brethren have?
B: I do not reckon that Town Hope is really one, but they run
on the same schedule.
D: Where is it?
B: They run on the same schedule. I mean, they are like us but
they do not call their's assembly. They call it Hope's
church, because it originated from another kind of church.
They have one at John's Station, called Good News and
Preston and this one out here.
D: John's station, is that Indian, also?
D: Mr. Oscar Sampson was the leader after Mr. Green?
D: Is this the same Oscar Sampson?
B: Yes, that is James Albert's daddy.
D: Yes, I did not know that either.
B: Yes, he was the leader for a long, long time. Then Mr. Joe
Sampson and Dr. Everett Sampson were the leaders. Later Dr.
D: Did Brethren from other parts of the country come down?
B: Yes. They still do. We have a conference that is going on
right now, up in Bristol, Tennessee. There are Brethren
from all over, there. They are trying to start a small one
D: Then, most of the Indians were of denominations other than
B: Well, there was St. Anne, and that is an old denomination
that is Free Will Baptist.
D: What they call St. Anselm?
B: Yes. Then there was Missionary Baptists, Burke's Swamp.
That is the oldest missionary that I know of.
D: What were some of the other old churches? Was there a
church at Prospect, then?
B: Yes, called Old Prospect.
D: That is there at the school house?
B: Yes. That was founded by Mr. Moore.
D: Was there a church at Harper's Ferry at this time?
B: No, I do not think so. Now, White Hill is older than
Harper's Ferry, I think. Now that was another old church
that was there when I was a girl. But I do not know just
how old it is, but it was a pretty old church.
D: What about voting, were Indians, at this time, allowed to
B: Well, I did not hear anything about it. My daddy did not
help politics, and I do not know how early they voted. I
know that Granny said they were once franchised [sic], where
they could not vote or anything like that. If you were
supposed to be too much black, you could not even preach.
There was a law against preaching the gospel if you were
black. I do not know why.
D: Did your grandmother discriminate against blacks?
B: Oh, yes. She did not like them. She was all for the
Indian. She got in more trouble with white people than
anybody in the whole country.
B: She did not like them. She did not like colored people too
much. There might have been a few that she liked, but she
did not pull for them.
D: How did your grandmother get into trouble with white people?
B: She just did not get run over. One time she was hoeing
cotton for this white man. He told her that he would give
her two dollars. People did not make but fifty cents a day,
she said. He told her, if she would chop a certain field of
cotton that he would give her two dollars. So, she went out
and chopped it in one day. He did not figure she would be
able to do it in one day. He came out there in the evening
and she was through. She told him she was through and to
pay her. He said to her that no woman was worth two dollars
a day and that he was not going to pay her. He said that
she did not do a good job and she said she did. He said
that she could not have chopped two acres in one day. She
said, "Are you calling me a liar?" When he said "yes", she
took out her knife and cut him up. Boy, she cut him up.
D: How old was your grandmother at this time?
B: She must have been about 35. She was a working mother; she
had to support a child. Now this was in South Carolina.
So, they took her and carried her to Maxton. They put her
in jail for cutting this white man. Her two brothers,
Henderson and Ans Lowery, they went down there and told this
jailer, "If she ain't out of here before the sun rises in
the morning, if you think Henry Berry was bad, you are going
to have it worse." And they turned her out. They had her
child and they told her she could tie a pistol on her apron
strings and go where she pleased. They let her go free when
she told them what happened. They looked at the field and
saw that she had done what she had said.
Another time, this Johnson woman made her hot. She said she
was looking at her husband, my granddaddy. So, she sent
word "she better not hear tell of her making eyes at him
anymore." So she came by Granny's house and had some bad
talk. Granny was setting there patching near the door, but
she had her gun right beside her. So, she let this woman
have it, she shot this woman. Minnie Johnson, I do not know
whether you ever heard tell of her or not. But anyway, she
had to go to jail for that. That is where I made my first
step. Mother carried me to see Granny in jail. They tried
her for that and they were going to let her go free. The
judge asked her, he said, "Now Minnie, if we let you go will
you promise you will not get into anything else?" She said
a bad word, and then, "No quicker than somebody messes with
my man." The judge said, "Don't you know you are in
contempt of court?" She said she did not care, so they gave
her six months for contempt of court. She stayed in
Lumberton jail for six months. And that is where I learned
to walk, in there (laughter). Mama said she put me down on
the floor and I walked. So, that was my first walking, in
jail. She was a tough one.
D: She must have been quite a woman.
B: She was. Henry Berry could not hold her alone. Another
time, she was at St. Anne's for some kind of gathering.
Frank Black was out there and he was bragging about how
nobody in the world could handle him, he was such a man. He
was the drinkingest. She said, "Go on and shut your mouth,
Frank, or I will pull your britches off of you and hand them
to you; right here in this crowd." He called her story and
said she could not do it. So, she just grabbed him. He had
on gallus and she stripped them off of him and handed them
to him. He went towards the woods with them. She was
tough, honey. She was a mess.
D: And what was her father's name?
B: A. J. Lowery.
D: He and Allen Lowry were brothers?
B: Yes. She was tough, but she was a good woman. I mean, she
just did not let people run over her.
D: Wonder what happened to all of that old Lowry spirit?
B: I do not know. I never wanted to be like Granny.
D: Why was that?
B: I did not want to be a tough woman like that, I just do not
D: Were any of your sisters like that?
B: Well, Mag is pretty tough. Mag does not take any pushing
around. That is the only one.
D: Is she older than you?
B: No, I am eleven years older than Mag. Sally is older than
me, though. I am next to Sally.
D: Which one of you girls, would you say, is the leader?
B: Well, I was, when I was at home. After I left, Mag was.
D: How did your family, the kids, get along?
B: Well, we got along about as good as you could expect with so
many of us. We had our troubles and we would not let Pa
D: Do you recall any acts of discrimination as a girl? Did you
ever go into any of the towns?
B: No. We did not go into town much. I have since I have
grown, but not when I was a girl. I think I will tell you
about this trip on the train. Cissy did want me to tell it,
but I think I will, anyway.
When we were coming down I did not know that what color you
were made any difference, you know. Well, my daddy got us a
ticket (just one ticket). We would come, each on half a
ticket. So he put us on a train and gave the conductor the
ticket. We would sit down on the side of the seat. Sally
would not let me sit with her. I would sit on one and she
would sit on the other. You know how you can turn them and
get so you are facing. So, I was sitting and the conductor
came and sat down on the arm of the seat where she was. He
says, "Is that your sister?" And you know, Sally was always
white and I was black. So she says, "No, that is a little
Assyrian girl that was given to my daddy."
B: Yes. See, we knew a lot of Assyrians, because they would
come through the country as peddlers, back then. You could
buy cloth from them and different beads and things. They
would come around with a buggy and that is where you did
your shopping, you did not go to town. They would be
Assyrians or Jews or something, anyway. So, she said that I
was a little Assyrian that was given to her daddy. So we
came home and got off the train. I said, "I am going to
tell Granny what you told that man (the conductor)." She
got our her lighter's knot and said, "You are going to tell
me that you won't tell her or I am going to beat you with
this lighter's knot." I went on and I was afraid to tell
Granny, scared she would get me later. So, that is what she
was talking about the other day.
D: How old were you when you got married?
B: I would have been nineteen in August, I got married the
twenty-sixth of June.
D: And were you living here in Pembroke?
B: Yes. I was up at the dormitory, going to school.
D: Oh, you were in school?
B: Yes, I ran away from school.
D: You did what?
B: I ran away from school and got married. We got married on
Wednesday and he graduated from high school on Friday.
D: Both of you were in school?
D: And your husband came from Sampson county?
B: Yes. They did not have any high schools up there.
D: Where were you married?
D: Could you have gotten married in Robeson at that time?
B: I do not know. We married as white in Dillon. They accused
me of putting on so much pepper sauce, so that I could
D: After you got married, where did you live?
B: Detroit, Michigan.
D: You went to Detroit, after you were married?
D: What year was this?
D: You lived in Detroit, how long?
B: Oh, I guess I would give us about seven years.
D: Did you work while you there, or keep house?
B: I just stayed in the house. I kind of ran a boarding house.
D: You had a boarding house, you said?
B: No, I kept boarders. We had a big place, you know, a big
D: Were there other Indians up there?
B: Yes. Uncle Jeb lived with us and Gomery and Carly.
D: Gomery, who is that.
B: Montgomery. Diaz Short and Diaz' brother, Calhoun Lowry and
several others, I cannot tell you.
D: So, during this period of time, there were quite a few
Indians who had left here to work in Detroit?
D: Were any of your children born in Detroit?
B: Yes. My oldest son was born there.
D: Why did you return to Robeson?
B: I just did not like the big city. I will tell you, at that
time my oldest son did like to go out and play with the
other children. They would call him "colored." Colored
people were not discriminated against, like they are now.
But they would call him colored and I did not like that.
D: Why did you come to Robeson rather than Sampson?
B: We lived in Sampson for awhile.
D: So, when you left Detroit, you went to Sampson.
D: What did your husband do in Sampson?
B: We farmed. He worked at a furniture place where he
D: Approximately how many years did you live in Sampson?
B: About three, then we went to Fairmont and he went to work
for my daddy.
D: Why did you decide to go to Fairmont?
B: Well, for my children's sake.
B: Yes. The Indian people there were way in the background.
D: They were in worse shape?
B: Yes. A lot worse.
D: So, your husband worked for your father in Fairmont?
D: There was an Indian school there at this time?
D: Of this type?
D: How long did you live in Fairmont?
B: Let's see we moved there before Bobby was born in 1933, I
reckon. We lived there until 1939. Then we moved over here
where Mr. Chester, your uncle Chester Locklear, lived.
D: You lived with Mr. Chester?
B: Yes, we lived there on his place.
D: Then you were farming again?
B: Yes. John did line work, too. He started line work before
we left Fairmont and, my daddy went to the sanitorium with
the line work.
D: Your father had TB?
D: Did any of the other children contract it?
B: No, unless my sister Clara has got it. I do not know, she
has got something, I do not know what. I do not think it is
leukemia, it must be a skin TB, but none of us ever did take
D: You reared how many children?
B: Me? Eleven.
D: So you matched your mother. How many girls was that?
B: Five girls and six boys.
D: You said that you experienced some acts of discrimination
later on, you did not experience as a girl.
B: Well, once I was sick and went down to a doctor. I felt
faint and so I was waiting for them to fix the medicine in
the drugstore. I asked David to get me a Coca-cola with
ammonia in it. So he went and asked the lady and she said
that they did not have any ice. He said, "Well I know you
had ice just a minute ago." So, she said they did not serve
Indians and she would not let us have it.
Another time, my brother Blue had to have a hemorrhoid
operation, in Red Springs. Dr. Hodges, his wife and I went
with him. We went early in the morning and he told us to go
to the cafe and get us something to eat; because they were
not going to operate on him until 9:00 A. M. They put him
to bed when he got there in the doctor's office. So, we
went down to this cafe, on the right hand side, going toward
Red Springs. We walked in and we ordered from the lady.
She said, "I am sorry, we do not serve Indians. If you will
come around to the back door, we will give you something in
a bag." I had just returned from Detroit and I said, "I
have never heard of such a thing. I have been all over the
United States and even Canada, and I have never heard of
anyone that did not serve Indians."
D: How old were you at this time?
B: I was about twenty-five. I was just a young woman, seven
years living in Detroit. She went back like she was going
to get it, after I got done talking to her, and no one ever
came back. We waited and waited. So, we went back and told
Blue how they were treating us. He got off the bed and put
on his clothes and went down there to find out why they
would not serve us. When he walked in the door, he said
everybody went to the back and he never did see anybody.
Nobody ever came, so he filled his pockets full of Nabs and
chewing gum and cigarettes; whatever was out, where he could
reach. He came back and said, "There was no one in that
place. I got what I could find for you to eat and brought
it back." That seemed to be about the worst.
D: So, after that happened, did you make a conscious effort to
avoid confrontations like this?
B: Well, I have nothing to do with Red Springs.
D: What about other towns, like Roland?
B: Roland, I have nothing to do with either. I will tell you
another thing, honey. Those places that had signs up, in
Lumberton, the ones that told you where you could go and
where you could not go, I do not even fool with them. I
only go to the places that I could patronize all the time.
If I wanted a hot dog, I would go to Fourth Street and get
it before I would go to the Star Cafe.
D: That is where I always take a little time to eat.
B: I go there, too. But I mean if I was up town and had to
have something, I would go on Fourth Street where you could
always get it.
D: What about superstitions, were many people superstitious?
B: Oh, yes. When I was a girl you could not take out the ashes
after sundown, that was bad luck. You could not drive a
nail in the house if a woman had a little baby. You could
not turn the bed around. And if a black cat crossed the
road, you had to turn around and go back. That is the only
superstition that my daddy had, this business about the
black cat. He would turn around and go back the other way.
D: Did many of the people believe in witches?
B: Oh, quite a few believed. I used to hear that up around
Craston all the time. Witches lived in this place where my
grandmother lived, called the Old Patrick place. This woman
had died and, she would come back and open this door and
bother the dishes at night and all kinds of stuff.
D: What about conjurers?
B: Well, most of the conjuring I ever knew of was one of the
adults, Mr. Chance. Then, people were full of conjuring.
Oh Lord, those people were ripe with conjuring. Mr. Chance
and Miss Murray, they would conjure against each other.
D: Against each other?
B: Yes. Miss Murray had her conjurers, and Mr. Chance had his.
D: They did not get along too well?
B: No. See, people would hire others to carry them to the
conjurer. Oh my, Angie was full up, too. She believes in
it. All of them but Lee, Lee never believed in it, that I
D: Do you remember the first funeral you attended?
B: No. When somebody died, they would call in somebody out of
the family and have them bathe and dress them and lay them
on a big board; what they call a "cooling board." They
would put them in a window. They did not have glass
windows, they had wooden windows. They would put one end of
that board in the window and another end of it on a chair,
or table, or something to hold it up. Then they would lay
them up there and stay all night; called a cooling board.
They made the casket out of boards.
D: The family would make the casket?
B: No, some of the neighbors would make the casket. Now they
did not when my sister died. My daddy went to town and got
her a casket. But, they made a little box to put her in.
D: What kind of services did they have? Did they take the body
to a church?
B: Yes, they did with my uncle Wade. But, my sister they just
had a grave-side service. I was not but six years old, so I
do not know what they said.
D: Did they use a pastor, or just a member of the family?
B: I do not know who they used. They used whoever was the
leader at Dougal Hill when Uncle Wade died.
D: Do you remember when the first undertaker set up attendance?
B: Yes, McCormack.
D: What year was this?
B: It must have been about 1936. John McCormack put up this
undertaker business over here.
D: Where was it located?
B: Right there where the Post Office is, now. That old wooden
building where it used to be Breese's store?
D: This was Bill McCormack?
B: No, his daddy, Arch McCormack. He came here with the
Livermores, years and years ago. He came here with Russ
Livermore's daddy. You know where the McCormack Farm is?
B: That was him.
D: So, after he was an undertaker, he was able to acquire
B: I guess so. I do not know as he had anything before then.
He worked for the Livermores before then. He is the one who
took care of my grandmother when she died.
D: How much did he charge?
B: Oh, I imagine Granny's funeral was something like maybe
$125.00 or $150.00, something like that.
D: What year was this?
B: What year did Granny die? 1941? Carol, Tommy's, wife, was
seven weeks old when Granny died.
D: And the accomplished service was $150.00.
B: I do not imagine more than that at the most.
D: What would that be equivalent to in today's money?
B: I would say $500 or $600.
D: Better than $500 to be buried?
B: She was just buried in a common covered box, like Samuel
D: As a girl, did you have enough to eat? What kind of food
did you have?
B: We had our own store, the commissary on the mill. We got
anything that was there.
D: Apparently, when you came down here, the rations were not
B: He had a good business in Fairmont, we always had plenty to
eat, of anything you wanted to eat. I can say that for him.
We did not know how to buy nice clothes and things like
that, but we had plenty to eat.
D: You did not know how to buy nice dresses?
B: We had no where to wear them.