SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Claude Lowry
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
DATE: August 4, 1969
D: This is August, 1969, Adolph Dial speaking. I'm here at
the home of Mr. Claude Lowry, one of the very industrious
Lumbee Indian farmers in the St. Anna area. Mr. Lowry is
perhaps as well informed on Lumbee history as any other
member of the Lumbee Indian race. He's going to relate
some of this history to us today. Mr. Lowry, how old are
D: Seventy years old. There are people who've been around longer,
but perhaps none who has been more interested in their history
and:who has looked into the history of the people of this area
any more than.Mr. Lowry. Oftentimes cemeteries are very
important in history. What do you consider the oldest cemetery
in this area? Will you tell us about this cemetery?
L: The oldest cemetery in this area that I have a recollection of
according to the stones there are the Dials cemetery which now
is not in use near the Lowry road. To my recollection in
visiting that cemetery some fifty years ago I saw stones in
there of people who were buried in 1835 and along.
D: This name Dial, is this an old name?
L: This was the Dial cemetery that I visited at that time. It is
a very old name, one of the oldest names among the people. I
would say it goes back as far as the Locklear name.
D: The Dials, did they come from South Carolina or do you feel the
Dials left here and went into the South Carolina area?
L: The Dials lived here and went into the South Carolina area.
D: So the Dial name has been around for a good long time. I recall
there's one of the Dials who was a member of the Lowrie gang.
Who were some of the old original Dials that you know of?
L: I had in my possession a deed of land which were originally owned
by Peter Dial which was the grandfather of the late Peter Dial, Jr.
The late Peter Dial, Jr. was the son of Willis Dial. Willis Dial's
father was Peter Dial which was somewhere in the later part of 1700.
D: So the Dials have been around for a long, long time. In the area
of the original Dials, is this in this area where we are sitting
here not very far from St. Anna church.
L: Yes, this is northwest of St. Anna church, probably a mile and a
half. This Dial, the Peter Dial, his family of Dials was the
original Dials that owned the land where this Dial cemetery now
D: Speaking of names, hasn't it been a practice over the years for
people to drop names, and pick up names [such as] their wife's
name? Would you tell us about this?
S: Yes, originally there was a practice where if a man married into
a family and moved to his wife's homesite, he'd take her name.
It's been many years ago, that was the practice. You'd take up
the name of the family in which you married into if you moved there
and went in on their property.
D: Also, for one reason or another, over the years many families
have dropped names and the names seem to have disappeared.
L: Yes, I have in mind some like the Combos, and the Capones, and the
Gordines, and names that were here in the later part of the 1800s
which are not here today.
D: Looking into early history, I see such names as Combos which
are no longer around today. Would you say something about early
marriages in this area or in South Carolina.
L: Early marriages in this area were similar to what we have today
in the line of births and deaths. Therewere no recordings of it
in those early days, and it was not necessary to procure a license.
Lost of marriages were brought about simply by living with one another.
Later on it was a very easy thing to get a marriage license and
to go to some minister or local cavorter of the community and have
it signed. At that time there were lots that would leave this area
and go to South Carolina. South Carolina at that time was issuing
what was known as a six-month license. They could get a license
for fifty cents. South Carolina did not have divorce laws then. I
don't think they have divorce laws at this present time. So it was
very easy to leave a family here, go over in South Carolina and
start another family because there were nolaws against it.
D: What were some of the names which you would find in South Carolina
today who went down into South Carolina?
L: Dials and Locklears. It's just two of them.
D: Jacobs also.
L: That's right.
D: What do you know about Black Ankle? Where is Black Ankle?
Where do these people come from--some of the names--who
settled in that area? While we're on this, give some of the
names in the various areas in which people have settled and
where they left from, if you're able to do that.
L: Originally the people mostly lived in the areas known as Long
Swamp, Bee Branch, Bulberry, Richland Swamp, Moss Neck, Back
Swamp, Scuffletown, Black Ankle, Ash Cove and Lower, in Robeson
County, Pee Dee, South Carolina.
D: Tell me about the Black Ankle and Ash Cove areas.
L: The Black Ankle and Ash Cove area are located something like
fifteen to twenty-five miles from here. In the early days,'
the people would go down there to get farm work. Black Ankle
was the name given to the area because of the people who went:
there. It was kind of an insult. A name that was not appropriate
for the people, so they called them the Black Ankles. Ash Cove
was also a farming area which was on Ash Cove Swamp. The people
moved down in that area to get employment. Lots of them taking
up in these areas and live there and never did return. There now
are quite a lot of people in these areas that are kindred of
the original people right here.
D: So these people ahve migrated all over the area, so to speak. Not
only over the county, but also many of them have gone into South
Carolina and into other states, as we will point out later. A
minute ago you used the name Scuffletowr.. Where was Scuffletown
and how do you think it got its name?
L: Scuffletown is an area on the Seaboard railroad west of what was
known as Bowie Station. Bowie Station is in the western part of
Pembroke. Scuffletown was an area west of there a mile or more,
which is the site of the original Pembroke State Normal. The
people would gather in that area for picnics and parties. Namely,
gander pulling and cider pressings and things like that. They
would always have what was known as a scuffle or a fracus to stand
up with and that's where it got the name Scuffletown.
D: What do you mean by gander pulling? Tell us how this game would
L: Gander pulling was a source of sport in which they would take a
gander--I guess you know what a gander is.
L: They would hang him to a limb over a tree with a greased neck
and the participants in the sport would ride bareback. The
winner would be the one who would pull the head of the gander
off which is a very hard job to do. He would win the contest.
D: You also use the term cider pressing.
L: Cider pressing would come about during the summer seasons, maybe
for a period of two or three months at a time. And owners would
have great orchards of apples: many different ages and types
of apples. They would gather together to pick up apples and press
cider. After the first gathering of these apples there would
always be a plentiful supply of hard cider on hand which was used
for the purpose of drinking.
D: It appears from many of the people that I've talked with that
drinking hard cider and wine and perhaps even whisky was a
little more acceptable in the area a hundred and fifty years
ago than it is today. Is this true?
L: Yes, very much so. Cider was turned into apple brandy. There
were other drinks including blackberry brandy and plum brandy. It
could be made at home. Therewere no restrictions or laws on it
at that time.
D: Right down the road, not very far from here, a mile or two to the
old normal school, I understand there was a liquor store not
very far in that area. You can't remember this, can you?
L: No, that's a little bit off. There wasn't a whisky store there,
but there was a gathering point up that Lowry road for liquor
wagons to stop and sell whisky until they would dispense of their
D: I suppose these wagons came down from out of the Sand Hills,
and they would sell whisky and other wares, too?
L: From Hoffman. I understand that was the last place in the state
whisky was made at. There was a whisky store to the right of
here owned by Lars Oxendine. He owned the whisky store.
D: Can you remember the Oxendian whisky store?
L: No. Lawrence Oxendine left this country around 1880 or 1890
somewhere thereabouts. His store closed up before he left from
here. He was the owner of turpentine stills, lumber plant, whisky
stores, and he was quite a wealthy man for his time.
D: As I look back on what we might call the good old days, the
people were hired workers and so forth, and their social outlook
was quite different from mhat it is today. But they were not
all dissatisfied. They seemed to have a good time, to a certain
degree, whether it was a gander pulling or cider pressing or
quilting parties and so on, they seemed to be a happy people to
a certain degree. Don't you feel so?
L: Quite much. There's a quite good many wealthy people in the
country at that time. There was several that owned cotton
gins, namely Sam Broward, Willis Dial, Lawrence Oxendine, and
a Hunt fellow in Black Ankle. There was several among the people
which owned cotton gins and were very progressive.
D: I guess some of those fellows that are propertied today, if they
were around with that same property would be worth more than most
any of the Lumbees of the day.
L: I would say Lawrence Oxendine, if he were living today with the
same property he had then, would be worth millions.
D: Some of them were very wealthy and quite progressive. A few minutes
ago, you referred to the various areas in which some of the Lumbee
L: The Long Swamp area would be the first in mind. I would say the
largest area of the people lived on what is now Long Swamp. They
were Locklears. The Locklears in the other areas originally migrated
from the Long Swamp area to the area they are now in and were in
back at the turn of the century. These Locklears were the original
people. How they came about the name Locklear, I do not know. But
some make statements that it goes back to the first governor, Governor
Locklear [sic]. Wasn't he our first governor?
D: The Locklear name seemed to be an old Indian name, didn't it?
L: Yes, it seemed to be an old Indian name. The Bee Branch area had
quite a number of Locklears and Joneses in it.
D: Where is the Bee Branch?
L: The Bee Branch area is north of the present site of St. Anna church
now, which was originally the Lawrence Oxendine area.
D: About two miles from St. Anna?
L: Yes, about two miles from St. Anna. The Gall Berry area are still
further on east, about six miles in what is now known as the Union
Chapel area. The Richland Swamp area is about a mile from there
and it known as the Richland Swamp are because of the swamp that
ran through that area by the name of Richland Swamp. There were
quite a group of people lived between the Gall Berry's area
and the Richland Swamp area, namely the Oxendines. From my research,
I find that there was some four or five families of different
Oxedines as far back as I could get any recollection. For instance,
the original Jim Oxendine which lived in the Harpers Ferry area
was not a member of that Oxendine family of people. The original
JimOxendine married a sister of Wash Lowry. The Wash Lowry family
included twelve in that family, in which a great-great-grandmother
of mine was the oldest daughter of that family.
D: Do you recall her first name?
D: About when would you say she lived?
L: Elizabeth Lowry married her cousin Alfa Lowry and they lived in
the 1840s together.
D: That was 128 years ago.
L: Yeah Their family had three daughters: Rose Ella, Priscilla,
and Elizabeth. No sons. The Moss Neck area is owned what is now
the North Carolina Central Railroad. Also Bear Swamp. Bear Swamp
passed through that area at Moss Neck where there was a mill
located known as the Moss Neck Mill Pond.
D: That's quite a historical spot, wasn't it?!
L: Yes, the Moss Neck Mill Pond was one of the scenes of the Henry
Barry Lowrie fights. I'll bring that in. Beck Swamp was also
another area that our people lived in and that was south of the
Lumbee River which was around five miles south of the present place
of Harper's Ferry.
D: Lumber River today was originally known as Lumbee River, was it
L: Originally it was Lumbee River. The first agriculture teacher that
came from Massachusetts and his research. ..
D: What was his name?
L: The first agriculture teacher?
D: Yes, what was his name?
L: Jeb Corbin. He-did research on the Lumbee River and he came
up with a song and recorded it to the Lumbee River. Lumbee
River was originally called Drownin' Creek from its source to
an area on Long Swamp.
D: It's still today on up north of here. It's still know as
Drowning Creek, isn't it?
L: Yes, it's known as Drowning Creek on up to its source.
D: I believe you said something a minute ago about James. Will you
tell us about that?
L: James was originally called Jean.
D: Who was the last James that you knew of?
L: The last James that I knew of that used that name was the grandson
of the late Melvin Lowry, who was just in World War I and died in
Pembroke in 1919.
D: Getting back to migration, people who left here and went into
other areas--are you ready for that story now or do you want to hold
it a minute?
L: Oh, yes.
D: All right, go right ahead and tell us about people who went into
other states. I believe you said some went into Florida, some
went into Alabama, and New Mexico, and so on.
L: In 1850 there was a group that left and went to the Dakotas. Into
that group were Locklears and Joneses. They left from the Bee Branch
area. They went into what is now North Dakota and settled. Later
they were visited by Ed Lowry in 1899 who died out there in 1914
and was brought back and buried in St. Anna cemetery. He was a
D: Was Ed Lowry any relation to Washington Lowry? Uncle Wash they
L: He was the son of Wash Lowry. Later there was another group
left here in 1890s, were the last of the group that left
here going to New Mexico. This was the last of that group that
left here. Elias Oxendine, which is a very old man at that time
and he had a son by the name of Doc Oxendine, and a daughter Rydia.
They left and went to New Mexico. This Elias Oxendine was a very
wealthy man and so was his son and daughter. The last properties
that they owned here sold out in 1918. Chester Locklear got
a part of that land, and Holland Oxendine another part which they
now owned to the end of their families.
D: We're speaking of getting back there to Wash Lowry. Didn't he
go into the Indian territory once and return? How did the people
receive him when he returned?
L: May I have a date on that?
D: No, I don't have the date on it, but several people have told me
about Uncle Wash Lowry going into the Indian territory.
L: Yes, he went out there around the 1870s, as I can recall it was
around 1870. He went with a group which was the last group that
left here to go out into the Indian territories. I do not know
how they went, but he walked back. When he came back there were a
number of people thatwent to see him to have an interview with him.
They said he was quite poor and hungry and he claimed that the area
out there was not fit to live in and that the people were starving
that left from here and went out there. Also from the other Indian
territory they were starving. Just couldn't live out there.
D: I was in Oklahoma City recently and there are eleven Dials in the
telephone directory in Oklahoma City. They've been out there
some time. Some of them could have gone--I'm not saying they
did--back about this time also into Oklahoma City. This could
be very well some of the descendents of some who went into the
L: Yes, there was probably a goodly number of the Dials with that
group that went because the Dials and the Lowrys lived right near
one another and they weremarrying and itermingling with one another
right much during that period of time. Their land adjoined one
D: What about your discussion now of this migration into other areas.
L: Therewere quite a number of them that migrated down in the Florida
area in 1875 and thereabout. I had an uncle that went down there
in 1886. He migrated to the central part of Florida. There're
quite a number of Lowrys now in Gainesville, Ocala, and Daytona,
Florida. He died in Daytona, Florida in 1922. Also there was
another migration of Lowrys to the southwest in southern Alabama
and Mississippi. I visited in that area in 1952 in Escambia,
Alabama. I found some in Pensacola which is on the western edge of
Florida now, on the Gulf of Mexico. There are quite a number
living around in that area. Also in '52 I made a tour down
through there and I found some in Natchez, Mississippi, but a
little town. I found quite a number of Lowrys living in there just
north of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
D: Do you think that there's a possibility that many of these Lowrys
living in the various areas, and you could find them all over the
United States? They very well could be descendents of the Lowrys
who were some of the original settlers in early Virginia, maybe?
L: Yes, there's some of the Lowrys that come here that settled in
southern Alabama and western part of Florida around Florcla and,
Lockhart [Alabama], and Pensacola, Florida. There's still some
Lowrys living there now, which were descendents of a brother of
Wash Lowry. He had a son that left with that group and he settled
in Escambia in Florida or Alabama, in that area down there. He
had quite a family'.left in that area to his credit. Also a son
of Wash Lowry moved on to Mississippi and in that area he settled.
Their descendents are still out there today.
D: Speaking of migration and people going into the various areas,
what do you feel that World War I did for the people of the area?
Many of them hadn't been away from home to return, but prior to
World War I, most of them who left or many who left did not return.
However some went into Georgia to work in turpentine and returned.
L: Travelling was quite a problem in the early part of these people's
migrating to other places. When they went there, they mostly stayed.
After they invented the railroads, they could go and come then,
but the wages were so low, it was quite a problem to ever get wealthy
enough to return. Of course, they would pick up families, and raise
families. They hated to leave their families and that accounted for
why there was never returning back. But after World War I, trans-
portation become a little bit better and we begin to have roads
and what not, and people begin to find ways to get back here. However,
we had people to return back here that had been gone forty and fifty
years. They first took away from here, and returned back and died
D: They went away and couldn't get money to return and waited for many,
many years. When they were able to get a little money to return,
transportation was better, they returned back to the old original
site. Sometimes returning back to where they were.
L: Yes, they returned back to die. They came back and did die here.
Lots of them are still in the cemeteries around here now. It was
a lot different in that day then from what it is today. We can
go from here to Alaska today in fifteen hours. I have a daughter
now out there.
D: Speaking of your children, Mr. Lowry, where are your children now
and what are some of them doing?
L: I have some children scattered pretty much all over the universe.
I have one in Korea, I have one on his way to Vietnam, and I have
various children. My oldest son is an agricultural engineer. He's
in civil service working for the government out of Columbia,
South Carolina. I have another one that is an engineer. He's
in St. Louis with the Western Electric people. I have six daughters.
One of them is a medical secretary. She lives in Mt. Airy, North
Carolina. A teacher in High Point, North Carolina, and I have
one who's a bookkeeper in Charlotte, one is in the postal department
in Charlotte, and one is in Mr. Holly, North Carolina. She is an
D: It seems like they are really scattered around.
L: Yes they're all scattered. I don't have a one back here on the
D: How do you compare the farming situation today with your childhood
L: In my childhood days, we did a lot of work for a very little amount
of food. It took a lot of work to produce a small amount of food.
Today we do a little bit of work and produce a lot of food. We
have lots more food and different kinds of food today than we did
back in my childhood days. But life seemed to be more happier then
than it do now.
D: The abundance of goods doesn't necessarily put everybody in a happy
state of mind. I find that this seems to be true in interviewing
many people, that their parents and their grandparents seem to
have a good time at quilting parties, log rolling, and so forth.
L: Our abundance of goods seems to imprison us more than it frees
us. We were a lot freer when we had a lot less than we have
D: Yes, I think that's true. Perhaps in the area of the coming of govern-
ment controls, and so forth. The early pioneers had a lot of
freedom and went over the turpentine and the corn fields, and
the game and so on. Would you say something about the famous
Henry Barry Lowrie gang? Just go ahead and talk about the Lowrie
gang. Say anything you want to.
L: First of all, I would like to say that Henry Barry Lowrie is an
outstanding man and was an outstanding man in many instances. He
stands along with two more men in history, one before him and one
after him. He was a great man for his people. His people were
first at his heart. One was Moses and the other one was Adolf
Hitler. While I'm speaking of that I might also say that their
end was similar. No man knows where Moses went and where he's
buried. No man knows where Hitler went and where he's buried.
The only three men in history that any man can say are alike.
D: Very good, very good.
L: Judge Sinkler was the native of Robeson County. His statement
on the stand in Lumberton Court House in 1927, as the record will
show, stated that Henry Barry Lowrie was a great man. He was
a man that would rob the rich and give to the poor according
to his people. He had the underdog at his heart. But he was
fighting for a great cause, he was fighting for his people, which
had been unjustly treated. As the records will show, the Indian
man was unjustly treated by Andrew Jackson. It has not been rescinded
until this day.
D: I find that all the people I've interviewed feel that Lowrie had
a good cause. Some even think that he should be honored with some
kind of a monument for his work. After all, we even honor war heroes.
L: Yes, I think so. It should not be left to the people to do it.
If we have a great nation and a great people, he should be honored
along with Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, and there's many more who
was giving their credits after they're dead. I think Henry Barry
Lowrie should be giving his dues. Even though he's gone, he was
a great man.
D: We've had various names here over the years. We had the name Croatan
in 1885 which became a name which was used by people from a long
way over the years. In 1911 we were known as Indians of Robeson
County. In 1913 we were known as Cherokee Indians of Robeson County,
and later in 1953 we were designated as Lumbee Indians of North
Carolina. What is your opinion on the various names that we've
had? What do you think of this name Lumbee? Do you think this
is a good name and why?
L: There's quite a history to this thing. Originally, the Indians
here were scuffling to maintain this area and stay here. They
were pushed around quite a bit. Beginning in 1835 up until 1885
they did not have any schools. Previous to that time, the went
to schools with the white. They didn't have separate schools, but
they did school along with the white. But after the ruling to
move all Indians from the eastern part of the Mississippi River
which applied to the people here also, they found themselves being
pressured a great deal. There was an attempt to not only move them
out, but to destroy their history and their knowledge of themselves.
So, during that fifty years they went through quite a lot of pressure.
The later part of that fifty-year period, they began to set up some
schools for themselves: notably, the St. Anna Academy was one school,
and a little school out in the area of New Hope. There might have been
one or two others around, that I can not recollect.
In 1885 one Hamilton McMillan got a bill through that gave them a new
name, which was recorded as Croatan. Croatan was never accepted among
the people as a name, they took it as an insult. It was something to
be hated for. They never would accept that name. So, that began a
move on foot then to try to give them their original name, their correct
name. It brought about a question there: what was their original name?
Then located in this area of what is now Lumbee River, there was quite
some discussion as to their original name being the Lumbees or their
ever getting the name from the people which was on it at that time
known as Lumbees. After 1885 they got that name. They never ceased
to continue to work and one of the early workers into the movement
was H.S. Locklear, known as "Iron" Locklear. He worked up until 1914.
He had one man, McPherson, that came here from Washington who made a
speech, and did some research work. Then he moved out of the picture.
Later W. M. Lowry, and Bill Jackson and some man from the eastern part
of the country, they took up where he left off. They kept it going for
a while. Later on, J. W. Oxendine and others worked at it a while and
following J. W. Oxendine was Joe Brooks. Joe Brooks worked at it as
late as 1938. It was left off there. The final end came about when we
decided to procure a name for us which would be appropriate for all the
people, all those who had come in from other areas. We could select
the name which would not directly point to no one group as having
superior already here in numbers and claiming that they were the
superior group or having the original group. So we decided to select
the name Lumbee which was the original Lumbee. B. F. Lowry and myself
were the beginners of that name. We went to the legislature and the
legislature gave us the right to that name. Later we went to Washington,
D.C. and the name was finished there. That's how we came about the
The Lumbee name is a name which will suit everybody, all those
coming in here from other tribes which we have quite a number
and have had a number as far back as I can account for. We had
the Tuscaroras that came in here and settled around 1850s. They
came from Sampson County and beyond the Cape Fair River. Notably,
some of them taken up the name Locklears. I don't originally know
what they was, but their descendents are still out here today.
We had Cherokees that came in here ans settled. Probably
they are the Brooks because I know when the Brooks didn't have any
association whatever with the people on his side of the river.
Their trade center was Maxton and they never crossed the Lumbee
River to come in what is now known as Pembroke or Scuffletown.
They never took any part in the schools or anything until the
last fifty years. There was also a group that came from around
Bennettsville, South Carolina called the Sarah Indians. History
records that they were around five hundred and some few that
came up here which are now the Rollers and the Copes. The
Copes have gone out of existence. We also had a group that came
in from the Catawbas: the Blues, the Jacksons. They came from,
according to research, the Catawba group. We have also here
some from the Creeks, and we have some from as far away as Mexico
in here. We have them from various areas.
D: You are saying that since the Indian people here are an
amalgamation of many Indian tribes, that the name Lumbee seems
to be quite appropriate for the group residing on the Lumbee
L: Yes, there was some opposition to the name Lumbee in the beginning,
but the very opponents of it at that time become the most--what
did I say right there? Oxendine approved of it highly. What was
the most what?
D: Many who objected to it today seem to accept it as much as anyone.
I don't know of any objections to the name Lumbee today, do you?
L: None at all. It's very favorable and everybody seems to think it's
the most appropriate name we've ever had. I think it's content
ans we'll rest there henceforth now and forever, amen.
D: Yes, I think it is here to stay and here for keeps, and a geo-
graphical name that's very appropriate for a group of people who
have Cherokee blood, Hatter's blood, Tuscarora blood, and so
forth. Who are they? Any of them around?
L: Yes, there was quite a number of the Wakama Indians came up into
this area around the 1850s. Some of our leaders of that time came
from that group of people. They still resided among us and some
of our people moved down into their area.
D: What area were most of the Wakama Indians in?. What county originally?
Would that be down in the Columbus County area?
L: Yes, in the Columbus County area. There is now a lake in that
area known as the Wakama Lake which is the largest inland water,
fresh-water lake between Maine and Florida. That was their
original home, and their descendents are still located in that
D: Are you of the opinion that the people of the Sampson County,
Columbus County and Robeson, South Carolina area are of
several stock, but there is Cherokee blood, Tuscorora blood,
and various Indian blood?
L: Very much so. According to research, originally the Scotch
settled across the northern part of this area. Twenty-five
miles from here is federal, in Scotland County, North Carolina.
The lower part of this county, across Dillon, South Carolina
was settled by French and Germans. They were originally called
"Buckskin" by these peoples of this area here. The people of
this area were sandwiched in between the Scotch and the Buckskins
seemed to be content to let them stay in this area so long as
they lived in this area according to my knowledge. From the
older people who I interviewed, they never did have any intrusion
from the Scotch. However, the Scotch were a worst group
than the Buckskins were. Into this area, being a vast area,
there was constantly others moving into this area from the Tuscaroras
and the Waukamas and the Sarahs and the Sissafawawas, and the
Cherokee. This old gentleman told me that he was in Greeneville,
Tennessee in his young boyhood days. And that he. .
D: That was Mr. Warts, wasn't it?.
L: That's right, Mr. Warts.! He's still living here today. He had
another brother that long ago passed on. He was from that group
of Indians. I do not know what group they belonged to.
D: These people are a people with an interest in history. From 1885
to 1953, there seemed to be much concern about a name, but it
was finally never able to be settled until 1953 when the name
Lumbee came into existence. Along this line, what do you think
of the present relative to the past? Would you comment on that?
L: I would think the present is much more favorable for these people
than it was back in those days. Those were the dark days for
the people of this area. Since 1885, they have schools. Now
we have a university right here at us and the people have gone
a long way in that period. The pressure against them as to
extension has been lessened quite much and it is not even thought
of any more. They don't have to hide around, and keep
close to themselves for preservation. They can get out and
intermingle with the rest of the world and hold their heads
up high. I think the future has a.lot more brighter form
than it ever was before.
D: Certainly, I would have to agree with that statement. Speaking
of the future, how would you view the future of these people?
They moved away. They've gone into all areas of the world.
Do you think they will eventually lose all their identity?
L: No. Not whatever in the world because there's quite a bit
of intermarriage, but there's also a tremendous amount of
marriage within right on. There's quite a number of them
that highly praises their own blood, and I think that will last
for another thousand years should we go on. That much has not
been promised so far yet. But as to the future of the people,
I do think that they will go a lot higher. We have some in
government, we have lawyers and doctors, and we have engineers,
and we have people taking parts in all parts in all categories
of life in all parts of the world. That's been going on since
before World War II, because in World War II, I had a nephew
which led the squadron that licked the Japs at Wake Island.
He was a navigator. He led the squad, left out of Pearl
Harbor, annihilated them at Wake Island and landed on an island.
He got a tremendous write-up. Later on he went on to Raubaul
in 1942 in October and there was his end.
D: Yes, I believe Wade Lowry was his name. Was that the
correct name? Yes, I read a write-up in World War II on him,
and he was described by some admiral as one of the most outstanding
navigators of the Pacific. Speaking that the identity here
probably will hold for a long, long time, as I look at today, I
believe we would be safe to say that you could begin on the
Prospect-Pembroke Road or the Waukala-Pembroke Road at Pembroke
State College and getting out of the college area there a few
hundred yards and moving on down to Prospect, home is a Lumbee
home and owned mostly by Lumbees. Is this correct? This would
be an area of at least ten miles.
L: Yes. Even ten miles east of here it's still Lumbees right on out
through the Union Chapel and Mr. Ayre area--some of the most
progressive areas in the county. In through this area is one
of the most progressive rural areas in the whole of the county or
anywhere else in the state. People who ride through this area
and see the homes and whatnot, they're amazed at the progress
that's been made due to the fact that these people have always
known work and they knew sacrifice and they're willing to work
and sacrifice that their portion in life might be better. The
churches are much better. We have hundreds of churches among
us today and they're among the finest there are in the county or
D: As we look, we find the Pembroke area, the Deep Branch area, the
Brunt Swamp area, the Prospect area still predominantly Lumbee
and a group of hard-working, progressive people. I think it
would be safe to say, and I'd like your comment on this, that this
group of people considering the opportunity have probably made
more progress than any other group of people in the entire
L: Yes, I'm proud to say that there's no more Scuffletown. There's
no more scuffle as it was proclaimed in that day. They all united
working together and worked with all of the groups and other peoples.
They love everybody. I would say in my travels, and I have traveled
quite a bit over the United States, that I don't know of a rural
area through here, which has been led by this same people.
D: Very good. Tell me what you know about the turpentine industry
in this area and of the people who migrated into Georgia working
L: The first use of turpentine was for the tar for ships. Turpentine
started around 1850 here. We have turpentine plants here that were
in existence around 1850 and 1875. When turpentine was worked
out of this country, they begin to move southward from here and
into the Florida area. 'Course it didn't last too long in the
southlands, and that was why the people scattered from that place
in their early days following the turpentine industry. Turpentine
went out. However turpentine is still going on today. It's known
as naval stores and Savannah, Georgia is the homesite for naval
stores. There's quite a bit of turpentine going on in Georgia
now and Alabama. It's coming back, it seems like. I think that
turpentint is being used for a type of insecticide now namely
toxaphene. I think that turpentine, as long as we're using
insecticides, will still be quite a commodity.
D: We recognize that many people went into the Georgia-Florida area
during the turpentine days and never did return to Robeson County.
Recently, I met an Oxendine down in Memphis who was one of the
Oxendines off of Burnt Swamp. My grandmother knew a Captain
Oxendine who married W. L. Morre. A couple of her brothers went
into the area of Georgia and never did return. Recently I met
one in Memphis whose father had moved down into New Orleans.
This Oxendine in Memphis was a big executive for a telephone
company and seemed to be doing quite well. He gave us a good time
there at the Sheraton Hotel in Memphis. During your seventy years
have you been around much? Have you traveled any? What do you
think of Indians?
L: That's quite a question. Yes, I think I've traveled through about
all the states east of the Mississippi River and some of the
western side. I have tried to make it a policy to go in among
the Indians where I knew there was a little band of them and
see just how they's getting along, what they were doing, and
whatnot. I recall on one trip I left from here and went all
through the Cherokee reservation in the western part of North
Carolina and spent awhile. I've made several trips out there.
I went on to Savannah and found a family or two there. Went on
to Memphis and then to Arkansas. I came back out of Arkansas
to Memphis and taking [U.S. Highway] 61 South to Philadelphia,
I ran into another group and they were afraid to talk. They
seemed to be still in slavery. They had a caretaker who looked
out for their affairs and whatnot. They claimed that he got all
the money and when they went out and worked, they had to deliver
it to him. He was "an Indian agent." They seemed to be imprisoned.
They were afraid to talk, even afraid to answer any questions, or
anything like that.
I went to various other places down in there and just saw different
families of them, but none to amount to anything. I came into another
group in Southern Alabama which is the Creeks. Around Escambia there's
quite a number of them down there. They are similar to the people
here. They've been always free. They work pretty hard. They have
some homes. But they didn't have schooling, and they were not very
industrialist. But they were going to school in the town with the
whites, and they were picking up right much. There was a pageant
being held while I was out there, and the beauty queen was from
that group. Also, there was another group across the Pascagoula Bay.
They were a remnant of the Cherokees from the western part of
North Carolina. Some of them settled in here among these people
now, the Waltmans. They were mostly fishermen. They were not too
highly interested in the better forms of life. They didn't take in
schooling, and the state of Alabama didn't try to press it upon them.
They were very much contented to be fishing guides or hunting guides
and that type of life. There's another little group down around
Orange Lake, Florida, down on the Orange Lake Grove. There's about
a couple hundred of that group. They're very much contented with
their way of life, they're not doing anything. They own St. John's
on the west side. They're not contented at all to be anybody if they
live, it's okay and if they don't, it's okay. They don't worry about life.
They don't have to spend too much money for clothes or anything.
Their homes don't seem to be very much. This year I was down
in Pensacola, Florida and spent a night, went out through
some Seminole Reservation--that it the group out on the northern
part of Lake Okeechobee. They haven't progressed a.bit in
the last twenty years. They're still living in huts and their
yards had weeds and mud holes in it and no grass, and no
lawns. I don't believe they had electric lights in their village.
There must've been something like three or four hundred of them
around there. They seemed to be well contented their way of
life and let the white man go alnog with his as he so choose.
He can stay in light, they'll stay in darkness. Those on the
southern edge down on the Tamiami Trail, I visited them once, too.
They go down into the water. They have their scaffolds put about
forty-six feet above the water so when the water rises it doesn't
bother them. They live down on mats and grass and their exposed
to the sun. I don't think they'd be as bothered by mosquitos, they
seem to fly by. I never seen them fighting them. But the people
in this area are always fighting and slapping at gnats and mosquitos.
However, those people down there seem to get along mighty well with
them, I never see 'em working.
D: Thank Mr. Lowry. You seem to be very well informed on the Lumbee
Indians and also on Indians in general. I appreciate this
interview with you. You've been very helpful. I hope you have
many more happy years here in this historic St. Anna's church
where the academy was at one time. I hope to be seeing you again.
I see our tape's almost running out here, and we'll have to call
it to an end you have spoken 490 feet on this tape. I hope it
will be very useful for us and Lumbee, which will hope to come
up sometime in the near future. Thank you very much.