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INTERVIEWEE: Charlie W. Oxendine
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
July 19, 1969
D: This is July 19. 1969. I'm taping an, Adolph Dial speaking and I am taping
an interview with Mr. Charlie Oxendine near Harper's Ferry. Mr. Oxendine,
first of all, I'd like for you to tell me something about your childhood
days. What the work was like and --: your dad's occupation and so forth?
0: Well, we just farm on the little scale. Was one horse farmers. We didn't
have none of ihis fine equipment you know, just ole timey stuff.
D: Talk a little louder.
0: Just old tirey stuff, it's old tiney material. FArm material, that's 1
the things we had. And cotton and corn was the biggest things we raised
through here is cotton and corn. Finally, people went into tobacco. Well,
they cQme-at making some money and kinda got on their feet then. They wasn't
on their feet before. Just barely made a living not at all, just barely a
living. And that was all made. Finally, after they got into the tobacco
business, they commenced buying land and building better homes. They lived
in little old log cabins. The little old log cabins, you know? That's
what we lived in and today, we go through and) W ,p fs5~ie 'CC !
Earl Ives said he ain't never seen a country like, like through here grow
like-t has. Say he's been all over the world and he says he ain't never seen
a country grow like it is through here and nowhere he's been. He was
started with nothing, was started with nothing at all and we continued to
grow and from that went to carpenting and bricklaying. And now, there's as
good a bricklayers and carpenters as you would hit anywhere in the state,
anywhere. And they all over the state, there are several hundred of them
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in Greensboro, several hundred of them in Winston-Salem, several hundred
of them in High Point and several hundred of them in Charlotte.
D: Just a question here, Mr. Oxendine. When did the people here, when did the
Lunbee Indians in Robeson County start going away to different cities in a
O: Well, right after the first World War.
D: Now, what do you, do you think World Tar One was good for the Lumbee Indians?
What did it do to them?
0: Well, it, it give them, let them know something about the world. They didn't
know nothing about the world, nothingaaround home, they didn't know nothing
else. They didn't know what there was away 'til they, they had to find out.'
what there was away you know, away from here. And now, they all out. We
got people all out. Me and you)too got a bunch of people on the Pacific
D: Now, during World War II, there was lots of intermarriage. That is, Indians
marrying whites during World War II. Did you have any of this during World
0: Just a little, not much. It was against the law for.-n Indian to marry a
white woman. Tha s the reason they made Dr. Locklear leave here, you know.
D: Yes, I understand Dr. Locklear married a white and he practiced here. Did
he live here a while with his wife?
O; Yeah. But they had a trial at Lumberton and made him leave and had to went
there to Atlanta, they had to go to Atlanta for six months. But, a federal
(f i- t6^To re,
legislator,0, ?'_-_'_ - c'.o' knocked that out.
D: Now after he was, after, after he left here and went to Atlanta, did he ever
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return here to practice?
0: No, he practiced a little, not much here. But he worked the drugstore,
on a drugstore in Atlanta.
D: How long did e practice here before he left?
0: Oh, about fonr or five years, something like that.But he went to Florida
and come back here, this is where he settled when he come back at Peibrocke.
D: Did he have his wife when he eame back?
0: No, he married a Comeback. He went down to Atlanta to see the captain that
his boy was underhand his boy died in England. And he went up with this
girl in Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia.
D: Well had he been there before? You said his boy died in England.
0: Yeah. He married Lttie 's girl. She died. She died right o
the way Uncle John Mule died at.
D: And he left here, he lost his son in World War I, did He?
D: Was Dr. Locklear considered, Dr. Governor Locklear, he was the son of ....
0: Preston Locklear.
D: Preston Locklear. Was he considered a very good doctor?
0: Good as there was, as there was in the country anywhere. Dr. Kinsman at
Hamlet and Dr. Pope at Lumberton and Dr. Johnson at Lumberton went to school
>- eaS with him. Said he was as fine a doctor as you would hitrny of them. They
coar in here during the second orb War with so many people dying of in-
.1 flusnza. And tey guaranteed him $75 a day, people wasn't caught, they examine
it like it is now, to go to Wilmington, He told them he couldn't leave home.
Siid "I got all, more than I can do at home to save ray life". The people drove
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horse and buggies thtih, you know.
D: Now, your house is located right here at Harper's Ferry Bridge. Do you
know anything about the old history of the old bridge here? f
0: Well, it was a fellow Harpers put what they call one of them pentonesbridges
you know what you roll across and that was what they goihis name from him,
that fellow Harpers.
D: Harper put a pentone bridge?
0: A-pentone bridges, you know, you know it's use now and then over there.
D: Yes. I see.
0: Uncle Sink-Henry Bear Loory's brother tell about it. He come on home and
set up one o'clock at night in his old days.
D: Well, right here adjoining your yard, I see a couple of markers, but yet
there is no identification for the grave. I understand one of those is
Henry, not Henry Ie'Lowry, but ...
0: Brant Harris.
D: Brant Harris, who was killed by one of the Lowry gang. Could you tell us
about that story?
0: Well, he was a home guard come from Madison County. He was/ ,
And made a home guard out of him and he just killed a whole lot, He killed
four of Henry Bear-Ls first cousins. 'di Pert, his sister, had cone up
home and had married same of them people. And she had come up home and
tell us the whole history of it, you know. We didn't mind killing one a bit
more than us and there wasn't no law for us, you see, wasn't no law to
protect a man frm killing one another t all. j ~ 'granddaddy, Mr.
Moore, well, ny uncle by marriage. He said that never had blamed him
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for, he just had to take it on h.emself, And there fifty of them ccme there
to the Lowry"s that rnorig, take the old man out and kill him and his boy.
And he never stopped-they got 47 of them. The fifty men that ccme-one of them,
two of them had to leave here and the other one, he went crazy. We'd go
down there to kill him and he's crazy, and the last time I want to see the
old man McKenzie to give a nigger ten dollars to take care of him.
D: Which one of, which one of the Lowrys do you think killed Brantley Harris?
You know Brantley Harris was my great-grandfather.
0: Henry P I
D: You think Henry Beer Lowry killed him?
0: ThaTs the one that killed him.
D: Now, I believe the story goes that he, that Brantley had let some one off the
buggy just before he shot him.
0: He'd left, let ie see, ....
D: Was their name Nance?
0: No, her nane was Central's mother, Aunt Rachel. Rachel Qxendine.
D: Was, was this one of-his, was this Aunt Rachel one of his girlfriends?
0: Yeah. Rachel.
D: Now who was, who was Miss Rachel Oxendine?
0: Well, she was same of them old original Oxendines^ I don't know. These people
supposed to come in probably from Virginia or some up there.
D: Oh, yeah. YSu're speaking of John White's lost colony?
0: Yeah. Well, they was you see, they drifted and anywhere they could get
to stay, that's where they stopped at. They just anywhere they could get
to stay, you know, they just stopped there, you know. It's as though they
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made, but want to carry them all out West, their territory. But they car-
ried a bunch of them. But-. there's a bunch of them that rebelled, that
D: You're speaking of the Cherokees up in the western part of the state?
0: Yeah, they was....
D: Do you think any of these from here went?
0: Well, yeah. Some went. We don't know their names, but the other ones, if
yolugo down here in eastern North Carolina, you'll find a whole lot of
that Indian blood down there. You can look at them and tell it, you know?
Black hair and all? And sane of them look it and same of them won't. But
a lot of them will tell you it, they're mixed with them.
D: Now, what is your opinion of, of the death or just what happened to Henry
ermaM Lowry? You know, after 1872, we never did hear from him again. How-
ever, the gang continued until 1874. What is, what do you believe happened
to Henry Bear Lowry?
-- -us there at
0: Well, his sister told home that he come there, to their place two days be-
fore it happened and says "I'm done now" Says "I'm leaving".
D: Now what was his sister named?
0: Her name was Sally Jane. And all they called her Aunt Pert. Her name was
Sally Jane though.
D: Aunt Pert as Sally Jane?
0: Yeah. She married a Ransom. George's mother up here, Bessie S 6 O ic? F
D: Yes, I hope to interview him.
0: And he said that he told them that he said he didn't tell his mother. Says
"I'm done". Says "I'm leaving". And they never did hear anything else from
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him. There had been a lot of stories that he Was killed' -. accidentally
and all that, but nobody don't know that he was killed.
D: Thus it appears that no one knows that he was killed and it appears that
no one knows that he left.
D: Now did you ever hear the Orlan Lowry story of a, Mr. Orlan Lcwrz was the
son of ....
D: Tom Lowry.
D: Someone said he witnessed the, witnessed the death of Henry Bear Lowry.
0: Scmebody says that, but I'll tell you. There'd been a whole lot of rumors
that nobody couldn't confirm. Now I was in the Army with a fellow from
down here between Maxton and "t,-r. e 0,CC.6s s His daddy, An)
they mighty nice people. He said a_ r haM D through
here that they didn't know nothing about, but-then, they was in the woods
and it was put on.
D: Well, this was during Reconstruction days too and a lot was going on,yju
see during Reconstruction.
0: Yeah, well, that's that I say. But nobody knows, but he said a lot was
done, a lot of killing, and a lot of robbing and they didn't know nothing
about. But they was in the woods and they was in the woods and they was
put on then. A little _ I knowed up in Georgia. But the cattle
run *V E
got away one day. We couldn't locate them, cattlein the woodsA you
know those old piney woods, cattle? Otis says get you 50 niggers get
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them cattle and we's went and got 'em took 'em up and killed him. Two
days, they found every one of the cattle had ranged off four miles and
feeding all twenty head of them. But': they done killed the niggers,see?
D: What was your relation, what was your wife's relation to Henry er owry?
0: Her great-uncle.
D: And your wife's name was....?
0: Bosie Lee. f
D: Bosie Lee. Mrs. Bosie Lee Oxendine was, Henry Ser Lowry was her great-
0: Yeah. Yeah, her uncle.
D: Wat did she seem to think?
O; Well, she didn't never know no nore than we did. They never did know.
Aunt Pert would come up, she was right at 100 years old. Her mind was some
good, too. She come up and standing right up here and stayed up until twelve
o'clock maybe talking. And she could tell you some of the awfulest stories
you ever heard in your life.
D: Can you remenier any of them?
0: Ok, yeah.
D: Tell us saoe.
0: Well, Uncle Billy Lowry, he was one of his nephews, yon know. He seen them
when they come there and took his daddy out and his brother and killed them.
And she said that they were all out in the yard playing on e day and hap-
pened- to look dcwn the road and there was a whole gang acrming. My Uncle
Sink, he was scouting to keep from going to the batteries. And said if he
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D: What was the battery?
0: The batteries is where they was building Fort Fisher and all. Kinda working
them as nigger slaves, you know?
D: In other words, you're saying that they didn't draft the Indians during
the Civil War to, into the Army, but they wanted to draft them to work down
at Fort ....
D: Fort Fisher at the battery.
D: And what did they do at the battery?
0: Build, build, they had to build all that battery down there at Fort Fisher.
I heard Uncle Sink -he'd talk about it thatfi ee' 'h % at
the least was three soda crackers a day. But they got one ear of corn.
You could eat one tire if you want to, just one ear of corn.
And he said it was awful so my granddaddy, he was in it-the one that's up
here. They come and took .....
D: What was your granddaddy's name?
0: John James.
D: John James Oxendine. He was at the battery?
0: Oh yeah. And they took his brother out and killed him. Made him dig his
own grave too.
D: Where was he?
0: He was up there, he stayed up there at the old place,but they caught him
and they killed him out there close to what is now the old big _____
D: Now who is they?
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0: Uncle Heck Oxendine.
D: I mean who killed him, I nean?
0: Oh, there was4 bunch of people up there. There was a lot of Home Guards,
you know. There was a lot of Home Guards through the country. And he was
dead, I never did ask my granddaddy what kind of shape he was in, but then,
he had to be rotten. He was buried three days right in a-plum rvo dirt
before they ever found his grave. Three weeks. You know he had to be rotten.
D: You think this the work of the Home Guard?
0: Yeah, it was the Home Guard you knowstook him out and killed him.
D: Was that because he didn't want to go into the Army?
0: He didn't want to have to go to the battery and issa wasn't a going to the
battery. When they catch one, why they just killed him.
D: Now Henry Bear Lbwry's beyond this, but he'd go as a soldier and fight, but
he was not interested in going to the battery, was that correct?
0: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, he said told them he'd go and fighiut he says "I
ain't going to work". Said "I ain't going to work". He'd have wanted to
work him with nigger slaves, you know. And, you know, there's never beenI
you see, they never ain't been able, to make a slave out of no Indian.
You couldn't trust him at all, not any of his slaves, said he'd kill you
in spite of all that could be done and get away. They got, you know, they'd
steal slaves and carry them off and sell them. One of the greatest orators
among, that was among thit, these people, his-name was Brave Boy, Oxen Brave
Boy. And they carried him plurb J to Virginia and sold him. And then he
talked his way,-ut and told them who? that he wasn't a nigger. And he
got away and he come back home here, buried back here.
D: Now, tell me something about the old Normal School there, I know you re-
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member the old Normal School and W.LLzorow and education and so forth way
0: Well, they got together and in making them buildings, the main one that star-
ted didn't get no honor. They, if it hadn't have been for Fuller Lowry,Mr. Moore
never would not have gotten his name on a building there. Fuller Lowry was the 4.-Use
4Liiho. Now my granddaddy was one of them Custin Locklear was one, Mally Carr was
one, Big Jim Dyer was one, and Big Jim Oxendine was one. And they took
other people in place, of them. They're the ones that started it off.
So they had to get up five hundred dollars and Mr. Moore paid two hundred
dollars of it, before the state would move a peg. And now, before the state
would move a pe yhe had to get that five hundred dollars. So Mr. Moore,
he was a schoolteacher and none of the balance of them had no money. He,
paid two hundred dollars and if it had not been for Fuller, they never would
have put his name on a building there.
D: So you think he deserved the building at Pembrooke State College?
0: He deserved to be the boss or the first, of the first one, but he didn't get,
get to see, he didn't get down and see first.
D: What did most of the people back in his day think of W.Laefims.? Did most
of them like him or was it?
0: Well, yeah. He was a leader. He was a leader. He done one thing at Lum-
berton that no man, other man, every manu in4 CC E;(e orn F4
A young man bought a grind rock. You know, a circle, an old grind rock,
what a grindstone was, circle. But he bought that grind rock at a different,
as a question in arithmetic. How much could the first one grind off and
how much could the next one? You see, it'd be getting littler all the tjmne
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and take more time. But he was the only man that made-it, made the ^
Out in all the crowd, all, all long-sleeved nice and nasty, he was the only
man that made the a- .
D: He was a right good scholar then, I suppose?
1): Well, he was the best + d.
D: Was he a good speaker?
0: Yes sir. Best that I ever know'd of through here. That's the reason I
think so hard of the crowd ignoring him so long. If it hadn't been for
Fuller Lowry though they'd never got his name on a building there.
Oh yeah, he, he was a good orator. He could tell you any kind of history.
Anything you wanted to know, he could tell you of it. I remember him well.
You can't remember him, can you?
D: Yes, I remember him.
O: You was s11ll, then.
D; Yes, I wa Asmal I remember seeing him once or twice when I was a young boy.
0: Yeah, Yeah, he was a good orator.
D: Did you attend the old Normal School any? Sir, did you attend the old Normal
School at Pates?
0: Yeah, a little, ont moved everything we got down, but they ain't built
nothing at Pembrooke movedd everything we had with two two-horse wagons.
D: Well, I noticed .\: several teachers in your family. Did your dad stress
education a lot or they, your mother, or what happened?
0: Yeah. Well, he did. And my mother, too. You see, Aunt Tootee, your grand-
mother, had the first Indian teacher that we had among this race of people.
I got a picture down there. What I'm trying to do now....
D: Wait just a minute there. In other words, you're saying that _ls. W.L.Moore
was the first Indian lady teacher?
0: Yeah. Yeah. The first Indian lady teacher we had among the race. that we
have any history of.
D: What is that you have in there?
0: Well, what I got a picture in there -her andnother. it, see if you can draw,
can make a picture about this wide and about this long and we'll have it
enlarged, but I ain't got a negative. I just got the picture. And I don't
know whether I can get a photographer to do that or not. Now, if one of
the artists will take the painting, he will charge you over a hundred dollars.
An artist, you know.