SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Charlie Oxendine
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
DATE: September 7, 1971
D: September 7, 1971, Adolph Dial speaking. I am here at the
home of Mr. Charlie Oxendine. Mr. Oxendine, how old are
O: I'm eighty year old.
D: Did you ever know Rhoda Lowrie, the widow?
O: We stayed right there, half a mile of her.
D: Can you remember her very well?
O: Oh, yes.
D: Did you ever hear her talk any about Henry Berry Lowrie?
D: What are some of the things you remember she said?
O: He disappeared and ain't none of them ever knowed what went
D: Did she ever say what she thought happened to him?
O: No, she didn't say, but Henry Berry's sister, Aunt Pert,
come up their home and married in that family. She said
that the day before he disappeared-now this is what she
told us--he come there at the house where her and her mother
was and said that he shot robins all day. She said he got
them up, robin birds you know. "Well," he says, "I'm
leaving now." He said, "I'm going away now," and she said
they never did know another thing about him. She said he
just disappeared. He said, "I'm leaving now."
D: Who said that?
O: Henry Berry said, "I'm leaving."
D: Do you think he died with his own gun or went away?
O: There's all kind of stories told about it. But there's
one thing, nobody never did get the $10,000.
D: Your mother did some writing for Ms. Rhodes?
0: She done all the writing for Ms. Rhodes.
D: What kind of writing, do you know?
0: Just with a pencil.
D: I mean, what do you recall her writing letters for?
0: She was writing to his widow and children.
D: Writing to Henry Berry, Jr.'s widow, you mean?
0: Yes. His name was Henry Delaware.
D: Henry Delaware Lowrie?
0: That was Henry Berry's boy.
D: Henry Delaware Lowrie.
0: Yes, that was his name. This man walked up, come up
from Red Springs, the fork. He wasn't a white man, but
now what's curious about these people from Mississippi and
Alabama, more of them got Indian people than any people
you ever saw in your life. You can look at them and tell
that they don't look like the white people. A lot of them's
got black hair and all.
D: When were these people here going to Mississippi mostly,
about the time they was going to Georgia?
D: Henry Delaware Lowrie was killed out there, wasn't he?
0: He was killed in Mississippi.
D: Did you ever hear Rhoda say about he was killed? He was
killed and he killed a man when he was there.
0: Yes, one of them only lived an hour and five minutes and
the other one lived an hour and ten minutes after they fell.
We was eating dinner on his birthday and this man come up.
He wanted to kill him and get away with it as Dixon did at
Pembroke when he killed Alfred Thomas. But he didn't get
away with it. He killed him right;:there on the spot.
D: What year was this?
0: It was 1901.
D: How old do you suppose he was? Do you have any idea?
O: Henry Berry was....
D: I mean Henry Delaware Lowrie.
O: Him and Uncle Andy run together. He was about the same age
and Uncle Andy was killed when he was about forty-one years
old. They run together when they were down in Florida and
D: Did Henry Delaware go to Florida, too?
O: Yes, he went there. He caught a big nigger in there one day
and told him he was Henry Berry Lowrie. The people didn't
D: Where, in Florida?
O: No, in Georgia. He had the people scared; he was such a
bully. So they told Henry Delaware about it and he took
his left hand to shake with. "You're Henry Berry Lowrie."
"Yes, sir." Took with his left hand. He took his old .38
out and beat him down. He said, "And now I'm Henry Berry's
son. Don't never tell nobody this again."
D: Who was this, Henry Delaware Lowrie?
O: Henry Berry, yes, telling this big nigger.
D: Oh, yes.
O: He said, "Don't never tell nobody this." He says, "I'm
his son." He looked just like a white man. I've seen his
D: So Henry Delaware was with Uncle Andy down in Florida.
O: Yes, they stayed together a lot down in there.
D: Is this Florida or Georgia?
O: Georgia, stayed together.
D: Did they work in turpentine?
O: He was in Florida and Uncle Andy was in Florida when Henry
Delaware got killed over in Mississippi. Henry Delaware
had a turpentine farm of his own.
D: Where, in Mississippi?
O: Yes, and this fellow out in Red Springs who was a forger--
he wasn't a white man and you can go down and see. I see
a lot of them in hospitals from down there. They're black
haired and they are more.... Them people down in the
Everglades look more like Indian than they do white people.
D: No, the Seminoles are down there.
O: I know, but you know, they say it, of course. It won't
do to record it here.
D: Did more of our people go to Georgia than to Mississippi?
O: Oh, yes. More of them went to Georgia first and from Georgia
to Florida and then on. They stayed and then traveled on.
D: I was wondering if they just left here and went straight to
Mississippi or did most of them go to Georgia and Florida
and then wind up....
O: They went to Georgia and went from Georgia to Florida and
from Florida to Mississippi and then to Alabama.
D: Why did they leave here anyway?
O: There was nothing to do here.
D: Were most of them who left working in turpentine?
O: Yes, that's what they followed, turpentine. They didn't farm.
D: Didn't most of these people who went away come back?
O: Most of them, but there are a lot of them got mixed in with
the white people.
D: About what decade was most of them leaving? In the 1890s,
maybe, or later, after 1900?
O: Let me see. I was born in '91, my daddy went there in about
D: Your dad went to Georgia in '85?
O: About '85, that's when they went, Uncle Amos and all.
D: That was the peak of it about then, was it?
O: Yes, they went about '85.
D: Little Danny said he was born down there and he's eighty-five
years old now. So if they went in '85 this would make sense.
O: Who was born down there?
D: Little Danny. Went when he was three weeks old.
O: Daniel, who is this?
D: Little Danny Chavis.
O: Oh, yes.
D: Amazar Chavis's son.
O: He was born down there. I was born in Georgia myself.
D: So you were?
O: Oh, yes, I was born right in Statesboro.
D: In Statesboro, Georgia?
O: Yes, in Bulloch County.
D: Any of you other children born there?
O: Yes, Uncle Andy, Uncle Amazar.
D: I mean, any of your brothers and sisters born there?
0: Oh, yes. William and Elisah was born down there, and Lucy,
the oldest girl.
D: Did you all have your own school down there?
O: No, we didn't have no school. We didn't go to no school.
That's the reason we come home.
D: I heard somebody say that they had a teacher down there at
O: You're talking about Enoch Cummings.
D: Enoch Cummings?
O: He died. He's buried right out there.
D: Was that before you went?
O: No, he was down there. I knowed him when he was down there
D: He did teach school. Who paid him? The Indian people?
O: I don't know whether the county paid him or who paid him,
but he got his pay all right.
D: Did they have a little one-room school?
O: Yes, just a little one-room school. Enoch Cummings buried
right out there.
D: But he's the only one you ever knew who taught there?
O: That's the only one I ever knowed of.
D: Do you remember him?
D: Did you go to school in Georgia?
O: No, I didn't go. I wasn't but five. That's the reason we
come home. He didn't know it was such a poor proposition.
We come home when I was five year old.
D: Came home.
0: I lacked a few days being five years old when I come home.
D: Most of the people who went there returned, didn't they?
O: Yes, most of them.
D: Call out some names of some of the old-timers who went there.
O: One of the first men I ever seen in my life was William
Chavis. He was a curiosity to all them crackers. He could
D: Amazar Chavis's son?
O: No, it was his uncle.
D: His daddy.
O: It was his uncle, William Chavis.
D: Wasn't Amazar's daddy named William, too?
O: Yes, but he was the one disappeared. They never did hear
of him no more.
D: He just left. William Chavis left and...
D: ...you never did hear of him?
O: No, he left and went west somewhere.
D: Why is it you don't hear much talk of William Chavis?
O: He was the man I ever saw in my life.
D: Which one of the Williams?
O: Uncle Murray Chavis, Heap Chavis's boy. He was a curiosity
to crackers. On the guns, they didn't have to carry them
to the shop. They carried them to his house. He was a
turpentine distiller, but he worked at gun repairing. He'd
have just maybe a dozen sitting in the house at one time.
The Winchester rifles, he'd make the spring; didn't have
to carry it, to send it to the factory or nothing. He'd
just take and make it. Just done that. But he could weld
brass without an acetylene torch and the rest of them,you're
not supposed to do.
D: They had some turpentine industry here, didn't they?
O: Their farming is all.
D: They didn't do much in turpentine here?
O: They worked it a little, but this wasn't like it was in Georgia.
D: What was the wages in Georgia, you recall?
0: About a dollar and a half a day.
D: How did most of them go, wagons or walk?
0: What you mean, go out there?
D: Yes, to Georgia.
0: Amazar Chavis carried all of his kin to Georgia and drove them
through the country. Just had a trainload.
D: A whole trainload of people?
0: A trainload of wagons.
0: Wagontrain, you'd sort of say.
D: Yes. How many you suppose went?
0: He carried about ten or twelve teams, had all the mules,
wagons and everything down there. Graham McKennon, I knowed
him. He died some years back.
D: Did the man who owned the team go with him, too?
0: No, Amazar carried the whole team.
D: What'd he do, rent them or what?
0: He just road the wagon. Around that for Graham McKennon
had the farm that he used to go into the turpentine business,
D: He had turpentine business down in Georgia.
0: Yes, he was going in a naval store business down there.
D: In other words,one reason some of the people went from here down
there was that some of the people here owned this turpentine
0: The big fellows from here. Lewis Gun, we stayed with him for
years down here, near Back Swamp. He was living here the other
year or two when Daddy Ritten threw him in head, when we lived
in Wildwood, Florida. That's where his people is now. I reckon
Chris, that bad boy, I reckon he's living yet.
D: I see McKennon owned some....
O: He'd gone into naval store business down there in Georgia.
He settled there in Bulloch County. That's where he settled,
in Bulloch County, right off from Statesboro. Through that
street, through that finger there, that street right through
there, that's where I put it there out from Statesboro.
You hear that Chris Strickland killed Uncle Jimmy? In
four weeks they had him on a scaffold with a rope around his
neck. They hung four men that day.
D: Hung four men-where?
D: Indian men?
O: Yes, and two of the Emmanuels, Chris Strickland, and a nigger.
D: Why did they hang these men?
O: Two of them killed a store man, killed the white people.
D: What had the others done?
O: Chris had killed Uncle Morris. I don't know what the nigger
killed or what he done, but they hung four there that morning.
D: Valdosta's .daddy, Tom, wasn't he supposed to be hanged down
there once? Did you ever hear that?
O: That was Puff?
D: That was Puff?
O: Valdosta's uncle.
D: Oh, his uncle.
O: Yes, was his uncle.
D: How did he escaped?
O: No, they caught him. He said he didn't care if they killed him
and their aunt rode down. Reckon she'd never been to Pembroke in
her life. You know that curve right below the station there,
right below Pembroke?
0: Boy,,did they go with a wagon. Jimmy Sanders and Harris's
brother Alexander, that was Alex's brother. So when that
train blowed at that curve down there, big bunch of wagons
that went out to meet him, they got him on a train, figured
they'd hung him. She said if you ever hear it blow again--
that's Aunt Rhoda--said don't ever hear it blow again. Then
two weeks she wanted Jimmy, her son, took up. She said she'd
never hear that train when it blowed at that crossing, that
came in to New Pembroke at 10:55. That's what we come on
whenever we come home. I don't reckon she ever went to
Pembroke another time. He'd been buried two weeks. The old
Doc Town had died down here at around here another year. He
was a doctor and he wouldn't practice medicine. He was the
best one of the red men they said there was in the state in
medicine. He finished up in London, and he'd wood-keep there
for Graham McKennon. The heat man fixed him up on the fourth
of July. I remember it mighty well. He smelled. They didn't
embalm people then. They dug down to him. He stunk so bad that
old man Watson never stopped with that chloroform and stuff till
he got him out. They put him on the train and left for
Statesboro that evening. At 10:55 p.m. they took him off the
train at Pembroke. They buried him at Old Fork. It was near
D: Would most of the people who went to Georgia go by the wagon-
trains or did most of them go on the train?
0: Most of them went on the train.
D: Why did some of them go on a wagontrain?
0: That was hands to work with old man McKennon here at Roland.
He was a bulldog there around Roland.
D: McKennon, what was his first name?
0: That was old man Donald.
D: Donald McKennon.
0: He used to be at Maxton.
D: Did you think your father went down there about 1885?
0: Yes, that was around '85.
D: How long did he stay?
0: Worked down there in Georgia and Florida eleven years.
D: When did he leave?
0: When did he leave there? He left there in ninety something.
D: How old were you when you left?
0: I lacked a week of being five year old.
D: You was born when?
0: In 1891.
D: So he left about '96.
D: Stayed eleven years...
D: ...went there in '87.
0: My daddy stayed there about eleven years. It would put him
about '96 when he come back.
D: Was he one of the first to go down there?
0: He was among the first crowd.
D: When do you think that it more or less played out, the people
here going down there?
0: It played out in '95. They played in, a few going down in
D: When was William, your brother, born?
0: He was born in '95, I believe.
D: There were quite a few of them there up until World War I.
0: Yes, and they're coming back now.
D: About during the war?
D: And before the war?
O: Yes, they come back and settled.
D: Not many went after the war did they?
D: The turpentine industry pretty well dead, then?
O: It's going out now. But there was a bunch of them around
Pembroke was going down there buying them big farms. If I
were a young man that's where I'd go because it's one of
your stock of people. They had a bunch around Pembroke going
down there and buying land. Buying some of them old colonial
D: What were some of the things that our people did? Where
were some other places they went? Down in Mississippi,
Georgia, what were some of the other occupations when they
O: Carpentering, stuff like that. That boy Tom McKay left for
Pensacola, Florida the other year right when he was in the
Navy. He got his wings and was transferred to California.
If you leave all your mail is forwarded to where you go to.
He went to get his mail. Thomas Oxendine was this postmaster,
says, "I never seen that name but one time in my life before."
He said, There's a man in there by that name in this town."
They looked him up and he ain't never been here. His daddy
married a Pembroke woman. There were no Rowland then, you
know, but he come in here around Rowland, named Am Hanison
Oxendine. Some years back they'd give you two and three dollars
a day for that common labor down there on carpenter force.
This fellow was a building contractor, and he said he ain't
got to get ahead now. He said same rates. Someday whenever
you drop by them, stop yonder at I believe he said that he
_____ ____ whose got it. He had picked on his girl.
Somebody killed him. We said he's plumb rich. He ain't got
to get rich 'cause he's plumb rich, but he ain't never been
here. His daddy lives around what is now Rowland. His name is
D: Was there much visitation among the Indians and whites when you
were a child?
O: What do you mean?
D: Many white people visit your dad's home?
O: Yes, right, a lot of them did. The boss man, turpentine
operator and all.
D: What'd your dad do other than farm?
O: He just worked the turpentine business, making and
barrels, that's what he done.
D: Didn't your dad do some tanning?
O: Oh, yes, but he didn't do not much out there. He done that
after he come back here. But there was one man that I don't
think people usually story. Two men, I want you to get their
names and I've forgot them. The old man at what is now Rowland.
He was stout and Melissa come down to eat dinner with him
then he got up and took his own gun and killed him. He was a
Locklear, lived right out on this side of the road. The one
that was killed right up there on the road above Tom, going
back toward Pembroke, he was a Locklear and I want you to get
D: Maybe I'd come across it. Did your father go down to the
battery during the Civil War to work in it?
O: No, my grandadddy had to, though. They killed his brother,
you know. He was scouting. They come up there, and they get
him that night showing the peep. They killed him out near the
_. He was buried three weeks before they found him.
I never did ask grandpap. I know he was in bad shape, but
they dug him up, Uncle Hector. But now this one at Rowland,
he was a Locklear and the one that was a Locklear was killed
on that road right there going back towards Pembroke across
Reverend Archie Dee's place.
D: Did they have any white forced labor down at the battery?
O: Oh, yes. There was plenty of white labor there. That old
battery down here at Wilmington.
D: So it wasn't limited just to the Indians doing the forced
labor down at the battery?
0: Do how?
D: It wasn't limited just to the Indians down at Fort Fisher?
0: No, no, they worked white. This old cross-breeded, you know,
Jackson; he come on to kill his brother. When he come home
he killed everyone of there were down there.
D: Do you know of any Indians who actually served in the Civil
War with a gun on the Confederate side as a soldier?
0: Big John Dial and Ben Chavis up here.
D: I heard about Ben Chavis. I didn't know about Jim.
0: Jim Dial did, too.
D: This is Jim Dial off at Saddletree?
0: No, here up right above...
D: Connected with Mr. Will Goins.
D: You think he served? Why was that you...?
0: Yes, he was in there a good while. He told us all about it.
D: Why, why was he in there as a soldier?
0: You could join, but Henry Berry, they wouldn't let him join.
He offered to join, but they wouldn't let him.
D: How did Jim Dial get in?
0: Him and Ben Chavis got in all right, you know.
D: But Jim....