Title: Interview with John L. Carter (July 15, 1971)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007202/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with John L. Carter (July 15, 1971)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: July 15, 1971
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007202
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 232

Full Text
LUM 232A
Subject: John L. Carter
Interviewer: Adolph Dial
D: This is July the fifteenth,1971, Adolph Dial speaking. I'm here at my home,ahd
with me is uh, the registrar of Pembrooke State University, Mr. John L. Carter.
Mr. John L. Carter spent most of his life in the Pembroke, Burnt Swamp, Union
Chapet area. Served on the board of trustees for uh, Pembroke State University
for many years, as secretary, and has played a major role, perhaps the most,
well, the most important role of uh, any layman in the Burnt Swamp Association.
But he is also a well-informed um uh, the operation of Lowery gang in the Burnt
Swamp Community, in particularthat dealing with uh, Tom Lowery. So, at this time,
I'm going to turn the mike over to Mr. Carter and let him uh, give us some infor-
C: I am John L. Carter, the son of Alonso Carter and the late Ashley Wilkins.
Wilkins was the daughter of Wellington Wilkins, and was, she was a Lowery.
Wellington Wilkins was the son of Reverend T. Wilkins. T. Wilkins was the son of
Wilkins. And Tom Lowery married francis Wilkins, the daughter of
Sam Wilkins. And this is as it been given to me by my ancestors other friends,
whom I will Identify. Tom Lowery was Lowery's brother. Tom married
Francis Wilkins, the daughter of Sam Wilkins. Therefore, the Lowery gang used
the Wilkin's home for a rest station in Burnt Swamp Burnt Swamp marsh neck area.
Lowery, the son of Tom Lowery, told me the story of some of the acti-
vities ofthe Lowery gang. Also Wellington Wilkins, my grandfather, related some
of these activities that he witnessed. The death of Tom was the most outstanding
one that they gave me. The members of this Lowery gang were declared outlaws,
and a price of five thousand dollars on each head was proffered. was the
leader, therefore, the price was doubled. Ten thousand dollars. Now the

story about how Tom came about his death was told to me by '''' Lowery,
my grandfather Wellington Wilkins, and others, Tom was ambushed by a group from
the Swamp community. _' Swamp joins Burnt Swamp. -
They sat for a time, they thought he might be along the path, so that morning
they sat for him, and as he came by they fired on him. They wounded him, and
of course Tom kept moving, and he went as far as'he could; at long last he got
so weak he had to stop. He sat down and leaned against a tree. It is said a
Davis man gave Tom the fatal shot. And took his body to the county courthouse
in to be identified, and collect his five thousand. It is said
that some of the spectators, while he was lying on the ground in front of the
courthouse, on the courthouse square, would come up and kick his dead body.
Now, after they identified Tom's body and declared that he was the rightful fellow,
uh, they turned the body over to his family. So Wellington Wilkins, the son of
T. Wilkins, the brother of Francis Wilkins, got a horse and cart. So he told
his son Wellington to go pick up Tom's Body and bringit back to uh, home. For
Francis. So James Locklear the son of Samuel Locklear, known as Sammy locklear,
went with Wellington to pick up Tom's b;ody and bring back home. They were
late leaving late in the afternoon when they left. So
night overtook them on the way back. In that day the roads were narrow and of
course the brush and the trees would hang over the road. But Wellington was
kind of afraid of the body so he would not ride back on the box in the cart.
He got on the horse to start with, so he'd be as far away from the body of Tom
as possible. But James, he decided he'd ride on the body, the box, in the cart.
But on thier way back, way late that night, James was back there on the box
singing away, some of those chuch songs, and they seen as they rid along a brush
came by and brushed the side of the box and also uh, Jame's body, and suddenly
James was up on the horse with Wellington, and they both rode double, al 1 the

way back to Jamets house, When they arrived with uh, Tomes body at _
hone, uh they took the horse put him in the stable, left the body of Tom
on the cart. Francis, Tom's wife came out and she sat on the box the rest of
the night, with Tom's body in it. Now there's other stories that are concerning the
Lowery gang that...that for instance the death of Henry Barry, as told by Arlo
Lowery, the sone of Tom. Now Arlo Lowery was a young boy at that time, and as
you know, young boys will pay strict attention to strange events. So Arlo
had told me time and again, over and over he would tell the same story, because
we associated with each other for about forty years, daily, almost. He said the
morning after the, the safe was taken from the McCloud building in
it was a foggy morning. The boys came on in and of course Henry was the leader
and of course Henry was the last that came in. They came into the home of
francis Tom's, Toms home, and Francis, Tom's wife, had had breakfast for them.
And as they were in the house, Henry was the leader, course he was the last one to
come in. As you know, the outlaws back then, or the Lowery gang, they traveled
single file, one would come in, and after a certain distance another would come in,
to keep the, from being taken all at the same time. But while they were in the
house they suddenly heard a shot from the outside. They ran out and they say
Henry Barry's body leaning against the well curb. He had sat down, and was re-
loading his gun, because they always tried to keep their powder dry, and after
this foggy morning they wanted to be sure the guns would fire. And his brains
were blown against the curb of the well. Well they went in the house and took
one of Francis' sheets off her bed, and wrapped Henry's body in it, hid it in the
barn undre the things faht were in the barn, corn and what-have-you, until late
that night. And they took _cart and horse and lifted the body and
went toward the back swamp section. Now that's the story as Arlo Lowery, the son
of Tom, the nephew fo Henry, told me time and again during the forty years that

we were together. It is said, he said that it was told that Henry's body
was buried in the middle of a stream. So that no one would ever be able to
claim ro collect the reward. Uh, let's see, what about, uh, t the years
uh, a little story's been told by my ancestors of the incidents happening in
the community Burnt Swamp, Philadelphia, and Black Swamp area there where they
Lowerys operated right much, because of Tom's home in that area. One of the
instance was that uh, Henry heard of the Bowies and the Humphries up around
Philadelphia uh, low rating him talking about him in an unmannerly way, and
he head up one morning and went into church, the uh, Philadelphia's church,
I understand the church is still there, rang the bell, and at that time that
was a way of getting the people together, if they heard the bell ring they'd
always come out to see what wqs happening. And then began the Bowies and the
Humphries and the other people of the community came out to see what had happened,
or to get an announcement on it. As they got on the inside of the church, Henry
appeared in the stand, and he said, "Be seated ." They all sat down and he gave
them a warning about talking about him in a unmannerly way. And he said',now
we're friends, we'll stay friends if you'll act right, if not, of course y;u'll
pay the price." And looked over there and saw Mr. Humphrey, and he said,"Mr. Humphrey
I'll go home and get dinner for you today." Of course Mr. Humphrey didn't object.
They went to Mr. Hum phrey's house, of course they didn't know that Henry was alone,
they though the entire gang was out in the woods there guarding him, at that time
those not, those big farms were not cleared up, and you could hide in the woods
very easily. But he took dinner with Mr. Humphrey, but he was very cautious.
After they prepared the meal at that time he'd always requested that Mr. Humphrey
eat some of the food before he did, Of course he was very careful to get food from
the same place that Mr, Humphrey got his from because he didn't think Mr. Humphrey
would commit suicide just to get rid of him. After he spent the pleasant dinner

with Mr. Humphrey he left, and they did not know that he was alone, Another
little incident that uh, happened was sometimes they would uh, get out and
chase around and uh, 'course lots of things, you know, were charge to the Lowery
group that they did not do. They would uh, other people do the things, and of
course because the Lowerys were out they would charge them with it. But some of
these incidents are so until they seem to be very probable. Another
incident that was told by my garndfather Wellington, and might be verified by
some of the Cummings family, that uh, the home guard would go out and conscript
uh, people to hunt for the Lowery boys, and of course if you did not go, hten
they would uh, put you in jail for not doing your citizen's duty. But MacDuffy
Cummings, the father of the late Nealy Cummings and Malcom Cummings and uh, others,
he told this story to my grandfather, 'course he related it to me, But they came
by and asked him to go with them, of course he did, he took his gun and went. And
over on the Lumber river, between Harper's ferry and uh, the bridge, the Kirby
bridge, we call it, they discovered a boat coming 'round the bend. Of course,
they said, that's Henry. And it was Henry, in the boat, alone. And they were
given orders to fire. And of course when the first report had sounded, Henry
just flipped the boat over, the uh, bottom of the boat toward where the firing
was coming from, just hung onto the boat, floated on down the river. And after
the firing was over of course they had to reload their guns, and didn't have
anymore, he was gone before they had a chance to uh, draw the the wad, the
wadding out of the gun, not the wadding but the cap, and reload it. Of course
MacDuffy said that he didn't shoot the boat, he shot straight up and I think
several others did too, but they were still doing their citizens' duty.
D: We will now turn to uh, some information on the uh, history of the uh, early
history of the Burnt Swamp uh, Baptist Associaation, as told by Mr. John L. Carter.
C: I'm the clerk of Burnt Swamp Association, uh, some people call it secretary, but
we call it clerk. And I have been since 1939. So let me give you a little build

up, as we see maybe why %Im the clerk, Uh, but before I 'get aroundto that,
lemme give you a little rise, ask you why the Burnt Swamp Association was
organized. Uh, as you know, have heard about the uh, A-, uh, Jackson, 1835
Jackson move, uh, President Jackson had all the Indians moved from one territory
to another. During that time, our ancestors of the Burnt Swamp Association
numbers, they lived in the communities like other citizens, and of course they
had their small churches, but no center of organization. They were kindly
sponsored by the Cape Fear Association, which was a white association. They
were kindly, uh, auxillaries or mission points. And they settled out and scattered
over the county and Magnolia uh, Fairmont, uh, Burnt Swamp, Harper's Ferry, and
even Scotland county round about that the other people lived. But these churches
grew and of course after, I think what gave rise to the organization of the
churches, the uh, epsiode of the uh, after the Civil War, during the Civil War
there, uh, kind of gave though there to the division between the Indians and the
whites of the local communities. And of course the Indians kind of resented
going to'white churches and uh, so they sort of severed their relationships.
But some of these white members fo the Cape Fear Association uh, had become so
entwined ro involved with the Indian people and, until they uh, couldn't sever their
missions' uh, involvement. And so one Mister, uh, Reverend, we called him elder,
let's see, uh, he grew up ELder He helped organize
the Burnt Swamp Association in 1879. At the old Burnt Swamp Church, not iar from
where the present Burnt Swamp Church is. and Cape Fear mission
met, and helped in organization of this church, and served as pastor of several
churches of the Burnt Swamp association during his lifetime. Now those taking
part in the organization of the Burnt Swamp Association were uh, namely a few,
Reverend _' '_ Wilkins, who become moderator of the Association. He had
served as a preacher under teh auspices of the Cape Fear Association previously.
And he became the first moderator of the Burnt Swamp Associaton. And his son,

John S. Wilkins became the first clerk, Both of them served as uh, moderator
and clerk for several years, The others in the organization were H.H. Bell,
he was the first treasurer, from _____' Uh, T.adn John S. were
from Marsnick, that is a post office. And in the organization also from
places like Reedy Branch,'' Gilbert Locklear from uh, Burnt
Swamp, D.A. Bell, from Magnolia, J.W. Blank from Magnolia, Malcom Hunt from
Fairmont, William __from Pembroke, and John J. Bell Magnolia,
William Magnolia, James Sealy from uh teh same area, Seymor Bell,
the same area, Elias Hunt from uh, Fairmont and that area, E.D.Locklear from
uh, Burnt Swamp. Uh, the early churches of the Burnt Swamp Association were
Burnt Swamp, Redabank, Magnolia, and Mount Pleasant, which no longer exists.
Uh, Mount Pleasant was over in the uh, Harper's Ferry area, back in that, up
toward Maxton, and that area. But since then we have grown into where now we
have forty-fourchurches in the Burnt Swamp Association, And in 1929 we became
full-fledged members of thq Baptiat State Convetion in North Carolina. And of
course by virtue of that became members of the Southern Baptists Convention.
Before them we had been affiliated with the Souktheredn Baptists Convention,
but became full-fledged members of the Baptist State Convention,and also the
Southern Baptists Convention.

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