Lowrie Gang of Robeson County, Driven by Revenge

A photograph from Scene from The Scuffletown Outlaws: A Tragedy of the Lowrie Gang, a 1924 dramatization of the Lowrie brothers story. Image from UNC Libraries.On February 16, 1872, the infamous Lowrie Gang committed its last robbery. The daring raid netted $28,000. Days later, Henry Berry Lowrie, the leader of the band, disappeared and launched himself into North Carolina legend.

During the Civil War, Lowrie and his brothers—all Lumbee Indians—hid out in the swamps of Robeson County to escape the forced labor inflicted upon free persons of color. They began to steal from the homes of white people in the area, taking clothing, supplies and arms.

In 1865, Allen and William Lowrie, father and brother of Henry, were executed after capture. Seven years of violence, including several murders, followed. Among the poor of Robeson County, the gang, which consisted of the Lowrie brothers, cousins, two freedmen and one poor white man, were regarded as Robin Hood-like heroes. They often shared goods taken in robberies with area families.

The gang’s elusive and violent nature caused great fear among the whites of the area. In November 1868, Governor W. W. Holden officially declared Henry Berry Lowrie an outlaw, offering a $10,000 bounty for his capture.

A white militia hunted for him but he was never found.

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