Knowledge of outlaw and folk hero Henry Berry Lowrie is essential for those who live or work in Pembroke.
UNC Pembroke’s Livermore Library can help. The library has a new exhibit that is a primer for understanding the events and meaning of this remarkable era.
Titled “Pride and Politics: The 150th Anniversary of the Lowry War,” the exhibit was created by the students of Dr. Malinda Maynor-Lowery’s Lumbee history class at UNC-Chapel Hill. It consists of five posters and a collection of artifacts drawn from Wilson Library at UNC-CH. (Note: The students used the modern spelling of Lowry, while some scholars prefer Lowrie.)
UNCP historians Dr. Rose Stremlau and Dr. Jamie Martinez reviewed the exhibit, which will remain up through the fall semester.
“This is valuable for our library,” said Dr. Stremlau, who coordinated efforts to bring it to UNCP. “It is a high quality exhibit with an interesting collection.”
“Historical records like this have been marginalized,” said Dr. Martinez. “It takes considerable time and research, often into other people’s papers, to do this.”
Dr. Maynor-Lowery is a Lumbee Indian with deep roots in Robeson County. Her first book, “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation,” was published by UNC Press in 2010. Her second book, “The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle,” is a work in progress. She is an associate professor of history and director of UNC-CH’s Southern Oral History Program.
“I am very proud of the work the students did on this exhibit,” Dr. Maynor-Lowery said. “They produced a good reference for anyone who wants to know more about Henry Berry Lowrie.”
The exhibit divides the story into four parts: 1) “What was the Lowry War?” 2) “The Gang” 3) “The Posse” and 4) “The Legacy.”
“I am particularly pleased with the way the students organized it,” Dr. Maynor-Lowery continued. “They wanted to tell the story, but it’s not easy for someone who is new to Henry Berry Lowrie to wrap their mind around. They enjoyed this project; it is a great story.”
Looking over the exhibit, Dr. Martinez marveled at the maps and other documents. “These is high quality replicas that would be valuable for our permanent collection,” she said.
One of the maps is of Scuffletown, the area where Henry Berry Lowrie roamed. Not a single community, Scuffletown runs from Moss Neck to Red Banks along the Lumber River and railroad.
Among the written documents, there is a famous letter from Henry Berry Lowrie and members of the gang demanding the release of their wives, who authorities had jailed thinking it would help capture the gang. The threat of reprisals resulted in the quick release of the women.
There is a medallion honoring Henry Berry Lowrie dated 1976. One side has Lowrie’s image with the words “Freedom Forever” inscribed on it. The other side is a tribute to UNC Pembroke. The medallion’s message is that the university is carrying on Lowrie’s mission of freedom and justice.
Dr. Maynor-Lowery, who joined in a UNCP panel discussion on the Lowrie War on October 13, has offered to donate the reproductions to UNCP. Veteran local historians and those new to the story of the Lowrie Gang will find the exhibit worth a look.