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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racial mingling in a North Carolina community

Spaulding lays out a regional history that involves a good deal of mixing between white and Native American populations. This intermingling continued into the twentieth century, revealed in churchgoing practices in Spaulding's childhood community: Spaulding recalls in that Native Americans had their own church, but could attend the black church because "they were referred to as colored."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Were you expected to attend church every Sunday?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Oh, yes. We attended church every Sunday. And I'm not saying it was as much religious fervor as it was you got a chance to meet the people in the community, to socialize. See, if you're working six days a week, and right on the farm, you're glad to see Sunday come, to see somebody.
WALTER WEARE:
Was church then a central institution?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Yes, and when the people would meet there after church was out, they'd stand out there in the church yard for at least thirty minutes. Speaking to different ones, you know, and exchanging views, just kind of bringing them up to what's happening in the community.
WALTER WEARE:
Were there activities during the week, too?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
No, except when they had revival meetings, usually in August.
WALTER WEARE:
You mentioned the circuit-riding preacher: was there one preacher who was famous in the area, that everybody would turn out to hear? You mentioned one Baptist preacher.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, the Baptist preacher, a lot of people liked to hear him. The Methodist as well as the Baptist always went to Sandy Plain Church on the fourth Sunday, to Rehoboth Church on the first Sunday. And, of course, I think the Baptists claimed that they had the better preacher of the two, the Methodist or the Baptist. Those were more or less social gatherings because at that time you didn't have movies in the area.
WALTER WEARE:
Was there a kind of rift, religiously, also between colored on one side and Indian on the other—did they have their different preachers?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
No. The Indian group was a very small group. Had their own church. The colored, at that time—I'm going to use these words interchangeably because that's the way it was; they were referred to as colored. They could go to the Indian church but the blacks couldn't. They had a few distinctly blacks in the community. They had moved in. Some had followed saw mills into the area. And some would migrate into the area. And generally that's the way it was. You could almost go any place and see someone from down there, and know they were from Columbus County.
WALTER WEARE:
By their physical….?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
By their physical appearances. All of them had good hair, long hair, and black. Most of them had long, straight hair.
WALTER WEARE:
Could the person make the decision, then, whether they were going to be "colored" or "Indian"?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, really, the coloreds didn't [unclear] ; they looked down on the Indians.
WALTER WEARE:
Let's say, hypothetically, if you had decided, for whatever reason, that you were going to identify yourself as Indian, rather than colored, would you have been able to do that?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
I didn't attend the Indian church from choice.
WALTER WEARE:
But by appearance.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
I could have gone. At that early age, I had kind of an antipathy on this matter of race differences, or color differences. Because, while my mother had very different feelings about it, I remember I'd get into discussions with her on the matter. She did not argue much. She'd listen and whatever she had to say, she'd say it and that was it. As I said, she was not very vocal. Part of that Indian trait. The Indians in Robeson County at that time were called Croatan Indians. And that's when John White's colony, when the members went back to England for fresh supplies, and when they came back, and the ones that had been left there had moved. And they didn't find any of them. The settlers. The legend is then, sort of the John White's history recorded, that they had carved on the bark of the trees, the word Croatan, C-R-O-A-T-A-N. And when they returned, they knew that there was a settlement further down the river of Indians. They were called Croatan, and they found, according to legend or history—whichever it is—some of these English settlers had intermarried with these Croatan Indians. As you see in that family tree that I showed you, of the Lowery s. One of the descendents of James Henry Lowery had moved down to Roberson County. And see, the king of England, King George, had given Judge Henry Lowery a grant. And it was either his son or grandson, he settled near Hampton, Virginia, and held court in Virginia. This son or grandson—I'd have to refer to that to see which it was now—moved into Roberson County. And in the will—a copy which I have excerpts from—where he allotted so many hundred acres: a hundred-and-eighty to this person, or a hundred-and-fifty to the other. And also certain slaves went with the land to that particular descendent of his. And then as you trace it on down, to Henry Barry Lowery, one of the descendents of Judge James Henry Lowery—William, I believe it was—prevailed upon one of the brothers, or was prevailed upon, to name a new boy child Henry, in memory of some relative. I don't know whether it was Judge Henry Lowery. But in the meantime, he had married Priscilla Berry. And she was Indian. [interruption] James Junior married a girl, Priscilla Berry, who was one-half Indian, and moved to the site about 1736. I'll read part of this geneology if you want me to. "His majesty James Lowery arrived in Hampton, Virginia in the summer of 1666, with his wife and three sons. Family records show he was born thirty miles from London. One of his sons, James, married a girl from Williamsburg, Virginia, where the Judge also held court. They moved to North Carolina about 1708, where the Little River joins the Cape Fear. (And notations are here where it can be found, documentation). They had two sons, James and John. John signed the Cherokee Treaty in 1806, because he was an interpreter of several Indian languages. Through his father's influence, James obtained a grant of land from George II in 1732, in what is now Roberson County. However he never moved to Roberson. But his son, James Junior, married a girl, Priscilla Berry, who was one-half Tuscarora Indian, and moved to the grant site about 1736. In 1738, the grant was amended and given to James Junior, who died in Robeson County in 1811. A copy of his will in enclosed herewith." Then it goes on. I have that will in one of the files here. Then it gives the geneology: Judge James Lowery, then James Lowery, then James Lowery Junior, and William Lowery. And this William Lowery was 1750 to 1837, which means he lived eighty-seven years, didn't he? He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, in Colonel Robeson's regiment. I guess that's why Robeson County was named after Robeson. Then there was Allen Lowery, 1791 to 1867. And then Calvin Lowery, January 15, 1835 to June 10, 1892. This couple had seven sons and five girls. One of the girls was Debra Lowery, who married W.R. Woodell. And one of the other girls was my mother, Annabelle Lowery. Now over here, Henry Berry, according to White's Lost of Colony of 1587. And then Henry Berry the grandson of the above. And I mentioned James Lowery had married Priscilla Berry. Then Betty Locklear married William Lowery. She was the daughter of Dennis Locklear who signed the will of James Lowery. And then Allen Lowery, 1791-1865, married Mary Cumboldt, 1802-1890. She was the daughter of Stephen C. Cumboldt, who was a soldier in the War of 1812. Then Calvin Lowery married Maria Sampson. So the Sampson name is another very prominent name in Robeson County. She lived from March 17, 1839 to March 16, 1908. So that's a part of the geneology.
WALTER WEARE:
That geneology would tend to be white and Indian?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
That's right.
WALTER WEARE:
Is there any kind of record, oral or written, about when blacks came into the area?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, there are not too many blacks that lived right in the—for want of a better word; I don't know whether they'd like it or not—colored colony. It's still more or less a cluster of the Lowerys, the Sampsons, the Barrys, the Locklears, and all of that mixture in the white group. There are some blacks, but they're not a part of that particular area. They have their own church and they have their own college, you know. Pembroke College.