Berry Family History

 Carolina Berry Family

ROBESON COUNTY, N.C.: Home to the Lumbee Indians; location of Henry Berry's 1732 land grant.

MARION COUNTY, S.C.: Location of Andrew Berry's 1735 settlement at Sandy Bluff
ANSON COUNTY, N.C.: Location of 1750 land grant to Henry Berry
CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C.: 1790 Census location of Isaac and John Berry.
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C.: 1800 Census location of John Berry and his sons 


The North-South Carolina border region was home to a Berry family which has two branches: (1) the descendants of Andrew Berry, whose descendants settled at Sandy Banks on the Pee Dee River (the "Carolina Berry" family); and (2) John Berry, whose descendants moved to central Mississippi (the "Mississippi Berry" family).  DNA evidence has recently proven that these two families have a common male ancestor.  Their precise relationship and history is not certain.  Four theories are supported by evidence. 

THEORY A: Henry Berry and/or Richard Berry were adopted by the Croatan Indians, moved inland and merged with other Indians to become the Lumbee Tribe, and passed their name through several generations to a Henry Berry who was born ca. 1710.


Nevertheless, his direct male descendants are all R1b1b2 Y-DNA haplotype, meaning that Henry's direct male ancestors were Anglo-Saxon.  This strongly suggests that Englishmen mixed with the Lumbee Indians (as, their tribal lore has it, did the Lost Colonists at Roanoke, which included a Henry Berry and Richard Berry).


Henry had one son, Andrew (more about him below).  Four male descendants of Andrew are a Y-DNA match to members of the Mississippi Berry Family.2


The connection between that Henry Berry and Andrew/John is circumstantial:
(1) Same last name (there were other Berry families in Virginia at the time, but none documented in Carolina)
(2) Same area (Lumbee-inhabited land around the Pee Dee River)
(3) Andrew named his first son Henry (the Berry families in both Devon and Carolina had a pattern of naming first-born males after their grandfathers)
(4) John's son David was an Indian interpreter for federal troops in Mississippi-Alabama

THEORY B: Three Berry brothers sailed from England to Charleston, SC; moved up the Pee Dee River, and settled Sandy Bluff, SC.

This theory is supported by a majority of Andrew's descendants.  The hypothesis is based on writings of W. W. Sellers (History of Marion County SC) and Alexander Gregg (History of the Old Cheraws) which implies that this Berry was one of the Sandy Bluff settlers who came from England to Charleston, up to Georgetown, and then up the Great Pee Dee to Sandy Bluff.  Supposedly, he was one of six families in the original colony (Berry, Crawford, Crosby, Keighly, Murfee, and Sanders).

THEORY C: Various Berry families moved from England to Virginia during the 1600s; John and Andrew moved from there to Carolina.

This theory is supported by Alan Jones, professor of history at Sewanne University and author of Fruit of the Pocosin (a 5-volume set on the Carolina Berry descendants).  This is consistent with the encouraged migration of good families from Virginia and the north to fill in the back country and set up a buffer between the Indians and the sparse coastal settlements.  The head of each family was given 50 acres for each person in their party including servants and slaves.  To some, it seems more likely for Andrew and John to come from Virginia than from England, considering they were 10-20 years old when their names first appear in Carolina.

THEORY D: The substantial North Carolina landowner named Henry O'Berry is the patriarch, and his descendants dropped the O'.

Henry O. Berry (or Henry O'Berry) received several land grants in south-central North Carolina, including one in what is now Robeson County, NC) in 1750.1  However, modern-day O'Berry families have published family trees including this Henry O'Berry, so this is the least likely theory.
ANDREW BERRY: Settlement on the Pee Dee River

Andrew Berry is estimated to have been born about 1720-5.  In 1774 he married Ann (Nancy) Smith (b. 1743), daughter of John Smith and Jane Fore Smith.  By 1735, Andrew was identified as part of the 'English Colony' at Sandy Bluff on Big Pee Dee in South Carolina (present day Marion County, but originally Liberty in the old Georgetown District).  Descendants of Andrew Berry remained in Marion County, South Carolina for many generations. 

Andrew Berry is listed as a petit juror for Prince George Parish (later Marion Co.), SC. 

The best primary source is The History of Marion County by W.W. Sellers (1902).  Mr. Sellers conducted extensive interviews with residents of Marion Co., SC to gather local geneological data.  He cites Fama Tart, grand-daughter of Andrew, for his information about the Berry family.  A relevant excerpt is posted on the internet.5



Andrew Berry is listed as a petit juror for Prince George Parish (later Marion Co.), SC. 

Andrew had five sons (Henry, Stephen, John, Samuel, Andrew) and four daughters.  Most of them and their descendants remained in Sandy Bluff and were leading citizens there.  There are some known gravesites of this generation in that area.   Further discussion of Henry and Stephen is posted elsewhere on the internet.6

Four of their descendants are members of the Berry DNA Project, and have matched Y-DNA with members of the Mississippi Berry Family. 


Priscilla Berry's background is not specifically known.  She is said to be the daughter of a Henry Berry and/or Henry O'berry.  She is also said to be descended from the Henry Berry of the Lost Colonists.  Neither claim is documented.  She married James Lowry, Jr. around 1734.  She was a member of the Black Swamp Church in Robeson Co., NC.  She wrote hymns in a particular form of English reminiscent of the 16th-century dialect of Devon England.  An example is on this website:

James Lowry/Lowery came from England to Fredricksburg, VA in the 1600s. He had 2 sons and one daughter. The daughter had an illegitimate child. The first James Lowery and his 2 sons returned to England. The illegitimate son was raised by a Berry and/or O'Berry as James Lowry, Jr.  James Jr. married Priscilla Berry.  They had one son, James Lowry III, who owned more than 1,000 acres in and near Robeson Co, NC.  James III's great-grandson was Henry Berry Lowry.

It is not clear exactly who in these families was English, Lumbee Indian, or both.  Nevertheless, it is clear Henry Berry Lowry was a Lumbee Indian.


Henry Berry Lowry was a notorious Civil-War era outlaw.  He is idolized in the Lumbee tribe for his defiance of racsim and oppression by the Civil-War era society and local government and has many buildings dedicated to him. His actual house has been moved to the site of a park named “Strike the Wind” where there is an amphitheater showing the history and actions of Henry Berry Lowry.  His family and “gang” were all killed but he escaped through the swamps in 1872 and was never seen again.  A good book on the subject is Dial, Adolph L., and David K. Eliades. The only land I know: A history of the Lumbee Indians.


1. Many internet sources say the grant is dated 1730 or 1732, but it appears to be dated 1750.  It is available from the North Carolina State Archives.


2. See the Berry DNA Project:


4. From Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, Hamilton McMillan (1888), 



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