The North Carolina Fiends

The following newspaper article was published in the Sacramento Daily Union on 24 May 1872 and concerns the murder of Captain Frances Marion Wishart, a member of the local police guard from Lumberton, Robeson County, North Carolina. He was born on 13 September 1837 in Maxton and was the son of Eli Wishart and Mary Ann Storm. He was married with three children.

Another Cold-Blooded Assassination by the Lowerys (From the New York Herald)


Wilmington, North Carolina, May 3d. – The “Swamp Angels” have been again at their bloody work. These fiends incarnate have added yet another to their list of atrocious, cowardly and hellish crimes by the murder of Captain W. Wishart of Shoe Heel, Robeson county, on yesterday, who, though the victim of the vilest treachery, led, perhaps, too far by his courageous spirit, died a brave man in the effort to benefit his fellow men.

The facts attending the murder of Captain Wishart are substantially as follows: It seems that one day last week Stephen Lowery and Andrew Strong boarded the freight train on the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad near Shoe Heel, Captain Wishart being on the train at the time. They persisted in approaching him, until he finally consented to a conference with them. The conversation was long, and apparently important, the outlaws finally taking their departure. Andrew Strong was heard to remark on leaving, “when we send for you, you come.”

In Shoe Heel, subsequent to this interview, Wishart divulged the fact that the subject of the conference was a proposition on the part of the outlaws to surrender themselves to him, on condition that he would intercede and procure their pardon, and that then they would depart the country. Thinking that perhaps he could, after all, benefit the country by causing the outlaws to leave in some manner, he seemed determined to hold another interview with them on receipt of a notice of the time and place. As had been previously determined, the notification was received, and the appointment fixed for Tuesday last, but Wishart’s business engagements were such as to compel its postponement until the Tuesday following. At the appointed time, this fearless man, alone and unarmed, as I learn, took his way to the place of meeting, a spot on the public road, about three- quarters of a mile from a place called Lebanon Church, between Shoe Heel and Red Banks, and distant some four or five miles from each of these points, but he never returned alive. He was either cowardly murdered from ambush or basely shot down while in the conference to which he had been betrayed. Between 12 and 1 o’clock of that day two or three negroes working in the woods near the scene of the murder, heard four distinct reports of fire-arms. About 4 o’clock the same afternoon William Sellars, while riding near this point, found the body of Capt. Wishart lying in the road and completely riddled with buckshot. He was shot through the side and shoulders, and also in the head, one or two shots passing entirely through the brain. His death must have been instantaneous. The fact was reported, and a party of grief-stricken friends and neighbors secured his body and conveyed it to his home at Shoe Heel.

Capt. Wishart was one of the most intrepid and courageous of those who undertook measures to rid the country of outlaws. His efforts in hunting them were persistent and vigorous; he exerted himself most ardently, to either capture or kill them, for months and months, and was regarded by them as their most dreaded foe. When the State authorities commenced war on the Lowerys, Capt. Wishart was appointed to the command of one of the regiments then authorized to be raised. He leaves a wife and three young children in Shoe Heel. The place of the murder was near the scene of the young Davis by the outlaws some months since. Stephen Lowery and Andrew Strong are supposed to have done the deed, Tom Lowery being seen elsewhere at the time.