Battle of Hayes Pond

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Battle of Hayes Pond
Date January 18, 1958
Location Near Maxton, North Carolina
Result Lumbee Victory. Ku Klux Klan meeting disrupted. KKK ceases activity in area.
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Lumbee tribe of Maxton
* Local anti-KKK civilians
Commanders and leaders
James W. Cole Sanford Locklear
Simeon Oxendine
Neill Lowery
36-100 Klansmen 500 Lumbee warriors
Casualties and losses
4 Klansmen injured
1 Klansman arrested (by police)
Several disoriented or injured by tear gas grenades, none seriously.

The Battle of Hayes Pond refers to an armed confrontation between the Ku Klux Klan and Lumbee counter demonstrators at a Klan rally near Maxton, North Carolina, on the night of January 18, 1958. Sanford Locklear, Simeon Oxendine and Neill Lowery were leaders among the Lumbee who challenged and routed the Klan that night.

Events leading up to the confrontation[edit]

During the 1950s, independent chapters of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) conducted terrorist actions throughout the American South, in part in reaction to rising civil rights actions, economic progress by Black Americans, and the US Supreme Court ruling in 1954 calling for public school desegregation. Cars filled with KKK men traveled from South Carolina to small towns in North Carolina to intimidate people.[1]

Cole targets the Lumbee[edit]

In 1956, the proud inhabitants of Robeson County who had long claimed Indian heritage succeeded in achieving recognition under the Lumbee label, outraging Klan Grand Dragon James W. "Catfish" Cole who considered the Lumbee a "mongrel" race of largely African origin.

In 1957, Klan Grand Dragon James W. "Catfish" Cole, an evangelist and radio preacher in South Carolina, began to harass the Lumbee Indians and other minorities of Robeson County, North Carolina.[2] He had been charged with building up the Klan in the state.[1] Cole told newspapers: "There's about 30,000 half-breeds up in Robeson County and we are going to have some cross burnings and scare them up".[citation needed]

On January 13, 1958, a group of KKK burned a cross on the lawn of a Lumbee woman in the town of St. Pauls, North Carolina, as "a warning" because she was dating a white man. The Klan burned a cross on the lawn of a Lumbee family who had moved into a white neighborhood. Cole spoke against the "mongrelization" of the races and announced plans for a Klan rally on January 18, 1958, near the small town of Maxton, intended “to put the Indians in their place, to end race mixing”.[3] His speeches, referring to the "loose morals" of Lumbee women, provoked anger among the Lumbee. Robeson County Sheriff Malcolm McLeod met with Cole and told him that "his life would be in danger if he came to Maxton and made the same speech he'd been making".[citation needed] Cole proceeded with his plans.


On the night of the rally, only 50-100 Klansmen arrived at the private field, most equipped with firearms. Before Cole began speaking, over 500 Lumbee men, many armed with sticks or firearms, appeared and encircled the assembled Klansmen.[2] First the Lumbee shot out the one light, then began yelling and attacked. They fired their guns into the air; four Klansmen were lightly wounded. With the light out, the remaining Klansmen fled the scene, leaving family members, the public address system, unlit cross, and various Klan regalia behind. Cole reportedly left his wife behind and escaped through a nearby swamp.[citation needed] Curious onlookers had also shown up.

Afterward, the Lumbee celebrated by holding up the abandoned KKK banner; Charlie Warriax and World War II veteran Simeon Oxendine were shown wrapped in it in Life magazine photos.[4] Oxendine, Neill Lowery and Sanford Locklear were acknowledged leaders among the Lumbee.[1] Many local, state and national newspapers covered the event and captured photos of Lumbee burning the regalia and dancing around an open fire in nearby Lumberton. North Carolina Governor Luther H. Hodges denounced the Klan in a press statement. Cole was prosecuted, convicted, and served a two-year sentence for inciting a riot.[2] Since then, the Lumbee celebrate the day of the Battle of Hayes Pond annually as a holiday.

The Klan ceased its activities in Robeson County thereafter.


  1. ^ a b c Chick Jacobs and Venita Jenkins, "The Night the Klan Met Its Match", Fayetteville Observer, January 18, 2008, reprinted on Action Center for Justice, accessed September 29, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Jefferson Currie II, "The Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina and the Battle of Maxton Field", Tar Heel Junior Historian 44:1 (Fall 2004), North Carolina Museum of History, accessed September 29, 2010.
  3. ^ Nicholas Graham, "January 1958: The Lumbees face the Klan", This Month in North Carolina History, January 2005, accessed September 29, 2010.
  4. ^ "Bad Medicine for the Klan", Life, January 27, 1958, accessed September 29, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Raid by 500 Indians balks North Carolina Klan rally", New York Times, January 19, 1958, p. 1.
  • "Cole Says His Rights Violated", Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: A1.
  • "The Lumbees Ride Again", Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: 4A.
  • Morrison, Julian. "Sheriff Seeks Klan Leader's Indictment: Cole Accused of Inciting Riot Involving Indians and Ku Klux", Greensboro Daily News, 20 Jan. 1958: A1-3.
  • "Cole faces indictment; disgusted . . . quits", Robesonian, 21 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • Ryan, Ethel. "Indians who crushed rally were mature tribesmen", Greensboro Record 21 Jan. 1958: A1.
  • "Judge deplores Klan entry into peaceful Indian land", Robesonian 22 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • "Redskins whoop Lumbee victory." Robesonian 23 Jan. 1958: 1.
  • Brown, Dick. "The Indians who routed the ‘Catfish’." News and Observer 26 Jan. 1958: Sec. 3 p. 1.
  • "North Carolina: Indian raid", Newsweek 51 (27 Jan. 1958): 27.
  • "Bad medicine for the Klan: North Carolina Indians break up Kluxers’ anti-Indian meeting", Life 44 (27 Jan. 1958): 26-28.
  • "When Carolina Indians went on the warpath–", U. S. News and World Report 44 (31 Jan. 1958): 14.
  • "Indians back at peace and the Klan at bay." Life 44 (3 Feb. 1958): 36-36A.
  • "Klan Wizard Cole gets 2-year sentence; Titan Martin draws 12 months. Both free on bond; both file appeal", Robesonian 14 March 1958: 1.
  • "Heap bad Kluxers armed with gun, Indian angry paleface run", Ebony, 13 (April 1958): 25-26, 28.
  • Craven, Charles. "The Robeson County Indian uprising against the Ku Klux Klan", South Atlantic Quarterly 57 (Autumn 1958): 433-42.
  • Henderson, Bruce. "Robeson civic leader dies at 69: Simeon Oxendine won fame confronting Klan", Charlotte Observer 28 Dec. 1988: 1B.
  • Tyson, Timothy B. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams & the Roots of Black Power, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

External links[edit]