He died because the Wallace's burnt him and his family
In the book "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" black sharecroppers and the Logans who own their own land struggle to cope with racial aggression in the south. One of the bad things that happens in the community are the night riders who perform evil harm to the black people
The Berry family were victims of Mr. Wallace and the nightriders. They had poured kerosene over Mr. Berry and his nephews and set them on fire. John Henry Berry died. The other nephew and Mr. Berry lived but were in terrible shape.