The Changing Border and Its Effects on Taxes, Schools, and Cockfighting

There was an interesting story on WFAE in Charlotte last week about the new survey of the border between North and South Carolina. In an effort to correctly establish the historical border between the Carolinas, surveyors are making adjustments that may change a few addresses from one state to the other, leaving surprised residents faced with new school districts and different tax rates, among other hassles.

The story reminded me of a headline we recently posted on the @ncnewspapers Twitter feed, from the Charlotte News in 1911, about the bust of a large cockfighting ring in the woods outside of Charlotte. Thirty-one people were arrested for fighting or “aiding and abetting in fighting chickens” and fined $10 apiece. The defense attorney suggested that the men were not in deliberate defiance of the law because, due to the location of the fight so close to the border, they believed they were in South Carolina, where apparently “chicken fighting” was not a crime.

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker in North Carolina

“The first place I observed this bird [the ivory-billed woodpecker] at, when on my way to the south, was about twelve miles north of Wilmington in North Carolina. There I found the bird from which the drawing of the figure in the plate was taken. This bird was only wounded slightly in the wing, and, on being caught, uttered a loudly reiterated, and most piteous note, exactly resembling the violent crying of a young child; which terrified my horse so, as nearly to have cost me my life. It was distressing to hear it. I carried it with me in the chair, under cover, to Wilmington. In passing through the streets, its affecting cries surprised every one within hearing, particularly the females, who hurried to the doors and windows with looks of alarm and anxiety. I drove on, and on arriving at the piazza of the hotel, where I intended to put up, the landlord came forward, and a number of other person who happened to be there, all equally alarmed at what they heard; this was greatly increased by my asking, whether he could furnish me with accommodations for myself and my baby. The man looked blank and foolish, while the others stared with still greater astonishment. After diverting myself for a minute or two at their expense, I drew my woodpecker from under the cover, and a general laugh took place.”

–Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), author of American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States (1808-1829), as quoted in Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing before Walden, edited by Michael P. Branch.