Avoidance of taxes and swamps explains quirky state line

“GATESVILLE, N.C. — Gates County historian Linda Hofler pointed to a tiny place on the map where the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia turns just a little.

“About a half-mile is all.

 “ ‘It’s one of those quirks, and you wonder why in the world,’ said Hofler, who taught history in Gates County… for more than 30 years.

“Well, there is a story behind that entire line, including the southward jog, that mostly involves collecting taxes and avoiding swamps….”

— From “Along North Carolina-Virginia border, a tiny turn in the map and a history of lies and controversy” by Jeff Hampton in the Virginian-Pilot


One generation’s graffiti, another’s history lesson

“Civil War soldiers often signed their names at mustering sites before heading off to fight. Countless signatures have been painted over. But on a plaster wall at the courthouse in Gates County, N.C., you can still see signatures dated June 12, 1861. One signer was 18-year-old John Gatling, who survived the war and returned to the courthouse in 1915, at age 72, to speak at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the war’s conclusion.

” ‘Those signatures are a momentary record, captured in time,’ says Josh Howard, research historian with the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. ‘If you touch their names, you’re literally touching history.’ ”

— From “Erasing Signatures from History” in the Wall Street Journal (March 2) — fascinating and far-reaching.