Miss Twitty, the cackling character witness

“North Carolina’s closest version of the Scopes Monkey Trial of Tennessee [was]  Pentuff v. Park….  J.R. Pentuff, a [Concord] minister who was outspoken in opposition to Darwinism, was lampooned in a Raleigh newspaper [in 1926] … and he sued for $60,000 in damages….

“A lot of embarrassing facts came out about Rev. Pentuff during the trial….. He had claimed his hen, Miss Twitty, could lay multiple eggs a day, which isn’t possible. It was something he said just to sell more eggs.

“Pentuff claimed he deserved enhanced libel protection, because giving a minister a bad reputation would take away his livelihood. He actually won at the state Supreme Court, [but] later a jury of mostly farmers threw out the case and gave Pentuff zero.”

—  John Wertheimer, author of “Law and Society in the South: A History of North Carolina Court Cases” (2009), describing for North Carolina Lawyers Weekly (June 22, 2009) the book’s strangest or most surprising case.”

The offending editor: Oscar J. “Skipper” Coffin, who would soon leave the Raleigh Times to become head of the journalism department at Chapel Hill.