(Editor’s note: From the December 15, 1921 issue of the Sampson Democrat newspaper.)
Legislative hearings got back to normal yesterday afternoon when Republican-led Sampson County sent a delegation of its citizens up to Raleigh to make war on one of their own, Representative Tom Owen. It seems that Mr. Owen had lifted the boundary line of the town of Roseboro away from its original, historic moorings and moved it town-wards far enough to relieve himself and some of his neighbors of the burden of certain taxation.
Fifty-odd Roseboro citizens were arrayed against Mr. Owen, and with him only four supporters, among them Mr. D.W. Culbreath who came mighty near to being at least 25 folks wrapped in one package. During the legislative session that had just taken place, Representative Neal’s Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee meeting was hot, exceedingly hot. It reached the short and ugly stage early in the afternoon, and the temperature mounted and mounted, but not to the point of a personal encounter and no one came to blows.
The dismemberment of Roseboro was encompassed in the rush hours of the closing of the regular session when Mr. Owen shot through a bill that took away considerable territory. The town claimed to have been amazed and astonished, and when the present legislative session convened, it went over into the adjoining county of Harnett and got Rep. Nat Townsend to introduce a bill restoring the lost territory. The hearing was set up for yesterday, and Roseboro, by a unanimous vote, got its territory back.
Mr. Owen claimed that he legislated with the knowledge and consent of the city fathers of Roseboro, which is a town of 810 people. He showed a letter, which asked that the lands of Mr. Culbreath be taken out of the town limits, signed by the mayor and aldermen, but he didn’t stop there. He took out all the adjacent lands, including his own. Wherefore the war yesterday afternoon when Mr. Owen got called a liar, and Mr. Owen, in somewhat more involved language, called a number of people liars without ever using the word itself.
The portion of the proceedings developed when H.C. Spell testified that Mr. Owen had told him he would own his land out of town so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes. “Tain’t so!” shouted Mr. Owen. “Liar!” shouted Mr. Spell, and then the assembled Sampsonians stood up and shouted at one thing or another until Mr. Neal’s gavel finally restored order. Presently, the vote was taken and the bill for the restoration of Roseboro was reported out unanimously.
Another story might be to tell had Mr. Owen let Mr. Culbreath do all the talking. He was a farmer, said so and looked it, but the oratorical profession lost a master when Mr. Culbreath turned his energies to agricultural pursuits. He talked most engagingly to the committee, most good-humoredly, explaining how rural were his environs, albeit he was a citizen of the town of Roseboro. He told of how little the pleasantries of town life were granted him, though he always paid his taxes.
He warmed up towards the end of his address to the brethren, as he denominated them, describing the valuation that had been placed on his farm because it was in town, $350 per acre. “Will you take that fir it?” someone in the Roseboro delegation shouted to him. “Will you give it?” he shot back, and when the questioner answered in the affirmative, Mr. Culbreath said “Sold!” in a tremendous voice and demanded option money. The trade was effected right after adjournment.
The committee hearings took every available inch of space around the state capital that afternoon, but none save possibly the stock law hearing across the hall in the Senate developed the horsepower that the Roseboro fight showed.