1946 North Carolina passed an amendment to the state constitution allowing
women to serve on juries. In
Transylvania County the vote was 2237 against, 2207 in favor.
C.Y. (Dora) Patton was the first woman to serve on a Transylvania County jury
on December 4, 1946. Interestingly, the
December jury list posted in the November 14, 1946 Transylvania Times did not
include Mrs. Patton’s name, although her husband, C.Y. Patton was listed. She participated for two uncontested divorce
cases, both of which were granted.
not surprising that Mrs. Patton would be the first local woman to sit on a jury
as she was a prominent and well respected woman in the community. She was a nurse and Transylvania County’s
first social worker.
Patton had been hired as the Superintendent of Public Welfare for the county in
June 1937. Her job was to assist the needy in applying for social security
benefits and distribute the funds.
position of Superintendent of Public Welfare arose from the passage of the
Social Security Act of 1935 which provided aid for the elderly, unemployed,
blind and dependent children. The county
and state each contributed a quarter of the funds and the federal government
provided the remainder. It was
emphasized that, “the old age benefit is not a pension to which people are
entitled merely by the fact that they have attained 65 years of age. Old age assistance is merely a form of relief
for persons over 65 who are not able to take care of themselves, who have no
other means of support.” Strict
standards needed to be met to qualify.
September 1937 it was announced that twelve people had been approved to receive
old age pensions ($5-9 per month), two for aid to the blind and ten families for
aid to dependent children ($3-5 per child, per month). Other applications were being prepared and
sent to the state office for approval.
By March 1938 there were more than 75 elderly participants, six blind
dependents and 81 children. Transylvania
County had exceeded its quota of $31,400 for the old age assistance.
|Dora and Charles Patton lived on Morgan St., just a block and half west of
Patton’s Service Station on the corner of Morgan and Broad. Mrs. Patton’s
Welfare Office was located in the courthouse originally and later on W. Jordan. St.
Patton served as the Superintendent of Public Welfare for nearly 23 years until
her retirement in February 1960 at the age of 65. Upon her retirement an editorial in the
Transylvania Times praised her as a “Good and Faithful Servant.”
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at