PEEKING INTO THE PAST – The first female juror

Published 8:43 am Monday, March 15, 2021

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During late 1946, a state constitutional amendment was passed making women eligible to serve on a jury in North Carolina.

In early February of the following year, the first two women called for jury duty in Stanly County, Patty Marks and Neola Harris, made their appearance at court. Marks was from Albemarle and was a teacher in the Norwood schools while Harris was a businesswoman in Norwood. Both women were excused from serving on the jury by Judge William G. Pittman due to commitments with their jobs.

Two days later, on Feb. 5, a jury was out on a case when one of the local lawyers asked Judge Pittman if he would move forward with a divorce case.

The judge directed that another jury be put together. Eleven men were quickly found and that left one spot open.

Mary L. Smith, who was working in the tax supervisor’s office, was asked to serve as the twelfth member of the jury. Due to her participation, Smith became the first woman in Stanly County to serve on a jury.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a picture of Mary Smith. Please contact me at if you know of one that exists.

{Lewis Bramlett – Stanly County Historical Society}