Dictograph Catches Mayor in Net

Dictograph Catches Mayor

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

Sensational dictograph conversations, in which Mayor James G. Woodward, Charles C. Jones, former Tenderloin proprietor and present owner of the Rex saloon; E. O. Miles, a private detective; A. S. Colyar, accuser of Colonel T. B. Felder, and Chief Lanford’s clerk, February [sic], all figure, are made public by The Atlanta Georgian to-day.

The conversations, all reported by a dictograph installed at the Williams House, in the same room and by the same man who figured to the “trapping” of Felder, tend to throw new and startling light on the alleged plot to “get” Chief of Police James L. Beavers, who wiped out the Tenderloin, and Chief of Detectives Lanford.

As reported by George M. Gentry, who took down the conversation as it trickled over the thin spun wires through the door between Colyar’s room, No. 31, and room No. 32, it is apparently made clear that the Mayor was not only after evidence of graft in the police department, but more directly after evidence on which Chief Beavers could be impeached and discharged. The Mayor has never hesitated to make plain that he was not in sympathy with the chief’s attitude.

The conversation in which the Mayor figured seems to show that he promised protection to the man who would get the evidence if he should get in trouble doing it, and that he gave assurances the work would be well paid for.

The Mayor was present at the conference with February, Colyar and Miles. The entire dictograph conversation in which he figured is given elsewhere.

Far more sensational is the conversation in which Jones, Miles and Colyar took part. Jones viciously attacked the police department, charging graft and crookedness; accused Marion Jackson, Men and Religion Forward Movement leader, of being the beneficiary of vice, and said he had been double-crossed in the wiping out of the Tenderloin.

Colonel Felder’s name is mentioned time and again in the conversation of the three, and more than one reference is made to the alleged offer of $1,000 for evidence.

Here is the entire dictograph conversation in which Mayor James G. Woodward took a part as it was reported to the police. A copy is in the police files to-day.

A. S. Colyar, the man who engineered the entire sensation, of course, take a leading part. The conversation is first principally between him and Chief Lanford’s clerk, February, and E. O. Miles, a private investigator, and a friend of Charles C. Jones, who comes later into the conversation.

Jones owned a number of houses in the restricted district closed up by Chief Beavers, which were conservatively estimated to have given him an income of $40,000 a year. He is the owner of the Rex saloon, and is by no means poverty stricken, despite the huge dent Chief Beavers’ reform made in his roll.

Mayor James G. Woodward, who has never nesitated [sic] to let it be known, that he was not in sympathy with the Chief’s vice crusade, comes into the conversation later and is reported in full.

Dictograph Talks in Which Mayor Figured

(Continued from Page One.)

The conversation took place on Wednesday afternoon in Colyar’s room—the same room where Felder was trapped, and was taken down by George M. Gentry, a nephew of the president of the Southern Bell Telephone Company. Here is a copy of the record:

The following statements were overheard by me, by using a dictograph located in room 32 of the Williams House No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth Street, Atlanta, Ga.; said dictograph being connected with room No. 31 of the said hotel, and I saw Mr. E. O. Miles, whom I am personally acquainted with; Mr. G. C. February, whom I have known for several years, and Mr. A. S. Colyar, with whom I have only been acquainted for a short time, enter room No. 31 of said hotel at about 4 o’clock on the afternoon of May 21, 1913.

On account of Mr. February having locked the door to room No. 32, I was delayed in getting in, after having witnessed the three parties above mentioned enter room No. 31 of said hotel. In the emergency, I used the key to my front door, which, with a little difficulty, opened the door. After closing the door and going to the instrument, I was unable to hear what was being said very distinctly on account of the windows of the said room being open. This necessitated another delay to close them, and after returning to my instrument I was able to hear the following. Several dashes indicate that the voice just at that point became inaudible:

Colyar—I can tell you some things. I am executive secretary (noise made sound indistinct).

Miles—Now, just wait a minute. I know (here noise made hearing indistinct). I have got several cases (sound indistinct).

Colyar—(Question incoherent).

Miles—I am satisfied you ought, but you know when they go into it they are going to put up a howl.

Colyar—(Conversation too low to catch).

Miles—The Mayor will give us absolute assurance that he will protect us.

Colyar—Will you bring the Mayor up here—right now?

Miles—I think I can bring the Mayor up here right away. The evidence is in the (sound indistinct).

Colyar—It looks like a frame-up on Felder, and they couldn’t detect (sound indistinct).

Colyar—You are not a Jew, are you?

Miles—No, I am not. I spell my name M-i-l-e-s.

Colyar—These sons of a gun down here can frame up anything on Decatur Street. I told Felder I would get the goods and go outside of the county and I would meet you and him at East Lake.

Miles—There is no occasion for your leaving town.

Colyar—But I mean afterwards, I am afraid to stay here.

February—If the Mayor and Felder will stay behind us like they said, they would.

Colyar—I would like to have the Mayor’s—

Miles—But right now he may be busy. Felder can get— Mr. Felder is a good— Now, it will take about ten minutes, in any case, but he may be busy. I will bring him if he can possibly get here.

(In a few minutes Miles returned.)

Miles—He was up to the City Hall. He will be over in a few minutes he said.

Colyar—Where is your residence, Mr. Miles?

Miles—In Decatur. I used to live in Smyrna.

(Conversation here became inaudible for a short time on account of scraping of feet upon the floor, chairs, etc., which drowned the sounds through the instrument.)

Miles—If you will excuse me, I will take off my coat. It is very warm.

Colyar and February—Certainly.

Colyar—Step downstairs and get the pitcher and bring it up here full of ice water.

(Mr. February was evidently the one addressed, as some one went out and the conversation continued between Mr. Miles and Mr. Colyar.)

Miles—We will have that fixed. If we have got the goods on these detectives their sphere of work will be over. It will take three or four days—

Colyar—Well, what do you think of this Phagan murder?

Miles—I think it is the most damnable— They telephoned Craig, The Constitution man to come and go with them.

Colyar—Do you believe Frank murdered that girl?

Miles—I never have believed it. It looks a great deal more like he did than it did before from the affidavits. Also there is going to be pretty strong evidence that the girl was not raped.

(Conversation became very indistinct for a few minutes.)

Miles—I think the whole thing was handled badly. In my mind I am satisfied. They had an extra on the street at 6:30. They should never have allowed all the persons they did on the premises. Just after the murder there were only a few scents and tracks, and the man who did the murder could have easily been tracked, as no one else had been there but the negro and his tracks could have been very easily eliminated.

Colyar—Yes; that is right. It looks to me like they would have known better.

Miles—They should have looked for foot prints and finger prints. Instead of that they had over 500 finger prints— (Conversation interrupted by knock at door.)

A moment or so later Mayor Woodward entered the room.

Miles, Colyar and February (almost simultaneiously)—Well, how are you Mr. Mayor.

After the general conversation of all had subsided I was able to distinguish Mr. Miles’ voice.)

Miles—I really don’t know it well enough—this is the first conference I have had.

Colyar—Well, Tom Felder told me that they Mayor wanted some evidence on these fellows down here at the city hall, Decatur Street, and the station house, and here’s a man that works down there. He got disgusted doing three men’s work. He can get the evidence for you, but he wants no one to know it. There are some terrible framers down there.

Miles—He is afraid they will throw him in jail, after they find it out.

Woodward—How can they throw him in jail?

Colyar—They can get a charge against anybody and throw him in jail. You don’t know them like some other people do.

Woodward—What is the nature of the evidence he can get?

Colyar—Well, if he was to get the evidence that Mr. Felder wants, it would do the work, which I understand it what you want.

Woodward—All I want to—(voice too low and indistinct).

Colyar—They would throw him out of his job and put him in jail.

Woodward—I don’t see how they could do it.

Miles—I don’t—unless there are no sane people in the city any more.

Colyar—Well, you know they said they were going to close up the red light—(voice too low.)

Woodward—Well, they have got nothing to fear.

Colyar—I went up to your office to see you, and I found it was harder work to get in your office than when I was a newspaper reporter.

Woodward—Well, my secretary came in and I told him to tell them I would see you just as soon as I possibly could.

Colyar—But he said you couldn’t see me until to-morrow.

Woodward—The reason I said that was because he said you said you were in a hurry, and I said tell him to come back to-morrow. If you could have waited there a few minutes you would have had no trouble. You said you were in a hurry and had some business to attend to, but I could not tell the other people to get out of the office.

Colyar—There wasn’t anybody else in the office.

Woodward—Well, the secretary or somebody was. Oh, I had to sign up a lot of checks that had to go in before the bank closed.

Colyar—I have always heard you were a plain old politician.

Woodward—It is just my natural way.

Colyar—Well, this is the man that can give you the evidence down at headquarters that you want, but he is afraid to.

Woodward—There is nothing to be afraid of.

Colyar—You don’t know what police persecution is. They can prove that black is white and water will run up a stream, and they can get a jury that will—

Miles—I take this view of it. It will only be—with the police force to be—until they won’t be in a position to get anyone into trouble.

Colyar—They tell me they got a majority in the force.

Miles—No, sir; I don’t—

Woodward—Dozler. I—

Colyar—How many votes will it take to remove him?

Woodward—A majority.

Colyar—How many are on the board?


Colyar—You have a vote in case of a tie?

Woodward—I have a vote anyhow.

Miles—He is a member ex-oficio.

Woodward—I vote all the time.

Miles—February wants to know if we can promise him protection, I think we can safely to it in a matter of right, like this.


Miles—He has the graft list and knows who’s on the list, who is to be protected and who is not be protected. It looks to me like we have the same thing down there that they had in New York, only on a smaller scale, because Atlanta is a smaller town.

Colyar—Did you tell Tom Felder that you authorized Felder that if he got the proof for you you would see that he got paid for it?

Woodward—I told Felder that on matters of this kind (voice here indistinct) and he has a good deal to say, and I told him that I am satisfied that certain parties would be willing to pay the money for him, and if he got the evidence that would convict those people it would be paid, and it will be. There is no question about that.

Colyar—He said he would give him a thousand dollars for the evidence.

Miles—Felder said to me that February said that was the price.

February—Felder said that he would pay it to us, but he would have to see the papers. He said he would give me one thousand dollars.

Miles—He didn’t say that anybody had authorized him to do it. He just said he would get it up.

Woodward—I don’t know whether he had references (voice too low). As to whether he could raise the money or not; but if he did, he knows that I have not authorized him to do anything of that kind.

Miles—What would be the nature of those documents?

Colyar—It is an affidavit from two people—both signed it—acknowledging threats, etc., graft and general corruption. Like you said a while ago.

Miles—There is no trouble to show the graft?

February—(Reply inaudible).

Miles—(Voice too low at first) a place like the Walton Inn has never been closed.

February—I don’t know just about that one.

Miles—Now, my information is that the woman who runs it is a sister-in-law of an official in the Police Department. A woman gave me that information and said that she was operating under protection, and there certainly is a half dozen hacks around there at 1 o’clock at night, automobiles, and couples going in and out.

Woodward—There will be no trouble about getting the money.

Miles—Yes, but * * * They might get the Council in their favor at some later date. * * * Of course, somebody would have to advance it now.

Woodward—Yes, I know it.

Miles—Isn’t there another stenographer that works down there?

February—Yes; there is a man down there in Chief of Police’s office. He works at night. He goes on about 4.

Miles—If they want anything after you go off, they get him to do it?

February—(Reply indistinct.)

Miles—You keep all the records of that department?

February—Yes, for Lanford.

(Traffic noise interfered with sound.)

Colyar—Only two men can get the evidence. February and Chief Lanford * * * They have got him doing three men’s work. They make him do the work of the judge down there. * * *

Miles—Well, Mr. Woodward, suppose we leave?

Woodward—I would like to have some kind of an idea or statement of what * * * so as to know what * * *

Miles—Yes; that is something specific.

Woodward—I don’t know what to do.

February—Well, I will have to go through these papers and see what I can get.

Woodward—Get anything that looks like graft. I don’t care who it hits, and especially Beavers.

February—Well, I will have to go through these papers and see what I can get.

Woodward—We are going to get up the money to pay for it. They’ll want to know what you have got and what you can prove. Then I can give him an answer. Are you a stenographer?

Woodward—What do they pay you?

February—One hundred dollars. I am clerk of the detective office, and I spend a great deal of my time in working for Judge Broyles, which makes one man working in two different departments.

Miles—Are you married?

February—Yes, sir.

Miles—(Excessive noise rendered conversation inaudible.)

Woodward—I won’t do anything until it is substantiated.

Miles—Yes; just forget it. You know you have never broken your word yet.

Woodward—I heard they charged me with some meanness.

Miles—I think that is a great compliment.

Woodward—I heard they said something of that kind down there.

Miles—That would tickle me to death if some woman would say that to me.

Woodward—The woman, I understand, said she would not get on the stand and swear to it.

Colyar—Well, I understood that the woman said she did not know you.

(Noise interfered with sound over dictograph.)

Woodward—I have a lot of fellows to come up to me and say, “Is this Mayor Woodward? I have seen your picture—“ . . . Oh, I don’t know that it is true about me.

Miles—Personally (on account of Mr. Miles talking so low, was unable to understand him).

Woodward—Well, they have pretty good evidence on him.

Colyar—On who?


Colyar—I know one of the vice commission leaders was put out of a hotel in Birmingham three years ago with a prominent man’s wife . . .

Woodward—I tell you what to do. You get the stenographer up there and see what he can do. You needn’t let me know about it; just tell Miles.

Colyar—How about Lanford?

Mayor James G. Woodward, of Atlanta, who has been trapped by the dictograph in his hunt for police graft evidence. His conversation with others was taken in A. S. Colyar's room at the Williams House on the afternoon of May 21st.

Mayor James G. Woodward, of Atlanta, who has been trapped by the dictograph in his hunt for police graft evidence. His conversation with others was taken in A. S. Colyar’s room at the Williams House on the afternoon of May 21st.

Woodward—We want Beavers first, then Lanford.

Miles—I agree with you, it is best that after we go into this and raise the money to pay for it, we go out of the county, and it will be turned over to be examined, to see that they are the papers, and then the money is to be turned over. Now, this list you speak of. If February don’t want it to go out in his own handwriting. I will take it and copy it in my own handwriting. And if he gets into trouble we will protect him. Still, in a thing like this I don’t mind getting in trouble for the right. If he gets in jail I will promise that he will get out . . . .

Woodward—We have got lawyers here that will get you out pretty quick. And I have the pardon power still.

Miles—And when they see you have got them they are going to be mighty quick to quiet down . . . . Now suppose we arrange for another meeting. You set the hour and I will meet you at any time and place.

February—Well, we would better call you up.

Miles—I am so busy that I am not in my office very much, and you may not catch me.

Colyar—Can you meet me at 8 o’clock to-night, here?

Miles—Yes; I can meet you here.

(At this juncture someone knocked on the door and told Mr. Colyar that he was wanted at the telephone. Mr. Colyar replied by saying he couldn’t come as he was busy.)

February—Well, we will call you up.

Colyar—He is coming here at 8 o’clock to-night * * * My number up here is Atlanta phone 2401.

Miles—Yes, I will call for you. Now, that is to-night?


Miles—I will be here at 8 o’clock. That is all right?

Woodward—I am satisfied that if we can establish * * * Do you understand this much, that we have got something (voice too low and indistinct to hear).

Miles—Yes; it has got to be positive.

Colyar—Want a match?

Miles—I got one. Well, good luck.

Woodward—(Voice too low to hear.)

Colyar—They will frame up on anybody that you report.

Woodward—(Talked very low and indistinct.)

Colyar—What protection have we got?

Woodward—Well, I don’t think there will be any trouble at all. * * * We could get together and establish * * * There is something wrong. It is simply a * * * Now, Mr. February, you get a list of the papers you can furnish me against those men and give them to me or Miles, and then we will know how to talk with you. As it is, we don’t know whether you can get anything or not.

Colyar—What do you think of the Phagan case?

Woodward—Phagan case? I think it has been mighty mussed up. The only thing I know on that subject is what I saw in the papers, and they have very little in connection with it. (Balance inaudible.)

Colyar—Tom Felder talks too much.

Woodward—I think so, too. I don’t know what he said on the outside, but he talked some to me, not a great deal; I didn’t see him five minutes.

Woodward—I only had a very few words. * * * Well, I will see you again.

Colyar and February—Well, good-bye, Mayor.

State of Georgia—County of Fulton.

Personally appeared before me, the undersigned notary public for the State and county aforesaid, George M. Gentry, a stenographer, who makes oath and says that the foregoing conversation between A. S. Colyar, James G. Woodward, Mayor of the city of Atlanta; E. O. Miles and G. C. February took place in room No. 31 of Williams House No. 2, at 34 and 36 North Forsyth Street, Atlanta, Ga., on May 21, 1913, and it is a true and correct transcript as taken down by the affiant through a dictograph, which was stationed in room No. 32 of said hotel.


Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23d day of May, 1913.


Notary Public, Fulton County, Georgia.

State of Georgia—County of Fulton

Personally appeared before me, the undersigned notary public for the State and county aforesaid, A. S. Colyar and G. C. February, both of whom are personally known to me, who make oath that the above conversation between James G. Woodward, Mayor, and E. O. Miles and the affiants, as herein set out, took place in room No. 31 of Williams House No. 2, at 34 and 36 North Forsyth Street, Atlanta, Georgia, and that same was reported by George M. Gentry, a stenographer, in room No. 32 of said Williams House, and that the same is a true and correct transcription of said conversations.



Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23d day of May, 1913.


Notary Public, Fulton County, Georgia.

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Atlanta Georgian, May 24th 1913, “Dictograph Catches Mayor in Net,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)