Dictograph Set by Detectives to Trap Col. Thos. B. Felder; Here is the Dictograph Record

Dictograph Set by Detectives

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 23rd, 1913

In Interview With G. C. Febuary, Secretary to Chief of Detectives Newport Lan[f]ord, in Room 31 of Williams House No. 2, Heard by Dictograph and Taken Down in Shorthand, Col. Felder is Alleged to Have Offered Bribe


East Lake Was Agreed Upon as Place for Transfer of Papers, Although Colonel Felder Suggested the Transportation Club, According to Stenographic Report of Conversation That Occurred—All of Alleged Interview That is Printable is Given Below

The Atlanta Journal has in its possession a sworn copy of an alleged dictograph conversation, said to have occurred Wednesday afternoon in Room No. 31, of Williams House No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth street, between Colonel Thomas B. Felder, well-known Atlanta attorney; G. C. Febuary, secretary to Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford, and A. S. Colyar, a citizen.

In this record of the alleged dictographed conversation Colonel Felder is quoted as offering a large sum of money to Secretary Febuary if he would extract certain affidavits and papers relating to the Phagan murder mystery from the safe of Chief Lanford and turn them over to him.

Colonel Felder is also quoted as having promised immunity to Febuary if any attempt was made to prosecute him for extracting the papers, and according to the dictograph record Colonel Felder declared to Febuary that he controlled Mayor Woodward, Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and the judge of the criminal court.

It is said that Colonel Felder offered one thousand dollars to Febuary for the papers, and that he agreed to have the delivery of the papers and the payment of the money occur at East Lake, although he preferred that the transfer take place at the Transportation club.

The alleged conversation, as reported by Stenographer George M. Gentry, nephew of Colonel W. T. Gentry, president of the Southern Bell and Cumberland Telephone companies, who it is said by detectives was stationed in room No. 32 with the earpiece of a dictograph instrument strapped over his head, is given below, as fully as the language can be quoted in this newspaper. Here is the alleged dictograph conversation, written out and sworn to by Stenographer Gentry, who was stationed in room No. 32:


The following conversation occurred at Williams House No. 2 34-36 North Forsyt[h] street, Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday, May 21, 1913, between Thomas B. Felder, G. C. February [sic] and A. S. Colyar:

A. S. Colyar: I have been stopping here off and on for five years.

Thomas B. Felder: When I moved here twenty-three years ago, this was the finest hotel in Atlanta.

A. S. Colyar: Well tell me, I thought you told me the other day that you became solicitor general six months after you were twenty-one. And I was reading the statutes and it stated the solicitor general had to be twenty-five years old.

Thomas B. Felder: No. The statute has been changed since I was made solicitor.

A. S. Colyar: The statute stated that he must be twenty-five years of age and must be an attorney at the bar of Georgia for three years in good standing, and must take an oath that he will prosecute all without fear or favor.

Thomas B. Felder: Yes.

A. S. Colyar: How old are you, Colonel?

Thomas B. Felder: I will be forty-nine in October. How old are you?

A. S. Colyar: I will be forty-seven next February?

G. C. February: Mr. Colyar looks a good deal older than you.

Thomas B. Felder: Well! I have an appointment with another gentleman at 3:30.

A. S. Colyar: Well. There’s the ma[n] you want to talk to.

G. C. Febuary: Now, you know this is pretty ticklish business—

A. S. Colyar: I told him last night that they could put him in the penitentiary for stealing these papers—

Thomas B.Felder: Penitentiary, hell. They can’t put you in the penitentiary as long as Hugh Dorsey is solicitor general.

G. C. Febuary: Well. You see, I am the chief’s stenographer and I write all these affidavits.

Thomas B. Felder: Can this young man be trusted all right?

A. S. Colyar: Absolutely. I would trust him anywhere on earth. Who is this fellow Miles?

Thomas B. Felder: Well, you see, Miles is in the bureau of investigation, and he has three or four experts in the way of investigators and things like that.

Now, what I say to you is strictly confidential. Day before yesterday I saw Woodward.

A. S. Colyar: You saw Woodward, Monday?

Thomas B. Felder: Yes. Woodward says now it is all right for you to get the papers, and we will pay you for them.


Thomas B. Felder: I will tell you what I have been doing for the last month. I have been investigating certain things for this company Mr. Miles works for, and I called on the mayor Monday afternoon, with C. C. Jones, and I told the mayor I could get the evidence on these grafting …….. Beavers and Lanford, and the mayor told me to see Mr. Miles. That he had been working on it for a month. To show you how conscientious Mr. Miles is, although he has been in my office nearly every day, he has never mentioned it to me. The mayor also wanted me to prosecute them in the courts, as attorney, and I told him “No, I had my hands full, but I would help get up the evidence.” Miles came over yesterday afternoon and I had a conference with him about an hour or two and without calling any names, I told him that I could get the evidence. But I said this young man doesn’t want to lose his position. Well, he says, tell him for me that I will give him a position today just as good as the one he has. Mayor Woodward said to get him the evidence and he would be glad to prosecute this bunch.

A. S. Colyar: Well. I told you he wouldn’t. I tell you that this thing will just put us in the penitentiary.

Thomas B. Felder: Well, I assure you that I have never mentioned the names of either one of you.

A. S. Colyar: Well, say; Dorsey told Chief Lanford, so I have been informed, that you told Dorsey Sunday night that I was the — framer and double-crosser and blackmailer in the state, and you know if you know the law at all, that a blackmailer has to threaten a man with a crime, and you know I have not charged you with any crime.

Felder: No, you have been straight with me, and I will put up a thousand dollars to ten cents that I never mentioned your name to Dorsey but he mentioned your name to me.

Colyar: If this is going to get us into trouble, I am not going to have anything to do with it.


Felder: Touble, hell. Why I can control the judge, the mayor and Hugh Dorsey.

Colyar: What judge.

Felder: The judge of the criminal court. And I wouldn’t do it in an improper way.

Colyar: I wouldn’t want you to do that.

February: Well, it is just like this. There is only one certain time of day that I can get those papers, and I don’t want to carry them around with me.

Felder: Well, you understand. I don’t want the papers unless they are evidence enough to put Lanford and Beavers out of business. Now, Colyar says you say that you have got the papers that will put him out. Well, Mr. Febuary, can’t you see Miles, who is working on this thing for me, and give him the papers.

Colyar: We don’t want to deal with Miles. We are dealing with you.

Felder: Personally, I know Miles is all right, and you can deliver the evidence to Miles.

(On account of street car passing dictograph was indistinct.)

Colyar: What fellows did Woodward want to prosecute?

Felder: Lanford and Beavers.

(On account of noise in room dictograph was indistinct.)

Felder: All that you you have got to do is to go and do it and just tell Miles and he will do just whatever is necessary on that end of the line.

Colyar: Yes?

Felder: Now, so far as you and Febuary being prosecuted or indicted or put in jail, that is all bull.

Colyar: Yes, I understand.

Felder: Where did you see Lanford?

Colyar: I did not see him. I heard through Febuary that he heard Dorsey make this statement. He thought that you and I were good friends and he would turn you against me.

Felder: He told you that Hugh Dorsey told him that I told Hugh Dorsey that you were a crook and a framer and double-crosser? He is a damned liar. When did he tell you that?

Febuary: I don’t know whether it was the first of this week or the last of last week.

Colyar: You told me Monday that you had taken this down in a statement and had filed it away and that Hugh Dorsey told Chief Lanford that I was the damnedest blackmailer and crook he ever saw and for him not to have anything to do with me. You told me that Lanford dictated that statement and put it away—that Tom Felder told Dorsey that I was a crook and a damned liar and a frame-up and a double-cross.

Felder: Don’t you understand Lanford? That was a statement of his own imagination in order to get you in that frame of mind towards me.

Colyar: I do not know Lanford.

Felder: Let me tell you another thing—

Colyar: Lanford knows that you and I have always been good friends.

Felder: Hugh Dorsey has got no use whatever for Lanford, and wouldn’t talk to him and if I had told him anything about you he wouldn’t tell Lanford. I could have said all that to Dorsey and he never would have mentioned it to him.

Colyar: Mr. Febuary will tell you what he has got to say.

Felder: Now, Febuary can get those papers, can’t he?

February: I can only get them at a certain time of the day, and I don’t want to carry them around with me; I want to turn them loose right away.

Felder: Now you understand I must see the papers first, in order to do what I told you.


Febuary: Let me understand you. You want the Coleman affidavit and all other Phagan affidavits that I can get hold of.

Felder: Yes. Colyar told me that he was to have the evidence that would get those two chiefs out of commission, the Phagan papers and the Coleman affidavit. Now what have you got?

Febuary: I haven’t got those papers. The chief had these papers in a large envelope. I do not know whether he keeps any graft sheets or not. I never saw one.

Colyar: You will have to examine the papers after Mr. Febuary brings them up — Tell me this. Wasn’t you employed by Coleman to work on this case?

Felder: Coleman said this to me: (failed to catch part of conversation.) Then I said, Mr. Coleman I was invited by Mr. McCall. I believe that was his name (scraping of feet on floor interfered with dictograph). I said, Mr. Coleman, I would like to go in on the prosecution of this case. He said, I haven’t got any money to employ a lawyer. I said, you misunderstood me, it isn’t necessary for you to pay me any money, that has all been arranged. McCall said, now you meet us down there at 4:30, wasn’t it Febuary, that the inquest was to be held that afternoon, and I went down and was introduced to Mr. Coleman, but I have forgotten who introduced me to Coleman. Now he said Mr. Felder we would to have you look after the case, but I haven’t money to employ anybody with. Now I said Mr. Coleman, you misapprehend the gentleman, now he is asking you for no money, he is simply asking you for your consent to represent you. Before we could close the deal the coroner’s jury broke up and we all separated. Now there wasn’t anything said about the regularity of my employment, but it was taken for granted.

Colyar: I want to put you in position where you can act, without bringing me into it.

Felder: I don’t have to say you gave me the papers.

Colyar: If you do, they will give me hell and you know it. I will be an accessory before the fact for him getting those papers and giving them to you.

Felder: You violate no law.

Colyar: He has.

Felder: No he hasn’t. To abstract a lot of framed up documents is no larceny.

Colyar: Well, tell him that you want to Febuary. Felder, can you bring Miles up here to see me. Can you bring him up at 4 o’clock?

Felder: Yes. All right.

Febuary: It is 3:20 now.

Felder: Tell what you are going to do about the papers.

Febuary: Well, I put them back. I was afraid to deliver these papers to you in Atlanta.

Felder: What is that?


Colyar: He said he was afraid to give them to you in Atlanta. He will give them to you at East Lake or Decatur.

Felder: Now, I don’t know just exactly that he has absolutely got the papers that I want.

Feburary: I will bring them up and let you examine them and see if they are what you want.

Colyar: Well, I will meet you at East Lake or Decatur with him.

Felder: That isn’t necessary at all.

Colyar: No Tom Felder, I am not going to do anything with these papers in this city, because they can prosecute me and frame up a lot of evidence, and swear hell’s an ice box.

Felder: Nobody would believe them.

Colyar: They can frame up on anybody.

Felder: Well, now what time could you see me?

Febuary: Well, about 2 o’clock.

Colyar: Well I think that would be best.

Febuary: Oh! I know it is.

Colyar: I am not going to deliver the papers to you in Fulton county. We can meet tomorrow at East Lake or Decatur.

Felder: They can indict you at East Lake. They can indict you anywhere — Did you ever see Coleman?

Colyar: No, can’t anybody get to see him that I know of. I know a man that was raised up with him in Cobb county or wherever it was he was raised, and he went to see him, but Coleman wouldn’t let him come in.

Felder: Well, he told somebody all about how he happened to sign that affidavit.

Colyar: How was it?

(Noises interferred [sic] with sounding on dictograph.)

Febuary: Well, will 2 o’clock suit you?

Felder: That will suit me.

Colyar: Well, I would suggest that we go out to East Lake.

Febuary: I am afraid to fool around in the city here.


Felder: There is our place you can go where it will be safe. That is the Transportation club. There will be no danger of anyone seeing you up there. Yu are safer there than you would be anywhere else. There are no damn policeman ever allowed up there, and there is no danger of anyone intruding.

Colyar: I am not going to deliver them anywhere in Atlanta. He has got the papers you want, but he don’t want to lose his job.

Felder: I can get you a job any time. How in the hell are they going to know he got the papers.

Colyar: Nobody knows the combination of the safe but him and the chief.

Felder: They would not know it.

February: It is not supposed that the chief would take them out.

Colyar: How long will it take you to examine the package?

Felder: Well. It’s all owing to the number of papers in the package. What time does the chief leave in the evening.

February: He don’t leave down there until 8 or 9 o’clock. Some times a little earlier, most of the time about 8 o’clock.

Felder: Which one of those detectives down there don’t like him?

February: I never heard any of them say anything against him and don’t know who it is unless it is Pat Campbell.

Felder: Isn’t there friction between some of them.

February: You can hear things like that on the outside that we never hear on the inside, but I don’t think there is anything to it. Who do you think it is?

Felder: I don’t know, somebody told me, but I am sure there a half a dozen of them.

(Street car passed drowning the words in the dictograph).


Colyar: Will a thousand dollars be paid if we can get the papers?

Felder: Yes.

Colyar: I don’t want any of that money.

Felder: Well. I have got an appointment with Miles. If the papers will do what you think they will do, I will give you a thousand dollars for them.

Colyar: We will get the papers and turn them over to Mr. Miles. But damned if I do it in Fulton county.

Felder: Why?

Colyar: I have got my reasons for it.

Felder: Well, if you can get the papers for me to examine, by 3:30 tomorrow—

Colyar: He can tell him he is going fishing or something like that, just as he gets the papers; and he can go to Lakewood.

Febuary: I would rather do it out there.

Colyar: You and Miles together can meet us out there.

Felder: I have some business engagements tomorrow that will not allow me to get away long enough to go out there.

Colyar: Oh! Pahaw! You can hop in your machine and go out there in a couple of minutes.

Felder: You won’t meet anybody else except Miles and myself?

Febuary: No. It is like you said awhile ago, “Too many cook spoil the broth.”

Felder: That’s right.

Febuary: Well, if you are in a hurry now, suppose we think this thing over and let you know later today or tomorrow whether to meet you here or out yonder.

Felder: I can’t possibly go to East Lake.

Colyar: You can take your man and go out there and get the papers in a few minutes, give us a receipt and the money.

Felder: I told Woodward that I would get the papers that would put these two fellows out of business.

Febuary: That is all you want the papers for?

Felder: That’s all. Yes.

Colyar: Well, we will me[e]t you at East Lake at 2:30.

Felder: Well, I will send Miles up here and you can talk to him.

Colyar: Well, write your name on a piece of paper, for I don’t know whether I will know him or not.

Felder: Why you just met him a short while ago.

Colyar: Yes, I know, but I don’t know whether I would recognize him or not, so you write your name on a piece of paper.

Felder: Well, I will write my name on a piece of paper so you will know him. As soon as I can get hold of Miles I will send him up.

Colyar: Send him up by 4 o’clock.




Personally appeared before me, the undersigned notary public for the state and county aforesaid, A. S. Colyar, and G. C. Febuary, who being duly sworn depose and say that the foregoing conversation, as set out between them and T. B. Felder is a true transcription of said conversation, which occurred in room 31, of the Williams House, No. 2, at 34-36 North Forsyth street, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia.



Sworn to and subscribed before me this, the 22 day of May, 1913.


Notary Public Fulton County, Ga.



Personally appeared before me, the undersigned notary public for the state and county aforesaid, George M. Gentry, stenographer, who being duly sworn and [d]eposes and says that he knows A. S. Colyar and G. C. Febuary, and he knows Thomas B. Felder by sight, and that he saw these three parties enter room 31, of the Williams house No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth stre[e]t, on the afternoon of May 21, 1913, and he immediately after went into room 32, of said hotel, and stationed himself at a dictograph, and he took down the conversation that came through the dictograph, in shorthand, and the foregoing conversation is a true and correct transcription of same.


Sworn to and subscribed before me this, the 22 day of May, 1913


Notary Public, Fulton County, Ga.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, May 23rd 1913, “Dictograph Set by Detectives to Trap Col. Thos. B. Felder; Here is the Dictograph Record,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)