Frank on Witness Stand

by Archivist on May 5, 2016

Frank-On-Witness-StandAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, May 5th, 1913

Makes Statement Under Oath; Nervous, But Replies Quickly

Phagan Inquest, Starting Late Monday Afternoon, Attracts Throng—200 Girls and Women Summoned As Witnesses, at Police Station.

The Coroner’s inquest into the Phagan mystery did not really begin until 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon, instead of 2 o’clock, the hour set for the hearing.

Leo M. Frank and Newt Lee left the jail in charge of Chief of Police Beavers, Detectives Lanford and Starnes and entered the patrol wagon for the trip to police headquarters.

A curious crowd waited around the jail doorway to get a look at the two prisoners.

Both men appeared nervous. Frank walked with a quick step between Beavers and Lanford. He was freshly shaved, wore a dark suit and a derby hat. Starnes followed with Lee. Neither man was handcuffed.

[The following is the opening paragraph of a later article in the same newspaper on Tuesday, May 6th, 1913 that covered the questioning of Leo Frank.—Ed.]

Leo M. Frank, Superintendent of the National Pencil Factory, was a witness late Monday afternoon in the Coroner’s inquest into the death of Mary Phagan.

There was a sensation when it was learned for the first time from the lips of Frank that another man was in the factory aside from those already known after Mary Phagan drew her pay, shortly after noon on the Saturday she met her death. The man was Lemmie Quinn, foreman of the tipping department.

Frank told in detail all he knew about Quinn and his work in the factory.

Frank was cool and collected. He answered the questions shot at him by the Coroner without hesitation and his utterance was distinct. He seemed absolutely sure of himself.

Solicitor Dorsey and Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Frank, occupied prominent places, but Solicitor Dorsey did not interpose any questions during the early part of the inquiry. None of the questions directed at Frank were objected to by his attorney. Coroner Donehoo’s questioning was uninterrupted.

Another significant point in Frank’s testimony was that he says he heard Mary Phagan talking with another girl as the two left the building.

This gives strength to the report that another girl actually accompanied Mary to the factory.

Where is this girl now?

The detectives have reported nothing of the discovery of the girl who is said to have waited at the factory door for Mary to come out and finally left when some one from the factory told her that Mary would be detained for a half hour with some work.

Factory girls called as witnesses were excused at 5:30 o’ clock, indicating that the inquest would be adjourned with the conclusion of Frank’s testimony or the testimony of the Selig’s who follow him. [End of revised opening paragraph—Ed.]

Crowd Fills Police Station.

They arrived at police headquarters five minutes later and were greeted by 700 or 800 persons, who packed the corridors and stairways of the police station.

Both Frank and Lee were taken directly to the detectives’ room through a rear entrance, where the inquest was held.

It was necessary for the officers to cut a passageway through the jam of humanity. Into this narrow lane Frank, with Chief Lanford’s hand on his arm, entered, looking neither to the right nor the left. He walked with a hurried step and appeared to be relieved when the room, where the inquest is being held, was reached.

Lee seemed less concerned and walked carelessly along from the rear door, up the stairs and through the packed corridors.

Bar Merely Curious From Room.

The inquest room was closed to all but those who could prove that they had actual business inside. Sergeant Maddox stood at the doorway and denied admittance to several hundred persons who were eager to hear the testimony.

Nearly 200 women and young girls, most of whom are employees either of the pencil factory, or of the paper factory where Mary Phagan formerly worked, were herded into the large roll-call room on the first floor to await the time when they should be called upon to testify.

Just before the inquest was called Coroner Donehoo was closeted in a conference with Solicitor Dorsey, Detective Lanford, Chief Beavers and the detectives who had been working on the case.

Newt Lee Taken From Room.

Chief Lanford held subpoenas for two more witnesses whom it was decided to call at the last moment.

Before the first witness, Leo Frank was called, the coroner requested that Lee be taken from the room.

Frank took his stand at 2:50 o’clock. He was sworn by Coroner Donehoo. His testimony follows:

Q. What is your name? A. Leo M. Frank.

Q. Where do you live? A. No. 68 East Georgia Avenue.

Q. What connection have you with the National Pencil Company? A. General superintendent.

Q. How long have you been with them? A. Since August, 1908.

Q. What was your business prior to that time? A. I was abroad buying machinery for the National Pencil Company.

Q. Where did you live before coming to Atlanta? A. At 152 Underhill Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Q. Who were you with then? A. Immediately prior to coming to Atlanta, I was with the National Meter Company.

Q. What time did you come to Atlanta? A. I came to Atlanta at once and talked with the men who were getting up the pencil factory.

Q. What did you do next? A. I went back to New York and left New York the first week of November 1907 to go abroad.

Q. How long did you remain abroad? A. Until August 1908.

Q. What is your exact business with the National Pencil Company? A. Looking after the purchasing of material and the inspection of factory cost.

Tells of Actions Saturday Morning.

Q. What time did you get up Saturday morning, April 26? A. Just after 7 o’clock.

Q. Are you married? A. Yes.

Q. Have you ever been married before? A. No.

Q. Who lives with you besides your wife? A. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig.

Q. Have you servants around the place? A. One.

Q. What is her name? A. Her first name is Minola. She is a colored woman.

Q. What time does she get there? A. About 6:30.

Q. Was she there when you got up? A. Yes.

Q. What time did you leave the house? A. Around 8 o’clock.

Q. Whom did you see before you left the house? A. My wife

FRANK TELLS HIS OWN STORY ON STAND AT PHAGAN CASE INQUEST

[Continued From Page 1.]

and the servant.

Q. Did you see Mr. or Mrs. Selig? A. I did not see Mrs. Selig. I am not sure whether I saw Mr. Selig or not.

Q. How did you come to town? A. On the car.

Q. Which line? A. I have the choice of two lines. I do not remember the one I took.

Q. What lines are there? A. The Washington Street and the Georgia Avenue lines. I don’t recall which one I used.

Q. Did you talk to any one on the car? A. I don’t remember.

Q. What time did you arrive at the factory? A. About 8:25.

Q. Who was at the factory? A. Holliway, the day watchman, and the office boy, whose name is Alonzo Mann.

Q. Was the front door locked? A. No.

Q. Where was Holliway? A. By the time clock on the second floor, his usual place.

Q. Were Holliway and the office boy the only persons there? A. From all I remember.

Q. Do you remember that any one was back about the machinery? A. I don’t know of any one being there.

Tells of Employees’ Arrival.

Q. How long after you arrived was it before others came in? A. I don’t know exactly, but think it was about half an hour. Several persons came in for pay envelopes. One man came in for his son’s envelope and another for his step-son’s envelope. One was Jimmy Graham’s father.

Q. Was it a half or a whole holiday? A. It was Memorial Day and the factory force had been granted a whole holiday. The office force was to report for the handling of orders.

Q. Did any girls come in for their pay envelopes? A. Nettie Smith got hers and her sister’s.

Q. Did you wait on them? A. Yes.

Q. Were there any others in the office at the time? A. I don’t remember.

Q. Was there a clerk in the office? A. The place of the clerk is vacant, but it was being taken by one of the salesmen, Herbert Schiff. I do not remember whether or not he was at the office at the time I paid Nettie Smith.

Q. Was Schiff in the office at the time you paid these envelopes? A. No, sir.

Q. Who occupies the outer office? A. The stenographer.

Q. Was there any one in the outer office at the time? A. I don’t know.

Q. Who is the stenographer? A. Miss Eubanks.

Q. Do you know her given name? A. No.

Describes Morning’s Work.

Q. How long after you went there before some one else connected with the place came in? A. About half an hour.

Q. Who was it that came in? A. Mr. Darley, Wade Campbell and several others.

Q. Can you tell us what you did during the morning? A. Went over the mail and took up various matters with the managers and made up some orders.

Q. Then what did you do? A. Went to the manager’s office.

Q. What time was that? A. About 10 o’clock.

Q. Did any one go with you? A. No.

Q. What did you do before this? A. I talked several minutes with Darley and Campbell.

Q. Did you do anything at all on the financial sheet? A. No.

Delves Into Business Details.

Coroner Donehoo here questioned Frank at length on each detail of his work in the office at the factory during the forenoon of Saturday, April 26, and as to the manner the financial sheets and cost sheets of the company were made up.

Coroner Donehoo asked:

“Did you make out the financial sheets Saturday?” A. Yes.

[ The following is a continuation of Leo Frank’s questioning from a later news article on the next day, Tuesday May 6th, 1913.—Ed.]

Q. In your own handwriting? A. Yes.

Q. When did you make it out? A. Saturday afternoon.

Q. What date would that sheet bear? A. Thursday.

Q. Why didn’t you make it out Thursday? A. Didn’t know the pay roll.

Q. Why didn’t you make out the financial sheet in the morning? A. There were too many other things to be done.

Q. How many orders were there on April 26? A. I think about eleven.

Q. Did you go to Montag Brother’s Saturday? A. Yes.

Q. How long were you there? A. Until about 11 o’clock.

Denies Drinking With Darley.

Q. Did any one go with you? A. No.

Q. Didn’t Mr. Darley go down to Cruikshank’s and have a drink with you? A. No.

Q. Who was at the office when you returned? A. Miss Hall, the stenographer, and the office boy.

Q. How old is the office boy? A. About 15 or 16.

Coroner Donehoo asked Frank:

Q. After Mary Phagan left Saturday, did any one come into the office? A. Yes, there was one person whom I have not mentioned up to this time. In fact, I did not remember it until I had thought over the matter considerably. I knew that he had been in the office, but could not recall until a day or two ago the exact time.

Visited by Lemmie Quinn.

Q. Who was this? A. Lemmie Quinn.

Q. Is this the first occasion you have thought of it? A. No, I have thought of it several times.

Q. What did he do? A. He came into the office and said: “Good morning.” He said: “You see you can’t keep me away from the factory even on holidays.” I merely said: “Yes,” or something like that. He said he saw I was, quite busy, or that he wouldn’t detain me or something like that. Then he went out.

Q. What were you doing at the time he came in? A. Transcribing orders.

Q. What time was he there? A. About 12:25.

Q. How long after the girl had been there? A. Nearly fifteen minutes.

Q. Where did Quinn go? A. He went out of the office and I heard his footsteps die away.

Q. You do not know whether he went out of the building or not? A. No.

Frank said that he was busy in the office until the time that Miss Hall, the stenographer, and the office boy left at 12 o’clock, with the exception of the time that he went to Montag Bros. and obtained some orders. Upon his return he said that he handed the orders to Miss Hall, who sent out postcard acknowledgments of the orders and returned the orders to him.

Phagan Girl Came In.

Frank was positive that Miss Hall and Alonzo Mann left the office at 12 o’clock, as he heard a whistle blow at that time. Frank was then interrogated as to the time Mary Phagan came after her money.

Q. Did any one else come in after Miss Hall and Alonzo Mann left?—A. About 12:10 the little girl who was killed came in.

Q. Was any one with her when she came in?—A. No.

Q. Did you hear her talk to any one as she came in?—A. No.

Q. How did she announce herself?—A. I think she asked for her pay.

Q. How did you get her pay envelope?—A. I asked her what her number was.

Q. Do you remember her number?—A. No.

Q. Have you looked up her number since her death?—A. Yes, but I don’t remember what it was.

Q. Did she say anything else?—A. Yes, as she was going out she stopped, turned and asked me if the metal had come.

Q. Did you check the pay roll after paying her?—A. No. We never do that.

Q. Where was she when she asked about the metal?—A. She was in the outer office near the door.

Q. Did she call back as an afterthought? A. It seemed like an afterthought.

Q. What was the amount of the envelope? A. One dollar twenty I think.

Q. How was it made up? A. She had worked part of the Friday, part of the Saturday and part of the Monday previous.

Q. Do you remember how the pay was given her? A. I do not remember the denominations, as the envelopes were sealed.

Frank on Witness Stand 2

Photograph of Leo M. Frank, showing Chief of Detectives Lanford and Chief Beavers on either side.

Heard Steps Die Away.

When she in to her pay, that disturbed your work, did it not? A. Yes, for a minute or two.

Q. Where did she go when she left the office? A. I heard her footsteps dying away.

Q. Did you know her name? A. No, but her face was familiar.

Q. How was she dressed? A. I don’t remember.

Q. Was her dress light or dark? A. What I saw of it I think it was light.

Q. Did she wear a hat? A. I don’t remember, but think she did.

Q. Was it straw? A. I couldn’t say.

Q. What did she do with the money? A. I don’t know.

Q. Did you notice whether she had a parasol or not? A. I don’t remember seeing one.

Q. What time did she come in? A. I don’t know exactly; it was 12:10 or 12:15.

Q. How long did it take you to pay her? A. Two minutes.

Q. How did you identify her? A. Just took her number.

Q. Was her name on the envelope? A. I don’t remember, but it should have been.

Said He Heard Girl’s Voice.

Q. Did any one else come in between 12 and 12:15? A. No, but as she went out I heard a girl’s voice as Mary was walking down the steps. I don’t know what she said. I just heard a girl’s voice talking.

Q. Don’t you remember that you made an entry on the pay roll after paying her? A. No.

Q. Had the metal of which Mary Phagan spoke come at that time? A. I don’t think it has come yet.

Q. How does it get to the factory? A. On a dray.

Q. How do you know when it comes in? A. The chief clerk checks it in.

Denies Sending Girl Back.

Q. Do you know off-hand when that metal comes in? A. Yes, and in this instance particularly, because we were short.

Q. You are sure you didn’t send the little girl back to see whether it had come in, are you? A. I did not.

Q. Did you ask Schiff about it? A. No, because I would know about it.

Q. How do you fix the time that she came in as 12:10 or 12:15? A. Because the other people left at 12 and I judged it to be ten or fifteen minutes later when she came in.

Q. Were you out of the office from the time the whistles blew at 12 until the time that Mary came in? A. No.

Q. Was Quinn foreman of the tipping plant? A. Yes.

Thinks He Left Plant.

Q. Did Mary work under him? A. Yes.

Q. How was Quinn dressed? A. I don’t remember.

Q. Had he been working Saturday? A. No.

Q. Did he have on overalls? A. No, he was dressed up.

Q. Had he been working all the week until Saturday? A. Yes.

Q. What on? A. Fixing machinery and the like. There was some metal that he could work on.

Q. Did he go down stairs when he left your office? A. I don’t know but I think he went out. I heard his footsteps die away.

Q. How old is Quinn? A. He is 25 or 30.

Q. How long has he been with the National Pencil Company? A. Three or four years.

Q. Is he married? A. Yes.

Q. What time was it when he left? A. About 12:25.

Q. What were you working on when Quinn left? A. Getting ready to go to work on the financial sheet.

Q. Do you remember what papers you got together? A. One of them was a production sheet.

Q. How much is there of that? A. It is a big sheet 14×30 inches and shows the whole week’s production.

Q. Anything else? A. I looked over it for some time to see if it was correct.

Q. You hadn’t left the building since Miss Hall left about 12 o’clock? A. No. About 1 o’clock I got ready to go home and found Arthur White and Harry Denham and Mrs. White up stairs. I told them that I was going home to lunch and they said they would stay and finish work. Mrs. White said she wanted to go. I afterward went down, put on my coat and went out.

When Did Watchman Leave?

Q. What time did the day watchman go? A. I don’t know exactly.

Q. When you went upstairs how long did you stay? A. About two minutes.

Q. When you came back what did you do? A. Put on my coat, locked the door and went out.

Q. Did you lock any other door except your office door? A. No.

Q. What time did you leave the building? A. A trifle after 1 o’clock.

Q. Doesn’t the day watchman stay on duty until the night watchman comes on? A. Yes, usually, but Saturday was a holiday. I work nearly every Saturday, anyhow, and I thought my being there was sufficient.

Q. Do you know Walter Pride? A. Yes, he is the oldest employee of the pencil company.

Q. Who pays him off? A. Mr. Schiff.

Q. What time does he usually leave on Saturday? A. He usually does extra work on Saturday cleaning up in the gluing department.

Q. What did Walter Pride do Saturday? A. Nothing that I know of.

Q. Did you see him? A. No.

Q. Does he get extra pay for doing this work? A. I think he gets a round sum of so much per week.

Q. Did you excuse him Saturday? A. No, I haven’t seen him for two weeks.

Q. Is the front door usually locked or open when Walter is there? A. It is generally open.

Q. Then any one could go in there at any time and you would not know it? A. Yes.

Q. Has it ever been true that you were alone there before? A. Yes.

Q. Where did you go after leaving the building? A. Up Forsyth Street to Alabama. I think it was a Washington Street car.

Q. Do you remember any one on the car? A. No.

Q. Where did you get off the car? A. Georgia Avenue and Washington Street.

“Straight Home.”

Q. Where did you go then? A. Straight home.

Q. Whom did you see at your home? A. My mother-in-law and wife were going to the matinee of the grand opera and had eaten their lunch. My father-in-law and myself ate lunch together.

Q. Who served the lunch? A. The servant.

Q. What did you do after eating? A. Lit a cigarette and lay down to take a nap.

Q. Who was there at the time? A. My father-in-law went down to the back yard to look at the chickens.

Q. Did he come back before you woke up? A. No. I got up and left before the came back.

Q. How long were you asleep? A. Only a short time. I hardly went to sleep at all.

Q. What time did you leave home? A. It must have been about 10 minutes of 2 o’clock.

Q. Did you see any one when you left the house? A. Yes. I saw Jerome Michael and his mother and walked up to Glenn street and spoke to them.

Q. Did any car pass you going to town? A. No.

Q. What care did you catch—at what time? A. It must have been the 2 o’clock car.

Q. Did you know any one on the car? A. Yes, a cousin of my wife’s, Mr. Loeb.

Q. Where did you leave the car? A. The streets were blocked on account of the parade and I got off at Hunter Street and walked.

Q. Did you speak to any one on Hunter Street? A. No. I walked down to Whitehall Street and saw the parade.

Met an Employee.

Q. Where did you go then? A. Down Whitehall Street toward Brown & Allen’s.

Q. Did you meet any one you knew? A. Yes, in front of Rich’s, I met one of our foreladies, Miss Rebecca Carson.

Q. Did she go with you? A. No, she was with some one and I merely spoke to her and went on down to the corner of Whitehall and Alabama and bought some cigars and a package of cigarettes.

Q. Do you smoke cigars or cigarettes? A. Sometimes cigars and sometimes cigarettes.

Q. Where did you go next? A. To the factory.

Q. Where did you cross Forsyth Street? A. I don’t remember.

Q. Did you unlock the door? A. Yes.

Q. What time was it? A. I don’t know exactly, but about 3 o’clock.

Q. What did you do then? A. Went up to see about the two men I had locked in. They were fixing to go home. I told them I was back and then went to the office. A few minutes later I heard the bell on the clock ring and these boys came in. White borrowed $2 from me, and I remember I joked him about needing money so soon after pay day and he replied that his wife had robbed him that morning.

Q. How did you know it was White’s wife when you went upstairs before leaving for lunch? A. Earlier in the day she was in the office and told me that she was White’s wife and wanted to see White. I told her to go upstairs and see him.

Q. I thought you said there were no outsiders there? A. That’s right—it is true that she was there.

Q. How long does it take to make the financial statement? A. About an hour and a half. It took longer on Saturday on account of Thursday’s entries not having been made.

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, May 5th 1913, “Leo Frank on Witness Stand,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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