Grand Jury Probe of Vice Conditions Finished Thursday

grand-jury-probeAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Jury Adjourned Until Next Tuesday Without Drawing Any Bills—Inquiry Not Likely to Be Resumed, It Is Said


Declares It Dates Back to Case He Made Against Charlie Jones and Was Accentuated by Dictograph Episode

The most interesting testimony given to the Fulton county grand jury Thursday was that of Detective Chief N. A. Lanford, who a few minutes before he was called to the stand had engaged in a near-fight with Colonel Thomas B. Felder.

Chief Lanford is himself authority for what transpired in the grand jury room, where he remained in the neighborhood of a half hour.

“I was questioned principally about vice conditions,” he said, “although a number of questions were asked me concerning the dictographing of Felder and others.”

“Some of the grand jurymen inquired why Felder seemed so bitter toward me. I told them that as far as I knew his feeling toward me dated back several years ago when I made a case against Charlie C. Jones for operating a disorderly house on Jenkins street. Felder was Jones’ attorney in that case.

“I also expressed the opinion that his bitterness had perhaps increased since I made public the dictograph records and certain affidavits showing that he was not duly employed in the Phagan case, and that he was no doubt further embittered by reason of the fact that these publications put a stop to his collection of public subscriptions with which to employ Burns detectives.


“I was asked if vice conditions in Atlanta were better or worse since the segregated district had been wiped out, and I replied that in my opinion conditions were much better. I declared that if the utterance of Charlie C. Jones were to be credited there had been a great improvement, for immediately after the closing up of the district he had published an interview in which he charged that more than 185 places were being operated in various sections of the city. I contrasted this statement with the more recent charges of Hutcheson and Felder which were to the effect that only about thirty places were now in operation.

“I informed the grand jury that both the police and detective departments were doing everything possible to enforce the law and keep down vice, and that it was not a matter of surprise that now and then surreptitious houses would be discovered.


“Referring to the dictographed conversations the grand jurymen asked me how long I had known A. S. Colyar. I replied that I had first become acquainted with him a few days before the dictograph episode, when he came to me and informed me that Felder was seeking to obtain affidavits from the department which he (Felder) declared were framed up by me and my men.

“It was then, I told the grand jury, that the plan to trap Felder was devised. In accordance with this plan I instructed Colyar and G. C. Febuary, my secretary, to open up negotiations with Felder. After these negotiations had proceeded for a few days and Colyar and Febuary had made affidavits to the effect that Felder had offered to pay them a large sum of money for the affidavits and other papers in the Phagan case I arranged through Colyar and Febuary to install the dictograph.

“I explained to the grand jury that I was never present at any of the negotiations and that I had never been to the room in Williams House No. 2, where the dictograph was installed. I also informed the grand jury that the first I had ever seen of the affidavits and dictograph records was when they were presented to me duly sworn to and attested by notaries public.”


At 1:50 o’clock the grand jury adjourned. Solicitor Dorsey stated that no bills of any sort had been drawn.

Foreman L. H. Beck stated that no further meeting of the grand jury will be held until next Tuesday, when it will convene again to take up an accumulation of routine matters in the solicitor’s office, he said. Probably it will be busy with those for two days.

The investigation that had been in progress Thursday, and previously, said he, was concluded—unless some member of the grand jury sought its reopening or continuance. The grand jury, said he, merely was following the charge given by Judge Ellis, to investigate vice conditions.

The grand jury took up no matter, said he, except the vice probe.

When Chief Lanford emerged from the grand jury room Colonel Felder was sitting in the ante-room. The detective chief stopped and stood looking at the lawyer for a couple of moments, the lawyer returning his look. Colonel Felder kept his seat, and the chief turned and walked away. Neither spoke.

Colonel Felder was called into the grand jury room then.

It was said that Chief Lanford had been asked by the grand jurors about the vice situation, and had viewed the matter from the same standpoint as Chief Beavers, declaring that the town is better now than it ever has been before in that regard.


Several bystanders stated that when Chief Lanford and Colonel Felder were on the verge of their difficulty they saw the attorney reach toward his hip pocket.

Chief Lanford demanded that Mr. Felder be arrested for carrying concealed weapons. Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor stated to a Journal reporter that, upon that demand, he searched Colonel Felder in another room, and found no weapon upon him.

Chief of Police Beavers appeared at the court house for a short time, and replied that it is his belief that the grand jury is doing no less and no more than it ought to do—that is, it is showing a determination to get to the bottom truth of the reports and testimony before it that the abolition of the vice districts in Atlanta has proved to be a failure and that the segregation policy should be re-established.

“These enemies who are attacking vice conditions here now will find me standing by every act I’ve done,” said the chief. “I haven’t a thing to undo, and if they attack me myself they’ll find me loaded for bear. I’m not going to stand on any ceremony with any of them.”

Colonel Felder declared, on leaving the grand jury room, that he had absolutely nothing to say for publication.


A. S. Colyar, who became conspicuous locally when the dictograph sensation was sprung recently, was called in next by the grand jury. He was in the jury room only a few minutes. The jury called for Solicitor H. M. Dorsey, who reappeared at the door shortly afterward to announce that the grand jury wanted to examine G. C. Febuary, secretary of the city detective department, and N. A. Lanford, chief of that department, and that all other witnesses were excused until further notice. Mr. Febuary was summoned from police headquarters, and Chief Lanford was readmitted to the jury room.

Chief Lanford left the grand jury room about 1 o’clock, after having been inside for about half an hour.

At 1:30 o’clock Secretary G. C. Febuary, of the detective department, left the grand jury room. All that he would say was that the grand jury had asked him about vice conditions and he could tell them nothing.

Solicitor Dorsey remained in conference with the jury.


It was reported, after the grand jury adjourned, that a tilt had occurred between Solicitor Dorsey and A. S. Colyar while the latter was being examined in the grand jury room.

After Colyar had answered several questions by the solicitor, the witness turned to the solicitor and demanded:

“Who are you?”

“Hugh M. Dorsey, solicitor general of the Fulton superior court, criminal division,” answered Mr. Dorsey, with a smile.

“From your questions, I thought you were Felder’s attorney,” remarked Colyar.


While at the court house, waiting to be called before the grand jury Thursday morning, Colonel Felder announced that on Saturday afternoon he would give out for publication a statement “exposing all the ins and outs and ups and downs” of the recent alleged dictograph episode.

“I’ve got all the facts. I know the whole affair, latitudinally, longitudinally and horizontally,” declared he. “I am going to furnish to the Associated Press and all the newspapers for publication on Sunday morning the real inside of that miserable affair.”

Colonel Felder intimated that he expected to show that A. S. Colyar obtained $500 for the part he played in the dictograph incident, and that the alleged dictograph records were doctored and forged.


The Fulton county grand jury commenced the third session of its probe into vice conditions at 10 o’clock Thursday morning.

While the vice probe was far from complete when the session of the grand jury commenced, witnesses in the famous dictograph controversy were in attendance in the corridor of the grand jury room, and it was expected that this matter would be reached during the day.

The witnesses subpened in the dictograph controversy were Colonel T. B. Felder, who was dictographed; A. S. Colyar, G. C. Febuary, secretary to Chief Lanford, and two representatives of The Journal, which published exclusively the first the first dictograph record and the story of the controversy between Mr. Felder and the police department.

Among the witnesses summoned by the grand jury Thursday in connection with its vice investigation was Eva Clark, the woman Chief Beavers declares Mayor Woodward asked him to permit to move back to her old home, 95 Jenkins street. The Clark woman did not appear, however. She sent a physician’s certificate to the effect that she was ill and unable to answer the summons Thursday.

The grand jury has not as yet entered into the investigation of alleged liquor traffic, either to the ordinary blind tigers, or to the disorderly houses. In fact no systematic investigation of the enforcement of the prohibition law is expected by the present grand jury. J. E. Skags, agent of the Southern Express county, denies emphatically that he was before the grand jury to tell of liquor shipments or anything else in connection with his company’s business.

Mr. Skags was simply a witness to an occurrence, which the grand jury was investigating in connection with its probe of vice conditions and police affairs.

The whereabouts of George W. Gentry, the young stenographer, who took the dictograph records of the alleged conversation of Colonel Felder, Mayor James G. Woodward and Charles C. Jones, is a matter of interest since other witnesses in the dictograph affair have been summoned. Young Gentry disappeared more than a week ago, and while some members of his family admit that they are in communication with him, they refuse to tell either police or reporters where he is. Colonel Felder, however, states that he has located young Gentry, and intimates that the young man has made a sensational affidavit to the effect that much not really said was written, under instructions, into the dictograph record.

Colonel Felder will not say whether or not young Gentry will be produced before the grand jury.

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Atlanta Journal, June 5th 1913, “Grand Jury Probe of Vice Conditions Finished Thursday,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)