Lemmie Quinn Grilled by Coroner But He Sticks to His Statement

Lemmie Quinn Grilled by Coroner but he Sticks to his Statement

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

L. A. Quinn was called to the stand. He lives at 31B Julliam street, he said, and is foreman of the metal department at the National Pencil factory. Mary Phagan worked in his department, he said. The last time he saw her was on the Monday preceding the murder, he said. She left the plant about 2 o’clock that Monday, said he. That was earlier than usual, but she left because the metal with which she worked had run out and she wanted to hurry to the matinee. He didn’t know any of her intimate friends, said he. She worked with Helen Ferguson and Grace Hix and Magnolia Kennedy, said he, and Henry Smith and John Ramey also worked in that department.

He worked on Friday, April 25, until 5:30 o’clock, said Quinn. He got his pay and left with the understanding that he would come to work on Monday.

The next morning, Saturday, he got up about 7 o’clock. Later he went uptown with his wife to get a picture made of their baby. Then they went back home. He came up town again, said he. He was stopped there, and questioned closely about hours and minutes.

He left home about 9:30 o’clock, he said. He and his wife and baby went straight to Kuhn’s photograph studio. They were there about ten minutes, he said.

They stopped next at the Globe Clothing company’s store on Whitehall street, said he, and talked for a while with some friends of his in there. He named them. He and his wife were there about five or ten minutes. They went from there down to a meat market in the next block south and bought some meat, staying there about five minutes. Farther down the street they stopped in at a soda water stand and bought some soft drinks. They arrived home about 11:15 o’clock. He remained in the house about thirty minutes. He left there about 11:45 o’clock, for town again, to get to the market before it closed, so he could buy some supplies for Sunday. He bought some meat and vegetables on that trip, said he. He could not describe the man he bought the meat from. He bought the vegetables first, from a man about five feet eleven inches tall, 165-170 pounds in weight, clean shaved. The man seemed to be a foreigner. He looked like an Italian.


From the meat market he went to Benjamin’s pharmacy and bought some cigars from a man named Pounds. He arrived there at a few minutes after 12 o’clock. He went on up Whitehall, left on Hunter street, to Forsyth, and then to the pencil factory. There was nothing unusual about him going to the factory on holidays, said the witness. He did so often. He wanted to speak to “Mr. Schiff” on this occasion, said he. He found the front door unlocked. He did not see Mary Phagan. He got there some time between 12:20 and 12:25, said he.

He was asked how he observed the time so minutely.

He figured it on the time he left home, said he.  He knew he left there about 11:45 o’clock, because he looked at his watch several times while he was at home. He walked to town, up Pulliam to Garnett, to Whitehall, and so to the market. It took him about 10 or 15 minutes to make the walk. It was pretty close to 12 o’clock when he got to the market, said he. He did not remember looking at his watch after he left home. It didn’t take him long to buy the meat and vegetables. He bought 40 cents worth of steak. He was waited on immediately. It took him about ten minutes, however, he said, to buy the vegetables. He wasn’t around the market longer than ten or twelve minutes. He stopped two or three minutes in Benjamin’s on the corner. The walk from there to the factory took about five minutes. He went straight to the office. He didn’t go anywhere else. He didn’t remember hearing the noon whistles blow.


He found Mr. Frank in the latter’s private office. They exchanged “good mornings,” he said. “Is Mr. Schiff in?” Quinn said he inquired. “No, I don’t suppose he will be down today,” Quinn said Mr. Frank replied. “You see you can’t keep me away even on holidays,” Quinn said he remarked to Mr. Frank. He said that Mr. Frank answered, “Yes,” and laughed, and nothing else was said. He was there in the office about two minutes, said he. He wasn’t positive about the exact time. He didn’t think it could be as early as 12:15 when he arrived there. It could have been between 12:20 and 12:35, he admitted.

“Could it have been as late as 12:30 o’clock?” he was asked.

“It could have been, but it wasn’t.”

“Why are you so positive?”

“Because I was somewhere else at 12:30,” the witness answered.

He continued that when he left the factory he stopped to talk with “Mr. Maulsby” at Mr. Maulsby’s place of business two doors from the factory. He offered Mr. Maulsby a cigar. Maulsby told him “those girls are in the restaurant,” and he answered “I know it; I saw them when I came up.” He told the names of two young women, one of whom was then a bride and the other of whom still worked in the factory.


Mr. Quinn said that he thought Miss Corinthia Hall is at the pencil factory this Thursday. The Miss Hall he saw at the undertaker’s establishment was a stenographer at Montag Brothers, and not Miss Corinthia Hall, he said.

The witness said that his purpose in going to the factory Saturday was to see Mr. Schiff and talk baseball with him. He had been accustomed to drop by the factory often on Saturdays and holidays, he said.

Mr. Quinn said that after leaving the factory he met the young ladies—Miss Hall and Mrs. Freeman—at the Busy Bee café, at the corner of Forsyth and Hunter streets.

In reply to a question from the coroner, he said that he thinks Mrs. Freeman is at the factory this Thursday.

Mrs. Freeman, who is about seventeen years old, had been married the day before—Friday—he said. Mr. Quinn said that he wanted to chat with her about the wedding. They remained in the café only a few minutes, he said, all three leaving together. Mr. Quinn said that he went to DeFoor Brothers pool parlor, getting there about 12:30, and chatted with the proprietors until about 1:15.

The coroner at this point asked Mr. Quinn if he knew May Barrett.

He replied, “Yes, she is employed in the varnishing department of the pencil factory.”


In response to a question, Mr. Quinn said that it takes him about fifteen minutes to walk from his home to the pencil factory.

Going back to his visit to the pool room, Mr. Quinn said that after chatting baseball with the proprietors, he went to the Atlanta theater to buy a ticket.

Here Mr. Quinn said in response to a question that he knows John Rainey.

Just after he had bought his ticket at the theater, Mr. Quinn said, he saw Cliff Dodgen, an employee of the theater. The witness said that he didn’t remember exactly where his seat in the theater was, but thought it was on the ninth row, in the center aisle. No one that he knew sat near him that he remembered, he said.

The witness said in reply to the coroner’s question that Mr. Frank wore a brown suit Saturday.

Mr. Quinn said that he went to the factory about 9:30 o’clock Sunday morning. He met Mr. Darley and Ed Montag, an officer of the factory there, he said, and they went in the basement together.

The witness said that he heard of the murder about 9 o’clock Sunday morning when he went to a soda water stand near his home. Officer Payne and the men in charge of the stand were discussing it, he said, and told him. Mr. Quinn said that he gathered from the description given him then that the victim must have been Helen Ferguson. He was told that her first name was Mary, he said, and asked if the last was Phagan. The soda water man recalled it then.

The witness said that he then went to the undertaker’s establishment and looked at the body.


He said that on Sunday afternoon he saw Mr. Frank at the undertaker’s. Mr. Frank wore a blue or a black suit then, he said.

Mr. Quinn denied that he had told Officer Payne or Detective Starnes that he hadn’t been to the factory since Friday.

He declared that when he had talked with Detective Starnes and Campbell at the rear door of the factory he had not stated that he hadn’t ben to the factory since Friday.

Mr. Quinn was asked about the white material used in his department. It was known as “hascolene,” he said, and was used as a lubricant for the machines. It came shipped in barrels, he said.

The witness said that on Tuesday or Wendesday in the detectives office, he recalled his visit to Mr. Frank on Saturday and that Mr. Frank remembered it readily. He told Mr. Frank, he said, that if it would do any good to mention his visit he would tell of it. Mr. Frank suggested that he mention it to his lawyer first, the witness said.

At this point Mr. Quinn, in response to a question, again denied that he had told Officer Payne or Detective Starnes or Campbell that he hadn’t been to the factory since Friday.

The witness said that he knew Miss Grace Jones and that he thinks she has been at the factory since the tragedy. He hadn’t accompanied Miss Jones from the factory; he said, and had not seen her since the tragedy, except on the fourth floor of the factory. He had talked to her there, he said, to see if she would not come to work in his department in case there were a number of vacancies that were anticipated. Mr. Quinn said that he didn’t remember discussing the Phagan case with Miss Jones.

Mr. Quinn said that he paid the Colemans a visit of consolation on Thursday. He went, he said, at the suggestion of Mr. Darley and Miss Magnolia Kennedy and because he thought he should go. His visit was purely one of consolation, he said.

Coroner Donehoo then asked Quinn:

“Did you ever tell Mr. Coleman (Mary Phagan’s stepfather) how Frank acted toward the girls in your department?”

“No, sir.”

“Did you ever tell Mr. Coleman how you treated the girls?”

“Yes, I told him I had always tried to make the girls feel at home. Frequently in fixing their machines, I would tell them to ‘Get out of the way and let papa fix it.’ I told Mr. Coleman how jolly Mary was—about a remark she made once: ‘Yes, you look like papa!”

“Do you know a man named Barrett?”


“You never mentioned to him that you went to the pencil factory that Saturday?”

“No, sir.”

“When was the first time that you told anybody that you had been up there Saturday?”

“I told my father the next day, on Sunday. I didn’t tell Chief Lanford or any of the detectives until last Monday.”

“Why did you withhold that information?”

“I wasn’t asked about it.”

“You didn’t consider it your duty to tell unless you were asked?”

“No, I didn’t want to be dragged into it any sooner than necessary.”

“State what else you know, that you have retained.”


“You are not withholding anything then?”

“No, sir, nothing.”

“You say it was your duty to come down and see Mr. Frank after his arrest?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you consider it your duty to protect Mr. Frank?”

“No, sir.”


He was asked if his pay went on while he called upon Mr. Frank at the jail, and said yes. Answering further questions, he said that now and then he got away for matinees, etc., but that his pay went on, that he wasn’t docked for absences. He was asked about his call at the jail.

“You came down and recalled your visit to Mr. Frank. Did he tell you to keep quiet about it until he had told his lawyers?”

“No. He remarked that he was going to tell his lawyers.” He said that Mr. Frank remembered his having been there, but did not remember the time of the visit until his attention was called to it.

“Why did you volunteer this information to Mr. Frank and not to the detectives?”

“I knew he couldn’t question me for three or four hours and the detectives could.”

“Did Mr. Frank consider it advisable that nothing be known about this?”

“No, sir. Mr. Frank didn’t ask me not to tell about it. I didn’t volunteer to tell it, because I expected to be asked every day.”

“Why didn’t you want to be questioned?”

“I knew they had three or four men holding them here, and they could hold me if they wanted to, as I had been in the building on Saturday.”

Other questions intervened, and then the coroner asked:

“Did you go out to Mrs. White’s yesterday?”

“No, sir; I don’t know Mrs. White.”

“Arthur White’s wife—you know Arthur White?”

“Yes, but I never have been out to his house.”

Quinn was excused from the stand at this juncture.

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Atlanta Journal, May 8th 1913, “Lemmie Quinn Grilled by Coroner But He Sticks to His Statement,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)