Many Men Swear to Good Character of Superintendent of Pencil Factory

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 15th, 1913

Classmates and Instructors at Cornell Come to Atlanta to Testify to His Clean Life While at College and to Show Their Loyalty to Old College Friend.


Judge Warns Them That Another Scene Like That of Wednesday, When Mrs. Rae Frank Denounced Solicitor, Will Result in Barring Them—Leach Proves Good Witness for the State Although Called to Testify by Defense

More witnesses were examined Thursday than on any day since the trial of Leo M. Frank began.

However, there was little adduced from the testimony that was of striking interest or that savored of the dramatic.

For the most part the day was taken up with character witnesses—men who have known Frank for years and who have volunteered to swear to his good character.

The only incident of the day that was in any way dramatic came at the morning session, when Solicitor Dorsey asked that Mrs. Rae Frank and Mrs. Leo Frank, mother and wife of the defendant, be removed from the court room. This was the result of the passionate outburst of Mrs. Rae Frank the day previous. Judge Roan gave warning that there must be no more such demonstrations.


The feature of the day was the loyalty with which Frank’s classmates and instructors at Cornell university flocked to his aid in his time of trouble. Several of them had not seen him since he was a beardless youth. Around him hovered the memories of other and happier days before the real business of life, leading into strange and untried paths, had begun. They remembered him in the first flush of young manhood.

How different the scene yesterday! They saw him the center of a gaping crowd—the observed of all observers—a man charged with an awful crime.

But that mattered little to them. The span of intervening years was forgotten. He was the Leo Frank other days—quiet, studious, retiring. He was their friend; and no matter what opinion the casual spectator might entertain of the guilt or innocence of the man, this one touch of human sympathy of man for man—quiet, unobtrusive and for that very reason eloquent—was not without its appeal.

The sordid surroundings lost some of their grimness as witness and prisoner gripped hands silently or spoke the few simple words of greeting. Between friends—real friends—what is more eloquent than the simple hand clasp and the level look that seems to say, “God bless you.”


Sig Montag, president of the National Pencil factory, was on the stand at the morning session. He stated among other things, the details of the employment of the Pinkerton Detective agency and on cross-examination the fact was brought out that the bill of the agency had not been paid.

Charley Lee, an employee of the pencil factory, admitted on cross-examination that his wages had been raised since the murder of Mary Phagan.

At the afternoon session Mrs. Emil Selig, mother-in-law of Frank, testified to the card game which took place at her house on the night of the murder. She said Frank was in the hall reading a magazine and from time to time seemed to be very much amused.

The state endeavored to show by this witness that Mrs. Leo Frank had not visited her husband at the police station for some ten days after his arrest. Mrs. Selig was of the opinion that her daughter went to see him Thursday following the crime but she was not certain of this fact. She denied that she had raised the wages of Minola McKnight, her cook, who made a sensational affidavit following the murder and explained she had merely advanced her some money which had been repaid.

The evidence regarding Mrs. Frank’s visits to the jail was ruled out.

Harry Denham, an employee of the pencil factory testified that he had waited there on Memorial day from 7:30 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock that afternoon, that during that time he had not heard the elevator running.


J. R. Leech, superintendent of the Georgia Railway and Electric company, proved an important witness for the state, although cited by the defense. He testified that cars frequently got into town ahead of time. Solicitor Dorsey brought this out to rebut the testimony of Motorman Matthews who testified as to the time Mary Phagan arrived in town Memorial day.

The major part of the testimony during the day was of little material value.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 15th 1913, “Many Men Swear to Good Character of Superintendent of Pencil Factory,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)