Mayor Woodward Reported Caught by the Dictograph Seeking Police Evidence

Mayor Woodward Reported

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

The little dictograph cunningly hidden in Detective Colyar’s room in the Williams House No. 2 is said to have caught a conversation between Mayor James G. Woodward, Secretary G. C. Febuary of the detective department and Edward Miles, Wednesday afternoon, between 3 and 4 o’clock.

Detective Colyar who drew Attorney Thomas B. Felder into the conspiracy was also present at the interview. Colyar sent Miles to the private office of Mayor Woodward in the Empire building, with an invitation that he examine affidavits which Colyar alleged to have in his possession charging police graft.

Mayor Woodward admitted to The Constitution, Friday night, that he went to the room designated by Miles. He charges that Colyar tried to induce him to agree to pay $1,000 for certain information in documentary form which Colyar declared was sufficient to convict the heads of the police department of corruption in receiving money for protections from disorderly houses.

Mayor Had No Money to Give.

They were the only ones who spoke about money, Mayor Woodward said “I told them that if they were looking for money from me I had none to give, but I suggested that if they would make out a list to show just what evidence they had to give there would be no trouble getting up the money to extend the investigation.”

Detective Colyar visited Mayor Woodward’s office in the city hall one day last week, according to Frank Hammond, the mayor’s secretary. He explained that he wanted to see the mayor on important business, and when informed that he would have to wait he became impatient, and declared that there was more red tape in getting to the mayor than to the president of the United States.

“Colyar left word that he had some importance [sic] evidence that he wanted to give me,” Mayor Woodward continued. “I sent word out that if he could not wait to see me to fix a time when I could see him. That was the last I saw or heard of him until Wednesday afternoon.

Police Graft Affidavits.

“I was sitting in my office in the Empire building Wednesday afternoon when Ed Miles came to see me. He said that Colyar sent him over to say that he had some affidavits to show that there was graft in the police department. He suggested that I go over to the Williams house with him and discuss the matter with Colyar.

“I remember that Secretary Febuary was in the room with Colyar when we entered. I am not absolutely certain but it seems to me that Colyar started the conversation by remarking that Febuary had turned up some affidavits against someone in the police department. He said that they showed that houses were paying for protection. I am not certain Colyar mentioned the name of Beavers or Lanford. I am not sure whether he mentioned either one but I am sure he connected the police department with graft.

“Colyar said that Febuary had secured the evidence and that the only thing they were afraid of was that he would lose his job in the police department. I told Colyar that if the evidence was sufficient to convict I was sure that the people of Atlanta would see to it that he was not discharged.

$1,000 Was Needed.

“Colyar said that it would take $1,000 to put the deal through. I presume he meant getting the evidence. I told him that if it was sufficient to convict I did not think there would be any trouble getting the money passed up to pay the expenses. I let them know mighty plain that they were not going to get any money from me.

“The first time I laid my eyes on Colyar I was not impressed with him. He talked about getting other affidavits and mentioned something about transferring them in DeKalb county. That part of it sounded ridiculous to me because a felony is a felony no matter where it is committed and I figured that if they were going to pull of something crooked they might just as well do it in Fulton as in any other county because the laws are all the same.

Apparently Miles was not interested in what I said for he left the room and in a few minutes Colyar got up and said I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Mayor is Not Worried.

Mayor Woodward says that he does not know whether the dictograph was worked on him. He declares that he is not worried and would much rather have the record produced and printed than to be forced to make a statement himself.

“I don’t think anyone in Atlanta will believe that I am controlled by Thomas B. Felder or anyone else,” Mayor Woodward said discussing Felder’s statement. “Nor will anyone believe that he controls Judge Roan, Solicitor Dorsey or anyone else. Colonel Felder will probably contradict that statement. I am sure that he did not give such an utterance.”

Asked to relate the conversation he had with Colonel Felder Monday afternoon regarding the evidence contained in the affidavits, Mayor Woodward said,

“Colonel Felder came to my office and told me that his men in hunting evidence in the Phagan case ran into evidence to show that disorderly houses were operating under police protection. He said that the man he had working on the Phagan case was getting $6 a day and explained that he could not take one of the other men from his forces to work on the graft investigation.

Evidence is Documentary.

“I told him that if the evidence was positive and sufficient to convict there would be no trouble in my opinion in getting up the money. He said that the evidence was in documentary form and was sufficient to convict. That was the substance of our conversation.

“As to the statement that Charles C. Jones was with Colonel Felder when he came to my office Monday afternoon, that is not true. Colonel Felder was alone. Mr. Jones came in afterwards. I understand that he was attending the session of council. He came in only for a minute.”

Charles C. Jones of 127 North Pryor street corroborated the last part of Mayor Woodward’s statement. He said that he was at the meeting of council Monday afternoon and did not speak to Mayor Woodward until near the end of the session.

Saw Felder Coming Out.

“I had some business in the mayor’s office and left council chamber to attend to it. As I was entering the mayor’s office I saw Colonel Felder coming out. Our conversation was casual and had absolutely nothing to do with this matter.

“I have been drawn into this affair although I had nothing to do with it.

“Ed Miles came to me and informed me that Colyar wanted to see me. Miles said that he had some affidavits which would interest me. I went to the room in the Williams house No. 2 next to the city hall in the evening. I am not sure what day it was but can find out later by refreshing my mind. Colyar was there. He said that he had something which would interest me. I asked him what it was. He spoke about money and I told him that he had better see the mayor.

“He asked me if the police had not asked for money and if Chief Beavers had not given me a raw deal. I told him that I did not pay the police anything nor did I charge those things against Beavers or any member of the police department. Colyar grew impatient and said to Miles, ‘Oh, it’s no use talking to him. He has no confidence in me.’

“I told Colyar that I had no business with him that I had not sought the interview and had visited him in his room simply because I had been informed by Miles that he (Colyar) had something to offer me that I was interested in. Colyar left saying that he would see me the next day. I have not seen him since that time.

Jones believes that he was inveigled into Colyar’s room for the purpose of having him involve himself.

“If they have the dictograph record it’ll show what I said.”

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Atlanta Constitution, May 24th 1913, “Mayor Woodward Reported Caught by the Dictograph Seeking Police Evidence,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)