Mother Thinks Police Are Doing Their Best

Mary Phagan's mother, Fannie Phagan Coleman (center), with her family in Atlanta, 1902. She holds Mary (right) and another child. Mary Phagan's older sister, Ollie Mae, stands at front left.

Mary Phagan’s mother, Fannie Phagan Coleman (center), with her family in Atlanta, 1902. She holds Mary (right) and another child. Mary Phagan’s older sister, Ollie Mae, stands at front left.

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

Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, May 13th, 1913

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of little 14-year-old Mary Phagan, prostrated with grief for sixteen days following the tragic slaying of her child, took up her household duties Tuesday for the first time, resigned to the calamity that has befallen her home, and relying on the law to avenge the death of her child.

“It was such a beautiful morning,” said Mrs. Coleman to a Georgian reporter, “and I have been able to rest now for three nights, so I felt like doing my work again. My house has been in such a turmoil since this dreadful tragedy. I feel I am helpless and have resigned myself to the sad lot that has befallen us. All we can do is wait, and waiting is a hard task.

No Complaint of Police.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I am complaining about what the officers are doing. It is far better to go slow and be sure that we are doing right than to hurry and make a mistake. I believe that the police and the solicitor are doing everything they can to find the guilty man. They ought to do it; such a crime ought to be punished. But I do not want them to make a mistake.

“I heard that feeling was very strong last week, but I am glad that no hasty action was taken. It might have been all wrong, and I think I would have been grieved as much as anybody.

“We have made many inquiries among our friends and acquaintances and have not found one who saw Mary after 12 o’clock Saturday, when she went to the factory to get her pay. So much seems to depend on that point, and if anyone did see her, he certainly ought to tell about it. It does look like if Mary were on the streets Saturday afternoon, as many friends as we have, some of them would have seen her. We do not believe she ever left the factory.”

Has Read No Reports.

Mrs. Coleman, since her nervous collapse, has not been allowed to read the newspapers, her husband realizing the seriousness of her condition. Since last Wednesday she has had absolute quiet, and Tuesday she resumed her duties with the home, as she expressed it, “to make home like it used to be, if possible.” She declared that only the strength and vigor that has always been hers enabled her to withstand the blow that had befallen her.

“Mary and I were very much alike,” she said, “strong and healthy. Mary would have been 14 years old on June 1, but she was very large and robust for her age. She often passed for 16. Her birthday is nearly here, but it will be so different this year.”

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Atlanta Georgian, May 13th 1913, “Mother Thinks Police Are Doing Their Best,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)