Negro is Not Guilty, Says Factory Head

Negro is Not Guilty Says Factory HeadAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Superintendent Leo M. Frank Is Convinced Newt Morris Was Not Implicated.

Owing to a delay in receipt of metal shipment part of the plant of the National Pencil Company had been shut down for most of the week and Mary Phagan worked but part of the time. A few minutes after 12 o’clock Saturday she went to the office and drew her pay, which amounted to $1.60.

A holiday had been given the employees on Memorial Day and there were but very few about the place. The day watchman left shortly before 11 o’clock, while clerks in the office left at noon. Two young men worked on an upper floor until a few minutes after 3 o’clock, while Superintendent Leo M. Frank was the only one connected with the firm, who was about the place during the afternoon.

Frank’s Story.

“It was about 10 or 15 minutes after 12 o’clock when Mary Phagan came to my office and drew her pay,” said Mr. Frank. “The regular pay-day is Friday, but there are always a few of the 170 employees who do not call until Saturday afternoon. I was in an inner office on the second floor and handed the girl her envelope. She went out through the outer office and I heard her talking to another girl. While I could not swear that they went out of the building I am quite sure they did for I would have noticed any one moving about the building.

“Shortly before 1 o’clock I went to the upper floor and told the two young men there that they had better go. They said they wanted to finish their work and I told them they would have to leave or I would have to lock them in. They asked what time I would be back and I told them 3 o’clock. They decided to continue their work and I left, locking the door behind me. I returned shortly after 3 o’clock and a few minutes later they left. Harry Denham and Arthur White were the two young men.

“The night watchman, Newt Lee, had been ordered to report about 4 o’clock as it was a holiday and the day watchman had been allowed to get off. He came in at this time and I told him he might go out and come back about 6 as I would be there until that time.

“He came back about an hour later and I prepared to leave. As I was leaving a former employee, John Gantt came in and wanted to get a pair of shoes which he had left on the top floor. I told Newt to go up with him and get them, and then left.

Check On Watchman.

“I have been in the habit of calling up the night watchman to keep a check on him, and at 7 o’clock called Newt. He said everything was all right. I asked him if Gantt had gotten his shoes and he replied that he had, and had left immediately afterward. I did not communicate with him any more.

“I thought I heard my telephone ring sometime about 3 or 4 o’clock Sunday morning, but decided it was a dream and did not answer it. It was some time later when the detectives called me up and informed me of the finding of the child. Since learning of the tragedy, I believe it was Newt attempting to get me over the telephone when I decided I was mistaken about hearing the telephone ring.

“That it was some one beside the negro who committed the murder is my belief, for the negro is a good man and I have never heard of him getting in any trouble or being offensive in any way to any of the employees.

“I am not very familiar with the employees in the shop, as there is a constant changing and I was not brought in direct touch with them. I did not recall Mary Phagan very well, but remember handing a pay envelope to her Saturday afternoon.”

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “Negro Is Not Guilty, Says Factory Head,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)