Negro Lurking in Factory Seen by Wife of Employee

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 2nd, 1913

Mrs. Maggie White, wife of John Arthur White, who was at work on the fourth floor of the National Pencil factory part of the day upon which Mary Phagan was killed, was the first witness the state called to the stand Thursday morning in the Frank trial.

The witness told of going to the factory twice on that day to see her husband, and of seeing Frank on both occasions, and also of seeing a negro lurking behind some boxes on the first floor.

“How long has your husband been working for the National Pencil factory?” Solicitor Hugh Dorsey asked after the usual questions as to her identity.

“About two years,” she replied.

“Does he still work there?”

“Was he at the factory on April 26, and at what time?”

“Yes, he was there; I left home to go there about 7:30 in the morning. I saw him there when I first went there about 11:50, and when I came back at 12:30 he was still there.”

“Who else did you see there?”

“Miss Corinthia Hall, Mr. Frank, Miss Emma Freeman and two men whose names I do not know; all were in Mr. Frank’s office when I first saw them.”

“How long did you stay the first time?”

“About twenty minutes.”

“Did you talk to Frank?”

“Yes; I asked to see my husband.”

“What did he say?”

“He asked me if I were Mr. White’s wife.”
“What else did he say, if anything?”
“He said he thought as much, as I looked like the Campbells. My father, E. S. Campbell, and my brother, Wade Campbell, both worked there,” she explained.

“How long had they worked there?”

“About two years.”

“What did Frank say after that?”

Saw Her Husband.

“He told Miss Freeman to go after Mr. White, and my husband came down to see me.”

“Where did you see your husband?”
“On the second floor, near the foot of the stairs.”
“How long did you talk to him?”

“About fifteen minutes.”
“What did you do then?”
“I went out.”

“What time did you come back?”

“About 12:30.”

“Why do you use the word ‘about’?”

“Well, I looked at the clock and read the time as 12:30, but there might have been a minute’s difference.”

“Did you see Frank when you came back the second time?”


“What then?”
“He jumped when I went into his office and spoke to him.”

“What did you do then?”

“I went upstairs to see my husband.”

“Who was with him?”

“Harry Denham.”

“Where were they?”

“On the fourth floor of the building, about middle way down.”

“What were they doing?”

“Hammering on one of the machines.”
“How many were using hammer?”
“One of them.”
“Did you hear the hammering?”


“As I got to the fourth floor.”

“How long was the noise?”

“Just like the sound of a hammer hitting a piece of iron.”
“What did you ask Frank after he jumped?”
“I just asked if my husband and Mr. Denham had gone back to work, and he said they had.”

Had to Repeat Question.

“How often did you ask him?”

“I asked him twice.”

“Why did you repeat the question?”

“Because he asked me to.”

“Did you see Frank again that day?”

“Yes, he came up to the fourth floor.”

“What did he come up there for?”

“He came up about 1 o’clock and told my husband that if I wanted to leave the building before 3 o’clock that I had better go then, as he was going out to lunch.”

“What time did you leave?”

“It was about 1 o’clock.”

“Do you think it was just before or just after one?”

“Just before one.”

“How do you know?”

“I stayed there about a half hour, and then I was somewhere else at 1 o’clock.”

“Where did you go?”

“I went to McDonald’s furniture store on West Mitchell street, four or five blocks away.”
“I got there a few minutes after 1.”

“How much before 1 was it when you left the factory?”

“It was about 10 minutes to 1.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Well, Mr. Frank said I’d better leave if I wanted to get out of the building before 3 o’clock.”

“Did you see him again?”

Saw Frank in Office.

“Yes, when I came down I saw him sitting at the table in his office.”

“Which office was he in?”
“The outer office.”

“Hadn’t he said he was going as soon as he got his hat and coat?”

“Did you see anyone else?”

“Yes, I saw a negro behind some boxes as I came down the steps.”

“Where and at what time was that?”
“It was on the first floor, close to the stairway that goes up to the second floor, and at about 10 minutes to 1.”

Mrs. White when outlined, at the solicitor’s request, upon the cross-section drawing, her movements on that day in the factory, and in doing so declared that her husband and Denham were nearer the front of the building than she had first thought.

Rosser Cross-Examines.

Mr. Rosser then took up the cross-examination for the defense. By a series of questions he made the witness declare that she was rather indefinite about the time on the various occasions of which she testified.

“Did anyone come upstairs where you were talking to your husband besides Mr. Frank?”

“Yes, Mrs. May Barrett and her daughter and Miss Hall and Miss Freeman.”
“Who left first?”
“Mrs. Barrett and her daughter left and then the other two ladies.”
“You went to the factory about 12:30 the second time?”

“Was Frank standing in front of the safe?”
“Was the safe door open?”

“How close were you when you spoke to him?”

“I came right into the office and spoke to him.”
“Didn’t you surprise him by speaking suddenly?”
“I don’t think so.”

“What happened then?”

“He told me to go up and see my husband.”

“Did Frank say when he came up there that if you wanted to get out before 3 that you had better go pretty soon, as he was going in a few minutes?”

“Yes, that’s about it.”
The attorney for the defense was evidently trying to convince the jury that Frank had not been especially anxious to get the woman out of the building right away.

“As you got down the steps you saw a darkey there?”

“Between the foot of the stairway and the door?”


On his own blue print of the factory the defending attorney then had the witness point out her various movements that day in the factory building, and she was allowed to come off the stand after having been testifying for about half an hour.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 2nd 1913, “Negro Lurking in Factory Seen by Wife of Employee,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)