Phagan Trial Makes Eleven “Widows” But Jurors’ Wives Are Peeresses Also

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 10th, 1913


Eleven widows were made in Atlanta in a day without the assistance of the Grim Reaper, a trip to Reno, pallbearers or affinity stories in the newspapers.

And there is but one drop of consolation in their cup. When they were made widows they automatically became peeresses, for which privilege many American girls have caused their fathers large sums of good American money and themselves heartache and their pictures to be printed between the story of the rabbit that chased the boa constrictor and the life narrative of Sophie, the Shop Girl, who in a night became a stage star.

They also had the satisfaction of having their husbands officially proclaimed good men and true, which they may have questioned when the pay envelope was brought home with $10 missing and unaccounted for, just as all wives have questioned.

They’ll Be Brides Again.

If there is any balm in it, the widows know that it will not be long before they can doff their weeds and once more don their bridal gowns. Their husbands will return to them just as soon as they have decided whether or not Leo Frank is guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan.

For it is due to the fact that their husbands are jurors that Atlanta had eleven widows made in a day, that eleven peeresses were added to Atlanta’s list and that eleven wives had the glory of hearing their husbands called “good” without suspecting there was hidden meaning in the compliment.

The peerage and the official compliment as to character and $2 a day are the emoluments of a juror of Georgia. A juror in the Frank case gets a little more. He gets his keep, a place to sleep, and a deputy sheriff to keep him out of trouble, read his letters, inspect his laundry and keep him company during all his waking hours.

Scant Solace for Widows.

The emoluments are considerable, but how about the widows?

Men must work and women must weep to the tuneful accompaniment of the doleful mourning of the harbor bar is the first thought.

But there is some solace in the lot of the eleven Frank case widows.

Not every woman can know the thrill of widowhood and at the same time have absolute assurance that she is not going to remain in single blessedness the rest of her life.

And then there’s no disputing the fact that they are peeresses. A juror is given his coronet when he takes his oath of office. Of course, in a criminal case he is usually paid the doubtful compliment of being termed the peer of a safe cracker, a short change artist, a blind tiger operator, or a gentleman skilled in the art of getting good money on bad paper, but just the same the juror is a peer. And just the same Mrs. Juror is a peeress.

Only One Single Juror.

In the rapid selection of the Frank jury, it was remarkable that but one single man was selected to decide a mystery that has puzzled the master minds of the Atlanta detective bureau for more than three months. The State probably wanted married men, who would sympathize with the mother robbed of a daughter’s life. The defense probably wanted married men who would sympathize with the wife of the accused and his mother. Single men are supposed to be as lacking in the natural supply of the milk of human kindness as a laughing hyena. The single man on the jury looks like he’s married. Probably that’s why he was accepted by both sides.

And when they held up their right hands and swore to “well and truly try, etc.” without objection to the split infinitive, the eleven “good men and true” were as completely divorced as if the judge had ordered them to pay alimony and had forbidden another marriage in a year’s time.

The divorce pro tem. has been absolute. The widows cannot speak with their husbands. Nobody else can for that matter except a court attache.

Deputy Reads All Mail.

Writing them is practically prohibited. Every letter mailed a juror has to be read by a deputy sheriff and properly censored by him before it reaches the eyes of the trial man.

And what wife would like to call her beloved “snooky” and have a deputy sheriff first assimilate the tenderness of the term? What wife would like to write for $8.67 to pay the butcher bill and have a deputy sheriff become thus acquainted with the condition of the family larder and the connubial purse?

She may kiss the clean collar when she sends it to him every day, but what assurance has she that he will not think that the Chinaman has bungled in his work?

She may send him a pair of freshly darned socks, but how does she know that the deputy will not see a mysterious message in the needle work, and appropriate the hosiery to his own pedal purposes?

No, there are eleven new widows in Atlanta, but there is no doubt but there are eleven new peeresses. The only trouble is, no one can marry any of them for their titles.

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Atlanta Georgian, August 10th 1913, “Phagan Trial Makes Eleven ‘Widows’ But Jurors Wives are Peeresses Also,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)