Tragedy, Ages Old, Lurks in Commonplace Court Setting

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

Outwardly Quiet and Singularly Lacking in Excitement, Frank Trial is Enactment of Grim Drama.

By JAMES B. NEVIN.

One of the most commonplace things in the world—crime—is riveting the attention of Atlanta and Georgia to-day.

Crime is almost as commonplace as death—and yet death, in a thousand ways, never is commonplace at all.

If I were a stranger in Atlanta and should walk into the courthouse where Leo Frank is being tried for the murder of Mary Phagan, doubtless I should be utterly astounded to discover what I had walked into.

That pale-faced, slight, boyish-looking party over there—the one sitting beside the massive frame of Luther Z. Rosser and the well-groomed person of Reuben Arnold—I should be shocked, I am sure, to learn that he stands charged with one of the blackest, most inhuman and most unspeakable crimes in all Georgia’s somewhat long and varied catalogue of crime.

Yet that is the truth—Leo Frank is answering to the charge of the Grand Jury, and he has pleaded not guilty.

Crime and wrongdoing began, of course, when Mother Eve, through no motive other than curiosity, and without malice aforethought, either expressed or implied, bit a small and toothsome morsel from the first apple.

Cain performed the first murder not so very long afterward.

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Lee’s Quaint Answers Rob Leo Frank’s Trial of All Signs of Rancor

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

By L. F. Woodruff

A page was ripped from a story of Harris Dickson. “Old Reliable” was paraded in the life in as somber a setting as was ever conceived and the temper of the audience that is following the fortunes of Leo Frank through his struggle for life and liberty was revealed.

Some sinister things have been said of the spirit of Atlanta in reference to the trial of the pencil factory superintendent as the slayer of Mary Phagan. It was whispered once that the law would not be allowed to take its course, but that, those who believe Frank guilty would take vengeance as their own.

And, on the other hand, it has been said in sotto voce that the purses of Frank’s friends would be opened to the last penny to see that he receives a verdict of acquittal.

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Defense Wins Point After Fierce Lawyers’ Clash

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

STATE TRIES TO SHOW GIRL WAS STRANGLED ON THE SECOND FLOOR

Here are Tuesday’s important developments in the trial of Leo M. Frank on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory, Saturday, April 26.

Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the pencil factory, leaves the stand after four hours and forty minutes of examination and cross-examination with the essential points of his story unshaken.

Efforts to discredit the negro’s story result only in showing several discrepancies in the story he told before the Coroner’s jury and his testimony on the stand at the trial.

All attempts to confuse Lee by telling him that the stenographer’s report of the inquest has him making slightly different statements met invariably with his declaration that “they didn’t get it right down there.”

L. S. Dobbs, police sergeant, testifies to the finding of the body of the Phagan girl and says that Lee had a ready interpretation of the two notes when they were found by the dead body.

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Frank Jury

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Here is the Frank jury complete:

A. H. Henslee, 74 Oak street; salesman.

F. V. L. Smith, 481 Cherokee avenue, manufacturer’s agent.

J. F. Higdon, 108 Ormewood avenue.

F. E. Winburn, 213 Lucile avenue, claim agent.

A. L. Wisbey, 31 Hood street, cashier of the Buckeye Oil Company.

W. M. Jeffries, a real estate man, with offices at 318 Empire building.

Marcellus Johemming, 161 James street, a machine shop foreman with offices at 281 Marietta street.

M. L. Woodward, cashier King Hardware Company, 182 Park avenue.

J. T. Osburn, an optician for A. K. Hawkes, was chosen from the fifth panel to be the ninth juror.

D. Townsend, 84 Whitehall Terrace, cashier Central Bank and Trust Corporation, tenth juror.

W. S. Medcalf, 136 Kirkwood avenue, circulation man.

C. J. Bosshardt, pressman, employed by Foote & Davies, 216 Bryan street.

Mary Phagan’s Mother Testifies

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Newt Lee Repeats His Story in Court Room

Negro Watchman Swears Frank Acted Oddly Day of Crime

Here are the important developments in the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan.

Jury chosen at 1:30 p. m.

Mrs. Coleman, girl’s mother, takes stand after recess, at 3:15, and tells of Mary leaving for the factory 11:45 a. m. on April 26.

George W. Epps, boy companion of Mary Phagan, repeats his story that he had an engagement to meet her on the afternoon of the fatal day.

Newt Lee, night watchman at the factory, begins his story of the finding of the body and subsequent developments.

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of murdered Mary Phagan, was the first witness for the prosecution at the trial of Leo Frank Monday afternoon. After answering several questions she broke down completely when the solicitor exhibited the little lavender skirt worn by her daughter when she last saw her alive. She covered her face with a fan and for several minutes could not answer a question.

The first question asked her was:

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Frank, Feeling Tiptop, Smiling and Confident, is Up Long Before Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Frank was escorted from the Tower to the courthouse shortly after 6 o’clock in the morning, nearly three hours before the trial was schedule to begin. This was done to avoid the curious crowd which it was expected would be about the courthouse and thronging the corridors at 9 o’clock.

Frank was up and dressed and freshly shaven when Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner appeared before his cell at the early hour.

“How are you feeling this morning Mr. Frank?” the deputy inquired.

“Tip top, only, I’m mighty hungry,” replied Frank.

Exhibiting the same poised confidence that has characterized him through three months since he was locked in a cell in the county jail, the young factory superintendent chatted freely with Miner on the way to the courthouse.

Sure He Will Be Freed.

He was attired in a natty light gray mohair suit and wore a fancy gray tie. His face was fuller and he appeared slightly heavier than when he was arrested shortly after the murder of the Phagan girl. He seemed cheerful and in the best of health.

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Jury Complete to Try Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Wife Helps Prisoner Pick Men to Try Him

All in Readiness for Real Trial to Begin After Short Recess

Events on the opening day of the trial of Leo M. Frank, accused of the slaying of Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory, moved with such unexpected swiftness that it was apparent that the trial proper would be under way and the first witnesses called before the close of the first day’s session. The jury had been completed by the time recess was taken at 1:30.

After a few preliminary clashes between the opposing attorneys which presaged a bitter struggle when the fight for Frank’s life actually was begun, the court settled down to the selection of the jury. The whole morning session up to the recess was occupied with the examination of veniremen.

All the force of attorneys at the table for the defense watched with keen eyes every man examined and frequently referred to a voluminous r[e]cord containing the names of all the veniremen and detailed statements of their history and associations so far as these might have a bearing on their desirability as jurors to pass on Leo Frank’s guilt or innocence.

The keenest interest was manifested by those in the crowded little courtroom as the strategies of the brilliant lawyers were revealed during the examination.

State Had Veniremen’s Records.

The thoroughness with which the Solicitor and his assistants had canvassed the history of every venireman and had investigated whether or not he had ever expressed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused was demonstrated when W. W. Hemmett, a salesman for the Kingsbury Shoe Company, was being examined as to his qualifications.

“Have you ever said you thought Frank was guilty?” Mr. Dorsey inquired.

“No, I never have,” replied Hemmett.

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Venire Whipped Into Shape Rapidly; Negro Is Eligible

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Within a minute or two after Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor had called the court to order the examination process was applied to the venire panel of 144 men. From each panel of twelve one or more men were excused after being asked the formal questions and furnished a sufficient reason to bar them.

J. H. Jones, Deputy Clerk, called the names. F. W. Stone, No. 82 East Linden street, was excused on account of illness. R. F. Shedden was refused on an excuse of military exemption. Only one man was excused from the first twelve men.

H. R. Calloway, of No. 691 Piedmont avenue, first of the second panel, was not served. F. A. Hull, No. 180 Grant street, was excused on account of his age, 20 years. T. J. Henderson, No. 25 Woodson street, was excused as opposed to capital punishment. J. A. McCreary, No. 78 East North street, was excused because of his residence in Dekalb County, J. F. Patterson, of College Park, was excused on account of deafness. Five were excused from the second panel.

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Brewster Denies Aiding Dorsey in Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Colonel P. H. Brewster has written The Georgian a letter correcting a statement in The Sunday American. The letter quotes the report that Colonel Brewster had aided Mr. Dorsey, and proceeds:

“Where such information could have been obtained I can not understand, since it is absolutely false.

“I have had nothing whatever to do with the Frank case. My advice has not been even sought as to any question involved in the case, nor have I volunteered it, and I have prepared no briefs on any phase of the case. Mr. Dorsey, the Solicitor General, is fully competent to meet every demand his office imposes on him, and I do not wish the impression to be made that he leans on me or others, nor that I am interested in any way in the prosecution of Mr. Frank.

“The statement made in your Sunday issue is unjust to me, to the prosecution and the defense, and therefore I trust you will at once correct this statement.”

Frank Watches Closely as the Men Who are to Decide Fate are Picked

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

This newspaper article is a continuation from the first page of an Atlanta Georgian newspaper. The first page is missing from our archives. If any readers know where to obtain the first part of this article, we would appreciate any help! Thank you!

[…] Mary Phagan by strangulation. This was followed by the request of the defense that the State’s witnesses be called, sworn and put under the rule.

The prosecution opened by announcing its readiness to go on with the trial and called the list of witnesses. Bailiffs brought them down from the second floor. In regular order called, their names were: Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan; J. W. Coleman, the girl’s stepfather; George Epps, newsboy; L. S. Dobbs, policeman; W. W. Rogers, bailiff for constable; L. S. Starnes, detective and also prosecutor on the indictment; Pat Campbell, detective; Grace Hicks, girl who identified Mary Phagan’s body; J. M. Gantt, once held for inquiry, now supposed, to be a star witness for the prosecution; Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective; R. P. Barrett, pencil factory employee; B. P. Haslett, policeman; M. [sic] V. Darley, factory employee; W. A. Gheesling, undertaker that cared for the girl’s body; Dr. Claude Smith, City Bacteriologist; Dr. H. F. Harris, member of the State Board of Health; Dr. J. W. Hurt, Coroner’s physician; E. L. Parry, court stenographer; E. S. Smith, Monteen Stover, girl employee at pencil factory; Minola McKnight, cook at Frank’s home; Albert McKnight, Minola’s husband (McKnight did not appear in court); Helen Ferguson, Mrs. Arthur White, wife of factory employee, and L. Stanford.

Agree on Conley Affidavits.

Attorney Reuben Arnold asked concerning the duces tecum that he had served on the State’s attorneys for the affidavits of Jim Conley and others. On the promise of Solicitor Dorsey that he would produce the affidavits whenever needed the duces tecum was waived.

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Work of Choosing Jury for Trial of Frank Difficult

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Veniremen Searchingly Examined by Both State and Defense

Slightest Objection Used to Disqualify—Attorneys Shrewdly Gauge Candidates from Every Angle.

In the selection of the twelve men to comprise the jury which will try Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan, one of the bitterest contests of the great legal battle which begins Monday is anticipated.

That counsel for both the defense and State will probe deep into the character of each of the men drawn from the venire of 144 who take the stand for examination for jury service in this case is certain. The attorneys will endeavor to unearth in the character of the prospective juryman such traits as they may believe favorable or unfavorable to their case.

The slightest objection will be used to disqualify the man from becoming a member of the deciding tribunal. Under the cross-examination of such skilled lawyers as those who will appear in the Phagan case no iota of information which will tend to sway the verdict will remain concealed to to be carried into the jury box and fight against the delivery of justice.

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Trial to Surpass in Interest Any in Fulton County History

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

No murder trial in Fulton County ever has approached the spectacular interest which is in prospect in the Frank case from the first, sharp skirmish between the opposing attorneys, through the long, bitter legal battle, and to the final pleas of the prosecution and the defense.

The presence of Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold in the brilliant array of legal talent at once made certain that the trial would be out of the ordinary. Neither has the reputation of making a half-hearted fight when there is anything at stake. This time it is a man’s life that is depending upon their legal ability, their shrewdness and their eloquence.

Both have a disconcerting habit of carrying the fight to their opponents. In ring parlance, they do not give their courtroom rivals a chance to “get set.” This is going to keep the spectators constantly on the edge of expectation, and will furnish a series of exciting incidents that will give the Frank trial a place by itself in the criminal annals of Georgia.

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Phagan Case of Peculiar And Enthralling Interest

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

As Leo Frank faces to-day the ordeal decreed by law that for man’s life, man’s life shall pay, interest in his case that has held Atlanta, Georgia and the South enthralled for three months has diminished not a whit since the Sunday morning the body of the little factory girl was found.

Wise judges of news, men who are paid thousands of dollars each year for their knowledge of the fickleness of the public, men who can time to the second the period when interest dies in one thing before the public eye to be born anew in another, have for years contended that no single item of news can sustain its interest longer than one brief week.

And yet for three months the public has read of Mary Phagan’s death and the quest for her slayer and their demand for this news has been insatiable.

That the vaunted insight of these news experts is as shallow as the mirror reflection of a beauty of the stage is the thought that common logic first presents.

The insight of these experts has not been at fault. On the contrary, it has been sustained. For in the mystery veiling the death of Mary Phagan and the trial of Leo Frank as her slayer, a more varied array of things that interest, thrill, horrify, shock and make men think is presented than in any one case developed since typesetting machines made the modern newspaper possible.

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Public Demands Frank Trial To-morrow

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Old Police Reporter Sees No Cause for Delay

Either Side Asking Postponement Will Reveal Weakness, as Time Has Been Given for Preparation. Conley Is Center of Interest.

Defense Must Break Story of Negro or Face Difficult Situation. State Will Base Case on Chain of Circumstantial Evidence.

By AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

The defense in the case of Leo Frank would have made a mistake, if current street comment counts for anything, had it decided to move for a continuance of the case to-morrow.

Indeed, the fact that the defense even was suspected of an intent to move for a continuance—righteously or otherwise—has not had a happy effect upon the public, even if it has not, on the other hand, served particularly to prejudice the case.

The people want the Frank case tried. I think there is no mistake about that.

And when it was rumored that it might be postponed, with the consent of the defense, even if not of its own motion, more than one person in Atlanta, even those inclined to be friendly to Frank, began, more or less impatiently, to ask themselves, WHY?

If the State is sure of itself, why delay? If the defense is sure of itself, why delay?

If either is not sure of itself, why, then, it must be because the one not sure of itself has a weak case. Thus reasons the public.

Leo Frank is guilty or he is not guilty.

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Defense Claims Conley and Lee Prepared Notes

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Theory Is That Watchman Surprised Sweeper Attempting to Dispose of Body and Entered Into Pact.

An amazing chain of evidence, laying bare the mystery of the two notes found beside the body of Mary Phagan, which have proved the most baffling of all the facts connected with the girl’s murder, came to light as in the possession of the defense Saturday.

According to the theory of the defense, Conley murdered the girl and was unexpectedly discovered with her body in the basement of the pencil factory by Newt Lee; that the night watchman declared the blame for the murder would be placed upon himself instead of Conley, and that the two notes, laying the blame upon the negro fireman Knoyls, and openly accusing the night watchman of the crime, sealed an agreement of secrecy between Lee and Conley.

Motive of Notes.

The first note, written by Conley, to soothe Lee’s fears, is believed to have been the one reading:

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Every Bit of Evidence Against Frank Sifted and Tested, Declares Solicitor

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Solicitor-General Hugh Dorsey, who will prosecute the case against Leo M. Frank, last night gave the Sunday American the following statement:

Without going into the merit of the State’s case against Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of little Mary Phagan, the possibility of a mistake having been made is very remote.

To say why the State believes Frank to be guilty of this murder would be hurtful, and lay before the defense the evidence we have so carefully guarded.

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Prominent Atlantans Named On Frank Trial Jury Venire

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

The venire of 144 men from which twelve will be selected to decide the fate of Leo M. Frank is considered to be one of the most representative ever drawn from a petit jury box in Fulton County. Prominent among the prospective jurors are Joel Hurt, Dr. E. L. Connally and J. W. Alexander, capitalists: David Woodward, president of the Woodward Lumber Company; George Law, of Law Brothers; R. F. Shedden, of the Mutual Life Insurance Company; Thomas D. Meador, vice president of the Lowry National Bank, and Edwin F. Johnson, advertising man.

The complete jury list is printed below:

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State Bolsters Conley

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Solves Discrepancies of Time

Mistaken Identity To Be Plea

Leo M. Frank Goes to Trial for the Slaying of Mary Phagan Monday, With Both Prosecution and the Defense Confident.

All Preparations Are Made for Big Crowds—Judge Roan to Be on Bench, Despite Recent Illness—Bitter Battle Expected.

Leo M. Frank will go on trial for his life to-morrow forenoon. With the beginning of the great legal battle, hardly more than 24 hours distant, it has been learned that the prosecution has overcome to its own satisfaction the greatest obstacle with which it has been confronted—the reconciling of the negro Conley with that contained in the statements of all the persons who visited the factory and were seen by Conley the day that Mary Phagan was murdered.

The most powerful argument against the truthfulness of the remarkable affidavit in which Conley told of helping Frank dispose of the body of the slain girl was contained in the fact that Conley’s original story in its designation of the time of various occurrences at the factory was in direct conflict with the statements of a number of the factory employees.

Miss Mattie Smith, one of the young women working for the National Pencil Company, told when she was first questioned of leaving the factory at about 9:30. Foreman M. B. Darley walked down the steps with her and said at the Coroner’s inquest that the hour was about 9:30.

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Frank Fights for Life Monday

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Dorsey Ready to Avenge Mary Phagan

Mystery of Months Is Still Unsolved

Most Bitter Legal Battle in History of Atlanta Courts Is Expected—Case Will Probably Last for Weeks.

After three months of mystery in the death of Mary Phagan, a climax is at hand more tense, more dramatic, more breathlessly interesting to Atlanta and all Georgia than any situation of fiction. Leo M. Frank, employer of the little girl whose tragic death, April 26, stirred a State, will be brought to trial Monday on the charge that he killed her.

Frank’s trial is the crowning event of the hundred thrilling circumstances surrounding the tragedy. Whatever the outcome, regardless of Frank’s conviction or acquittal, the incidents that follow the trial will come as an anti-climax. The prosecution has cast almost all its chances for solving the mystery into the case it has prepared against Frank. Its heavy guns are trained against the factory superintendent. It has opposed the indictment of the single other suspect, the negro Jim Conley. The enthralled interest of a public has been pitched about the question: Is Leo Frank guilty?

FRANK DRAMA’S CENTRAL FIGURE.

Even the pitiful figure of the little factory girl, mysteriously slain, has become subordinate in interest to that of Frank. The young man’s own personality, his steadfastly loyal and loving family, his friends who affirm his innocence in the face of a dark suspicion, all have become factors in making Frank the central figure of the crime drama.

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Pinkerton Men Brand Lanford Charges False

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Emphatic denial of the charges by Chief of Detectives Lanford that he had kept bad faith with the city department in connection with the investigation of the murder of Mary Phagan was made by H. B. Pierce, superintendent of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Atlanta, Saturday night.

Chief Lanford’s accusations against the Pinkerton official were mainly that he had withheld evidence from the city police, especially the bloodstained stick and the pay envelope of the Phagan girl, both of which were found by Pinkerton operatives on the first floor of the factory and were later reported in possession of the defense. The Chief intimated that the Police Board would be asked to take action against Pierce personally.

“The stick was submitted to Chief Lanford by myself,” declared Mr. Pierce. “The Mary Phagan pay envelope was shown him by our representative, Harry Scott.

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