Girl Asked for Mary Phagan’s Pay But Was Refused by Frank

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Miss Helen Ferguson, formerly employed at the National Pencil factory, but now working for Marcus Loeb and company, was the first state witness put on the stand Saturday morning.

She proved to be a li[t]tle girl in short dresses with her hair hanging in two braids down her back. Her age she gave as sixteen. On the stand she was rather timid and answered questions in an almost inaudible voice, but replied positively to each one. She was only kept on the stand about fifteen minutes.

For two years previous to the murder she declared that she had been working for the National Pencil factory.

“Did you see Frank on April 25, the Friday before the murder?” the solicitor asked after the usual introductory questions of her age and identity.

“Yes,” she replied.

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Dr. J. W. Hurt, Coroner’s Physician, Gives Expert Testimony

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

Atlanta Journal
August 2nd, 1913


On Cross-Examination, Dr. Hurt Admits That Cabbage Is Considered Very Difficult to Digest and That Under Some Conditions as Much as Three Hours and a Half Might be Required Before the Process of Digestion Was Completed


He Found No Evidence of Violence, He Declared — Detective Waggoner, Chief Beavers, Detective Bass Rosser, Patrolman Lassiter and Miss Ferguson Testify — Court Adjourns Until Monday Morning at 9 o’Clock

Dr. J. W. Hurt, coroner’s physician, who examines the body of little Mary Phagan, was the principal witness introduced by the state at the Saturday morning session of the Frank trial. Dr. Hurt’s expert testimony was the subject of fierce contention between the lawyers for the defense and the state. Attorney Reuben R. Arnold succeeded in drawing from the physician testimony to offset that given on Friday by Dr. H. F. Harris. While Dr. Harris testified that he found evidence of violence of some sort having been committed, Dr. Hurt declared he did not find any evidence that would show a criminal attack of nay [sic] kind.

Dr. Hurt further admitted, in answer to Mr. Arnold’s questions, that cabbage was a difficult article of food to digest and that under some circumstances it might require three and one-half hours before the process of digestion was complete. This testimony was brought out by Mr. Arnold fro the evident purpose of disputing Dr. Harris’ conclusion that the state of digestion the cabbage was found in showed that Mary Phagan must have been killed within a half hour or forty-five minutes after eating.

When court convened Miss Helen Ferguson was cal[l]ed to the stand and testified that Frank refused to let her have Mary Phagan’s pay on Friday afternoon, the day prior to the murder, and that she was told by some one in Frank’s office that Mary would have to come to the factory Saturday and draw her own pay. Attorney Rosser drew from the witness on cross-examination the admission that she had never before drawn the Phagan girl’s pay and that she didn’t know whether Frank knew her name or not.

R. L. Waggoner, one of the city detectives, was next called and told of how Frank twisted his hands on Tuesday, April 29, at the National Pencil factory. The witness said that he accused appeared at the window of his office twelve times in a half hour and each time twisted his hands and looked down as if he was in a very nervous state. Detective Waggoner said that he had been sent there to watch Frank and the factory prior to the accused’s arrest.

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Defense Threatens a Mistrial

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 2nd, 1913

Newspaper on Judge’s Desk Causes Protest


A genuine sensation was sprung at the trial of Leo M. Frank Saturday morning when Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold, attorneys for the defense, asked the State to consent to a new trial on the ground that Judge Roan had allowed the jury to catch a glimpse of a headline in the first extra of The Georgian.

Judge Roan had laid the paper on the stand in front of him, and, according to the defense, the headline across the first page could be read by the men in the jury box.

The headline said: “State Adding Links to Chain.”

The defense’s lawyers went into immediate conference with the judge, and a few minutes later asked Solicitor Dorsey to consent to a new trial. The Solicitor refused.

Rosser Asks Explanation.

Rosser and Arnold then came into the courtroom and asked that the jury be withdrawn.

Rosser addressed the court:

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Leo Frank Answers List of Questions Bearing on Points Made Against Him

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Monday, March 9, 1914

Stated That He Was Willing to Reply to Any Questions That Might Be in the Mind of the Public, and Asked to Answer Any Such That Might Be Propounded to Him.


Asserts That Very Fact That He Admitted He Had Seen Mary Phagan on the Day of the Murder, Thus Placing Himself Under Suspicion, Was Proof in Itself That He Was Innocent of Crime.

Probably the most interesting statement yet issued by Leo M. Frank in connection with the murder for which he has been sentenced to hang, is one that he has furnished to The Constitution in the form of a series of answers to questions which were propounded to him bearing on the case.

These questions were prepared by a representative of The Constitution who visited Frank at the Tower last week.

“Ask me any questions you wish,” Frank told the reporter.

In accordance with that, the reporter wrote out a list of questions which, he asserted, comprised the most salient points the prosecution had brought out against him, and to each of these Frank has given an answer.

Here Are Questions.

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The Leo Frank Trial: Week Two

jim-conley-340x264Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

The trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its second week 100 years ago today. Join us as we delve into the original documents of the time and learn what the jurors learned.

by Bradford L. Huie

THE EVIDENCE that National Pencil Company Superintendent Leo Frank had murdered 13-year-old child laborer Mary Phagan was mounting up as the second week of Frank’s trial began in Atlanta, and passions were high on both sides as star witness Jim Conley (pictured) took the stand.

The attempt to frame the innocent black  night watchman, Newt Lee, had failed, despite 1) the “death notes” left near the body implicating him, 2) the bloody shirt planted in his trash barrel, and 3) the forged time card supposedly showing that he had left his post for several hours the night the murder was discovered. Although no one of significance suspected Lee at this point, the defense would still try to attack the medical testimony that placed the murder near midday on April 26, and would introduce Lee’s second alleged time card, provided by Frank, purporting to show that Lee had many hours unaccounted for on the night of the 26th and the early morning hours of the 27th of April.

Newt Lee’s testimony of Frank’s peculiar behavior that afternoon and evening was compelling. Another African-American was about to become pivotal in this case: factory sweeper Jim Conley would testify that he had helped Frank by keeping watch while Frank “chatted” with Mary alone in his office, and by assisting Frank in moving her body to the basement after she was accidentally killed. Conley was about to become central to the defense’s case, too — they would allege that Conley was the real killer. (For background on this case, read our introductory article, our coverage of Week One of the trial, and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.) Continue Reading →