Holloway Corroborates Mincey’s Affidavit

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 15, 1913


Watchman Remembers of Visit of Witness to Factory on Day of Crime.

Further corroboration of several of the important details in the remarkable affidavit of W.H. Mincey, insurance agent and teacher, who swore he heard Jim Conley confess killing a girl, came Tuesday in a statement by E.F. Holloway, day watchman at the National Pencil Factory.

Holloway substantiated in every particular the story of Mincey’s visit to the factory the Tuesday following the crime and recalled the general trend of the conversation, which was practically as Mincey related it in his signed statement published exclusively in The Georgian Monday. The defense has obtained an affidavit from Holloway as to the circumstances of the day.

“I remember Mincey coming here Tuesday,” said Holloway. “He was a quiet, retiring fellow, and I guess we scared him out. There were a lot of people in the factory, and the excitement after the murder was at its height. Several detectives were there and there were a score of people bothering the detectives and the factory authorities with their theories on the killing.

Wanted Negroes Arrested.

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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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Conley Star Actor in Dramatic Third Degree


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

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 31st, 1913

In all the grim annals of Atlanta’s criminal history an illiterate negro, Jim Conley, stands out to-day the principal figure in one of the most remarkable and dramatically impressive “third degrees” ever administered by the city police.

A chief of police, ordinarily stolid and unmoved, and chief of detectives and members of his force, a Pinkerton operative—all men in daily touch with every sort of crime and evil—hung with tensest interest on each word as it came from the lips of the negro, and watched, as wide-eyed as any tyro in man-hunting, the negro’s every move as he re-enacted Friday afternoon what he steadfastly asserted was his part in the ghastly Mary Phagan tragedy.

Factory Men Look On.

Dumb under the spell of the drama in which Conley played a triple role—first in his own personality, then as Leo M. Frank, and, finally, as the young girl victim—two employees of the factory listened to the damning accusations that unconcernedly, almost glibly, were made against their superintendent. They were Herbert Schiff, chief clerk, and E. F. Holloway, the timekeeper.

Both had reckoned Frank innocent. They had said many times that he could not have committed the shocking deed. More likely, they had declared, it was the negro himself. Yet here they were the spectators of a grewsome performance in which Frank was represented as nervous and shaking and half in a panic as he directed the carrying of Mary Phagan’s limp and lifeless body to the elevator on the second floor of the factory and down into the dark and dirt-strewn basement. Continue Reading →

Detectives Seek Corroboration of Conley’s Story

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 29th, 1913

They Declare That They Are Anxious to Get at the Truth of the Murder Case, Regardless of Who Is Guilty

Little if any credence is placed by the city detectives in the theory of the officials and employes of the National Pencil factory that Mary Phagan was killed by James Conley, the newro [sic] sweeper, and that his motive was robbery.

The detectives have accepted as true Conley’s second affidavit, in which he swears that he wrote the notes found by Mary Phagan’s body, and that he did so about 1 o’clock on the day of the murder, at the dictation of Superintendent Leo M. [F]rank, who is now under indictment by the grand jury.

However, they are somewhat puzzled by the discrepancies in the time of certain occurrences as sworn by Conley and testified at the coroner’s inquest by other witnesses.

Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective who is working with the city detectives on the Phagan murder case and who developed the fact that Conley could write, notwithstanding his denials, declared that the shortest route to a complete solution of the mystery is to bring the negro Conley and Superintendent Frank face to face. He says the negro insists that he is anxious and willing to confront Mr. Frank with his story, and that if Mr. Frank and his attorneys agree, they (Conley and Mr. [F]rank) will be brought together to discuss the truth or falsity of the negro’s declarations. Continue Reading →

Conley Says He Helped Frank Carry Body of Mary Phagan to Pencil Factory Cellar


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

Atlanta Constitution

Friday, May 30th, 1913

Helped Frank Dispose of Mary Phagan’s Body Conley Now Confesses

Negro Sweeper Who Swore to Detectives That He Wrote Murder Notes Found Near Dead Girl’s Body Now Admits His Complicity in Case, According to Statements Which Have Stirred Police Headquarters as Nothing Since Murder.


Police and Detective Heads Refuse to Go Into Details of Negro’s Statement Or to Discuss What He Said, But Declare That It Will Prove a Big Factor in the Murder Case—Negro Will Be Subjected to Another Third Degree Today.

Dumbfounding his hearers with the confession that he had helped Leo M. Frank lower the lifeless body of Mary Phagan into the darkness of the pencil factory basement, James Conley, the negro sweeper, is authoritatively said to have made that astounding admission during a strenuous third degree at police headquarters late Thursday afternoon.

He is said to have minutely described the movements of himself and Frank as they packed the mutilated form from the office floor of the building down into the dark cellar, where it was left in the desolate recess in which it was discovered the following morning.

Saying he had found the girl stone dead when he entered the building at 1:15 o’clock with the suspected superintendent, he is declared to have admitted that he and Frank proceeded immediately to remove the corpse, silently and with utmost precaution, to its hiding place in the basement.

Conley Asked No Questions.

Through fear he states he did not ask his employer how the little girl met her death. He is said to have told the police that he asked no questions, carried out Frank’s instructions to the letter, and departed directly after he emerged from the grewsome trip into the basement. Continue Reading →

Burns Joins in Hunt for Phagan Slayer

Burn Joins in Hunt for Phagan Slayer

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 29th, 1913

All Evidence Gathered by His Operatives Sent to the Noted Detective.

James Conley, the negro sweeper at the National Pencil Factory who has turned suspicion on himself with a maze of contradictory statements, was put through a gruelling third degree examination at police headquarters this afternoon. Pinkerton Detective Harry Scott said as the grilling began before Chief Beavers and Chief Lanford that he expected to glean important information. Scott had interviewed factory employees and was convinced that there were many things to be cleared up before the negro’s second affidavit, on which the police rely so much, could be accepted.

With the maze of contradictory statements sweeping an avalanche of suspicion upon the head of James Conley, the negro sweeper, the potent information was unearthed Thursday that Detective William J. Burns personally will take charge of the investigation into the Mary Phagan murder case which his operatives have been conducting.

Despite the published report that Burns operatives had withdrawn from the case, and despite the procedure of the State in prosecuting its case against Leo M. Frank, the pencil factory superintendent, the Burns investigation will continue and from now on be under the famous detective’s direction.

This information came from Detective C. W. Tobie, William J. Burns’ lieutenant, Thursday morning. It tends to show that Tobie, who has had charge of his agency’s investigation here, does not consider the case as closed.

Mr. Tobie went so far as to deny emphatically the published interview with him, in which he was quoted as declaring Frank to be the guilty man. Continue Reading →

The Leo Frank Trial: Week Three

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

The trial of Leo Frank (pictured) for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its third week 100 years ago today. Join us as we break through the myths surrounding the case and investigate what really happened.

by Bradford L. Huie

AS THE THIRD WEEK of the trial dawned, the prosecution had just made its case that National Pencil Company Superintendent Leo Max Frank had murdered 13-year-old laborer Mary Phagan — and a powerful case it was. Now it was the defense’s turn — and the defense team was a formidable one, the best that money could buy in 1913 Atlanta, led by Reuben Arnold and Luther Rosser. And many would argue that the city’s well-known promoter and attorney Thomas B. Felder was also secretly working for Frank and his friends, along with the two biggest detective agencies in the United States, the Burns agency — sub rosa, under the direction of Felder — and the Pinkertons — openly, cooperating with the police, and under the direction of the National Pencil Company. (For background on this case, read our introductory article, our coverage of Week One and Week Two of the trial, and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.)

As the defense began its parade of witnesses, few suspected that the defendant himself, Leo Frank, would soon take the stand and make an admission so astonishing that it strained belief. Continue Reading →

In Loop of Death Dorsey May Have Clue to Murderer

In Loop of Death Dorsey May Have

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 17th, 1913

Noose Found Knotted Around Neck of Mary Phagan Being Carefully Examined by Officers.


Fund Started by The Constitution for Purpose of Bringing Noted Detective to Atlanta Has Reached $1,500.

In the noose found knotted around the throat of Mary Phagan’s lifeless body, Solicitor Dorsey and headquarters detectives aver they possess a valuable clue to the girl’s murderer.

It is being inspected by experts, who also are examining specimens of cord picked up here and there in the factory building in which the child was slain. Expecting to find a knot which compares with that which was used to strangle the victim, detectives are scouring every portion of the plant’s premises.

The knot in the wrapping cord is looped, sailor-fashion, in an inextricable knot. No novice, the sleuths say, could form it so well. When the body was discovered, the noose fitted so tightly around the throat that it had formed a purple trench-like scar in the flesh.

Knot Tied by Professional.

The solicitor and detectives hope to follow up the clue by comparing the death loop with specimens found in the pencil factory. But few amateurs, it is said, outside of professionals in stage craft and aboard ship, are expert enough to tie such an intricate knot as the one with which Mary Phagan was strangled. Continue Reading →

Books and Papers in Phagan Case in Grand Jury’s Hands

Books and Papers in Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 16th, 1913

Two Employes of Pencil Company Appeared Before Grand Jury Friday in Answer to Subpenas [sic]


The Journal Subscribes $100, Mr. Felder Declares a Burns Investigator Will Be Put On the Case at Once

By means of a subpoena duces tecum Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey Friday obtained possession of a number of books and papers of the National Pencil company.

The subpoena was served on Herbert G. Schiff and M. B. Darley, two officials of the pencil company, by Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor, and the two men were ordered to have the papers before the grand jury at 11 o’clock Friday morning for use as evidence in the “case of the state versus Leo M. Frank.”

At that hour Friday morning the grand jury was holding a routine session, and the service of the subpoena occasioned the rumors that the grand jury was ready to go into the case. Continue Reading →

Frank and Lee Ordered Held by Coroner’s Jury for Mary Phagan Murder

Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, who, with Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, was held for the grand jury.

Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, who, with Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, was held for the grand jury.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Sensational Statements Made at Inquest by Two Women, One of Whom Had Been an Employee, Who Declared That Frank Had Been Guilty of Improper Conduct Toward His Feminine Employees and Had Made Proposals to Them in the Factory.


Frank and Lee Both Go on Stand Again and Are Closely Questioned in Regard to New Lines of Evidence and Forced to Reiterate Testimony Formerly Made to Coroner’s Jury. They Will Remain in Jail Pending Action of the Grand Jury.

Leo. M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, suspects in the Mary Phagan murder, were ordered by the coroner’s jury to be held under charges of murder for further investigation by the Fulton grand jury.

With this verdict the inquest closed at 6:28 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Frank and the negro will be held in the Tower until action is taken by the grand jury and solicitor general. The decision was reached within twenty minutes after the jury had retired.

Although much important testimony was delivered at the inquest, probably the most significant was the admission made by Detective Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, and Detective John Black, of headquarters, both of whom declared in answer to questions that they so far had obtained no conclusive evidence or clues in the baffling mystery, and that their only success had been attained in the forging of a chain of circumstantial evidence. Continue Reading →

Lemmie Quinn Grilled by Coroner But He Sticks to His Statement

Lemmie Quinn Grilled by Coroner but he Sticks to his Statement

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

L. A. Quinn was called to the stand. He lives at 31B Julliam street, he said, and is foreman of the metal department at the National Pencil factory. Mary Phagan worked in his department, he said. The last time he saw her was on the Monday preceding the murder, he said. She left the plant about 2 o’clock that Monday, said he. That was earlier than usual, but she left because the metal with which she worked had run out and she wanted to hurry to the matinee. He didn’t know any of her intimate friends, said he. She worked with Helen Ferguson and Grace Hix and Magnolia Kennedy, said he, and Henry Smith and John Ramey also worked in that department.

He worked on Friday, April 25, until 5:30 o’clock, said Quinn. He got his pay and left with the understanding that he would come to work on Monday.

The next morning, Saturday, he got up about 7 o’clock. Later he went uptown with his wife to get a picture made of their baby. Then they went back home. He came up town again, said he. He was stopped there, and questioned closely about hours and minutes.

He left home about 9:30 o’clock, he said. He and his wife and baby went straight to Kuhn’s photograph studio. They were there about ten minutes, he said. Continue Reading →

Frank of Nervous Nature; Says Superintendent Aide

Frank of Nervous Nature Says Superintendent Aide

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

The inquest was resumed at 2:40. Only a small crowd was present.

Miss Hattie Hall, stenographer for the Pencil Company, was called.

She said she had been connected with the company since December 4.

From a pile of papers taken from the factory records, Miss Hall identified a number that were written by herself. She said she did not think she could identify Frank’s writing. Miss Hall selected eight letters that she had written. She said she didn’t know how long it had taken her to write the letters.

Miss Hall looked at the cash book and the book containing the financial sheets and said there was nothing in them she had done on April 26.

Couldn’t Identify Writing.

Coroner Donehoo did not explain his interrogation of the witness along these lines. He appeared very anxious to know just what work she had done on the day of the murder, and instructed her to be careful in identifying her own writing. Several questions were asked her regarding Frank’s handwriting, but she insisted that she could not identify it. Continue Reading →

Quinn, Foreman Over Slain Girl, Tells of Seeing Frank

Quinn, Foreman Over Slain Girl

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

L. A. Quinn, foreman of the department of the pencil factory in which Mary Phagan worked, testified as follows:

Q. What is your business?—A. Machinist.

Q. Did you know Mary Phagan?—A. Yes.

Q. What is your department?—A. Metal department.

Q. What department was she in?—A. Same.

Q. When did you see Mary Phagan last?—A. The Monday before the murder.

Q. Do you know her associates?—A. I know some who talked with her—girls.

Q. Any boys in that department?—A. Henry Smith and John Ramey.

Q. Were they thrown together?—A. All were working in the same room.

Q. When did you leave the factory?—A. Friday. Continue Reading →