First Two Days of Frank Trial Only Skirmishes Before Battle

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

During the two days’ progress of the Frank trial public interest has centered around the case and all eyes seemed turned to it. To date, the interest has really been in watching the struggle between the skilled attorneys who are fighting for position and whose clashes over the preliminary witnesses are merely the skirmishes of the pickets before two mighty armies come together.

Thus far the interest, while to a certain extent centered on the maneuvering, has been mostly of the future tense. Every one is looking forward to what is to come. A fierce skirmish that almost engaged the two sides in real and earnest conflict came over the cross-examination of Newt Lee, and in it the state won. It was rather through the rare character of the negro testifying and his unbreakable spirit that the state won its first skirmish than through the efforts of its lawyers.

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Mincey, on Arrival Reaffirms Affidavit

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

W. H. Mincey, who made the famous affidavit in which he declared that Jim Conley had told him on April 26 that he had killed a girl, arrived late last night for the Frank trial.

In a statement made to The Constitution, Mr. Mincey reaffirmed his affidavit in its entirety and declared that he would tell this story on the witness stand. He was accompanied by Colonel Ben E. Neal, of Ringgold, Ga., a lawyer who has known him for years and who states that he will testify as to Mincey’s [rest of article cut off].

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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Here is Conley’s Confession Around Which Bitter Fight is Expected in the Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

There is little doubt that the storm-center, so to speak, of the Frank trial will be the testimony of the negro sweeper, James Conley. He will be the principal witness for the state and all of the other evidence of the prosecution will be shaped with a view to corroborating and strengthening his story which places the murder of Mary Phagan upon the factory superintendent.

And the defense will chiefly concern itself with the task of discrediting the negro’s testimony. It will bend its energies to prove that Conley has lyingly accused Frank and will offer evidence designed to fasten the crime upon the negro.

These facts being true the public will be interested in reviewing the sworn confession made by Conley to the city detectives. It follows:

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State Will Build Case Against Frank Around Conley’s Story; Defense Will Undertake to Show that Negro Alone is Guilty

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

Defense Will Ridicule Conley’s Story and Endeavor to Show That It Was Made to Save His Own Neck

MANY WITNESSES CALLED TO CORROBORATE FRANK

Though Attorneys Are Silent, The Journal Presents Below Outline of What the Defense Is Expected to Be

Complete innocence on the part of Leo M. Frank, the young superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and absolute guilt on the part of James Conley, the negro sweeper at the factory, are the two cardinal points upon which Frank’s defense will be based when he is called to trial for the murder of Mary Phagan, the little girl, whose body was found in the pencil factory basement on Sunday morning, April 27.

Frank’s attorneys, Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, two of the south’s ablest lawyers, have carefully concealed the plans of the defense, but enough has come to light to conclusively indicate that they not only expect to convince the jury that Frank is innocent and that it would have been a physical impossibility for him to have committed the murder without detection, but that Conley, the negro, did have such an opportunity and that robbery was his motive for killing the girl.

The defense evidently holds to the idea that to satisfactorily establish Frank’s innocence and bring about his exoneration it is necessary to clear up the murder mystery. This it will attempt to do by convincing evidence as to the guilt of the negro.

Ever since Conley made his last famous affidavit of confession in which he swore that at Frank’s instance he helped to carry the dead girl into the basement and wrote the notes found by her body Frank’s attorneys have worked on the theory that singlehanded Conley murdered Mary Phagan and that he sought to implicate their client as the principal in order to save his own neck.

The alleged inconsistencies in Conley’s confession will be stressed and its alleged improbabilities will be dissected before the jury. A piece of Mary Phagan’s pay envelope and a bloody club, said to have been found in the dark recess near the factory stairs, where Conley admits he was in hiding on the morning of the murder, will be produced as corroborative evidence, as will an affidavit from W. H. Mincey, an insurance agent, who swears that on the afternoon of the murder Conley, stupefied with drink, told him that he had killed a girl.

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Chronological Story of Developments in the Mary Phagan Murder Mystery

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

April 27—The dead body of Mary Phagan is found in basement of National Pencil factory at 3 a. m. by Newt Lee, the negro night-watchman. Police hold Lee, who yater [sic] in the day re-enacts discovery of the remains before city detectives.

April 27—Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the Pencil factory, called from bed to view Mary Phagan’s body at

April 27—Arthur Mullinax arrested on information given the police by E. L. Sentell, who declared he saw the murdered girl in the former’s company at 1220 o’clock on the morning of the murder.

April 28—Coroner Donehoo empanels in metal room on second floor and blood splotched on the floor lead police to believe the girl was killed there.

April 28—Coroner Donehoo empanels jury for inquest, it meets, views body and scene of crime and adjourns.

April 28—The largest crowd that ever viewed a body in Atlanta sees Mary Phagan’s remains at [t]he undertaking chapel.

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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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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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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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Chapter 5 in Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 26th, 1913

The Negro Conley’s Confession That He Was Frank’s Accomplice and Events Leading Up to Trial.

Chapter VI.

“He (Leo Frank) told me that he had picked up a girl back there and had let her fall, and that her head had hit against something—he didn’t what it was—and for me to move her, and I hollered and told him the girl was dead.”

With this startling accusation Jim Conley introduced his third confession. Under the rack of a merciless third degree, continued through the long afternoon of May 29, he weakened or became desperate toward the last and came out with his remarkable affidavit, which laid the responsibility for the killing of Mary Phagan directly upon the shoulders of the young factory superintendent.

Either it was all true or all false. If it were true, the negro simply had wilted under the ceaseless fire of the detectives’ questions and had decided to own up to his share in the crime and to seek to protect Frank no longer. If it were false, Conley, driven to bay, had, as a forlorn hope of saving his own neck, concocted the marvelous tale to thrust the suspicion of guilt upon the innocent Frank.

Defense Attacks Confession.

The latter is the theory of Frank’s lawyers, and they will advance it and bring evidence to support it and argue in its favor with all the ability at their command when the trial, set for next Monday, is under way.

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Pinkerton Chief Scored by Lanford

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 26th, 1913

Says Pierce Broke His Promise

Detective Head Also Asserts Phagan Evidence Private Sleuth Unearthed Was Plant.

Chief of Detectives Lanford roundly scored H. B. Pierce, head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Atlanta, Saturday for what he termed questionable procedure in connection with the Phagan murder investigation.

When application was made by the agency for permission to operate in Atlanta and the matter was under consideration by the Police Board, the promise was made that the Pinkerton’s would work in harmony with the city detective department and would co-operate in the apprehension of criminals.

This promise, according to Lanford, has been kept by all connected with the agency with the exception of Pierce. The Chief intimated that the Police Board would be asked to take action against Pierce personally.

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Try to Corroborate Story Told by Conley

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 25th, 1913

Negro Is Taken in Chief’s Auto to Sections He Claims to Have Visited on Murder Night.

Jim Conley, the negro sweeper and most important figure in the Phagan case, was taken from police headquarters in the automobile of Chief Beavers yesterday afternoon and carried over the ground on which he accounts for his whereabouts during the afternoon of the murder.

He was in charge of Chief Beavers and Detectives Pat Campbell and John Starnes, headquarters men who have been attached to the solicitor’s office throughout the investigation.

He was driven through the Peters street neighborhood in which he says he spent most of the time on the afternoon of April 26, and he pointed out to the detectives and police head familiar spots he visited on that date.

An effort was also made to determine definitely whether or not W. H. Mincey, the insurance agent who says Conley admitted having killed a girl when they met at Carter and Electric streets on the murder afternoon, could have seen the negro at the designated spot.

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Chiefs Will Probe Removal of Conley

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 25th, 1913

Negro Was Taken to Tower Without Knowledge of Beavers or Lanford.

Action is likely to be taken against Detective John Starnes and Pat Campbell, who Wednesday afternoon carried Jim Conley, the negro in the Phagan case, from police headquarters to the Tower without permission of either Chief Beavers or Chief Lanford.

When asked by a Constitution reporter Thursday afternoon what steps he would probably take against the detectives, Chief Beavers declined to talk. He inferred, however, that an investigation would likely result and that action would be taken.

Conley was taken from the station house prison shortly before noon Wednesday without the knowledge, it is said, of even Desk Sergeant Arch Holcombe. He was taken to the Tower for a four-hour examination in the cell of Newt Lee, which examination was promoted by Solicitor General Dorsey and his associate, Frank Hooper.

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Conley and Lee Meet in Tower

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 24th, 1913

For First Time Since Mary Phagan Was Killed Two Negroes Are Brought Face to Face.

James Conley, a sweeper at the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, night watchman, who carried the police to where Mary Phagan’s body lay on the morning of April 27, were brought face to face yesterday afternoon in the tower by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey and Frank A. Hooper, an attorney who is aiding the solicitor.

J. M. Gantt was taken there by the attorneys, as he knew Conley while both were working for the pencil factory. Attorney Hooper stated after that nothing of importance was gained by the meeting of the ntwo negroes, except that Conley declared at the meeting that Lee had nothing to do with the crime.

The negroes were questioned together for about two hours, and then Conley was taken back to police station. The entire story of each one was gone over thoroughly by the attorneys, who wished to see if they would stick to what they told at first.

Frank and State Ready.

The state, through Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, has declared its readiness to go on with the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, on next Monday, the date set by Judge L. S. Roan, and as Frank himself asserted to Sheriff C. W. Mangum in the Tower yesterday that he was ready and anxious for the trial to proceed, it appears that no postponement will be asked.

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Third Chapter in Phagan Mystery

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 24th, 1913

Arrests of Suspects in the Factory Slaying. Sensation as Leo Frank, Manager Was Taken Into Custody.

CHAPTER III.

Everything that occurred, trivial or important, during those first few days after the body of little Mary Phagan was discovered in the pencil factory basement took on a dramatic aspect. The people were keyed to so high a pitch by the revolting crime that for for a time it seemed to require only a spark to fire them to violent deeds.

Let a strange person so much as appear at the police station to confer with Chief of Detectives Lanford and wild rumors spread about the whole city like magic. Let one of the detectives drop a careless remark and in a flash everyone mysteriously understood that a complete confession had been made to the police by the murderer.

So it was a sinister reception that the first catch in the detectives’ dragnet received from the group of angry men when he was hurried to police headquarters Sunday night of the day after the factory girl had been slain.

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Veneir [sic] is Drawn to Try Leo M. Frank Monday

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 24th, 1913

JUDGE ANNOUNCES HE IS READY TO TRY CASE; 144 MEN EMPANELLED

Says He Has Not Even Been Asked for Postponement, and Sees No Reason Why Trial Should Not Begin On Date Fixed.

Jim Conley, the negro sweeper of the National Pencil Factory, was taken from the police station late Thursday afternoon by Detectives Starnes and Campbell to verify certain of his statements and to point out certain witnesses, who, he told the detectives, would be able to refute the affidavit of W. H. Mincey by showing that he was not at the point where Mincey swears the negro confessed he “had killed a girl” on the afternoon of the murder. The detectives would not divulge the location of the places to be visited.

Judge L. S. Roan, home from Covington, late Thursday, declared to a Georgian reporter that he saw no reason why the trial of Leo M. Frank, accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, should not begin Monday.

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Conley is Confronted with Lee – Dorsey Grills Negroes in Same Cell at Jail

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 23rd, 1913

TRACE FOUND HERE OF NEGRO SAID TO HAVE SEEN PHAGAN SLAYING

Sister of Will Green Tells Police He Slept at Home at Hour Girl Was Slain; Jim Conley, Factory Sweeer [sic] Again Grilled.

The two negro principals in the Phagan case—Newt Lee and Jim Conley—were put on the grill together in the cell of the former in the county jail by Solicitor Dorsey and his assistant, Frank G. Hooper, late Wednesday afternoon.

Present at the cross-examination were J. M. Gantt, former pencil factory employee, and Detectives Starnes and Campbell, the officers who have had charge of Conley for the past several weeks. After half an hour’s questioning Gantt left the jail. Solicitor Dorsey and the others remained and the questioning of the two negroes continued until a late hour. Conley was then taken back to police headquarters.

Here are Wednesday’s important developments in the Phagan murder mystery:

Bloodstained glove of Mary Phagan is said to have been found on the first floor near the place the discovery of her pay envelope was made.

New evidence is found tending to establish the identity of the negro, Will Green, said to have seen the attack upon Mary Phagan.

Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the pencil factory, undergoes a grilling examination at the hands of Solicitor General Dorsey and his associate counsel, Frank A. Hooper.

J. M. Gantt, expected to give sensational evidence for the prosecution at the trial, is in conference with the solicitor and present at the grilling of Lee.

Leo M. Frank tells Sheriff Mangum that he is eager for the trial to begin, and will be ready when it is called Monday morning.

Solicitor Dorsey announces that he will insist that there be no further delay.

It became known Wednesday that the defense in the Frank case had been informed that the negro, Will Green, who is said to have been shooting craps with Jim Conley the day that Mary Phagan was murdered and to have seen her attacked, and the Will Green living at 105 Thurmond street, Atlanta, are the same person.

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Story of Phagan Case by Chapters

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 22nd, 1913

Slaying of Factory Girl, South’s Most Baffling Crime Mystery, Reviewed in Detail.

CHAPTER I.

Will the veil of mystery be lifted when the curtain rises next Monday on another scene in Atlanta’s darkest tragedy?

A vast audience, shocked by the horror of Mary Phagan’s fate on a Saturday of last April and held through the succeeding weeks in the thrall of the baffling crime drama, in keen suspense awaits this question’s answer.

Will Fulton County’s Solicitor General be able to point his finger at Leo M. Frank and exclaim, “That is the man who strangled Mary Phagan!” backing his damning accusation with such abundance of evidence that there can remain no shadow of doubt?

Or will Luther Rosser, certain to be a towering and masterful factor in the titanic struggle that is to be staged, unmask his strength, bring to bear the secret evidence that has been in his possession for weeks, beat down every bulwark of suspicion that the State has erected about its prisoner and, as a dramatic finale, assail the negro, Jim Conley, cowering in the witness stand, with a ranking volley of questions that will leave the negro man shaken and terrified, a confession of the crime upon his lips?

Whole State Stirred.

All of Atlanta—most of the State—is hanging with the most intense interest on the outcome.

No other crime ever stirred Georgia to its depths as has the slaying of the little factory girl.

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