Jim Conley’s Story as Matter of Fact as if it Were of His Day’s Work

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

By O. B. Keeler.

Jim Conley, hewer of wood and drawer of water.

On the witness stand at the Frank trial this morning, Jim unfolded a tale whose lightest word—you know the rest. It was a story that flexed attention to the breaking point: a story that whitened knuckles and pressed finger nails into palms; a story that absorbed the usual courtroom stir and rustle, and froze the hearers into lines upon lines of straining faces.

And Jim Conley told that story as he might have told the story of a day’s work at well-digging, or driving a dray, or sweeping up the second floor at the National Pencil Factory.

Jim was matter-of-fact.

Continue Reading →

Conley’s Story In Detail; Women Barred By Judge

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

There was a murmur of excitement following the calling of Jim Conley; there was a wait of several minutes, officers having just left the police station with the negro a minute or two before he was called.

Judge Roan impatiently ordered the Sheriff to bring in the witness. A number of spectators who were crowded up too close to the jury box were moved back by the court deputies.

“The Sheriff hasn’t got Jim Conley,” said Attorney Rosser, after a statement from Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner.

“Mr. Starnes will bring him in,” returned Solicitor Dorsey.

“See if Mrs. White has arrived,” then requested Dorsey. “She has a very young baby, and when I had her subpenaed this morning she said that she would have to send to the factory and get her husband before she could come.”

Courtroom Quiet as Conley Enters.

“You may call her later,” said Mr. Rosser, “there wont’ be any objection.”
Jim Conley was brought into the courtroom just at this time. He took the witness chair and was sworn in while in the chair. Solicitor Dorsey examined him and everyone leaned forward, while extreme quiet prevailed.

Continue Reading →

Rosser’s Grilling of Negro Leads to Hot Clashes by Lawyers

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

A bitter, determined cross-examination of Jim Conley by Luther Rosser was marked by a prolonged battle between counsel for the defense and State over the method of questioning the negro.

The defense won a complete victory, Judge Roan ruling that the accuser of Leo Frank could be cross-examined on any subject the prisoner’s lawyers saw fit.

In the course of this legal tilt Luther Rosser said:

“I am going after him (referring to Conley) and I am going to jump on him with both feet.”

Turning to counsel for the State he added significantly: “And I won’t enlighten him, either. Your period of enlightenment is over.”

Rosser, before the afternoon session concluded, got the negro to say that he had been lying when he said that he got up at 9 o’clock the day of the crime. He said he got up at 6 o’clock.

Continue Reading →

Dorsey Pleased With Progress

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Solicitor Will Put Dr. Roy Harris on the Stand Again on Next Tuesday Afternoon.

While Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey declined to make an expression of what he believed would be the outcome of the case against Leo M. Frank, which he has been prosecuting all the week, he expressed himself yesterday afternoon as thoroughly satisfied with the present progress.

The solicitor held an extended conference immediately after court adjourned with his assistant, E. A. Stephens, and with Attorney Frank A. Hooper, who is aiding him, and together with the lawyers went over what had been done and mapped out their program for the coming week.

With the attorneys were detectives J. N. Starnes and Pat Campbell and others who have assisted in getting up the evidence and working the preparation of the case.

Continue Reading →

Chief Beavers Tells of Seeing Blood Spots on Factory Floor

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Police Chief James L. Beavers followed Dr. Hurt upon the witness stand. Mr. Rosser immediately asked him if he had been in the courtroom, as he had not been named by the state when other witnesses were named, sworn and put under the rule. He replied that he had for a short time and Mr. Dorsey explained that in the beginning of the case he had no intention of using him.

“Were you present at the National Pencil factory on the Monday following the finding of the dead girl?” asked Mr. Dorsey.

“I was there not on Monday, I believe, I think it was on Tuesday,” he replied.

“Did you see the area of the floor around the girls’ dressing room?”

Mr. Rosser then arose and declared that he did not think that the court should allow Mr. Dorsey to get Chief Beavers in as a witness merely on his statement that at the time the other witnesses were sworn and put under the rule that he did not know he would need him.

Continue Reading →

Good Order Kept in Court by Vigilance of Deputies

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Despite the throng that has gathered each day around the courthouse where a man is on trial for his life, and despite the number of people who have crowded in to fill every seat, there has been on the whole good order in the courtroom, due to the vigilance of the deputies in charge.

Sheriff C. W. Mangum sits daily in the room and with him are practically every deputy and bailiff that the courtrooms afford. To handle the large crowd and to take care of the entrance all of them are needed. In charge of the men is a deputy who has figured in practically every sensational trial in Atlanta for a number of years and whose knife with which he raps for order and tiny rose which he wears on his lapel are known to every court attendant in Atlanta. He is Plennie Miner, deputy sheriff in charge of the criminal division of the Fulton superior court and a master-craftsman in handling crowds, enforcing order and yet doing it in such a way as to avoid giving offense.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

Finding of Dead Girl’s Parasol is Told by Policeman Lasseter

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Following Chief Beavers the name of Detective Bass Rosser was then called, but he was not present and Policeman R. F. Lasseter was put on the stand.

“Did you go to the National Pencil factory on Sunday morning, April 27?”
“Yes.”

“Did you ever see this parasol before?” asked the solicitor, holding up the which was found in the elevator shaft and identified as Mary Phagan’s.

“Yes, I found it that morning at the bottom of the shaft.”

“What else did you find? Any other wearing apparel?”

“No.”

Continue Reading →

Fixing Hour of Girl’s Death Through Aid of Modern Science The Prosecution’s Greatest Aid

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

By Britt Craig.

When Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan, related a simple story on the witness stand the first day of the Frank trial of the slain child’s frugal meal of cabbage and biscuit which she ate upon leaving home that fateful day, she paved the way for the most thrilling development thus far in the entire case.

Her story was as devoid of thrills as any yet told. It was an ordinary recitation of a common meal and told in the mother’s plain, simple manner. Had she not broke into tears her connection would have been completely devoid of interest, except for the fact that she was Mary Phagan’s mother.

But her statement of the meal the murdered child had eaten, prepared an opening for the startling testimony of Dr. Roy F. Harris, the state chemist, who testified that the cabbage found in the stomach, and which Mrs. Coleman stated the child had eaten at the noon meal, indicated that she had met her death within 45 minutes after eating.

Continue Reading →

Detective Waggoner Describes Extreme Nervousness of Frank

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

City Detective D. L. Waggoner was called to the stand following Miss Ferguson Attorney Rosser immediately raised the objection that he had been in the court room and the solicitor declared that he did not know whether or not the detective had Waggoner stated that he was present for about 20 minutes Wednesday.

“He was not sworn and put under the rule,” explained Solicitor Dorsey, “because I did not know that I would need him.”

The defense made no further objection and the examination began.

“How long have you been on the force, Mr. Waggoner?” the solicitor asked.

“About four years, in all.”

Continue Reading →

“Break” in the Frank Trial May Come With the Hearing Of Jim Conley’s Testimony

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

By Britt Craig.

Jim Conley isn’t a cornfield negro—he’s more of the present day type of city darkey—and that’s the only difference between him and Newt Lee. Outside of that there is but little variance.

However, Jim’s ancestors hewd cotton and plowed bottom lands long before Jim had an idea of existing. He’s got the good old country strain in him and he’s as black as tar.

Some folks say he’ll make a witness as good as Newt, and others say he won’t. That all remains to be seen. One thing is sure: There’ll be plenty of pyrotechnics when he begins to show whatever kind of witness he is.

Jim is the hinge of the Frank case. His testimony is expected to swing it one way or the other. If his story sticks and he is as firm as he has been thus far, things will look quite melancholy for the white man. If he falls down as the defense expects then Lord help his neck.

It’s a question of Jim Conley or Leo Frank with Jim Conley’s testimony as the scales.

Continue Reading →

Condition of Girl’s Body Described by Dr. J. W. Hurt

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Dr. J. W. Hurt, county physician, who examined the body of Mary Phagan, took the stand following Detective Waggoner. Dr. Hurt not only made an examination on the Sunday morning that the body was found, but he was present several days later when the girl’s body was disinterred at Marietta by Dr. Roy Harris.

“How long have you been a physician?” asked Solicitor Dorsey after he had put the formal questions to establish the physician’s connection with the case.

“Since 1884.”

“What are your duties as county physician?”
“To attend all inquests and examine the bodies of the dead.”

“Did you see Mary Phagan’s body?”
“Yes.”
“Where did you first see it?”
“At P. J. Bloomfield’s undertaking establishment on the Sunday morning that the body was found.”

Continue Reading →

Resume of Week’s Evidence Shows Little Progress Made

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Place and Time of the Murder Only Big Facts Brought Out in the Mass of Evidence.

One week of the battle Leo M. Frank, accused of the murder of Mary Phagan in the factory of the National Pencil company, for his life has elapsed, and his fate is yet a question for future developments to decide.

The first week of the trial has been markedly free from sensations.

The two big facts that the week’s evidence would seem to show are that Mary Phagan was murdered in the second floor of the pencil factory, and that she was murdered within one hour after she ate her breakfast at home shortly after 11 o’clock.

The principal features of the week’s evidence are as follows:

Mary’s Mother Testifies.

The examination of witnesses began with the most pathetic scene in the whole week, when Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of the murdered girl, took the stand.

Continue Reading →

Mistrial Near When Jury Saw a Newspaper in Judge’s Hands

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Inadvertent Action of Judge Roan Caused Quick Conference Between Attorneys for the Defense in Frank Case.

PRACTICALLY NOTHING NEW WAS INTRODUCED IN SATURDAY TESTIMONY

Dr. J. W. Hurt, County Physician, Takes Stand to Tell of Examination of the Dead Body of Girl—Testimony Conflicts With Harris’ at Times.

Practically nothing new was adduced from the testimony at Saturday’s session of the Leo M. Frank trial.

But by far the session—which lasted from 9 o’clock until 1 o’clock, adjournment being had until Monday—was fought with the keenest interest of any thus far held.

This was due to the fact that for a time it looked as if a mistrial might be called for by the attorneys for the defense, when inadvertently Judge Roan held up a copy of one of the afternoon newspapers containing a conspicuous headline in red ink in such a position that members of the jury could see it.

Continue Reading →

State’s Case Against Frank As It Stands After Week’s Testimony Is Shown Here

Photo-diagram of court room in old city hall building, where Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, is on trial for his life charged with the murder of Mary Phagan. Although the available seats are taken soon after court convenes, the crowd waits without all day for some weary spectator to give up a seat. On the second floor the many witnesses await their turn for a grueling examination by attorneys on either side.

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

Atlanta Journal
August 3rd, 1913

Most Important Points State Sought to Prove Are That Mary Phagan Was Killed Shortly After Entering Factory—That Crime Was on Second Floor, and That Frank Was Not in His Office at the Time He Saw He Gave Her the Pay Envelope

An entire week has been given over to the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, and so far the state has not shown or attempted to show any direct connection on the part of the defendant with the crime. Solicitor Dorsey has worked systematically to weave a chain of circumstantial evidence about Frank.

Those who have watched the progress of the trial day by day are impressed with the fact that he has endeavored by the introduction of circumstantial evidence to pave the way for the testimony of James Conley, the negro sweeper, who will be the climax witness for the state and upon whose evidence the case against Frank will largely stand or fall.

The state swore but twenty-six witnesses when the trial began Monday afternoon, but up to date it has called thirty and the indications are that still others are to be put upon the stand. The defense has not put up a single witness and can not do so until the state rests its case. However, Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, counsel for Frank, have administered severe cross-examinations to the more material of the state’s witnesses and in many instances have succeeded in minimizing the evidence given by them on their direct examination.

The state has sought to show by its witnesses:

Continue Reading →

Defense Will Introduce Witnesses

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

Atlanta Journal
August 3rd, 1913

FRANK TRIAL WILL RUN INTO THIRD WEEK; DEFENSE WILL BEGIN TESTIMONY WEDNESDAY

Indications Saturday, When Court Adjourned Until Monday Morning at 9 o’Clock, Were That State Would Require at Least Two More Days Before Concluding Presentation of Its Case Against the Factory Superintendent

DEFENSE’S DECISION TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE MEANS THAT THE TRIAL IS NOT YET HALF OVER

Dr. H. F. Harris Will Take the Stand Again Monday Afternoon and Will Probably Be Under Cross-Examination for Several Hours—Conley Will Be State’s Last Witness, and a Big Battle Will Rage Around His Testimony

IT’S TERRIBLE FOR AN INNOCENT MAN TO BE CHARGED WITH CRIME” Leo M. Frank.

Leo M. Frank is apparently standing the strain of the tedious trial remarkably well, and the expression of his face seldom changes during the introduction of evidence. According to his jailers he still sleeps soundly every night, and he has never lost his appetite.

Few people have ever discussed the actual evidence in the case with him, and no expression of an opinion from him about the case, which the state has put up against him, has reached the public.

Frank is quoted as having made only this comment before Saturday’s session started: “It is terrible for an innocent man to be charged with a most damnable crime. Even if he is cleared he can never get over the fact that he was charged and tried for the crime.”

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey admits that he was practically completed his “circumstantial” case against Leo M. Frank, although the state has several witnesses who will be put on the stand this week before the state’s case is concluded.

Continue Reading →

Leo Frank’s Eyes Show Intense Interest in Every Phase of Case

Courtroom Studies of Leo Frank: Three typical poses of the defendant in the famous Phagan case are show, while in the upper left of the picture is a study of Luther Rosser, his leading counsel. Here is what a study of Frank’s face reveals: His face is immovable, except, perhaps, for the eyes. But fixity of countenance does not always go with unconcern. In this case it is a part of the man’s nature. Immobility is the essential part of his physiognomy. It is the immobility of the business man given to calculation, of the gambler, of the person given to repression.

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 3rd, 1913

Face Is Immobile, but Gaze Tells Story of Deep Feeling of Man on Trial—A Study of Prisoner at Close Range.

By TABLETON COLLIER.

Everybody says in his heart that he knows human nature, that he can read guilt or innocence, sensuality or asceticism, calm or perturbation in the face of another. Everybody armed to his own satisfaction with this power of divination, has gone to the trial of Leo Frank to watch the man who is charged with the murder of a little girl, the most brutal and conscienceless of murders.

The young man who is thus the center of all eyes sits apparently unconscious of the multiple gaze that continue all day long. Those who go to watch him declare a variety of opinions—that he is calloused or that he is conscience-clear, that he scorns the outcome of the trial whatever it may be, or that he is serene in his innocence.

The watchers generally admit, however, that he is unconcerned.

Continue Reading →

Conley to Bring Frank Case Crisis

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 3rd, 1913

Negro’s Testimony Now Supremely Important

Both Sides Stake Their All on His Evidence

STATE FORGES CHAIN TO TAX ALL THE INGENUITY OF DEFENSES LEGAL ARRAY

First Week of Battle Has Fixed the Time Almost Exactly According to Theory of the Solicitor—Doctors’ Testimony His Important Bearing.

BY AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

There are two tenable theories of the manner in which little Mary Phagan met her tragic death in the National Pencil Factory on Saturday, April 26.

Either she was murdered by Leo Frank, as charged in the indictment, or she was murdered by James Conley, the negro sweeper, employed in the factory.

If there is another theory, it has not been advanced.

The theory that Frank killed the girl is the one set up by the State; the theory that Conley killed her is the one to be set up by the defense.

Which, if either, is the true theory?

Continue Reading →

First Week of Frank Trial Ends With Both Sides Sure of Victory

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 3rd, 1913

Solicitor Dorsey Indicates That Real Sensation Will Be Developed for State in Closing Days of Famous Mary Phagan Mystery Case.

ANOTHER WEEK OF ORDEAL IN THE HEAT IS EXPECTED

Routing of Detective Black and Surprise in the Testimony of Pinkerton Agent Gives the Defense Principal Points Scored—Newt Lee Hurts.

Slow and tedious, almost without frills, full of bitter squabbles between lawyers, made memorable by oppressive heat, the first week of Leo Frank’s trial on the charge that he killed Mary Phagan, the little factory girl, has drawn to an end.

With the close of the week came the promise that still another six days, or more, will be consumed in taking the testimony.

Continue Reading →

Gay Febuary Tells Frank Jury About Statement Prisoner Made

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 2nd, 1913

Gay C. Febuary, secretary to Chief Newport A. Lanford, of the detective bureau, and recent figure in the sensational dictagraph episode, was called to the stand to testify to a statement made by Leo Frank on April 26 in Chief Lanford’s office.

It was during Febuary’s testimony that Frank’s statement was permitted to be produced before the jury. It was read by Attorney Stephens, an associate of Solicitor Dorsey.

Mr. Dorsey questioned Febuary:

“You were present at Lanford’s office when Frank and Luther Z. Rosser were there?”
“Yes.”
“Do you remember having made stenographic report of a statement made by Frank?”
“Yes.”
He was given the report for identification, which he established.

“What was Attorney Rosser doing during the time the statement was made?”
“Looking out of the window most of the time.”
Mr. Rosser began the interrogation at this point.

“You haven’t got a dictagraph with you,have you?” he asked sarcastically.

“No,” was the answer.

“Lanford sent for you to make this statement, didn’t he?”
“Yes.”
“You are Lanford’s private secretary?”
“Yes.”
“He has been chief of police for years?”
“He has been chief of detectives.”
“Chief of detectives, then, that’s just as bad.”

Here Rosser pointed to Lanford, sitting in a chair at the railing.

“That’s he—my handsome friend over there.”

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, August 2nd 1913, “Gay Febuary Tells Frank Jury About Statement Prisoner Made,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)