Sensational Affidavit Made by Minola M’Knight, Negro Cook at Home of L. M. Frank


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

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

In This Affidavit Minola Tells of Conversation That Occurred Between Mrs. Frank and Mrs. Selig, In Which Mrs. Frank Is Alleged to Have Said Frank Was Drinking on Night of Tragedy, and That He Wanted a Pistol to Kill Himself


Negro Says Further That Frank Came Home at 1:30 o’Clock on Fatal Saturday, but Remained Only About Ten Minutes, and That He Left Without Eating His Dinner—Affidavit Is Vague and Confused—It Is Given Here In Full

An affidavit, sworn to by Minola McKnight, the negro servant at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, where Leo M. Frank and his wife live, was made public by Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford Wednesday afternoon. In the affidavit Minola McKnight tells of alleged conversations at the Selig home in which Mrs. Frank is quoted as having said that Frank was drunk on Saturday night, April 26, and that he made her sleep on a rug. The negro quotes Mrs. Frank further as saying that Mr. Frank couldn’t understand how he could be guilty of murder, and that Frank had begged her for a pistol that he might shoot himself.

The negro says in her affidavit that she has been kindly treated and gives this as the reason for not having made her statement sooner. She swears that the affidavit is made of her own free will.

The affidavit is nearly all hearsay evidence, and therefore inadmissible in court.

The affidavit follows in full: Continue Reading →

Attorney Retained for Negro Servant at Frank’s Home

attorney-retainedAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 3rd, 1913

George Gordon Represents Minola McKnight as Attorney and May Seek Habeas Corpus During Afternoon


She Swears Leo M. Frank Was at Home at Time He Testified Before the Coroner’s Inquest

It became known Tuesday morning that Attorney George Gordon had been retained to represent Minola McKnight, the negro cook employed by Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, parents-in-law of Leo M. Frank, held for the murder of Mary Phagan.

Who employed the lawyer could not be learned, but the fact remains that Mr. Gordon is representing the negress, whose arrest Monday by city detectives, followed a questioning by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

It is also understood on good authority that Mr. Gordon is seriously considering the matter of seeking a writ of habeas corpus for the McKnight woman and further developments along this line are expected during the afternoon.


Shortly after noon Tuesday the McKnight woman was taken from her cell on the first floor at police headquarters by Detectives tSarnes [sic] and Sampbell [sic], who led her to a private room adjoining the detective department on the third floor. Two unknown white men and a negro man, supposed to be the woman’s husband, were left alone with her for about an hour and a half, when the detectives were called in.

After talking with the woman for a few minutes Detective Starnes came out of the room, gathered up a pen, ink and paper and went back. It is presumed that she has made some kind of a statement which the detectives consider significant and which they desire to take down in the form of an affidavit.

Attorney George Gordon was outside in the detective department for a portion of the time the woman was being questioned.

The hysteria which marked her demeanor when she first was arrested, has subsided, and Minola McKnight, the negro cook for Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, of 68 East Georgia avenue, home of Leo M. Frank, still sticks to the story she hysterically shouted throughout police headquarters Monday afternoon.

The negress was arrested at the Selig residence shortly after noon Monday upon the order of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

She was carried to the solicitor’s office and that official with Detectives Campbell and Starnes examined her for more than an hour. The woman grew hysterical during the vigorous examination, and finally was led from the solicitor’s office to the police patrol, weeping and shouting: “I am going to hang and don’t know a thing about it.”

Later it developed that [t]he woman’s husband, Albert McKnight, had been in the room with the officers. Continue Reading →

Leo Frank’s Cook Put Under Arrest


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

Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, June 3rd, 1913

Reported That She Is Being Held as Witness—Defense of Prisoner in the Tower Outlined.

Another arrest was made yesterday in the Phagan mystery. Minola McKnight, cook and servant in the Leo Frank household, was sent to police headquarters by Detectives Starnes and Campbell when she hysterically created a scene at Pryor and Mitchell streets, sobbing and moaning that “they were going to hang her for something she knew nothing about.”

She is being held under a charge of suspicion. Chief Lanford said last night, however, that she will likely be used as a witness against her suspected employer. She has not been questioned yet by the police or detectives, but will be put through a cross-examination some time soon.

Although officials at headquarters will not talk regarding the arrest of the McKnight woman, the general impression prevails that she is being held as a material witness and that she was taken into custody because of discrepancies rumored to have been found in her statement to Solicitor Dorsey.

It is reported that she has told a number of conflicting stories, and for this reason the solicitor ordered her confinement until time of trial. The solicitor will have nothing to say on the subject.

Leo Frank’s Defense.

[…] sources Monday that Frank’s defense.

It was learned from responsible will be in the production of an alibi. Five witnesses, it is said, are prepared to testify that the suspect was at home by 1:30 o’clock on the day of the tragedy. They are Mrs. Frank, Miss Corinthia Hall, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Emil Selig, his father-in-law, Emil Selig and the negress who was arrested Monday. Continue Reading →

Negro Cook at Home Where Frank Lived Held by the Police


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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Woman Questioned by Dorsey, Becomes Hysterical; Solicitor Refuses to Tell Whether She Gave Important Information; Alibi for Defense.

Minola Mcknight, the negro cook in the household of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, 68 Georgia Avenue, with whom Leo M. Frank lived, was put through the severest sort of grilling in the office of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey Monday in an effort to break down Frank’s alibi which tends to show that he was at home about the time James Conley swore the notes found by Mary Phagan’s body were written.

The negro woman grew histerical [sic] and her shrieks and protestations could be heard through the closed door. She maintained to the end of the two hours of rapid-fire questioning, however, that Frank had arrived home by 1:30 o’clock the Saturday afternoon of the crime.

She was taken into custody on information said to have been furnished by her husband. She later was taken to the police station to be held under suspicion. The details of her statements to the solicitor and the full import of the information said to have been disclosed by her husband have been shrouded with the utmost secrecy by Solicitor Dorsey. It is said, however, that she declared to the last that Frank had arrived home by 1:30 o’clock to her positive knowledge.

Her sobs and hysterical cries were heard soon after she entered the office of the solicitor. Mr. Dorsey was able to quiet her for a few minutes at a time, when it is supposed he obtained her statement of Frank’s whereabouts on Saturday, April 26, so far as she knew. At detective headquarters, the officers were non-commital as to the nature or value of the testimony that the engro [sic] woman had given. Continue Reading →

Negro Girl is Arrested in Phagan Murder Case


Minola McKnight

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

Atlanta Journal

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

“I Am Going to Hang and I Don’t Know a Thing About It,” Shouts Viola [sic] McKnight When Questioned by Solicitor

Viola McKnight, who lives in the rear of 351 Pulliam street, a negro girl, is said to have entered the Phagan mystery in a sensational matter. The woman was brought to Solicitor Dorsey’s office Monday afternoon by Detectives Starnes and Campbell, who are working exclusively on the Phagan mystery, and was examined by the solicitor.

The girl was then carried to police headquarters, where she was docketed and the charge of suspicion placed against her name.

The solicitor and the detectives refuse to discuss the girl’s connection with the Phagan mystery.

The woman was excited and hysterical and continued to shout: “I am going to hang, and I don’t know a thing about it.”

Still weeping and shouting that she was going to hang, although innocent, the woman aws [sic] led shortly after 2 o’clock, to cell at police headquarters.

When the woman first went to Solicitor Dorsey’s office, the officers had with her a negro boy, whose name is unknown. The boy was released after the examination.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, June 2nd 1913, “Negro Girl is Arrested in Phagan Murder Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

5 to Testify Frank Was at Home at Hour Negro Says He Aided


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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Defense to Cite Discrepancies in Time to Disprove Conley’s Affidavit—Sheriff Denies Friends of Superintendent Approached Sweeper in Cell.

After a two-hour grilling by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey Minola McKnight, a negro woman about 21 years old, was taken to police headquarters and is held under suspicion in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan.

She is believed to have made sensational disclosures to the solicitor.

At the police station she was in hysteria, shouting:

“I am going to hang, but I didn’t do it.”

* * *

Five persons will be prepared to testify at the trial of Leo M. Frank that he arrived at home for luncheon at 1:20 o’clock the Saturday afternoon that Mary Phagan was killed, which would have been an impossibility, the defense will assert, if Frank had directed the disposal of the body and dictated the notes at the time the negro alleges.

Testimony before the Coroner’s jury by Frank and others indicated strongly that he was at home by 1:20 the afternoon of the crime.  Conley in his affidavits declared that he went into Frank’s office at four minutes before 1 o’clock. He said that after a conversation of a few minutes Frank heard voices and shoved Conley into a closet. Miss Corinthia Hall and Mrs. Emma Clark entered. Conley was kept a prisoner in the closet, he said, for eight or ten minutes. 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 →