Mother of Frank Takes Stand to Identify Letter Son Wrote

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 16th, 1913

The more or less listless curiosity of the courtroom spectators was scarcely aroused during the afternoon until the last witness was called who was Mrs. Rae Frank of Brooklyn, N. Y. The mother of Leo M. Frank.

Not the slightest intimation had been given that Mrs. Frank would be called to the stand and a whisper of surprise spread over the room as the leaden-eyed mother, weary with the many days through which she has patiently sat and heard every conceivable blight cast at the name of her son slowly ascended the stand.

As she held up her hand to take the oath there was a glimmer of the hope in her eyes that now she might be able to say some word which might help or at least comfort her son.

Mr. Rosser questioned her.

“Are you the mother of Leo Frank?”

“Where do you live?”
“In Brooklyn.”

“Where did you move from to Brooklyn?”
“New York city.”

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Mrs. Rae Frank Goes on Stand in Defense of Her Son

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 16th, 1913


Testimony Used by Defense to Show That the Prisoner Could Not Have Written This Letter, Which Was of Considerable Length, Had He Been Laboring Under Stress of Excitement Which Would Have Followed the Murder of Mary Phagan.


Witness After Witness Declare That They Never Saw Women in Office of Superintendent—The State Brings Girl Back From Home of Good Shepherd in Cincinnati to Give Evidence Against Prisoner—Her Testimony Is Kept a Secret.

The defense played one of its strong cards Friday, when, at the heel of the day’s session, Mrs. Rae Frank was placed on the stand to identify a letter which Leo M. Frank, on Memorial day, and which was read in her presence at the Hotel McAlpin, New York, Monday following the murder.

The letter was one of some length, and contained a price list which M. Frank had requested his nephew to send him.

The time element, which is playing an important part in the trial, was made more important by this letter. The defense will attempt to show that the letter could not have been written had Frank been guilty of the murder, or had he been laboring under stress of excitement.

Mrs. Frank was perfectly composed while on the stand and answered the questions of Luther Rosser in a clear, distinct voice.

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Mrs. Rae Frank Takes Stand in Son’s Defense

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

Atlanta Journal
August 16th, 1913

Identifies Letter Written By Frank to N. Y. Kinfolks On the Day of the Murder

By Asking Pencil Factory Forelady If She Saw Frank Talking to Mary Phagan, Solicitor Dorsey Indicates That He Has Witnesses Who May Furnish Further Sensational Testimony Along This Line

Mrs. Rae Frank, mother of Leo M. Frank, the accused factory superintendent took the stand Friday afternoon in defense of her boy and was on the stand when trial adjourns, at 5:45 o’clock until 9 o’clock Saturday. Mrs. Frank testified as to a letter which was written by her son on the day of the murder of Mary Phagan, addressed to M. Frank, the accused’s uncle, and received in New York several days later. The letter was admitted as evidence but was not read to the jury. Its contents told of the Memorial Day parade and of grand opera closing in Atlanta. A striking paragraph in the letter was the accused’s comment that nothing startling had happened in Atlanta since his uncle left.

Attorney Reuben R. Arnold, for the defense announced after court adjourned that the defense would put up about 100 more witnesses and that it would require at least two more days for it to conclude its evidence. This is taken to mean that the accused will not occupy the witness stand until possibly Wednesday.

By one question asked of Miss Mary Burton, forelady of the polishing room, Solicitor Dorsey Friday afternoon indicated that he had witnesses who would testify, if permitted, that Frank made advances to Mary Phagan, the murdered girl, two weeks before the crime. He asked the witness, “Did you ever hear that Frank got Mary Phagan in a corner two weeks prior to the murder and she was begging him to let her get away?” Miss Burton answered, “No.” If the solicitor has such witnesses he can put them on the stand and ask if they know the character of the accused and the witness can only answer as to whether it is good or bad, but if the defense asks the witnesses to give their reasons for their opinion and state a specific instance, then the alleged testimony against Frank’s character can get before the jury.

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Witness, Called by Defense, Testifies Against Frank

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

Atlanta Journal
August 16th, 1913


Daughter of Policeman A. W. Jackson Testifies That Frank Opened the Door of Dressing Room and Looked in While Young Lady Was Dressing and That a Complaint Was Registered With a Forelady, Miss Cleland, About It


Solicitor Dorsey Attacks the Pinkertons, Charging That They Failed to Report Their “Finds” to Police—Many Young Women Employed at the Factory Testify to Frank’s Good Character—Court Adjourns Until Monday Morning

With Harllee Branch, a reporter for The Journal, on the witness stand where he had just described Conley’s pantomime re-enactment of his alleged part in the disposal of the body of Mary Phagan, witnessed by him as a newspaper man, the trial of Leo M. Frank was adjourned at 1:05 o’clock Saturday afternoon until Monday morning at 9 o’clock. Mr. Branch, summoned by the defense to testify in regard to an interview with Jim Conley at the tower, over the protest of Attorney Luther Z. Rosser, was permitted by the court to describe Conley’s pantomime re-enactment when requested to do so by the solicitor.

Just before court adjourned, Judge Roan addressed a few words to the jury, expressing regret that it was necessary to keep them away from their families another Sunday but stating that he sincerely hopes this would be the last Sunday that they would have to held together.

Unexpected testimony for the state was drawn from Miss Irene Jackson, daughter of Policeman A. W. Jackson, a former employe of the factory, who had been summoned as a defense witness. On cross-examination Solicitor Dorsey developed testimony to the effect that the girls in the factory were somewhat afraid of Frank, that on one occasion Frank had looked into the dressing room while Miss Emily Mayfield was partly dressed and that Miss Mayfield had complained to a forelady, Miss Cleland. She told of other occasions on which the superintendent is alleged to have pushed the door of the dressing room open while the girls were in there dressing. She admitted on cross-examination that the occurrence to which she testified occurred last summer, but that she had […]

when her father made her leave. She also admitted that there had been complaint of the girls flirting through the windows of the dressing room and that Frank had spoken to her forelady about it.

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Mother’s Love Gives Trial Its Great Scene

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 16th, 1913


Every human emotion has been paraded during the long three weeks of the Frank trial.

There has been pathos. Comedy has opposed tragedy. Science has met sympathy. Truth has been arrayed against fiction. Negro has conflicted with white.

The erudite Arnold has matched wits with the thick-lipped, thick-skulled Conley. Luther Rosser, stern, determined and skillful, has had to try to meet the machinations of a brain of a cornfield negro, Newt Lee.

Hugh Dorsey, young and determined, Frank Hooper, smiling and ambitious, have breast to breast encountered the battles of Rosser and the rapier of Arnold.

There remained but one thing—the dramatic touch that sends the violins trembling a high crescendo and the hearts of the audience beating a long roll in double time.

It was furnished during the past week.

The Mother’s Part.

It was furnished by the person that a Belasco would have picked for the part. The touch was added by the person to whom the trial means more than a seat in high heaven—a woman whose son is on trial for his life.

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Girls Testify For and Against Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 16th, 1913



Two factory girls, one of them defending Leo M. Frank with all the eloquence at her command, and the other admitting that she had known of the factory superintendent opening the door to the girls’ dressing room on three different occasions and looking in, formed the center of interest among the score of witnesses who were called Saturday by the defense. They were Miss Irene Jackson and Miss Sarah Barnes.

Miss Jackson, daughter of County Policeman Jackson, testified on direct examination that she never had known of any improper conduct on the part of Frank, and that his character was good. Cross-questioned by Solicitor Dorsey she admitted that she had been in the room where the girls change from their street to their working clothes and had witnessed Frank open the door, look in and then turn around and leave. Once she said, Miss Emmeline Mayfield was in the room with her. On another time her sister was there, and on a third occasion, she said Miss Mamie Kitchen was the other girl in the room.

She said that her sister had started to quit at the time Frank opened the door when she was in the dressing room. The witness also was asked if N. V. Darley, general manager of the factory, ever had made the remark at the time several girls were thinking of quitting the factory directly after the murder that “if the girls stick by us through this, they won’t lose anything by it.” Miss Jackson said she had heard Darley say this. Miss Jackson quit work the day after the body was found.

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Wife and Mother of Frank Are Permitted to Remain in Court

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 15th, 1913

At the opening of the morning session yesterday Solicitor Dorsey motioned for the court to exclude the wife and mother of Leo M. Frank, Mrs. Lucille Frank and Mrs. Rae Frank, on account of the sensational outburst of the mother Wednesday afternoon, when she denounced the solicitor for attacking the character of her son.

In reply to the solicitor’s move to have the mother and wife of the defendant excluded from the court room, Attorney Arnold made a strong speech in their behalf, saying:

“It is a new doctrine to me where a wife and mother of the defendant cannot sit in court with him in the hour of his trial. I promise there will be no more outbreaks in court. Mrs. Frank, his wife, has sat through the trial, quietly and orderly. My friend’s conduct, I would think (meaning Dorsey) was a little more culpable than that of the mother’s. A man, even though he represent the prosecution, is not entitled to just do anything he pleases. It appears to me as though he were injecting these vile, filthy questions and innuendoes, merely for the purpose of inflaming the jury.”

The solicitor said:

“The defense has put the defendant’s character into evidence. I did not ask a witness a single question which I cannot uphold by plenty of evidence and testimony, including the statements of worthy girls and women. I submit that it is in absolute good faith that I am asking these questions. It is a mistaken idea that I am overly zealous in this case. I am only doing my duty as prosecuting attorney. It is unfair to exclude all over women and then to admit the defendant’s wife and mother and when I am doing my duty, to have them rail out at me.”

Judge Roan ruled that the two women could remain in the court room, but stated that any more such outbreaks would mean their prompt exclusion.

Wanted Questions Ruled Out.

Following this argument, Attorney Rosser made a motion to rule out certain questions and answers which Dorsey had put on cross-examination to witnesses for the defense, which questions pertained to the unsavory reports over which there have been many legal battles during the trial. He was overruled.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 15th 1913, “Wife and Mother of Frank are Permitted to Remain in Court,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Mrs. Rae Frank, Mother of Prisoner, Denounces Solicitor Hugh Dorsey

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 14th, 1913

Mrs. Rae Frank, the mother of the prisoner, startled the courtroom shortly before 4 o’clock, when she denounced Solicitor Dorsey, when he made an attack on the character of her son.

J. Ashley Jones, a local insurance agent, was in the witness chair testifying to the moral character of the accused when the incident occurred. He was asked by Solicitor Dorsey if he had over heard of Frank taking little girls out to Druid Hills, sitting them on his lap and fondling them.

Mrs. Frank glanced furiously at the prosecutor, and rising from her chair, she shrieked.

“No, nor you either—you dog!”

Mrs. Frank Leaves Courtroom.

Deputies rushed over to where Mrs. Frank stood staring at the solicitor Herbert Haas, a relative, passed in between Attorney Rosser and the stenographer and escorted Mrs. Frank from the courtroom to a cab in which she was driven home.

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Mother of Frank Denounces Solicitor Dorsey in Court

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 14th, 1913


Solicitor Dorsey Was Cross-Examining Ashley Jones, a Witness Who Had Been Testifying to the Good Character of the Prisoner, and Had Just Asked Him if He Had Not Heard of Frank Taking Liberties With Little Girls Out at Druid Hills Some Time Ago.


Large Part of Wednesday’s Testimony Was Consumed in an Effort on Part of the State to Break Down the Testimony Given by Lemmie Quinn—Dr. William K. Owen Takes the Stand in Afternoon to Tell How Story of Conley Was Reenacted at National Pencil Company Factory.

There was one brief dramatic moment in the Frank trial Wednesday—so dramatic and full of heart interest that spectators were stirred as they have not been since the trial began.

Solicitor Dorsey was cross-questioning Ashley Jones, a character witness for Frank. He asked him if he had not heard of Frank taking liberties with little girls out at Druid Hills.

“No, and you never did—you dog!” exclaimed Mrs. Rae Frank, mother of the accused young man, as she partially rose from her seat and faced Solicitor Dorsey.

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Court Stirred by Outburst From Leo Frank’s Mother

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

Atlanta Journal
August 14th, 1913

Defense Character Witness Is Used by Solicitor to Get Suggestions Before Jury

Solicitor Mentions Names of Many Persons, Who Will Probably be Put Up in Rebuttal to Attack Frank’s Conduct as Related to Woman Employes of Factory—Mrs. Rae Frank, Mother of the Accused, Creates a Sensation Shouting at the Solicitor.

Court adjourned at 5:40 until 9 o’clock Thursday morning.

The trial of Leo M. Frank took another sensational turn Wednesday afternoon when Solicitor Dorsey began, through his questions to John Ashley Jones, put up as a character witness by the defense, a vigorous attack upon the character of Frank. The solicitor hurled one sensational question at the witness after the other.

“You’ve never heard L. T. Coursey and Miss Myrtis Cator tell about Frank walking into the dressing room?” shouted the solicitor.

“You never heard how he tried to put his arms around Miss Myrtis Cator?”
“You never heard about his looking at poor little Gordie Jackson?”
“You didn’t hear of what he tried to do to Luis McDonald and Rachel Prater, did you?”
“And you didn’t know about Mrs. Pearl Dodson hitting him with a monkey wrench?”
To all of these questions the witness answered in the negative. The solicitor proceeded with others, asking the witness if he had ever talked to Mrs. G. D. Dunnegan and Marian Dunnegan or to Mrs. Wingard, of 45 Mills street.

It is inferred that the solicitor expects to put up the persons mentioned to testify in rebuttal against Frank’s good character.

Mr. Dorsey drew from Mr. Jones, who is an insurance agent, the admission that he had written to the grand jury, urging an indictment of Jim Conley. Mr. Jones said he did so because his insurance company had written a policy for Frank and before issuing it had made a thorough investigation of his character and found it to be good.

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State Wants Wife and Mother Excluded

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 14th, 1913

Call New Witnesses to Complete Alibi


Nearly a score more of alibi witnesses were to be called by the defense in the Frank trial when court opened Thursday morning. Frank’s attorneys thought that they would not be able to coincide before the early part of next week.

A number of character witnesses also will be called before the defense ends its case in behalf of the factory superintendent.

Solicitor Dorsey, before the jury was brought in, said he wanted to make a request that the mother and wife of Leo M. Frank be excluded from the court as the witnesses have been because of the outbreak of the elder Mrs. Frank Wednesday afternoon.

“I appreciate the feeling of the wife and mother,” he said, “it is a terrible strain on them. I am sorry for them. But I must have protection and I think they should be excluded when we are subjected to outbreaks like that of yesterday.”

Attorney Reuben in reply said:

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Frank’s Mother Stirs Courtroom

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 13th, 1913

Leaps to Defense of Son at Dorsey’s Question


A sensation was created in the courtroom during the cross-examination of Ashley Jones by Solicitor Dorsey at the Frank trial when Mrs. Rea [sic] Frank, mother of the defendant, sprang to her feet with a denial of intimations made by the Solicitor reflecting on her son.

“Mr. Jones, you never heard of Frank having girls on his lap in the office?” Dorsey had asked.

“No; nor you neither!” cried Frank’s mother.

“Keep quiet, keep quiet; I am afraid you will have to sit here and listen to this a long time,” said the Solicitor.

Mrs. Frank broke into tears and was assisted from the room, crying: “My God, my God!”

Mother and Wife Set With Bowed Heads.

The Solicitor’s examination of Jones had been of a most sensational nature and during the portion of it leading up to the interruption by Mrs. Frank the mother of the defendant and her daughter sat with lowered heads listening to the questions and answers.

Following the outbreak, Attorney Arnold jumped to his feet and shouted: “Your honor, this is outrageous. We are not responsible for the lies and slanders that cracked-brain extremists have circulated since this murder occurred.”

“I will rule that the Solicitor can not ask anything that he has heard since the murder,” replied Judge Roan. “He can ask on this cross-examination what happened before.”

“Your honor,” returned Solicitor Dorsey, “I am not four-flushing about this. I am going to present a witness to prove the charges.

Attorney Arnold interrupted the speaker.

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Ordeal is Borne with Reserve by Franks

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

Wife and Mother of the Accused Pencil Factory Superintendent Sit Calmly Through Trial.


Women are brought into a court room, as all the world knows, for one of two purposes. Their presence may have a moral effect in softening the heart of a juror, particularly if they be young, pretty or wistful of countenance. Or they may be there on the affectionate mission of cheering and encouraging a beloved defendant.

Two women sat with Leo Frank through all the hot, weary days of last week. Their object was the one or the other. Which?

A study of these women was the answer. Everybody studied them. Everybody knew that love and trust inspired them. Whether Frank be innocent or guilty, to his credit be it said that he is loved by the women closest to him.

His mother was one of the two, a woman on whose face was written plainly the story of a life in which there was much of grief, much of the tenderest joy, much of loving and being loved.

Tragedy in Mother’s Face.

Her eyes were sad. Her features never lost their tragic composure. But it was plain that smiles had come often to her in the course of her life. The face is common to mothers.

The other woman was his wife, a robust, wholesome young woman. Her face was the placid face of one whose life has been pleasant. No unhappy event had come to mar a single feature. None of the troubles that had been the mother’s had come to her until this calamity.

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Trial is No Ordeal for Me, Says Frank’s Mother

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

Atlanta Journal
July 30th, 1913

She Declares Her Confidence in Son’s Innocence Makes It Easy for Her

“My son never looked stronger than at this moment,” said Mrs. Ray Frank, of Brooklyn, Wednesday morning. “The trial isn’t telling upon him because he isn’t worrying. He is confident because of his innocence and because of his certainty of an acquittal.

“Neither his wife nor myself is anxious. Of course, we feel the heat and it is tiring to sit here in the court room throughout the day. But, like my son, we are not afraid. Why should we be? We know that he is innocent and we know that, because of this fact, he will be acquitted.

“I, his mother, know that he is free from all guilt of the charge upon which he is being tried, and that this trial can have only one result—his acquittal.

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Frank’s Mother Pitiful Figure of the Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 30th, 1913

Defendant Perfect in Poise, His Wife Picture of Contemptuous Confidence.


Arm akimbo; glasses firmly set, changing position seldom, Leo M. Frank sits through his trial with his thoughts in Kamchatka, Terra del Fuego, or the Antipodes, so far as the spectators in the courtroom can judge.

He may realize that if the twelve men he faces decide that he is guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan, the decree of earthly court will be that his sole hope of the future will be an appeal to the Court on High. His mind may constantly carry the impression of the likelihood of the solemn reading of the death warrant, the awful march to the death chamber, the sight of the all terrifying gibbet, the dreadful ascension of its steel stairs, the few words of religious consolation—and then the drop.

Frank’s Face a Mask.

But if he does realize these things, his face is as completely masked against emotion as that of a skilled poker player.

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Negro’s Affidavit Not Given Much Credence

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Even the City Detectives, It Is Said, Attach Very Little Importance to Document

Very little importance, it is said, is attached by the city detectives to the sensational and incoherent affidavit of Minola McKnight, the negro cook at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, 68 East Georgia avenue, where Leo M. Frank, the pencil factory superintendent, and his wife reside.

Attorney Luther Rosser, chief counsel for the indicted superintendent, read the affidavit with apparent amusement. He had no comment to make, but it was evident that Mr. Rosser did not regard the affidavit seriously.

Mr. and Mrs. Selig and Mrs. Frank read the affidavit in The Journal, and although they would make no statement for publication, they appeared to view the negro woman’s testimony as absurd and ridiculous on the face of it.

But little of the cook’s testimony, even should she stick to her story until the day of the trial, will be admissible in court. It is largely alleged hearsay evidence and, therefore, barred.

The woman, in her affidavit, swears that Frank came home to lunch on the Saturday of the Mary Phagan murder, about 1:30; that he did not eat anything and that he remained only about ten minutes. If the negress knows of her own knowledge that this is true she can so testify in court. However, Mr. Selig, Frank’s father-in-law, will swear as he did before the coroner’s inquest, that Frank ate lunch with him and afterwards lay down on a lounge for a nap. Mrs. Selig will reiterate her testimony at the inquest, which was to the effect that Frank came home about 1:30 o’clock and that she and her daughter, Mrs. Frank, were dressed and ready to go to a grand opera matinee; that soon after his arrival they left.

The McKnight woman, in her affidavit, declares that some time on Sunday she overheard Mrs. Frank tell her mother, Mrs. Selig, that Frank came home drunk the night before, that he was very restless and acted queerly; that he told her (Mrs. Frank) that he was in trouble and begged her to get his pistol in order that he might kill himself. Continue Reading →

Mother Here to Aid Frank in Trial


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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

With the time when Leo M. Frank will go on trial for the murder of Mary Phagan rapidly approaching, perhaps no greater reinforcement to the accused pencil factory superintendent in facing his ordeal has been made than that in the person of his mother, who is now in Atlanta at the Selig home.

Mrs. Frank came on from Brooklyn, where she makes her home, and where Frank himself formerly resided. She will remain until after the trial.

A woman of considerable age, Mrs. Frank has shown wonderful bravery in coming to share her son’s burden.

Stands by Son.

Mrs. Frank has taken her place in the Selig household as the pillar of cheerfulness and hope, friends of the family declare. Her unbounded confidence in the ultimate release of her son, despite the horrible accusations made against him, is said to have prove the saving grace of the stricken household.

Since her arrival the mother has thrown aside every interest except that centered in her son. She reads everything that is obtainable regarding the Phagan case and is as well posted on it as anyone of the many who have followed the local reports of the mystery since its start.

Mrs. Frank has visited her son and at the of her son’s parents-in-law comforted them and their daughter.

Mrs. Frank is a woman of rare intelligence and understanding. She has introduced many variations into the Selig home to draw off the monotony of discussion, which has paralyzed all else in the family. Continue Reading →