Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
Saturday, May 24th, 1913
The Journal is Presenting Below the Complete Stenographic Report of the Interview in the Williams House, In Which Mayor Woodward, E. O. Miles, G. C. Febuary and A. S. Colyar Took Part, While the Dictograph Recorded the Conversation
That Mayor James G. Woodward was dictographed by the city detectives on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Colonel Thomas B. Felder had concluded his interview in Room 31 of Williams House No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth street, was made public Saturday morning by Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford.
The Atlanta Journal presents below the complete stenographic report of the conversation imputed to Mayor Woodward by the dictograph. The report also gives in detail the statements accredited to E. O. Miles, the private detective present while the dictograph was at work. Only one or two unprintable words have been omitted from the sworn record which The Journal has secured.
The feature of the interview accredited to Mayor Woodward by the dictograph is the statement by him that he was looking for evidence against the police department and particularly against Chief of Police James L. Beavers. The mayor is also quoted as saying that there were enough votes in the police board to remove Chief Beavers if they could get the evidence.
The sworn statement of Stenographer George M. Gentry, detailing the alleged dictographed conversation in which the mayor figured is given below.
The following statements were overheard by me, by using a dictograph, located in Room 32, of the Williams House No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth street, Atlanta, Ga., said dictograph being connected with room No. 31 of the said hotel, and I saw Mr. E. O. Miles, whom I am personally acquainted with, Mr. G. C. Febuary, whom I have known for several years, and Mr. A. S. Colyar, with whom I have only been acquainted a short time, enter room No. 31 of said hotel, at about 4 o’clock on the afternoon of May 21, 1913.
On account of Mr. Febuary having locked the door to room No. 32, I was delayed in getting in, after having witnessed the three parties above mentioned enter room No. 31 of said hotel. In the emergency I used the key to my front door, which with a little difficulty opened the door. After closing the door and going to the instrument I was unable to hear what was being said, very distinctly on account of the windows of the said room being open. This necessitated another delay to close them, and after returning to my instrument I was able to hear the following. Several dashes indicate that the voice, just at that point, became inaudible.
Febuary: I can tell you some things. I am secretary to Lanford.
Miles: Now just wait a minute. I know —. I have got several cases —.
Colyar: (Question incoherent.)
Miles: I am satisfied you ought, but you know when they go into it they are going to put up a howl.
Colyar: (Conversation too low to catch.)
Miles: The mayor will give us absolute assurance that he will protect us.
Colyar: Will you bring the mayor up here? Right now?
Miles: I think I can bring the mayor up here right away. The evidence is in the —.
Colyar: It looks like a frame-up on Felder and they couldn’t detect —.
Colyar: You are not a Jew are you?
Miles: No I am not. I spell my name M-i-l-e-s.
Colyar: These sons of a gun down here can frame up anything on Decatur street. I told Felder I would get the goods and go outside of the county and I would meet you and him at East Lake.
Miles: There is no occasion for your leaving town.
COLYAR AFRAID TO REMAIN IN TOWN.
Colyar: But I mean afterwards. I am afraid to stay here.
Febuary: If the mayor and Felder will stay behind us like they said they would.
Colyar: I would like to have the mayor’s assurance.
Miles: But right now he may be busy. Felder can get — Mr. Felder is a good bull. Now, it will take about ten minutes in any case, but he may be busy. I will bring him, if he can possibly get here. I mean Woodward.
(In a few minutes Miles returned.)
Miles: He was up to the city hall. He will be over in a few minutes he said:
Colyar: Where is your residence, Mr. Miles?
Miles: In Decatur. I used to live at Smyrna.
(Conversation here became inaudible for a short time on account of scraping of feet upon the floor, chairs, etc. which drowned the sound through the instrument.)
Miles: If you will excuse me I will take off my coat. It is very warm.
Colyar and Febuary: Certainly.
Colyar: Mr. Febuary, step down stairs and get the pitcher and bring it up here full of ice water.
(Mr. Febuary was evidently the one addressed, as someone went out and the conversation continued between Mr. Miles and Mr. Colyar.)
Miles: We will have that fixed. If we have got the goods on these detectives, their sphere of work will be over. It will only take three or four days ———.
Colyar: Well, what do you think of the Phagan murder?
Miles: I think it was the most damnable job. They telephoned Craig, the Constitution man, to come and go with them.
Colyar: Do you believe Frank murdered that girl?
Miles: I never have believed it. It looks a great deal more like he did, than it did before, from the affidavits. Also there is going to be pretty strong evidence that the girl was not assaulted.
(Conversation became very indistinct in a few minutes.)
CASE WAS HANDLED BADLY.
Miles: I think the whole thing was handled badly, to my mind I am satisfied. They had an extra on the street at 6:30. They should have never allowed all the persons they did on the premises. Just after the murder there were only a few scents and tracks, and the man who did the murder could have easily been tracked, as no one else had been there but the negro and his track could have been very easily eliminated.
Colyar: Yes. That is right. It looks to me like they would have known better.
Miles: They should have looked for footprints and fingerprints. Instead of that they had over five hundred finger prints—— (Conversation interrupted by knock at door.)
(A moment or so later Mayor Woodward entered the room.)
Miles, Colyar and Febuary: (Almost simultaneously) Well, how are you, Mr. Mayor.
After the general conversation of all had subsided I was able to distinguish Mr. Miles’ voice.
Miles: I really don’t know it well enough—this is the first conference I have had.
Colyar: Well, Tom Felder told me that the mayor wanted some evidence on these fellows down here at the city hall, Decatur street, the station house, and here’s a man that works down there. He got disgusted doing three men’s work. He can get the evidence for you, but he wants no one to know it. There are some terrible framers down there.
Miles: He is afraid they will throw him in jail, after they find it out.
Woodward: How can they throw him in jail?
Colyar: They can get a chance against anybody and throw him in jail. You don’t know them like some other people do.
Mayor Woodward: What is the nature of the evidence he can get?
Colyar: Well, if he was to get the evidence that Mr. Felder wants, it would do the work, which I understand is what you want.
Mayor Woodward: All I want to — (voice too low and indistinct).
Colyar: They would throw him out of his job and put him in jail.
Mayor Woodward: I don’t see how they could do it.
Miles: I don’t—unless there are no sane people in the city any more.
Colyar: Well, you know they said they were going to close up the Red Light ——–
Mayor Woodward: Well, they have got nothing to fear.
SAID MAYOR WAS HARD TO SEE.
Colyar: I went up to your office to see you, and I found it was harder to get in your office than when I was a newspaper reporter at the White House.
Woodward: Well, my secretary came in and I told him to tell them I would see you just as soon as I possibly could.
Colyar: But he said you couldn’t see me until tomorrow.
Woodward: The reason I said that was because he said you said you were in a hurry, and I said tell him to come back tomorrow. If you could have waited there a few minutes you would have had no trouble. You said you were in a hurry and had some business to attend to, but I could not tell the other people to get out of the office.
Colyar: There wasn’t anybody else in your office.
Woodward: Well, the secretary or somebody was. Oh! I had to sign up a lot of checks that had to go in before the bank closed.
Colyar: I have always heard you were a plain old politician.
Mayor Woodward: It is just my natural way.
Colyar: Well, this is the man that can give the evidence down at headquarters that you want, but he is afraid to.
Woodward: There is nothing to be afraid of.
Colyar: You don’t know what the police persecution is. They can prove that black is white and water will run up stream, and they can get a jury that will play to them.
Miles: I take this view of it. It will only be — with the police force to be — until they won’t be in position to get any one into trouble ——.
Colyar: They tell me they got a majority in the board.
Miles: No, sir; I don’t believe it.
Woodward: Dozier, I am told has deserted Beavers.
Colyar: How many votes will it take to remove him.
Woodward: A majority.
Colyar: How many are on the Board?
Colyar: You have a vote in case of a tie?
Woodward: I have a vote anyhow.
Miles: He is a member ex-officio.
Woodward: I vote all the time.
Febuary: Yes, sir.
FEBUARY PROMISED PROTECTION.
Miles: Febuary wants to know if we can promise him protection. I think we can safely do it in a matter of right, like this.
Miles: He has the graft list and knows who’s on the list, who’s to be protected and who’s not to be protected. It looks to me like we have the same thing down there that they had in New York, only on a smaller scale, because Atlanta is a smaller town.
Colyar: Did you tell Tom Felder that you authorized Felder that if he got the proof for you, you would see that he got paid for it?
Woodward: I told Felder that on matters of this kind . . . . and he has a good deal to say, and I told him that I am satisfied that certain parties would be willing to pay the money for him, and if he got the evidence that would convict these people it would be paid, and it will be; there is no question about that.
Colyar: He said he would give him a thousand dollars for the evidence.
Miles: Felder said to me that Febuary said that that was the price.
Febuary: Felder said that he would pay it to us, but he would have to see the papers. He said he would give me one thousand dollars.
Miles: He didn’t say that anybody had authorized him to do it. He just said he would get it up.
Woodward: I don’t know whether he had references. —— As to whether he could raise the money or not; but if he did, he knows that I have not authorized him to do anything of that kind.
Miles: What would be the nature of those documents?
Colyar: It is an affidavit from two people, both signed it, acknowledging threats, etc. graft an[d] general corruption. Like you said awhile ago.
Miles: There is no trouble to show the graft?
Febuary: (Reply inaudible.)
Miles: ——a place like the —— inn has never been closed.
Febuary: I don’t know just about that one.
Miles: Now my information is that the woman who runs it is a sister-in-law of an official in the police department. A woman gave me that information and said that she was operating under protection, and there certainly is a half dozen hacks around there at one o’clock at night, automobiles and couples going in and out.
NO TROUBLE TO GET THE MONEY.
Woodward: There will be no trouble about getting the money.
Miles: Yes, but …… They might get the council in their favor at some later date …… Of course, somebody would have to advance it now.
Woodward: Yes, I know it.
Miles: Isn’t there another stenographer that works down there?
Febuary: Yes; There is a man down there in chief of police’s office. He works at night. He goes on about 4.
Miles: If they want anything after you go off, they get him to do it?
Febuary: (Reply indistinct.)
Miles: You keep all the records of that department?
Febuary: Yes. For Langford [sic].
…… (Traffic noise interfered with sound.)
Colyar: Only two men can get the evidence, Febuary and Chief Lanford. …… They have got him doing three men’s work. They make him do the work of the judge down there ……
Miles: Well, Mr. Woodward, suppose we leave!
Woodward: I would like to have some kind of an idea or statement of .. what …… so as to know what ……
Miles: Yes, that is something specific.
Woodward: I don’t know what to do.
Febuary: Well, I will have to go through these papers and see what I can get.
Woodward: Get anything that looks like graft. I don’t care who it hits, and especially Beavers.
Febuary: Well, I will have to go through these papers and see what I can get.
Woodward: We are going to get up the money to pay for it. They’ll want to know what you have got and what you can prove. Then I can give him an answer. Are you a stenographer?
Woodward: What do they pay you?
Febuary: One hundred dollars. I am clerk of the detective office, and I spend a great deal of my time working for Judge Broyles, which makes one man working in two different departments.
Miles: Are you married?
Febuary: Yes, sir.
Miles: (excessive noise rendered conversation inaudible.)
Woodward: I won’t do anything until it is substantiated.
Miles: Yes. Just forget it. You know you have never broken your word yet.
Woodward: I heard they charged me with some meanness.
Miles: I think that is a great compliment.
Woodward: I heard they said something of that kind down there.
Miles: That would tickle me to death if some woman would say that to me.
Woodward: The woman, I understood, said she would not get on the stand and swear to it.
Colyar: Well, I understood that the woman said she did not know you.
(Noise interfered with sound over dictograph.)
Woodward: I have a lot of fellows to come up to me and say: “Is this Mayor Woodward? I have seen your picture” . . . . Oh, I don’t know that it is true about me.
Miles: Personally (on account of Mr. Miles talking so low, was unable to understand him.)
WOODWARD SAYS THERE’S EVIDENCE AGAINST BEAVERS.
Woodward: Well, they have pretty good evidence on him.
Colyar: On who?
Colyar: I know one of the vice commission leaders was put out of a hotel in Birmingham three years ago with a prominent man’s wife . . . . .
Woodward: I tell you what to do. You get this stenographer up there and see what he can do. You needn’t let me know about it; just tell Miles.
Colyar: How about Lanford?
Woodward: We want Beavers first, then Lanford.
Miles: I agree with you it is best that after we go into this and raise the money to pay for it, we got out of the county, and it will be turned over to be examined, to see that they are on the papers, and then the money is to be turned over. Now, this list you speak of. If Febuary don’t want it to go out in his own handwriting, I will take it and copy it in my own handwriting. And if he gets into trouble we will protect him. Still, in a thing like this I don’t mind getting in trouble for the right. If he gets in jail I will promise that he will get out . . . .
“I HAVE THE PARDON POWER.”
Woodward: We have got lawyers that will get you out pretty quick. And I have the pardon power still.
Miles: And when they see you have got them they are going to be might quick to quiet down……Now suppose we arrange for another meeting. You set the hour and I will meet you at any time any place.
Febuary: Well we would better call you up.
Miles: I am so busy that I am not in my office very much, and you may not catch me.
Colyar: Can you meet me at eight o’clock tonight, here?
Miles: Yes. I can meet you here.
(At this juncture someone knocked on the door and told Mr. Colyar that he was wanted at the telephone. Mr. Colyar replied by saying he couldn’t come as he was busy.)
Febuary: Well, we will call you up.
Colyar: He is coming here at eight o’clock tonight……..My number up here is Atlanta phone 2401.
Miles: Yes. I will call for you. Now that is tonight?
Miles: I will be here at eight o’clock. That is all right?
Woodward: I am satisfied that if we can establish……Do you understand this much, that we have got something (voice too low and indistinct to hear.)
Miles: Yes. It has got to be positive.
Colyar: Want a match?
Miles: I got one. Well, Good luck.
Woodward: (Voice too low to hear).
Colyar: They will frame up on anybody that you report.
Woodward: (Talked very low and indistinct).
Colyar: What protection have we got?
“GET A LIST OF THE PAPERS.”
Woodward: Well I don’t think there will be any trouble at all……We could get together and establish….There is something wrong. It is simply a…….. Now Mr. Febuary you get a list of the papers you can furnish me against those men and give them to me or Miles and then we will know how to talk with you. As it is we don’t know whether you can get anything or not.
Colyar: What do you think of the Phagan case?
Woodward: Phagan case? I think it has been mighty mussed up. The only thing I know on that subject is what I see in the paper, and they have very little in connection with it. (Balance inaudible.)
Colyar: Tom Felder talks too much.
Woodward: I think so too. I don’t know what he said on the outside, but he talked some to me, not a great deal, I didn’t see him five minutes. I only had a very few words……Well, I will see you again.
Colyar and Febuary: Well, Good-bye, Mayor.
State of Georgia—County of Fulton:
Personally appeared before me the undersigned, notary public for the state and county aforesaid, George M. Gentry, a stenographer, who makes oath and says that the foregoing conversation between A. S. Colyar, James G. Woodward, mayor of the city of Atlanta; E. O. Miles and G. C. Febuary, took place in Room No. 31 of Williams House No. 2, at 34 and 36 Northn [sic] Forsyth street, Atlanta, Ga., on May 21, 1913, and it is a true and correct transcript as taken down by the affiant through a dictograph, which was stationed in Room No. 32 of said hotel.
GEORGE M. GENTRY.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23d day of May, 1913.
CHAS. S. TRANSOU.
Notary Public, Fulton County, Georgia.
State of Georgia—County of Fulton:
Personally appeared before me the undersigned, notary public for the state and county aforesaid, A. S. Colyar and G. C. Febuary, both of whom are personally known to me, who make oath that the above conversation between James G. Woodward, mayor, and E. O. Miles and the affiants, as herein set out, took place in Room No. 31 of Williams House No. 2, at 34 and 36 North Forsyth street, Atlanta, Georgia, and that same was reported by George M. Gentry, a stenographer, in Room No. 32 of said Williams house, and that the same is a true and correct transcription of said conversations.
A. S. COLYAR,
G. C. FEUARY [sic].
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23rd day of May, 1913.
W. W. BROWN,
Notary Public, Fulton County, Georgia.
* * *
Atlanta Journal, May 24th 1913, “‘We Have Enough Votes if We Get the Evidence,’ the Mayor is Quoted by the Dictograph,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)