Lawyers on Both Sides Satisfied With Conley

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

Atlanta Journal
August 5th, 1913

They Haven’t Shaken Him a Particle,” Says Dorsey—“He Has Told About 240 Lies Already,” Declares Attorney Reuben Arnold

Both the state’s attorneys and the counsel for Leo M. Frank Tuesday at noon expressed satisfaction with the progress of the cross-examination of James Conley, the negro sweeper. The negro had been on the stand then for more than nine hours, during eight hours of which he had undergone a strenuous grilling at the hands of Attorney L. Z. Rosser.

“They have not shaken him a particle,” declared Solicitor Dorsey, “and that isn’t all. I don’t believe they will be able to do so.” Attorney Frank A. Hooper, who is assisting Mr. Dorsey in the prosecution of Frank said: “Mr. Rosser will go ahead and wear himself out, and Attorney Arnold will hurl questions at Conley until he, too, grows weary, and when it is all over the negro will still be there ready for more.”

Mr. Rosser was confident that he had made great headway in discredited Conley’s testimony. He smilingly commented upon how he had tangled up the negro when he got him away from his recited story, but said that when Conley got back into his well-drilled tale he ran along like a piece of well-oiled machinery. “I’ve caught him in a mass of lies,” asserted Mr. Rosser.

“Conley has lied both specifically and generally,” declared Reuben Arnold. “He has lied about material things and he has lied about immaterial things. He has told about 340 lies since he has been under cross-examination. I kept tab on him until he had told over 300 lies, and then they came so fast I couldn’t keep up with him.”

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Atlanta Journal, August 5th 1913, “Lawyers on Both Sides Satisfied With Conley,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Defense Moves to Strike Most Damaging Testimony

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

Atlanta Journal
August 5th, 1913

ON GROUNDS OF IRRELEVANCY ATTORNEY ARNOLD MOVES TO STRIKE PART OF TESTIMONY

He Asks That Conley’s Statement That He Acted as “Lookout” for Frank, and Part of Testimony Attacking Frank’s Personal Character Be Blotted From Record — Attorney Hooper eDclares [sic] Defense Has Waited Too Long to Enter Objection

MYSTERIOUS “MR. DALTON” MENTIONED BY CONLEY MAY BE CALLED BY SOLICITOR TO CORROBORATE NEGRO

It Is Said That Dalton Is Within Reach of State—With Conley Still Under Cross-Examination and Other State Witnesses, Including Dr. Harris, Yet to Be Heard, Indications Are Tuesday That Trial Will Last Three Weeks, If Not Longer

Attorney Arnold entered the court about two minutes late. Mr. Rosser had not arrived. Mr. Arnold asked the jury be sent out, and stated that he had several motions to make. The jury went out. The first, he said, was a motion to exclude certain testimony from the record on the ground that it was wholly irrelevant, incompetent and inadmissible. Mr. Arnold held a long typewritten document in his hands.

“We move, first,” he said, “to exclude from the record all the testimony of Conley relative to watching for the defendant, and we withdraw our cross examination on that subject.

“Second, Mr. Arnold moved that a portion of the negro’s testimony attacking Frank’s character, which was brought out through questions propounded by the solicitor be ruled out.”

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Rosser Goes Fiercely After Jim Conley

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 5th, 1913

The determined onslaught against Jim Conley, his string of affidavits and the story he told before the Frank jury had its real beginning Monday afternoon.

Luther Rosser, starting with the avowed purpose of breaking down the negro’s story and forcing from the negro’s lips a story more incriminating to himself than any he had uttered, went deeply into Conley’s past history, his home life, his prison record and everything that directly or remotely might have a bearing on the solution of the murder mystery.

Before taking up the events of the day that Mary Phagan was murdered, the attorney made Conley admit that he had been in jail seven times. The negro did not seem particularly loath to make this admission, but was inclined at first to let it go into the record that he had been behind the bars “five or six times.”

Rosser, however, seemed to have about as thorough an acquaintance with these circumstances of Conley’s life as did Conley himself, and he refreshed the negro’s memory until Conley was willing to agree that it probably was seven times.

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Many Discrepancies To Be Bridged in Conley’s Stories

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 5th, 1913

The defense of Leo Frank will bring out vividly before the jury Tuesday that the striking feature of Jim Conley’s dramatic recital on the stand Monday was that it differed not only from the first two affidavits signed by the negro, which he later repudiated in large part, but it also conflicted in several particulars with the last sensational affidavit in which he charged Leo Frank with the killing of the girl and related that he (Conley) disposed of the body and wrote the notes that were found at its side at Frank’s direction.

As a conspicuous example, Conley in his narrative before the jury Monday told for the first time of hearing the Phagan girl scream after she had gone to Frank’s office and, according to his story, walked with the superintendent to the rear of the factory.

He said nothing of this in his first two affidavits. Neither did he mention it in his third sworn statement. On the contrary, he denied to the detectives at that time that he had heard any sound indicating that a crime had been committed. To a reporter for The Georgian who saw him after he had made the third affidavit he made the same firm denial.

He even denied that he had seen the little girl enter the factory. That he was on the first floor and saw Mary Phagan when she went upstairs was not known until The Georgian published an exclusive story to that effect following the talk that Solicitor Dorsey and Frank Hooper had with the negro in the commissioners’ room at the police station weeks after the third affidavit.

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Traditions of the South Upset; White Man’s Life Hangs on Negro’s Word

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 5th, 1913

By L.F. WOODRUFF.

Sinister as a cloud, as raven as a night unaided by moon, planet or satellite, Jim Conley is to-day the most talked-of man in Georgia.

His black skin has not been whitened by the emancipation proclamation. The record of his race for regarding an oath as it regards a drink of gin, something to be swallowed, remains unattacked.

But Georgia is to-day listening to the words of Jim Conley with breathless interest. His every syllable has ten thousand of eager interpreters. His facial expression is watched as keenly as he answers the questions of Luther Rosser as would be the physiognomy of the President of the United States be watched as he signed a declaration of war against Japan.

Jim Conley has upset traditions of the South, even as the Phagan case has upset traditions that have lived for years through the length and breadth of the country.

The South Listens.

A white man is on trial. His life hangs on the words of a negro. And the South listens to the negro’s words.

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Conley’s Charge Turns Frank Trial Into Fight ‘To Worse Than Death’

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 5th, 1913

By JAMES B. NEVIN.

Black and sinister, depressing in its every aspect and horrible in its gloom, the testimony of Jim Conley in the Frank case was given to the court and the jury under direct examination Monday.

The shadow of the negro had loomed like a frightful cloud over the courtroom for days—the negro himself came into the case Monday. And he came into it in an awful and unspeakably sensational way!

The public was prepared for most that Conley said—it was not quite prepared for all he said.

The State, in its direct examination of Conley, climaxed its case against Frank most thrillingly and most abhorrently. If that climax is not rendered impossible, ridiculous absurd by the defense, then the young factory superintendent is doomed.

It is, indeed, now a battle to the death—and to worse than the death!

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Mrs. Frank Breaks Down in Court

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 5th, 1913

Judge, Favoring Defense, Reserves Decision as to Striking Out Testimony

CONLEY CONTINUES TO WITHSTAND FIERCE ATTACKS OF ROSSER

Reuben Arnold created a sensation at the opening of Tuesday afternoon’s session of the Frank trial by making a motion that all of the revolting testimony concerning Leo Frank’s alleged conduct before the day of Mary Phagan’s murder be stricken out of the records. He also demanded that all of Jim Conley’s testimony in reference to watching at the door at Frank’s direction be expunged except the time he claims he watched on the day Mary Phagan was killed.

The contention resulted in practically a complete victory for the defense after a bitter legal battle. Judge Roan said that he would exclude from the records everything bearing on these alleged instances, except the negro’s testimony as to what occurred on the actual day of the crime. He said, however, he would hold himself ready to reverse his decision until he made his announcement to the jury Wednesday morning.

As the charges of degeneracy were being hurled at her husband by the Solicitor, young Mrs. Frank hung her head and finally unable to endure the ordeal longer left the courtroom. When she returned, her eyes were red and her cheeks flushed as from weeping. She breathed heavily and appeared to be making a brave effort to regain her composure. It was the first time she had broken down during the long trial. Frank’s mother left her place, a look of utter, wearied misery in her eyes, but a determination to be brave in every line of her face.

Attorney Arnold asked the judge to strike out not only all the testimony in direct examination in reference to Frank’s alleged conduct, but also all that has come out in cross-examination.

DORSEY FIGHTS FOR TESTIMONY.

Solicitor Dorsey insisted that the testimony was admissible and should remain in the records.

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Leo Frank’s Trial Is Attracting Universal Interest in Georgia

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 4th, 1913

By Britt Craig.

There has never been a trial in Georgia’s records rivaling the Frank case in general interest throughout the state even the Grace case being a poor second.

The Myers trial—the famous Will Myers murder case which is yet to receive its final chapter—created considerable interest both locally and throughout the state but was a mere shadow beside the present case.

The Appelbaum case was a short one, was put through the courts more as a matter of routine than anything else. Mrs. Appelbaum is still in Atlanta and attending the Frank trial.

Will Consume Three Weeks.

There is no doubt that the Frank trial will run into its third week. That much has already been predicted by attorneys for both the state and defense. Since they are naturally conservative in their estimates it is possible it may last longer.

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Every Man on Frank’s Jury Gets “Nickname” for Trial

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 4th, 1913

Quiet Sunday for Twelve Jurors

By Vernon Stiles.

As completely cut off from knowledge of the happenings of the outside world as though they were marooned in an island of the South seas, and yet tantalized by the swirling life around them, twelve men have lived for the past week in the heart of Atlanta. Their days has been spent in a crowded courtroom, where they listened to the wrangle of lawyers and the more or less conflicting statements of the witnesses, and their nights have passed in three crowded rooms behind locked doors, where the tiny iron beds give the place grim and bare aspect of a hospital ward.

Before them during the day is always the sight of a man whom they will be asked to brand as the vilest criminal of Georgia’s history, and whom they will also be asked to liberate and free from the stigma that even the state’s charge against him now places on his name.

Tragedy Always Present.

In their mind’s eye is always the vision of that dark factory basement, of the little girl, victim of some fiend. The story of that morning in the basement when the child’s body was found has been described to the jurymen in the uncouth and yet striking and picturesque words of the night watchman who found the body and in the clearer language of the white men who followed Newt Lee’s call that morning.

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Dr. H. F. Harris Will Take Stand This Afternoon

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 4th, 1913

Secretary of State Board of Health Will Resume Testimony Interrupted by His Collapse on Last Friday.

STATE TO USE PHOTO OF SPOT WHERE BODY WAS FOUND BY NEGRO

Friends and Relatives Besiege Prisoner in Cell on Sunday. Shows Little Evidence of Strain of Trial, Say Jail Officials.

The state will open this afternoon’s session of the Frank trial with Dr. Roy Harris on the stand, it is stated, if the physician’s health is as much improved as it was on Sunday.

The solicitor had not finished his examination of Dr. Harris on Friday afternoon when he collapsed upon the stand and necessitated the support of Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner in moving from the courtroom.

A sharp clash is expected between the state and defense over Dr. Harris’ testimony. In an exacting cross examination of Dr. J. W. Hurt Saturday morning, the defense proved that many of the opinions held by the two physicians were conflicting.

State Will Use Photo.

The solicitor has requested a reporter of The Constitution to produce in court this morning a photograph taken by The Constitution staff photographer on the morning of the discovery of the murder of the spot in the pencil factory basement at which Mary Phagan’s body was found. Just what use to which the picture will be put has not been divulged.

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Frank on Stand Wednesday Week

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 4th, 1913

Defense Intimates Trial Will Run Into Middle of Third Week With Defendant Final Witness.

It will probably be Wednesday or Thursday of next week before Leo Frank takes the stand to explain his actions on the day Mary Phagan was slain.

This was intimated last night by attorneys associated with the defense, who stated that the trial very likely would run into the middle of the third week, and that, from present plans, the defendant would be the final witness.

It is understood that the defense will introduce much expert testimony, and that it will be of exceedingly interesting nature. Physicians, it is stated, will testify in rebuttal to evidence produced by the prosecution.

The session this afternoon will begin with the statement of an expert chemist, who is testifying in behalf of the state—Dr. Roy F. Harris, secretary of the state board of health, who testified Friday of examining Mary Phagan’s stomach and of finding undigested cabbage which indicated, in his belief, that death had ensued within an hour after she had eaten dinner.

Thus far, the story told by Dr. Harris is the most interesting in the famous case. It also furnished more thrills than any other phase. A wave of intense interest surged over the courtroom as he explained the minute details of his examination of the corpse, and told of his opinions regarding the cause of death and the time at which it had been committed.

A vigorous battle will be waged over his testimony. In an effort to discredit the statement that Mary Phagan was slain within an hour after her noon-day meal, Dr. J. W. Hurt, coroner’s physician, was kept on the stand for three hours Saturday morning, and examined mercilessly by the defense.

It is intimated that Reuben Arnold will handle the expert testimony introduced by both sides.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 4th 1913, “Frank on Stand Wednesday Week,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Conley Thought He Was on Trial, His Attorney Declares

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

Atlanta Journal
August 4th, 1913

Jim thought he was on trial this morning,” said W. M. Smith, attorney for James Conley, the negro sweeper at the pencil factory, after the recess Monday noon following Conley’s appearance on the witness stand of the Frank trial.

Attorney Smith declared that the negro had no idea of his real status in the matter until after the court had recessed.

“Then Conley turned to me, after the jury had gone out and he had been taken off the stand and said: ‘Boss, I wonder what that jury is going to do with me?’ I said: ‘You’re not on trial, Jim. You’re here just as a witness, to tell all you know.’ He said: ‘Oh, ain’t I on trial?’ and appeared to be relieved greatly.”

Conley was taken to the police station and got his dinner there. At 2 o’clock Chief Beavers and Chief Lanford conducted the negro back to the court house and he resumed his place in the witness chair.

The police assert that until a few days ago Conley believed he was going to be hanged for the part which he swears he played in disposing of the dead body of Mary Phagan. Harry Scott, of the Pinkerton agency, is authority for that, too.

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Atlanta Journal, August 4th 1913, “Conley Thought He Was on Trial, His Attorney Declares,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Conley’s Glibness May Prove Unfortunate for His Testimony

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

Atlanta Journal
August 4th, 1913

Negro’s Recitative Manner of Telling His Story Gives Impression That He Has Rehearsed It Many Times

Jim Conley Monday morning recited his story to the Frank jury.

Newt Lee last week told his.

Above all other things, Jim’s testimony was glib.

Newt’s was deliberate.

For more than an hour Jim spoke smoothly, evenly, unhesitatingly to the jury, as though his story had been polished by careful rehearsal to himself.

Scarcely once was he interrupted. Solicitor Dorsey’s only warning was slower speech. Jim’s story came so readily to his lips that he spoke faster than the jury could follow. He never paused. Incidents which he alleged to have happened months ago were told by him as though they were vivid and fresh in his memory.

No witness since the trial began has been so glib of speech as Jim. None has given such minute details. None has inclined so much to dramatic incidents.

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Many Discrepancies Between Conley’s Testimony and His Testimony Given to Detectives

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

Atlanta Journal
August 4th, 1913

Negro Swore Previously That He Never Saw Mary Phagan Enter Factory—Many Other Changes in Story—Fourth Time He’s Changed Narrative

James Conley’s story as he told it on the witness stand Monday morning differs in many important details from the story he told to the detectives in his famous affidavit of confession.

In that affidavit he said that by appointment he met Frank at the corner of Forsyth and Nelson streets the day of the murder, and that he first went to the factory on that day when he followed Frank back there.

He now says that he went to the factory early Saturday morning, April 26, and after remaining there for some time in hiding he went away, meeting Frank at Forsyth and Nelson streets at about 10:30 and later following him back to the factory.

This change in the negro’s recital has evidently been made since he learned that – some of the incidents he described in his affidavit occurred during the early morning and before he said he came to the factory from Nelson and Forsyth streets.

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Dorsey Tries to Prove Frank Had Chance to Kill Girl

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

NEGRO SPRINGS NEW SENSATION, ADDING TO STORY.

James Conley, the negro sweeper in the National Pencil Factory, was called to the stand in the trial of Leo M. Frank, whom he accuses of the murder of Mary Phagan, at 10:15 Monday; under the skillful questioning of Solicitor Dorsey began the recitation of his sensational story.

The negro was taken to the court in Chief Beavers’ automobile and was accompanied by his lawyer, W.M. Smith. It was learned for the first time Monday that Conley would swear that he saw Mary Phagan enter the factory just before Monteen Stover, and that she was there the entire time the Stover girl was there. He will also swear that Frank admitted to him hitting Mary Phagan in the eye with his fist, and that after he helped him carry the body to the basement he promised Frank to come back at night and dispose of the body, but lost his nerve.

James Conley, the negro sweeper about whose sensational statement accusing Leo Frank of the murder of Mary Phagan, the greatest fight of the trial will be waged, was summoned to court this morning. All the indications were that he would go on the stand this morning. The police were notified to bring him to the courthouse shortly after the trial was resumed.

Determined to make his chain of circumstantial evidence strong enough to resist the attacks of the defense, Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey Monday proceeded to call witnesses who will give additional testimony to show that Leo M. Frank had the opportunity to kill Mary Phagan at the time the State declares the crime was committed.

Street car men were summoned to show that the little girl had time to arrive at the factory at a time coinciding with the theory supported by the sensational evidence of Dr. Roy Harris that she was slain within forty-five minutes after having eaten her lunch of cabbage and bread.

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Jim Conley Tells An Amazing Story

This diagram is reproduced so that readers can compare the negro’s story, as he told it on the stand, with his pantomime illustration of the crime in the presence of the officers some weeks ago. In the numerical sequence the reader can follow on this diagram the movements of the negro sweeper, Jim Conley, at the National Pencil factory on the day of Mary Phagan’s murder, as the negro described them to the police and then re-enacted them before the eyes of the police at the factory itself. (1) Conley sits dozing and half-sodden with whisky and beer on boxes beside stairway in gloom. (2) He answers Mr. Frank’s call and Mr. Frank meets him at the head of the stairs and sends him back to (3) to pick up the girl who has “hit her head against something.” Beyond the girl’s body is the women’s lavatory. “A”—machine where strand of hair was found Monday after the murder. (4) Negro goes after crocus bagging to wrap body in. (5) Carries body toward front on his shoulder. (6) It slips from his shoulder and falls to the floor. (This is the spot where workers in the factory noticed blood two days later when they came back to work, and where detectives chipped wood from the floor for analysis). (7) Mr. Frank, after having come to help the negro after he dropped the body, is so nervous himself that the feet slip from his hands and fall to the floor. (8) They carry the body between them to the elevator. (9) They descend on the elevator, Mr. Frank running it, standing astride the girl’s feet. (10) The negro shoulders the body again, Mr. Frank climbing the ladder to the trap door (11) to watch the entrance and the basement both from there. (12) The negro puts the body down around the corner at the partition’s end. Cross marks where Newt Lee was standing with his lantern when he spied the body, over twelve hours later. Arrow points to back door, found closed, with hasp pulled out and the lock in it. (13) Negro throws girl’s hat and ribbon and shoe, and the stained crocus sack upon the trash pile in front of furnace, at Mr. Frank’s direction. Then negro runs elevator back up, Mr. Frank jumping aboard as car passes street floor and both emerging at second floor, Mr. Frank going around behind elevator to sink (14) and washing hands there. Time clock that faces elevator shaft is shown through it. (15) Mr. Frank sits at desk, and (16) negro sits at table, writing notes. They hear some one coming, and negro is hid in wardrobe (17).

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

Atlanta Journal
August 4th, 1913

MANY NEW AND SENSATIONAL FEATURES ADDED TO TALE AS ORIGINALLY GIVEN TO POLICE

Conley Swears He Saw Mary Phagan Enter Factory, That He Heard Her Screams In the Metal Room a Short Time Later, That Frank Then Called Him and He Went Up and Found the Superintendent in a Panic and the Girl Dead

HE IDENTIFIES STAINED CROCUS BAGGING WHICH HE SAYS HE USED TO WRAP BODY AND TAKE TO BASEMENT

He Swears Frank Had Frequently Used Him as a “Lookout” When Women Visited the Factory and Gives Details About Several Alleged Occasions—Here Is His Story as Told to Jury, Women Ordered From Court Room by Judge

CONLEY’S STORY THE VILEST AND MOST AMAZING PACK OF LIES EVER CONCEIVED” — LEO M. FRANK.

“The vilest and most amazing pack of lies ever conceived in the perverted brain of a wicked human being,” is the way Leo M. Frank characterized the remarkable story of James Conley, the negro sweeper.

It was to friends and while he was eating his luncheon in a courthouse ante-room that Frank expressed himself. He appeared to be almost overcome with indignation, but was confident that his attorneys would be able to break the negro down during cross-examination.

Every moment of the time that Conley was on the stand Monday morning his face was the object of Frank’s eye. The negro kept his gaze averted from Frank, but the defendant, apparently unmoved by the terrible accusations of the witness, continued to look him straight in the eye.

Jim Conley, negro sweeper at the National Pencil factory, took the witness stand at the trial of Leo M. Frank Monday morning, and told an amazing story which added many new and sensational features to the confessions given to the police by him and made public some weeks ago.

Conley for the first time dramatically declared that he was at the pencil factory when little Mary Phagan entered shortly after 12 o’clock to get her pay, that he saw her and that a little later he saw Monteen Stover go in. The Stover girl left the factory, he said, but Mary Phagan did not. A little while after Mary Phagan entered, according to the negro’s remarkable story, he heard screams in the metal room where the state claims the crime was committed. In a short time, Frank signalled him to come upstairs, and he went; finding the superintendent trembling all over and in a panic. The negro then detailed the story of finding the little girl’s dead body, of wrapping it up in a crocus sack at the direction of Mr. Frank, and assisting the superintendent in carrying it to the basement.

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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.

By TARLETON COLLIER

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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Three Deaths by Strangling: Mary Phagan, Leo Frank, and Truth

Mary Phagan, just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, was an Atlanta child laborer who was planning to attend the Confederate Memorial Day parade on April 26, 1913. She had just come to collect her $1.20 pay from National Pencil Company superintendent Leo Frank, when she was knocked down, struck, and wounded by an assailant who tore her undergarments, abused her, and then strangled her to death with a piece of cord. Her body was dumped in the factory basement.

by Scott Aaronson

IT MAY WELL BE the greatest murder mystery of all time. Some assert that the Mary Phagan murder case is solved, but those who so assert are of two different and mutually exclusive camps. And those two camps still stand diametrically opposed to this day, four generations later.

The case aroused the outrage and ire and vengeance of two great communities. One, the Jewish community, feel overwhelmingly today, and felt to a lesser but still substantial extent in 1913, that Leo Frank was tried and condemned simply because he was a Jew. They believe that Leo Frank is so obviously innocent that he never would have been tried had it not been for endemic anti-Semitism in 1913 Atlanta. And they have been remarkably effective in making  Southern anti-Semitism the leitmotif of virtually all drama, documentary, and other remembrance of this case for the last half century. The other, the largely Christian Southern gentile community, believed overwhelmingly in 1913 — and to an unknown but doubtlessly  large degree still believes today — that justice was done when all the jurors, and every appeals court in the land including the Supreme Court of the United States, after a monumental and impressively-funded defense, agreed that Leo Frank was fairly tried and convicted for the murder of Mary Phagan. And it must rankle Southerners almost beyond words to be accused of anti-Semitism, when no Christian community anywhere on earth has so respected and welcomed Jews, has so openly acknowledged its spiritual roots in Judaism, or has so enthusiastically supported the Jewish state of Israel.

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Dramatic Moment of Trial Comes as Negro Takes Stand

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

L. O. Grice, a stenographer in the offices of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, was the first witness called. He said that he saw Frank on Sunday morning after the murder and Frank attracted his attention by his undue nervousness.

Grice said he was on the way to the Terminal Station when he bought an “extra” stating that a murder had been committed at the National Pencil Factory. He said he stopped by the pencil factory and saw eight men on the inside of the building.

“Did any of these men attract your particular attention?” asked Solicitor Dorsey.—A. Two or three of them did.

Q. Who were they?—A. When I went in the building Detective Black, whom I knew, was asking a great many questions.

Q. Did anybody attract your attention by their nervousness?—A. Not right then, but later we went down through the basement and out the back door. Then I was attracted by the nervous actions of a small dark man. I did not know him.

Q. Is this the man? (Pointing to Frank.)—A. Yes.

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Frank Calm and Jurors Tense While Jim Conley Tells His Gastcy [sic] Tale

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

During the long wait for Conley to appear, Frank, his loyal wife and his no less loyal mother gave no sign of fear. Accuser and accused were about to face each other, a dramatic situation which the authorities had sought to bring about since the negro made his third affidavit charging Frank with the terrible crime.

If Frank at last were on the edge of a breakdown his calm, untroubled features were most deceiving at this time. He seemed no more concerned than when John Black, floundering and helpless on the stand, was making as good a witness for the defense as he was expected to make for the State.

When Solicitor Dorsey announced that Conley would be the next witness the courtroom was electrified with a shock of interest in which the only three persons who seemed not affected were this trio—Frank, his wife and his mother.

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