L A T E S T I N F O R M A T I O N|
Website Names Alleged
Lynchers Of Leo Frank
A website has allegedly named some of the Mariettans involved in the lynching of Leo Frank, and what an interesting list it is. Famous names like Clay, Morris, Sessions, Dobbs, Frey, Manning and more are accused of being the culprits.
The site says the alleged lynchers include a former speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and president of the Georgia State Senate, and other members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate, mayors of Marietta, as well as judges, prosecutors, and other members of the local judiciary.
Link to the website
WE FIRST REPORTED THIS STORY ON 5/25/00
The Lynching of Leo Frank
In 1913 Leo Frank, a northern Jew who had moved to Atlanta to manage a pencil factory,
was accused of murdering a 14-year old girl named Mary Phagan of Marietta who was
employed at the factory.
The story of Leo Frank and Mary Phagan, on one level the story of a murder, trial, and
execution, can be seen on another level as a frightening example of the conflicts that
developed out of the merging of the agrarian and urban cultures.
At the turn of the century, poor and uneducated farmers facing destitute conditions in the
Georgia countryside began moving in large numbers to the cities. Urban entrepreneurs,
seeing the need for jobs, looked to the North for capital and management to build
By the year 1913, the Jewish community in Atlanta was the largest in the South; Leo
Frank was serving as president of the Atlanta chapter of B'nai B'rith, while maintaining his
position as supervisor of the National Pencil Factory. At the time of Mary Phagan's
murder, he was twenty-nine years old and had supervised the factory for almost five years.
Mary Phagan was born on June 1, 1900 to John and Frances Phagan in Marietta, Ga. Her
father died when she was young; her mother eventually re-married to J.W. Coleman.
They resided briefly in Alabama before moving back to Marietta. Mary Phagan was
employed by the National Pencil Factory to operate a machine which placed metal tips on
pencils. Mary had been temporarily laid off in April of 1913, because a shipment of metal
to make the tips was late in arriving. She was due $1.20 in wages, which she went to
collect on Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, 1913.
There, young Phagan was murdered. People accused Frank, not from the evidence, but
because of the resentment against the "Yankee Devil," so-called because he was from up
north and because Frank wasn’t a Christian.
After a sensationalized trial, Leo Frank was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. He
was convicted primarily on the testimony of Jim Conley, a janitor who was initially
suspected of the crime and who changed his story several times.
Governor John Slaton
commuted Frank's sentence to life imprisonment, but on August 16, 1915, 25 armed men
took Frank out of jail and hanged him.
Tom Watson Fanned The Hate
During that time, Georgia Populist politician and publisher Tom Watson, in his magazines
Watson's Magazine and The Jeffersonian, published scathing editorials against Leo Frank
and the commutation of his sentence.
While charges of anti-Semitism had certainly surrounded the trial of Leo Frank, Watson
was blatant in his sentiments. His inflammatory writings are generally credited with
pushing the already strong feelings regarding this case past the boiling point. In what is
now ominous phraseology, Watson called on the citizens of Georgia to take justice into
their own hands and inflict the death sentence upon Leo Frank.
Watson was now a virulent racist, a far cry from the Populist leader of the 1890s who had
openly called for black political equality and racial unity along class lines. As his own
wealth grew, he denounced socialism, which had drawn many converts from the ashes of
He was a vigorous anti-Catholic crusader who called for the reorganization of the Ku
Klux Klan. He played an inflammatory role in the 1913 case of Leo Frank.
Watson and the
Southern press sensationalized the case, hurling racist and anti-Jewish epithets at Frank
while making wild, unsubstantiated charges.
Remarkably and shamefully, the
people of Georgia elected Watson to the U.S. Senate in 1920.
Lynching Was Organized
By Marietta Leaders
In 1915, a caravan of eight vehicles bearing 25 armed men from the Marietta arrived at the
Georgia StatePrison at Milledgeville around 10 p.m. Calling themselves the Knights of
Mary Phagan, they cut the telephone lines, surprised the guards and entered the barrack of
Leo Frank, who two years earlier had been convicted of the murder of 14-year-old Mary
Phagan in one of the most infamous trials of the century.
The intruders seized Frank and
departed into the night. Seven of the cars then took back roads headed for Marietta, while
one car acted as a decoy in case of pursuit.
The kidnapping was actually organized by members of the Marietta community, including
civic, business and preachers. According to reports, among the leaders of the effort were
members of two prominent families in Marietta, the Clay and Brumby families.
Sometime early on the morning of the 17th, they reached the outskirts of Marietta. At
Frey's Grove near Mary Phagan's girlhood home, the mendecided to hang Frank, though
there are conflicting reports on this.
One story is that some wanted to continue with the original plan - to hang Frank in the
Marietta Square, while others did not want to do this in broad daylight.
A second story says that there was disagreement among the men on whether to hang
Frank at all; the story being that those who had ridden in the car with Frank on the three
plus hour ride had become convinced of his innocence.
Whatever the truth may be, Frank was hanged there in Frey’s Grove. Asserting his
innocence to the very end, Frank's only request was that his wedding ring be returned to
his wife (which it was several days later).
When word of the lynching spread, crowds of Mariettans, their descendants today are called OMs (for Old
Marietta residents) gathered to see the body hanging from a tree.
Photographs were taken, one of which later became a souvenir postcard. A few in the
crowd threatened, and even began to inflict, violence to Frank's body, before former judge
Newt Morris convinced them to stop.
Frank's body was rushed to an undertaker in Atlanta, with a line of vehicles trailing behind.
Although the undertaker tried to keep the body concealed, a large crowd soon gathered
demanding to see it.
After a rock was thrown through a window, officials agreed to let the public view Frank's
body. Under police supervision, thousands ofcurious Atlanta-area residents filed by single
file to view Frank's body -- including the city detective whohad arrested Frank.
That night Frank's body was quickly embalmed and placed on a train for New York,where
the burial services were held in Brooklyn's Mount Carmel Cemetery. As a footnote to the
lynching, no one was ever prosecuted for the murder of Leo Frank. Mariettans stayed closed mouth, refusing to reveal the names of the lynchers. Not a single resident would ever step forward.
Even today the OMs, the descendants are reluctant to talk.
Knights of Mary Phagan Formed
The New Knights Of Ku Klux Klan
On November 25, 1915, the Knights of Mary Phagan met atop Stone Mountain, burned a
cross, and initiated the new invisible order of the Ku Klux Klan.
Soon thereafter the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith was founded in New York; its
founding was based largely on the Leo Frank case and its aftermath. Ironically, Leo Frank
had been president of the Atlanta chapter of B'nai B'rith.
To many, Frank was a symbol of the "foreign" exploiter making money from the labors of
children. To others, he was a scapegoat for people's economic woes. The Frank case can
be seen as an illustration of what happens when the world is changing too fast for some
people who, since they cannot alter their circumstances, vent their frustration and anger on
people or things that symbolize the change they cannot control.
by clicking here
Leo Frank did it
Georgia state archives on Leo Frank
People throng to scene where lynching took place
Mayor Dobbs denied knowledge of mob
Mariettans accused of protecting identities of the lynch mob
Governor promised punishment if slayers ever caught
Tom Watson Source