August 17, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The banner headline across the Capital Journal read:

FRANK LYNCHED AT BIRTHPLACE OF MARY PHAGAN
DRAGGED BY MOB FROM PRISON CELL
Famous Convicted Murderer of Georgia Pays Penalty at Hands of Mob – Spirited Away To the Town Where His Alleged Victim Is Buried Frank’s Body Is Found Hanging To Tree By Roadside, a Ghastly Sight – Mother Thanks God His Sufferings Are Over

Marietta, Ga., Aug. 17. – The body of Leo M. Frank was found hanging to a tree about two miles east of Marietta today. The famous prisoner was lynched by the automobile party of kidnapers who appeared at the state prison at Milledgeville last night, overpowered Warden Smith, Superintendent Burke and the guards and then dragged Frank from the dormitory by the heels.

Frank’s body, which was a ghastly sight, was found dangling from a tree about 75 feet from the Fey Gin and Rosewell road. The scene of the hanging is but a short distance from the birthplace of Mary Phagan, the little factory girl Frank was charged with having murdered.

Frank’s wrists were handcuffed in front of his body.

The rope which was noosed about his neck opened the wound inflicted by William Green, a fellow prisoner, at Milledgeville, who attempted to cut Frank’s throat recently. Blood streamed from this open wound down upon his prison suit. Frank’s hair was disheveled, his prison clothing torn and he was barefooted.

The mob, calling itself The Knights of Mary Phagan later reorganized itself as the Ku Klux Klan. Frank was Jewish. The outraged Jewish community went on to form the Anti-Defamation League. More about the trial and the consequences can be found here.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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