families are prone to telling stories and so are Jewish ones. Mine
was both, so I got a double dose. I grew up hearing about the quirks
of distant relatives, in-laws, and a whole network of people I didn't know.
They all came with stories attached.
But nobody mentioned Leo Frank. Some of the family even walked out of the room if the name came up. I found this confusing, because I knew that my Great Uncle Sig had been his employer, and Lucille Frank was my grandmother's friend.
Due to this hush-hush policy, I developed a fascination for the case, which has lasted all these years and which led to the idea for Parade."
The Real Leo Frank
Whatever happened to . . . ?
Jim Conley, the factory sweeper who proved to be
the key witness against Frank at the trial, passed into oblivion; and aside
from his obituary notice in 1962, appeared in the newspapers again only
when in jail. In 1919 he was shot in an attempt to burglarize an
Atlanta drug store. For this offense he received a twenty-year sentence
in the state penitentiary, although for the assistance allegedly given
to Frank in removing Mary Phagan's body, Conley had spent only a year on
the chain gang.
Hugh Dorsey reaped great political rewards from
prosecuting Frank and emerged as one of the influential Georgians of his
day. In 1916, the demand for him to enter the gubernatorial race
was so great, "it swept the staet like a prairie fire, rolling from the
mountains to the sea." In the primary, Dorsey scored one of the greatest
electoral victories in Georgia's history. He remained Governor until
1921 then retired to private life. Later, Dorsey served as Judge
of Atlanta City Court and of Fulton County Superior Court. He died
Governor John M. Slaton remained in exile from
his native state for a number of years. After World War I, he resumed
his law practice in Atlanta but was never again elected to public office.
In 1928, the Georgia Bar Association honored him by unanimously electing
him its president. Upon Slaton's death in 1955, the flags of the
state capitol flew at half staff and the Atlanta Constitution eulogized:
"A giant of his day, it was one of destiny's mocking ironies his giant
should have cost him his poltical life."
Tom Watson's political power increased as a result of his activities against Frank. In the election of 1916, the candidates he supported all won decisive victories. In 1920, Watson himself entered the primary for the U.S. Senate. He trounced both opponents and easily walked off with the victory. The Georgian did not serve long, however. On September 26, 1922, he died from a bronchial attack in Washington, D.C. The Ku Klux Klan sent a cross of roses, eight feet high, to his funeral.
Source: The Leo Frank Case by Leonard Dinnerstein, from Playbill
For further information, visit The
Leo Frank Case, a comprehensive homepage that contains manuscripts,
letters, documents, photographs, articles, a recommended reading list,
and a wealth of other detailed information regarding the case.
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