Marker commemorating Leo Frank lynching rededicated after 4 years away

Friday makes 103 years since 20 men broke into a prison and hanged a Jewish man in Cobb County.

For the past four years, the Georgia Historical Society marker commemorating the lynching of Leo Frank has safely been in a Georgia Department of Transportation warehouse due to construction along the road where it was located, said Rabbi Steve Lebow of Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta.

The marker is already back on the northwest corner of Roswell and Freys Gin roads, said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. At 10 a.m. on Aug. 23, there will be a ceremony to rededicate the marker, which was first placed there in 2008.

About 50 government, civic and religious leaders attended the unveiling of a Georgia Historical Society marker, placed near an I-75 bridge over Roswell Road at Frey's Gin, that tells the story of Leo Frank. (Andy Sharp/AJC)

Credit: Andy Sharp / AJC

Credit: Andy Sharp / AJC

Frank had been wrongfully accused of killing 13-year-old Mary Phagan, who worked at the pencil factory Frank ran. Gov. John M. Slaton commuted Frank two days before the execution. People rioted.

They ran the governor off, and he didn't return for a decade.

The state’s main witness was Jim Conley, a janitor at the National Pencil Company. He said he helped Frank dispose of the girl’s body.

Read The AJC's 100th anniversary piece here.

Frank was transferred from a Fulton County jail to the state prison farm in Milledgeville, where he survived a knife attack from a fellow inmate.

Then, on the night of Aug. 16, the mob came.

In an elaborate plan — cut telephone wires, circuitous routes to lose anyone tailing them, in and out in 30 minutes — they took Frank, handcuffed with his legs tied at the ankles.

From the editor of The AJCOpinion: Tough decisions withstand time's test

Some say the first plan was to hang him in Marietta Square. They landed on the property of former Cobb sheriff William Frey — namesake of Freys Gin Road.

Frank’s body was found swinging from the limb of a hollow oak in the heart of the thicket adjoining Frey’s ginhouse. No one has been charged with Frank’s murder.

In 1982 on his death bed, 83-year-old Alonzo Mann, a former "office boy" at National Pencil, said Frank was innocent and that he'd seen Conley carrying Phagan's body to the basement of the factory on the day of her death. Conley, who died in 1962, had threatened to kill Mann if he spoke.

Lebow, the Marietta rabbi, said the Anti-Defamation League and other Frank scholars will be at the Aug. 23 event.

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