Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Little Mary Phagan

Living in Marietta, Georgia, I have heard the story of the murder of Mary Phagan for many years.  She was a 13 year-old factory worker who was killed on April 26, 1913 at the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta.  Leo Frank, the Jewish manager of the factory, was arrested and tried for her murder, although there was no physical evidence that he had committed the crime.  By 1915, Frank's appeals had failed, but the governor of Georgia, believing there had been a miscarriage of justice,  commuted his sentence from death to life in prison.  A group of prominent citizens of Marietta, Mary Phagan's hometown, calling themselves the "Knights of Mary Phagan," took Frank from the jail he was being held in and brought him to Marietta, where he was lynched.   Frank is widely believed to be the victim of anti-Semitism; there was evidence that the real killer was a janitor who was in the factory that day and had been drinking heavily.  In 1986, the governor of Georgia pardoned Frank posthumously, stopping short of exonerating him.  Mary Phagan is buried in the Old Marietta Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta.  There is a marker at the spot where Leo Frank was lynched, on Frey's Gin Road, just a few miles away.
Mary Phagan grave, Old Marietta Cemetery

Mary Phagan grave

Mary Phagan

Leo Frank memorial plaque

Leo Frank marker on Frey's Gin Road, Marietta, GA

Newspaper 1913

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