Russell Hawkins

Northern (“Yankee”) Jewish man who runs the National Pencil Factory and is falsely accused of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan. He is our story’s tragic protagonist. He is anxious, neurotic, principled and stubborn. He feels intellectually and emotionally out of place in The South.

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SONGS
“How Can I Call This Home?” – with Townspeople
“Leo At Work” / “What Am I Waiting For?” – with Lucille Frank
“Interrogation: “I Am Trying to Remember…” – with Newt Lee, Detective Starnes and Officer Ivey
“Trial Part IV: Factory Girls/Come Up to My Office” – with Iola Stover, Essie and Monteen
“Trial Part VIII: Leo’s Statement: It’s Hard to Speak My Heart”
“This is Not Over Yet” – with Lucille Frank
“All the Wasted Time” – with Lucille Frank
“Sh’ma”

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Leo Frank was born in Cuero, Texas, on April 17, 1884. His father was Rudolph Frank, his mother’s name was Rhea. The year of Frank’s birth marked the departure of the family from Texas to Brooklyn. They lived at 152 Underhill Avenue. Mr. Frank died in 1922; his widow followed him in 1925; and they are buried in Brooklyn beside their son, whose body was given to Leo’s widow by a judge who retrieved it from the lynchers.

Leo attended the public schools of Brooklyn, completed his preparatory studies at Pratt Institute, and then matriculated at Cornell University, where he was graduated with the class of 1906. Character references from his instructors were used by the defence at his trials.

Leo specialized in engineering at Cornell; and for several months he worked as a draughtsman for the B.F. Sturtevant Company of Hyde Park, Massachusetts. He was then an engineer and draughtsman with the National Meter Company of Brooklyn.

In 1907 he came to terms with a delegation of Atlanta citizens to establish a pencil factory in that thriving Dixie city. He spent nine months in Europe studying that business, and in 1908 he opened the National Pencil Company factory on Forsythe Street; and in that same year he married Lucille “Lucy” Selig of Atlanta.

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Leo and his wife Lucille

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Leo was small, frail, bespectacled. His black eyes were bright and alert; his hands slender and thin; his weight probably never topped 120 pounds. He was president of the local B’nai B’rith, popular in his small Hebrew circle, and generally liked by his employees.

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But to dyed-in-the-wool Southerners, he was considered a Yankee, a carpetbagger.

Leo was also a Jew and, as we shall see, Anti-Semitism was his ultimate downfall.

Leo Frank earned $180.00 per month, plus a portion of the profits.

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Leo Frank in court

Leo Frank in court – a perfect costume picture

 

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The Wikipedia entry on Leo Frank is very informative on both him and the case.

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On the early morning August 17th 1915, Leo Frank was lynched by The Knights of Mary Phagan, a group of prominent men hell-bent on avenging Mary Phagan.

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Actual pictures and descriptions of the lynching and aftermath (WARNING! Please do not click on this link if you are easily shocked. It contains graphic images and information that you may not want to know.)

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The lynching site today

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It is normal for a Jew such as Leo to recite the first three lines of the Sh’ma Yisrael at the moment of death.

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