Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1 December 1910: The M. G. Michael Family of Athens Attends the Selig-Frank Wedding in Atlanta

On this day in 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Moses G. Michael and their daughter, Helen, attended the wedding of Miss Lucille Selig of Atlanta and Mr. Leo Max Frank of Brooklyn, New York.

The wedding was held at the East Georgia Avenue home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig. Rabbi David Marx of Hebrew Benevolent Congregation performed the ceremony before a small gathering of family and close friends. The Athens Banner described the evening as "a pretty event," noting that "the house was artistic with quantities of smilax and vases of pink carnations in all the rooms."

The paper reported that "Miss Michael sang several beautiful selections before the ceremony and was accompanied by Miss Regina Silverman, who also played the wedding march." The two young women also wore pink, with Helen Michael in "a white lingerie gown over pink silk" and Regina Silverman in "a pink chiffon cloth gown over silk, trimmed with lace and black marabou."

Other out-of-town attendants at the wedding included the groom's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Frank of Brooklyn, New York, and the best man, Mr. Milton Rice of Rochester, New York. The paper stated the couple would "spend several weeks at the Piedmont before going north for a wedding trip." They would live with the Seligs upon their return.

Leo and Lucille Frank would be married less than three years when the Atlanta media circus surrounding the murder of Mary Phagan at the National Pencil Factory on Confederate Memorial Day, 1913, would destroy their lives. Though the Atlanta newspapers published any rumor or innuendo that would sell extra editions, the Athens newspapers admonished the Atlanta media for such low behavior and published only the barest of stories about the case as it endured.

Leo Frank was murdered on 17 August 1915 by a mob that was angry his death sentence had been commuted to life in prison by Georgia Governor John Slaton. His body was returned to New York, where he was buried at New Mount Carmel Cemetery. Lucille Frank never remarried, and always signed her name as "Mrs. Leo M. Frank," until her death at age 69. Even then, in 1957, her family was unsure of burying her in Atlanta, and it wasn't for another 45 years, in 2002, that nephews buried her ashes between her parents' graves in Oakland Cemetery, but without a marker.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles pardoned Leo Frank in 1986, based on the 1982 testimony of then-83-year-old Alonzo Mann, who had been a 14-year-old office boy in the National Pencil Factory in 1913. Mann had seen janitor Jim Conley carrying Phagan's body on the day of the murder. Conley threatened to kill him if he told, and Mann's mother told him to keep quiet. Over the years, Mann repeatedly tried to tell the story, but it wasn't until 1982 that a reporter from the Tennesseean took him seriously enough to publish his eye witness account, and give him a lie detector test, which he easily passed. Members of the Phagan family still believe Leo Frank was the murderer.

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