This week’s Time Capsule looks at the Leo Frank case, I-75, liquor, vandalism and Gordon Wysong.
100 years ago …
In Friday, May 1, 1914 edition of the Marietta Journal and Courier, there was a second page story reporting a development in the now famous Mary Phagan murder case. A few days before the paper was published, it was reported that Rev. C.B. Ragsdale, the pastor “of a church at Kirkwood,” visited Leo Frank’s lawyers. Rev. Ragsdale made an affidavit that claimed on the Monday night after Mary Phagan was murdered he went into an alley near the Terminal Station. While he was there two black men arrived and one of them confessed to the other that he had been the one to murder Mary Phagan.
The story reported that Rev. Ragsdale had not known Jim Conley, but that R.L. Barber - an acquaintance of the pastor waiting on him at the entrance to the alley - had recognized him. Ragsdale was also reported as having allowing the trial to go on and Frank to be convicted “without opening his mouth because he did not want to get mixed up in the trial.” Conley, the janitor at the National Pencil Company Factory during the time of the murder, is believed by many historians to be the real murderer of Mary Phagan.
A second story in that week’s edition reported the first anniversary of the death of Mary Phagan. Rev. King of Atlanta brought with him a large party of family and friends who covered the grave in the Marietta City Cemetery with roses and lilies.
50 years ago …
In the Sunday, April 26, 1964 Marietta Daily Journal it was reported that the Marietta City Council voted to sell 24 acres of property to the U.S. government for use in construction of Interstate 75. The land, located east of the Four Lane – now known as U.S. Highway 41 – and south of Beech Street would bring $19,700 into the city treasury. City Manager Walter Brown told the council that the land was “of no practical value” to the city and the price was fair.
A mammoth temperance rally was reported in the Monday, April 27, 1964 paper as being planned for the Marietta Square. Thousands of protestors were expected to participate in the rally, which was sponsored by the Cobb County Evangelical Ministers Association. The ministers said they were holding the mass meeting to protest a liquor referendum that was expected to be voted upon on May 6.
Slick Corporation, an all-cargo airline, was reported in the Tuesday, April 28, 1964 paper as having ordered four Lockheed StarLifters and had obtained an option on two more of the planes. D.W. Rentzel of the Slick Corporation said that his company had decided to order the StarLifters after completing evaluation studies of other planes. The StarLifters to be delivered to Slick were to be L-300B versions, a lengthened version of the C-141A transport currently in production at Lockheed-Georgia.
In the Wednesday, April 29, 1964 paper it was reported that there would not be a liquor referendum in Cobb County on May 6. Cobb Ordinary Garvis Sams cancelled the wet-dry election because the Committee to Bring Tax Revenue to Cobb County lacked a sufficient number of valid signatures on its petition requesting the vote. Sams said the petitioners were “about 200” signatures short of the minimum required by law.
State Highway Department plans for the routing of Interstate Highway 75 north of Marietta were reported in the Thursday, April 30, 1964 paper as bringing strong protests from business and governmental leaders in Cartersville. That town’s mayor, Charles A. Cowan, had called the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and leaders in the north Cobb area for support in the protest. The route, which came to pass, was planned to pass north of Kennesaw close to the site of the proposed Cobb Junior College – known today at Kennesaw State University – and would clip the southwest corner of Cherokee County and cross Lake Allatoona near Red Top Mountain passing east of Cartersville.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was reported in the Friday, May 1, 1964 paper as having been asked to find the vandals who toppled Civil War cannons and committed other damage at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
20 years ago …
In the Monday, April 25, 1994 MDJ it was reported that the Cobb District Attorney’s Office was seeking the death penalty in eight murder cases, the highest number of such cases ever in the county and the highest of any other county in the metro area. Seven defendants were facing the death penalty, according to District Attorney Tom Charron, who said it was not uncommon to have six or seven death penalty cases awaiting trial in Cobb. However, this was the highest in all his years at the post.
Cobb Commissioner Gordon Wysong, author of the county’s 1993 resolution condemning the gay lifestyle, was reported as picking up opposition during the first day of qualifying. Thomas R. Carter, a 54-year-old unemployed computer consultant from east Cobb, paid the $670 qualifying fee to run as a Democrat against the Republican incumbent. Carter said, if elected, he would vote to rescind the controversial resolution but would not make that a focal point of his campaign. He said it was part of a larger image problem Cobb needed to address. The commotion generated by the resolution’s adoption had not died down since August 1993 and a group of gay-rights activists were using it to try to force Olympic officials to pull preliminary volleyball matches from the Cobb Galleria Centre.
Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.
If you are interested in learning more about the stories that were presented in this week’s column, you can search the newspaper’s digitized microfilm archives online. NewsBank, which hosts the archives for the Marietta Daily Journal, charges a fee for retrieved articles and has various price packages available. If you have any trouble with your username, password or payment options, please contact NewsBank at firstname.lastname@example.org.