Leo Frank’s Family Background
It was no mistake Leo Frank was from good German-Jewish genetic stock, especially given the racially conscious and eugenic breeding patterns interwoven within Jewish history, tradition and culture. Leo Frank was not only endowed with innate intelligence, but fortunate enough to have been provided with the kind of opportunities and enriching environment he needed to achieve success in life. It seemed back then in 1913, as it does now, so unlikely, that a clean-cut and well dressed, nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, having successfully completed an Ivy League education, would commit such a heinous crime.
The early years…
Meet the Parents and Closest Family Members of Leo M. Frank:
The Father of Leo Frank: Leo’s father was Rudolph Frank (Tuesday, November 5, 1844 to Sunday, January 22, 1922), a German Jewish immigrant of North-Central European Ashkenazim heritage. Rudolph was from Dusseldorf a city in the Rhine Province then controlled by the Kingdom of Prussia, a geopolitical powerhouse in the region during its heyday. Rudolph later immigrated into the United States at the end of the civil war circa 1869 (Immigration and Census Records, retrieved 2012).
Rudolph Frank was a man who embraced the diaspora spirit, living in atleast three vastly different places and making several major career changes during his life, at a time when most people typically never left the local regions or states they were born. Unlike today where anyone can order a plane ticket online and travel to most parts of the world in 24 hours, in the 1800′s national and intercontinental travel was very slow and often dangerous because the incidence of communicable diseases was high.
Rudolph Frank had some medical training and experience in his ancestral homeland before he emigrated from Germany to NYC at the bright young age of 25 years old. Once in the United States, for whatever reason, Rudolph never pursued completing his medical studies to become a bonafide physician. Had he done so, he could have plugged into the the lucrative doctor-pharmacy matrix.
In Brooklyn, 1881, when the average life expectancy at the time was 40-something years old, at the ripe old age of 37, Rudolph Frank “robbed the cradle” and married a blandly attractive young Jewess, 15 years his junior.
In her early 20′s, the young bride Rachael would experience a major culture shock, leaving the “cosmopolitan comforts” of New York City behind, making an unlikely and dramatic move to other side of the country with Rudolph to start a new life. The newlyweds traveled together to far off, rural, and makeshift Cuero, located in South Eastern Texas. Cuero (meaning hide in Spanish), was a dusty Texas frontier town in the middle of nowhere, known for its turkey and cattle ranching.
Rudolph and Rachel lived in Cuero for about three years. Rudolph, the bread winner of the family, served as the local Postmaster for Cuero. Rudolph’s original federal documents for his postmaster appointment signed by President Arthur has astonishingly survived into the 21st century (Koenigsberg, 2012).
Ray J. Frank a humble house wife became pregnant in July during the summer of 1883, and the following year, in the early to mid spring, she gave birth to a son, Leo Max Frank, on Thursday, April 17, 1884. Three months later, the Frank family left Cuero, Texas, for good, and returned back to NYC at the hottest time of the summer, which is during the month of July, they stayed with the family network and community, until they could make their own way.
Rudolph made several visits to see his son Leo in Atlanta, Georgia, during his son’s marriage to Lucille Selig November 30, 1910, and years later he would eventually visit during Leo Frank’s numerous court appeal hearings (1913 to 1915), he was present when possible. Though oddly enough, Rudolph and his brother Moses were not present at the month long 1913 Leo Frank summer trial.
On Monday, August 18, 1913, during his grandiose statement to the Jury, Leo Frank explained why his father Rudolph Frank was absence at his 1913 capital murder trial, by saying it was because his father had become “Invalid” (Leo Frank Statement, Trial BOE, Monday, August, 18, 1913).
In NYC, Rudolph took employment as a traveling salesman, until he became broken down decades later and was unable to work any longer. Rudolph had inevitably burned out in sales, something to be expected after decades of this high stress and potentially lucrative career path. Rachael Jacobs Frank had more precisely described Rudolph as having his “nervous crisis” around 1911 to 1912. Rachael stated she and her spouse were living on the interest of $20,000 they had loaned out (Rachael “Ray” Frank Testimony, Leo Frank Trial Brief of Evidence, August, 1913). Not too shabby by 1913 standards. At a generic 5% to 10% or $1000 to $2000 a year, they could live middle class style in Brooklyn, NYC.
The Summer Heights of 1884
In July, 1884, When Rudolph and Rachel moved to back to Kings County, NY, it was a permanent move, together they lived there in Brooklyn for nearly 4 decades, the remainder of their natural lives.
Leo Frank’s parents lived long lives for the early 20th century, a time in US history when life expectancies hovered between 45 and 55 years. Concerning Rudolph Frank as an observer, when all things are considered, his nervous crisis, the Mary Phagan Affair and the tragic loss of his son, he lived a relatively long life when he passed away at 77 from cancer on Sunday, January 22, 1922 (Rudolph Frank Death Certificate, 1922, Retrieved 2012).
Mr. Rudolph Frank was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, NY within the Frank-Stern family grave plot in grave site #4, real estate location ID: 1-E-41-1035-4, situated to the immediate right of where his beloved wife Rachel “Ray” Jacobs Frank was later laid to rest left of him three years later. The space between Rudolph and Leo was significant when one considers the order and position of burial for the Frank family members.
The image of 2 empty grave sites (#1, #3) on either side of Leo Frank (#2) was a powerful image, because they were reserved for his wife Lucille and mother Ray, the women who were faithfully at Leo’s side during the whole ordeal of the trial and appeals.
Rachael Jacobs got married and went on her way with the debonaire Rudolph Frank.
The Mother of Leo Frank: In 1881, the 22-year old Rachael “Ray” Jacobs Frank (Saturday, April 16, 1859 to Thursday, January 1, 1925), a native US citizen of Ashkenazim Jewish heritage was born of immigrant German-Jewish parents lived in Brooklyn, NYC, and she was not only raised in Brooklyn, but spent the vast majority of her life in New York, except for the odd 3 year stint in Cuero, Texas with Rudolph.
More defining in Rachael Frank’s life was the numerous weeks and months she spent in Greater Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1910 wedding of her precious son Leo Max to Miss Lucille at the Selig residence located on 68 East Georgia Avenue. Ray would most certainly visit for other Frank-Selig family affairs and she was a fixture at the Leo Frank trial sitting by her son, she is remembered for her outburst during the Leo Frank trial when she called Hugh M. Dorsey a “Christian Dog”, before being whisked out of the courtroom with a face full of tears.
Rachael was more than just invincibly present everyday during the emotionally difficult Leo Frank murder trial (July 28 to August 21), but she mounted the witness stand to testify on her sons behalf. Ray later appeared during several of Leo Frank’s numerous appeal hearings (1913 and 1915). Her final encounters with Leo was when she was present at Penn Station in Manhattan, when her slain son arrived by train at 6:00 O’clock in the morning on Wednesday, August 18, 1915. Leo Frank had been cleaned and embalmed in Atlanta after 10,000 people viewed his naked corpse and there was an open casket ceremony for him at the Frank home on 152 Underhill Avenue in Brooklyn, before he was laid to rest Friday morning, August 20, 1915, in Glendale, Queens.
Facing the graves, Rachael Jacobs Frank (1-E-41-1035-3) was buried to the immediate right of her beloved son Leo Frank (1-E-41-1035-2) and Rachel is buried to the left of her beloved husband Rudolph Frank (1-E-41-1035-4), at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, NY, within the Frank-Stern family grave plot.
The official real estate ID location for Rachael Frank is: 1-E-41-1035-3. With Ray (#3) taking the spot to the immediate right of Leo (#2) and immediate left of Rudolph (#4), the empty grave site to the left (#1) of Leo was still available and reserved for Lucille Selig Frank.
The Sister of Leo Frank: Leo Frank’s only sibling was Marian J. Frank (Monday, October 18, 1886 to Friday, April 2, 1948), Leo’s baby sister by 2 years. At about the age of 24 years old, she became Marian J. Stern on January 17, 1910, after marrying Otto Stern in Brooklyn, NY.
Together Marian and Otto had 4 children, 2 girls and 1 boy over a number of years, their first child was stillborn and buried in a designated spot under where the Frank-Stern bench is placed, grave site #7 (1-E-41-1035-7). Astonishingly, one of Marian Stern’s daughters born in 1919 is still alive today at the ripe old age 93 as of 2012, living in Brooklyn, NY.
The Frank-Stern family grave plot at the Mount Carmel Cemetery was originally purchased by Marian and Otto Stern in 1911.
Leo’s younger sister Marian J. Stern also lived a long life given the life expectancy of the time period, born on Monday, October 18, 1886, in Brooklyn, she passed away on Friday, April 2nd, 1948, and is buried next to Otto (1-E-41-1035-11) at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Frank-Stern family grave site #12, official real estate location: 1-E-41-1035-12.
The Brother-in-Law of Leo Frank: Long lived Otto Stern (Saturday, March 11, 1882 to Sunday, May 26, 1963) an immigrant (1898) was in the cigar business, who became a widower in 1948 when his beloved wife Marian J., passed away. Some 15 odd years later on Sunday, May 26, 1963, Otto passed away. Otto Stern (#11) is buried next to his beloved wife Marian Jacobs Frank Stern (#12) at Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Frank-Stern family grave Plot in Grave site #11, official location: 1-E-41-1035-11.
The Patriarch of the Frank Family was Leo Frank’s “rich” Uncle Moses Frank (a man who embodied Luck is opportunity met with a prepared mind) and his “Someone Robbed the Cradle” young wife Aunt Sarah:
Moses Frank (1841 to Monday, October 24, 1927)
Rudolph Frank’s older brother, the savvy Investor Moses Frank, who was Leo Frank’s wealthy uncle Moses. Moe was a clever man who made his fortune infamously in cotton and cotton oil speculation.
Moses was a major investor, shareholder and visionary who in part made the National Pencil Company possible along with the NPCo major stock holder, the treasurer Sigmund Montag, a paper manufacturing magnate.
According to Koenigsberg, “Moses Frank, an 1856 immigrant from Dudelsheim in Hesse-Darmstadt” (2012), naturalized as an American citizen in Atlanta, 1865, or New York, NY, 1864, depending on different accounts within the Ellis Island Manifest Records (Ellis Island Archive Records, Retrieved 2011). Moses Frank lived and adopted Atlanta as one of his twin homebases, when traveling back and forth from Brooklyn, NYC. New York City was the primary staging ground for Moses during his numerous junkets and the public Ellis Island Ship Manifest Records indicate a number of trips to Germany (Ellis Island Archive Records, Retrieved 2012).
First Marriage of Moses Frank: Atlanta was where Moses Frank married his first wife Jane Wilson Kelly, a (divorced) woman who had 3 children, and after she died in 1904, as a widower, Moses Frank re-married a second time to young Sarah, 20 years his junior, and she joined the Frank clan tying the knot with Moses in 1909, becoming Aunt Sarah Frank. Moses had no children with his first or second wife.
Ironically, Moses Frank had been in Atlanta the very week of April 21st 1913 with his second wife Sara (Koenigsberg, The Leo Frank Case, 2012), so why Leo Frank was updating his Uncle Moses Frank with a bizarre letter 5 days later has never been fully answered (Defense Exhibit, Leo Frank Trial Brief of Evidence, 1913).
In the early 20th century, when people typically died in their 4th and 5th decade, the long lived Moses Frank lived to the ripe old age of 86, passing away on Monday, October 24, 1927 (MCC, 2012). When all things are considered, Moses Frank lived an awesome, interesting, well traveled, complicated and fulfilling life, this is despite the unknown loss of his time and investment in the National Pencil Company, as a result of it folding in 1916 over the slowly terminal after effects resulting from the strangulation of Mary Phagan.
Moses Frank is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens, NY, in the Frank-Stern family grave plot, at grave site #5, official location: 1-E-41-1035-5. Aunt Sara Frank, (18 or 20 years Junior to Uncle Moses Frank), had changed her age on Ellis Island Manifest documents during different overseas trips, http://www.ellisisland.org/) was born 1860 to 1862 (depending on the source), and she died at age 76 on August 1st, 1937 (1861). Aunt Sara Frank is buried immediately to the right of Moses Frank at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens, NY, at Frank-Stern family grave plot, grave site #6, official real estate location: 1-E-41-1035-6.
Uncle Moses Frank the Confederate Veteran?
Steve Oney and other Leo Frank authors describe Moses Frank as, “Confederate veteran Moses Frank” (Oney, 2003, p. 10), but despite this claim being over cited by numerous Leo Frank partisan authors without any reliable sources to back it up, Moses Frank, never served in the Confederate Army according to the high survival rate of enlistment documents. There are no records of any kind, or any reliable evidence to support that Moses was ever in any U.S. Military, North or South, nor do any of his numerous eulogies make reference to him as a Confederate veteran (The Leo Frank Case, Open or Closed, Koenigsberg, 2012).
Reuben Rose Arnold, October 1913.
The unsubstantiated claim of Moses Frank as a Confederate Veteran seems to come erroneously from Attorney Reuben Rose Arnold who on a whim, October 24, 1913, during an official court hearing, argued for Leo Frank to get a new trial, there Mister Rube makes a passing mention of Moses Frank as a Confederate Veteran in his emotional-appeal speech to the Presiding Honorable Judge Leonard Strickland Roan: (‘The Trial of Leo Frank, Reuben R. Arnold’s Address to the Court on his Behalf’ in October 1913).
Perhaps Reuben Arnold threw in that unverified fact hoping it would make Leo Frank seem less of an outsider to the South, but Frank had lived as a prominent part of Atlanta for 5 years and was elected B’nai B’rith president by the 500 member fraternity, so those emotional strings pulled, warm and fuzzy attempts as they were, did not help his appeal. Reuben Rose Arnold’s speech to get Leo M. Frank a new trial came off as a bit hollow and flabby, the appeal was rejected by Judge Leonard Strickland Roan.
Frank-Stern family grave plot #1 (1-E-41-1035-01): Alas, it is Empty, Grave Plot #1 (left of Leo Frank who is buried in grave plot #2) was specifically reserved For Mrs. Lucille Selig Frank (aka Lucille S. Frank or Mrs. Leo M. Frank) when the day of her passing should arrive, so she could faithfully rest in peace for all eternity near her beloved husband and make one last contrived appearance.
With undeniable symbolism, Lucille softly and soundly rejected that proposition of being buried in Grave plot #1 (1-E-41-1035-01) so far away from home and yet so close to her deceased husband Leo Frank buried in grave plot #2. The rejection was handled with the utmost of subtle politesse that transcended time and space. Lucille spoke volumes beyond the passing of life when we delve deeper into her aftermath.
Grave Plot #1: Reserved for Lucille Selig Frank 1-E-41-1035-01 (Empty) Tuesday, 4/23/1957 (Cremation, Buried instead at Oakland Cemetery, Georgia). The Mount Carmel Cemetery grave remains empty of her, a silent echo of truth beyond the grave.
Grave Plot #2: Leo Max Frank 1-E-41-1035-02 Tuesday, 08/17/1915
Grave Plot #3: Ray Frank 1-E-41-1035-03 Thursday, 01/01/1925
Grave Plot #4: Rudolph Frank 1-E-41-1035-04 Sunday, 01/15/1922
Grave Plot #5: Moses Frank 1-E-41-1035-05 Monday, 10/24/1927
Grave Plot #6: Sarah Frank 1-E-41-1035-06 Sunday, 08/01/1937
Grave Plot #12: Marian J. Stern 1-E-41-1035-12 Friday, 04/02/1948
Grave Plot #11: Otto Stern 1-E-41-1035-11 Sunday, 05/26/1963
Harken Back to 1881 in New York City
An Arranged Marriage in the Jewish Enclave of Brooklyn
Step backward in time to the early 1880′s, New York City. Not at all uncommon throughout Jewish history and the era, an arranged marriage was organized concerning a much older Jewish gentleman named Rudolph Frank and a reasonably young, healthy, and attractive Jewess named Rachael Jacobs who was affectionately known as Ray by her friends and family.
The traditional marriage was in part, the Hallmark of the typical selective breeding program that has been a defining and permanent fixture over the centuries for Jews. Though people scowl at the thought of an older man marrying a young woman, evolutionary theory suggests, the older intelligent gentleman marrying a young healthy breeder, has many evolutionary and eugenic advantages.
Rudolph Frank “robbed the cradle” and was almost 15 years Rachel Jacob’s senior. Ironically, Leo Frank was nearly 15 years Mary Phagan’s senior when Phagan was strangled. Rudolph and Rachael married in the Jewish enclave of Brooklyn, NY, during 1881. After their marriage and honeymoon, they made the great voyage to Cuero (Paris), Texas, for the next three years (1881 to 1884) in the wild-wild South West.
“The Perfect Family”
Several years and more after Rudolph Frank and Rachael Jacobs married in 1881, they created the modern day proverbial “perfect nuclear family” and had two children together, a boy and a girl, in the “perfect order”, first a son named Leo Max, who was born at their Texas residence April 17, 1884, followed by a daughter Marian J. in Brooklyn, two years thereafter on the 18th day of October in 1886.
Leo, Rudolph and Rachel Frank, Early Family Life in Texas – 1880′s and onward
Brooklyn Native, Rachael Jacobs Frank (a New Yorker by birth) AKA “Rhea”, or “Ray”, traditional for the time, became a young home maker beginning at the young Age of 22, after her marriage to Rudolph (age 37) in 1881, but the young housewife felt like a withering flower once she was physically uprooted and then transplanted into the boiling-hot dust planes within the makeshift town of Paris (Cuero), Texas.
Urban Rachael Jacobs likely felt blah after she was replanted so far away from her parents homebase in the more civilized Brooklyn, leafy-sylvan, an eternally urban-suburban hip borough of New York City where the best and brightest of Judaism intermingle their genetic algorithms.
For the Jewish gene pool, the mega-cities of America, like NYC, Chicago, etc.., offered the best protection and opportunity for Jewish genetic improvement by the Americanized Ashkenazim, who were historically Jewish immigrants from the cold Northern and Eastern parts of Magna Europa which extended to the Ural Mountains. It was not just Manhattan, but Brooklyn that often attracted the best of the Jewish Diaspora from all over the world, the most aggressive, racially conscious, eugenically conscious, creative, revolutionary and intelligent of World Jewry conglomerated in what could have been loosely labelled territories of little Israel in the making. Historically, some of the best and brightest of Jews have some connection with not just Brooklyn, but also Manhattan, and other NYC boroughs, parts, neighborhoods and areas that serves as unwritten and unofficial Jewish enclaves for the sons and daughters of the diaspora.
Summer Heat of 1883: The Conception of Leo Frank
One day during the sexual heat of a hot and dry Texas summer on July 17, 1883, all the biological stars were in alignment, Rudolph (Age 38) and Ray (age 24) had finally, after nearly 2 years of marriage, finally conceived their first child.
It’s Official: Ray Frank is Pregnant, Summer of 1883
The pregnancy would eventually be affirmed for sure when during the early first trimester Rachel began experiencing all those unmistakeable signs of being pregnant. At a time when infant mortality was high, the pregnancy would have naturally been nerve wracking and stressful, but also a glorious, momentous and a celebrated time, “unknowing” what was to eventually come of the child later in life, and wondering the gender. Is it a boy or a girl? What do we name our child depending on the gender?
For a father in the making, there is a certain feeling of manliness, fear and uncertainty associated with a pregnancy. For an old goat like Rudolph in 1883, knowing he was going to become a father at the age of 39, when the life expectancy at the time seemed fixed at around 45 years, it would have likely ignited a youthful spirit within him, which is most typical of married men who are about to become a father for the first time. Despite the fears, Rudolph was likely beside himself with joy and praying for a son.
And his prayers seemed as if they were answered before he made them.
Hurray! It’s a Boy!
They did not know it at the time, because there were no sonograms or other gender determining sciences available, but they were to be eventually surprised and delighted at birth. Nine months after conception, on Thursday, April 17, 1884, a son was born to the Franks. Leo Frank had entered the world in their wooden frame home in their small backwood Texas town. The Frank’s humble little abode was located about 100 or so miles from San Antonio, Texas.
Talk of moving away for better opportunities and “greener pastures” began before Leo was born and would intensify immediately thereafter, because more importantly, the social infrastructure and extended family network was mostly back in the mean and green urban machine of Brooklyn, NOT in the bland, droll and drab, tumble weed fields and listless wasteland grassy planes of wild-west 19th century Texas. At the time Texas, a massive State, with a population of less than 2 million, was sparsely populated, with fields and prairies that seemed to extend endlessly beyond the horizon in every direction!
It is said, that as hard as it is to believe, in a modern age, where every keystroke and communication is recorded, they didn’t have birth certificates back then in most of rural Texas, especially in that “neck of the woods”.
It’s Time to Pack Our Bags HONEY, We’re Movin’ (BACK) to Brooklyn! O’Thank Heavens! Rachael was tired of slumming it in Texas.
The freshly formed Frank clan would follow through with no doubts or hesitations, embarking on an arduous journey, and the three of them would soon emigrate forever from the provincial, yawning and cowboyesque town of Cuero, Texas, back to the hustling and bustling cosmopolitan North East. For the urbanite, Brooklyn was where one could live deeply and suck the marrow out of the bones of life, to borrow a phrase of Henry David Thoreau who might have quipped about leafy Brooklyn had be been born there.
1884 Summer: Rudolph, Rachel and Sweet Baby Leo Frank
A tumultuous turning point for the new Frank family began with the summer of 1884, the complicated move at the time would have taken weeks of careful pre-planning, organizing, and packing the essentials, their voyage was unfolding at a time in U.S. history when far-reaching travel was rough and painfully slow, but fortunately patience was plentiful, though trying at times. The Frank family made the right choice when they decided to relocate from the slow and boring small-town of Cuero, Texas, thousands of miles away, back to the home-town of Rachael. Brooklyn that timelessly inspiring borough within the periphery of NYC, a place of brick, rock and brownstone clad buildings, and other architectural variety, style and wonder.
Home Sweet Home
Brooklyn had “better-everything” and it was where everyone would benefit and have more opportunities and possibilities. Though unlike Texas during certain times during the year, their arrival in Brooklyn was at the thickest, swetiest peak of the sweltering New York City summer. No words could describe the ecstasy of finally settling in for a bit, sliding into and marinating in a soothing and large clawfoot bathtub after such a long stinky trip. The voyage likely had too many stop overs, random annoyances and delays to count.
One doesn’t realize how important some basic necessities are until they aren’t available. In Brooklyn it would have been so nice to have plumbing and toilets with running water vs. the crescent moon carved and shabby phone booth style outhouses of Texas that perpetually stunk to high heaven.
And murky well-water? For Ray – gross.
Cute little cone headed and round faced baby Leo Frank, who not only looked more like his mother in his early years, than his father, but he also got Ray’s generically bland good looks too. Sweet baby Leo Frank was barely three months old at the time of the epic pilgrimage and relocation, he was still suckling nourishing milk from his mothers bosom at the time. It likely helped put him to sleep. The long train rides would naturally be both soothing and traumatic for baby Leo at 3 months old, but possibly instilling a little bit of that restless spirit in the environmental mix with his diasphoratic DNA genetic heritage, afterall his uncle Moses was a globe trotter and his father an immigrant who had lived in many vastly different geographical places.
The Frank’s traveled When the world was once a big place, that dramatic trip from one side of the United States to another, would not be Leo’s first or last, and it certainly would have left a powerful impression upon him in a very abstract way. Perhaps when he took trains in his later years there was an engram of the train’s rhythmic lullaby that soothed him to sleep long ago when he was an infant.
Leo Frank would make even more dramatic journeys than his continental train rides, with two transatlantic European Trips, one was a short duration during the summer of 1905, and one was a long duration from the fall of 1907 to the summer of 1908 (Leo Frank Passport Application, 1907, Ellis Island Ship Manifest Records Archive, 1905, 1908, Retrieved 2012). Finally, after settling into NYC, Rudolph Frank took a job as a traveling salesman and his wife Ray resumed her roll as home maker. Two years later and in the colder NY months, a baby sister had arrived, Marian J. Frank, was born during a chilly Brooklyn day on October 18, 1886.
Leo Max and Marian J looked so cute together.
Leo Frank as a child looks a lot like the male version of his mom, Rachel Jacobs Frank, but Leo Frank’s Eastern European round plate face would narrow and square down a bit, giving him a more oval chiseled athletic handsome-fit-nerd look during college through his supreme prime of 29. After Leo Frank completed his middle school education in the New York City public education system Leo was accepted into the prestigious Pratt Institute.
Last Updated: August 2012