Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
August 20th, 1913

E. H. Pickett, an employee of the Beck & Gregg Hardware company, and the man mentioned by Roy Craven on the witness stand, was next put up as a witness for the state.

He corroborated what Craven said and through him the state made an open fight to impeach Minola McKnight and also to contradict Mrs. Emil Selig, who, on cross-examination, denied the conversation she is said to have had with the cook in urging her to keep quiet about what she had seen at the Frank home.

“Were you present when this affidavit of Minola McKnight was signed?” asked Mr. Dorsey.


“Who signed it?“

“Minola McKnight.”

“Did you talk to her before she signed it?”

“Who was present before she signed it?”

Present When She Signed It.

“Detectives Campbell and Starnes, Roy Craven, George Gordon, the woman’s lawyer; Albert McKnight, her husband, and myself,” said Pickett.

“Tell us what she said just before she signed the paper?” said Mr. Dorsey.

“We asked her about what Albert had told us and at first she refused to talk, and then she denied It all. After a few minutes she admitted a few of the things Albert had told us she had told him.”

“What were some of the first things she admitted?”.

“She first acknowledged that she had been cautioned by Mrs. Emil Selig to keep her mouth shut about what she had seen and heard in the Frank, or Selig home, then she acknowledged that she had been given a little more money than her usual pay”.

“Then the woman got hysterical again and declared she would not talk before the detectives and they went out of the room,” Pickett continued. “Finally she told us that she had been cautioned not to tell anything that she knew, but that what Albert had told us was true, continued Pickett.

“Mr. Craven then began to write in long hand her statement, as we had no stenographer there then.”

“Does this affidavit contain anything that the woman did not say?” asked Mr. Dorsey.

“It does not,” replied Pickett.

Mr. Rosser objected to that.

Part of Affidavit All Right.

Judge Roan then stated that he would not rule out the entire affidavit, but that if there was anything irrelevant in it, he would have to rule that out.

“For instance,” said the judge, “if the affidavit contains a statement about a conversation between Mrs. Frank and her mother-in-law made when Leo Frank was not present, that part could not go in evidence.”

“I want to go over with this witness everything that is held relevant,” Mr. Dorsey announced.  “All right,” replied Judge Roan.

“What did Minola first say in regard to Frank and his dinner?”

“She first declared he ate dinner,” Pickett replied.

“What did she say later?”

“Later she admitted that Frank ate no dinner.”

“What did she first say about the time Frank stayed at the house at lunch hour on April 26?”

“She first said he stayed there long enough to eat his meal.”

“What did she later say?”

“Later she admitted that he ate no dinner and that he left the house about ten minutes after he had entered it.”

“What did Minola first say about Albert being there at that time?”

“She first declared he was not there,” replied Pickett.


“Later she swore that he had been there.”

“What did she say at first as to whether or not the Seligs discussed the killing at the dinner table Sunday!”

Attorney Rosser objected at once and Judge Roan ruled that the state might ask about what conversation took place in Frank’s presence or what he said or was asked.

Changed Her Statement.

“Well, what did the cook say in regard to a conversation at dinner that Sunday in the Selig home about the killing and in which discussion Frank took part?” asked Dorsey.

“She first said Albert was lying when he said she had told him of that.”

“What did she say later?”

“Later she admitted having heard the conversation,” replied the witness.

“What did she first say about having been cautioned to keep quiet on what she knew?

Attorney Rosser objected question.

“Your honor, Mrs. Emil Selig, on the stand, denied that she had ever cautioned the cook to keep quiet, and Minola, on the stand, also denied that she had ever been so cautioned.”

“Well, put your question again,” said Judge Roan.

The solicitor then asked it and the witness replied that Minola had first denied that she had ever been cautioned to keep quiet, but that later she had acknowledged it.

“It’s immaterial and no matter who it contradicts, it can’t go on record,” burst out Attorney Rosser.

“Your honor,” he continued,” suppose one of the witnesses had got up here on the stand and swore that Mary never had a little lamb, why Dorsey over there would want to impeach that witness on as immaterial a thing as that.”

“Your honor,” said Attorney Frank A. Hooper, who up to this point had kept out of the wrangle, “just give me a chance and I will show you that this subject is admissible. This witness here on the stand may be used to impeach a score of witnesses and one statement from him may do it.”

May Impeach Many Witnesses.

“That statement was obtained from the witness in order that the state might contradict Mrs. Selig, who swore on the stand that no such conversation ever took place. Now we are impeaching Minola McKnight, but that does not keep us from contradicting, or impeaching another witness at the same time.”

After further points by Attorney Hooper, Judge Roan ruled that the question might go in. The defense registered a formal objection but made no further argument.

Mr. Dorsey then had the witness tell how the negro cook had first denied being cautioned to keep quiet, but that later she had admitted it.

“What did the woman first say about her wages?” Mr. Dorsey next asked.

The defense registered a formal objection to this, but Judge Roan allowed it.

“She first said her wages were the same as usual,” said the witness.

“What did she later say?”

“Later she said she had been given more money.”

“What did she say about being given a hat by Mrs. Frank?”

“I make the same objection to that, your honor,” said Mr. Arnold.

“All right,” replied Judge Roan, “let it go on record.”

“At first Minola did not mention a hat, and we know nothing about her having been given one,” said the witness, “but later she admitted that Mrs. Frank had given her one.”

“Who first mentioned a hat before her?”

“She did first,” said the witness.

“Did anybody threaten her?

“No, all we did was to ask her questions.”

Detectives Not There.

“When you were questioning her were Detectives Campbell and Starnes there?”


“When did they come in?”

“They came in later when we called them.”

“Where was her attorney?”

“He came in with the detectives.”

Mr. Rosser took up the cross-examination.

“When Minola made her first statement why didn’t you take that for the truth?” asked Mr. Rosser.

“We didn’t believe what she said,” replied the witness.

“Was she then in jail?”

“No, she was at the police station.”

“Just as bad, just as bad,” commented Mr. Rosser.

“Did you go to see Dorsey?”


“Why did you go there?”

“Because I had promised Albert I would try to get his wife out.”

“What did Dorsey say to you?”

“He said he was willing for Craven and I to go on the woman’s bond.”

“Didn’t you know the police had to do that?”

“Well, I know Mr. Dorsey said he was willing for the woman to get out on bond.”

Wanted to Get Statement.

“Well, why did you grill her for three hours instead of getting her out?” snapped Attorney Rosser.”

“We wanted to get a statement from her before we got her out.”

“No, you all know that If you got her to tell the story that these detectives here wanted her to tell that then she would be turned loose,” said Mr. Rosser, pointing at Detectives Campbell and Starnes, who sat with the solicitor.

“I know no such thing” retorted the witness.

“You told her that if she admitted to be true what Albert claimed that she could get out, didn’t you?”

“I did not and neither did anyone else while I was there.”

“The police treated her mighty nice after she said what they wanted her to say, didn’t they,” said Attorney Rosser with a series of grimaces and gestures, which he later termed as “monkey-motions” and declared he knew the witness, nor no one else could imitate.

“It’s correct that they treated her nice and turned her out after she had said what she did, but it don’t sound nice because as far as I know they had always treated her—.”

“No, it don’t sound nice, does it?” thundered Rosser.

Rap Stops Laughter.

There was a general laugh In the courtroom and deputies had to rap sharply for order. 

“You knew this woman was there because she would not say what the police wanted her to say, didn’t you? asserted the attorney.

“You knew this woman was there because she would not say what the police wanted her to say, didn’t you?“ asserted the attorney.

“I knew she was being held to get some sort of a statement from her in regard to what her husband had said.”

“And you went there to get her to make the statement that the detectives wanted?”

“I had no intention of getting her to make any particular statement, except the truth,” replied Mr. Pickett. He was then excused from the stand.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, August 20th 1913, “Clashes Between Lawyers Mark Effort to Impeach Negro Cook,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)