August 17, 1915 was a tragic day in American history. On that infamous day, Leo Max Frank, whose sentence for killing 13-year-old Mary Phagan two years prior was commuted by outgoing Georgia Governor John “Jack” Marshall Slaton to life in prison, was lynched in Marietta, Georgia. No one was ever arrested or convicted for Frank’s kidnapping from the Georgia State Prison Farm in Milledgeville and the lynching. Further, it is widely believed that Frank did not, in fact, commit the crime. Frank’s body was shipped to New York for burial. Lucille “Lucy” Selig Frank remained in Atlanta, dying on April 23, 1957 of heart disease at the age of 69. For decades, her final resting place remained a mystery; however, we now know that she is interred at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.
Lucille remained faithful to Leo throughout her life; she never stopped mourning Leo’s murder. After Leo’s murder, Lucille, age 27, carved out a life as a widow in Atlanta. She never remarried, working as a salesclerk at various retail businesses. Lucille would sign her name as “Mrs. Leo Frank” and never shied from her tragic legacy. When she died, her remains were cremated, generating speculation and scrutiny. and held at Patterson’s Funeral Home in Atlanta. Her internist Dr. James Kauffman said, “Leo might have been killed, but she served a life sentence.”
During a time of anti-Semitic unrest in Atlanta, the funeral home contacted Lucille’s family to hand over her remains. Alan Marcus, her nephew, took possession and drove around for roughly 6 months with the remains in the trunk of his red Corvair Monza. In 1964, Alan and his brother, Harold, took the urn to Oakland Cemetery, where they dug a hole between the graves of Emil and Josephine Cohen Selig, Lucille’s parents. For 40 years, Alan kept his secret.
In 2004, Alan disclosed where Lucille was buried to author Steve Oney, whose seminal book And the Dead Shall Rise, the Murder of Mary Phagan and Lynching of Leo Frank (2003) remains the best and comprehensive look at the infamous event.
Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta is one of the best examples of a rural garden cemetery (https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2013/09/16/historic-oakland-cemetery/). It seems fitting that Lucille shall spend eternity tucked between her parents. Although her grave is technically unmarked, it is not without adornment. A small plaque of an angel with an inscription sits nestled between her parents’ tombstones. In death, may she find peace.
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