A while ago, Wolfmoon mentioned the name Percy Sutton in a response to my inquiry about what type of material he wanted for the site while he was away. Wolfmoon stated:
“I also have an interest in “red diaper theory”, so the genealogy of all “red diaper lineages” is of interest. I have some projects that are needed there. There is a guy who was significantly behind Obama named Percy Sutton, who claimed that half his siblings (large family) were Communists, with a capital C. I believe that this would be a fruitful entrant into many mysteries.”
I started this investigation with the main purpose of finding the Communist members of this family. However, in the course of it, I have found something else which interests me almost as much. This family has a history which appears in many instances to have been made up out of whole cloth. The more I found, the more I understood how people like this wouldn’t bat an eyelash over creating a completely false background for Barack Obama, and foisting it on the American people. From big lies to small, there are many instances. The Communists and connections to them are there, too.
I am accustomed to detailed research for people who might be looking for clues to more, so I have included links to where all this information was found. It is NOT necessary for you to click every link and read! But you can if you want. J
Percy Sutton famously claimed he helped Khalid Al-Mansour in getting Barack Obama into Harvard Law. I found this about Al-Mansour, who was born Don Warden:
“Al-Monsour has direct ties to the Saudi royal family. He is an adviser to Prince Alwaleed, an enormously wealthy man – at one time, and perhaps still, one of the 14 wealthiest men on the planet. Al-Mansour is the man who offered New York City $10 million to help rebuild downtown Manhattan, then criticized the U.S. saying we had contributed to the 9-11 attacks. Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani refused to take his money.”
Al-Mansour is a native of Texas, as is Percy Sutton and his entire family. Al-Mansour was born 29 Jan 1936, as Donald Warden, and attended Howard University, as did Carrie Sutton, Percy’s oldest sister, and his brother Samuel. The schools are important as you will see. I’m sure the Universities are where the Communists found fertile ground. Interesting note: Rev. Jeremiah Wright graduated from Howard U. as well, and may well have overlapped with Al-Mansour’s time there.
In the first reference I found to the “Six Communist Suttons,” Percy Sutton was named/associated with Emma Tenayuca, a renowned Communist, and others. I found the association here (names in bold reoccur in our story):
“In October of last year there was a symposium held at the Tamiment Library of New York University on “James and Esther Jackson, the American Left and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.” James Jackson was a big influence in my life. At the symposium Percy Sutton, former Manhattan borough president, spoke of his long association with and appreciation of the Jacksons. This began in San Antonio where Sutton grew up in a family of twelve, half of whom became Communists. The six Suttons; Emma Tenayuca and John Inman, both of whom were chairs of the Communist Party of Texas; Hattie Mae Inman, who raised a family and was an inspiration to others while bedridden with five types of cancer; Manuela Soliz Sager and her husband James Sager; Luisa Moreno, and many more — these are people to whom I’m indebted. I think this honor belongs to them also. And to my wife, Jo, whose support enabled me to be involved in struggles for peace and justice.”
According to Stanford, six of the twelve Sutton children became Communists. There are commonalities and connections in their lives which suggest this is true, and how they became Communists.
At the symposium “James and Esther Jackson, the American Left and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” referenced above, the Communist Party of the United States was well represented. Sutton was a long-time associate of the people being honored, James and Esther Jackson.
One of the first things I noticed when I started researching is the secrecy around the family group. Information is there, but not-there in weird ways. For example, with almost every “famous” or well-known family I have researched, other people are out there searching for them, too. Many of those people have public family trees on Ancestry.com. Most of the trees where people from THIS family are included are marked Private, so they can’t be seen. Average family researchers usually just aren’t that careful. I finally found a couple of trees I could see, but the information was very generic.
Percy Sutton was born 24 Nov 1920. He was the son of Samuel J. Sutton, born Feb 1863 in Virginia, and Lillian Smith, b. Dec 1875, in Louisiana. They married about 1897. Lillian was pretty much always pregnant. Her first child was born in September of 1897 and the last of fifteen was born 1919.
Samuel J. Sutton, Sr. was a Freemason. According to an article in the Richmond Planet newspaper in 1895, he was the Deputy Grand Master of the Masons, and the delegate from Texas to the Masonic Assembly in Chicago in 1893. I’m fairly certain Percy Sutton was a Mason. G. J. and Alexander records confirm were, but I suspect the other boys were Masons as well.
I found the following “correction” of Percy Sutton’s father’s past. It is representative of the misinformation about this family that has been perpetuated by the family itself:
“In a December 27, 2009 obituary of civil rights attorney Percy Sutton, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Sutton’s father, Samuel, was a former slave. A family spokeswoman, Terrie Williams, says that Sutton’s father lived in times of U.S. slavery but was not enslaved. In a videotaped oral history, Sutton said that his family had believed for years that his father had been born into slavery in Virginia, but found out later that his father was born free in Texas.”
I would really like to see what else Percy Sutton had to say in that oral history, but I can NOT find it online. I have to wonder if it has been scrubbed.
Census data clearly states that Samuel J. Sutton was born in Virginia, not Texas. Whether or not he was free at the time of his birth I have not been able to determine. The 1870 census of the state of Virginia only reveals one possible Samuel of the age to be the correct person. He and his brother David are living with their mother, Sarah Sutton, with no father in the home. I cannot say for certain that this is him, but in an interview with Lillian Sutton (Percy’s sister) that I will reference in greater detail in a bit, she lays out in great detail her father’s early history in Virginia. So much of the family story is contradictory, even spoken by its members, it is impossible to say what’s true and what’s fictional.
Another example of this comes from Percy Sutton’s obituary, within which it is claimed he was the first Eagle Scout in Texas. This is a verifiable lie. The first Eagle Scout in Texas was W. E. Merrem of Shiner, Texas. He became an Eagle Scout in 1913, seven years before Percy Sutton was even born. Perhaps they meant to say the first black Eagle Scout, but they didn’t. And I don’t think he was that either, although I have been unable to verify it. The early Scouting records for blacks are spotty, at best.
From childhood, it appears the children in the Sutton family were exposed to Communism. W.E.B. Dubois was a frequent guest in the Sutton household in San Antonio. DuBois officially joined the Communist Party of America in 1961, when he was 93. But I’m sure his ideals were communist far longer than that. The oldest child, John, went to Russia and worked for years. Thurgood Marshall, whom some believe was a Communist, or at least a sympathizer, was also a frequent visitor.
All of the Sutton children attended college. For part of his education, Percy Sutton attended Tuskegee Institute. As a result of his connection to one of Tuskegee’s most famous professors, Percy’s brother John actually LIVED in Russia for two years (more on that in a bit). The siblings of Percy Sutton and their histories, as much as I can find, are detailed below. I do think I found the six most likely Communists.
Siblings of Percy Sutton:
– John Wesley Sutton, b. Sept 1897, San Antonio, TX; d. 26 Oct 1978; attended Tuskegee Institute
The book George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol, by Linda O. McMurry, diescusses Carver’s knowledge of Marxism, and of an invitation to study in Russia by Oliver Golden, and how John Sutton went instead:
“When Carver spoke of his knowledge of Marxism, he was probably referring to what he had learned from two close friends, John Sutton and Howard Kester. Sutton’s exposure to Marxism, in fact, has originally came through Carver. In late 1930 and early 1931 O. J. Golden corresponded with Carver about the desire of the Soviet Union for black agricultural specialists. Golden reported that the Soviets would pay passage and a minimum monthly salary of $150 to $200, as well as provide free medical care and a month’s vacation. He urged Carver to recommend men and to come with them for a tour of Russia, asserting, ‘You owe it to your race. Russia is the only county in the world today that gives eqill [sic] chances to black and white alike.’
In response to Golden’s request Carver hurried off a letter to John Sutton, one of his best and closest former students, asking if Sutton would be interested in such an offer. Carver also wrote Golden that he doubted he could find fifty specialists willing to go, but that he would do the best he could ‘in this important matter.’ Noting his poor health and advanced age, Carver stated, ‘I appreciate the invitation to study in Russia. I hope I can do it, but not until I get stronger.’
Although Carver never went to the Soviet Union, John Sutton accepted the offer and stayed in Russia until 1938, writing Carver glowing accounts of life and race relations under the Soviet regime. Even being forced to quit the Soviet Union in 1938, leaving his wife and child behind, did not completely disillusion Sutton with the Communist system. Since Carver was both uninterested and uneducated in politics, Sutton’s words probably carried more weight than they would have otherwise.”
NOTE: The other men who were recruited from the U.S. to go to Russia were from Hampton Institute, Howard University, Wilberforce University, and of course, Tuskegee Institute, all historically black colleges.
John Sutton spent his time is Russia as an agricultural advisor. He worked on a formulation for a new type of rope made from rice fiber, and was apparently successful. He learned to both read and write in Russian. While there, he married Iylena Vasilievna. After his return from Russian John Sutton attempted to bring his son Juan to America in 1939, but was unable to do so. He lost touch with both wife and son altogether after that.
It appears, however, that Juan Sutton may have eventually made it to the U.S. after all. A Juan Sutton appears as a pall bearer in the funeral program for Lillian Sutton Taylor in January 1998, and appears again as a nephew of Alexander Carver Sutton in his funeral program in March 2002.
On a VERY WEIRD note, searching the name Iylena Vasilievna online leads to actress HELEN MIRREN, whose real name is Iylena Vasilievna Mironov! She was born 26 July 1945 in Essex, London. Her father was Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, and his father was a diplomat, Piotr Vasilievich Mironoff. I don’t see a logical way for the Sutton family to be connected, but can’t rule it out. Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, was in the Tsarist Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He later became a diplomat, and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain, when he and his family were stranded during the Russian Revolution. The former diplomat became a London cab driver to support his family.
In 1938, John Sutton received a Master of Science degree from Colombia University. References claim he had difficulty finding work and eventually ended up teaching science in New York. He married Bessie Brandon in 1946. I found the reference below, The Election Petition of the Communist Party and the List of Names of the people who signed the petition to form the party in Chicago, IL in 1940. A John Sutton and an O. Sutton are on the list. I have been unable to determine if these are the Suttons we are interested in, but it is suggestive.
Howard Kester was also investigated by Congress for his Communist connections in 1930. The link below is a book which shows he was investigated, Investigation of Communist Propaganda: Hearings Before a Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States…, Part 5, Issues 1-3.
Another article appeared in the Chicago Tribune 22 June 1990, regarding the “exodus” of black scientists, among them John Sutton, to Russia in the 1930s:
The Oliver Golden mentioned above attended Tuskegee Institute and was a student of George Washington Carver’s. He was a card-carrying Communist who had lived in Russia from 1924 to 1928, where he attended the Communist University for Oriental Workers in Moscow which recruited revolutionaries from Asia and Africa. He graduated and returned to the U.S. in 1928.
Now it gets really interesting! This article about Oliver Golden was authored by SUSAN JACOBY. As a young reporter, she lived in the USSR for two years.
That name rang a bell. MARY JACOBY is the wife of Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS fame, and is also a journalist. Mary’s father’s name is Jon Jacoby. Jon Jacoby ties Mary Jacoby to the Clintons in Arkansas. Surely Susan and Mary couldn’t be related, could they? Well…here’s where it gets a bit convoluted, but…
Susan Jacoby had an uncle named Oswald Jacoby, her father Robert’s brother. Oswald was a famous bridge player. According to his Wiki page, Oswald was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lived in Dallas, TX. The family was Jewish. The 1940 census in Dallas, TX shows Oswald Jacoby married with two children, Oswald born abt. 1933, and John, born 1938. Public records at Familysearch.com show Jon E. M. Jacoby of Little Rock, Arkansas was born in March of 1938. (Note: never get too hung up on the spelling of names in censuses; they are notoriously inaccurate).
Is this definitive proof that Mary Jacoby is Susan Jacoby’s first cousin once removed? No, but then there’s THIS; an obituary in the Dallas Morning News for Mr. James Oswald Jacoby, found at familysearch.com. It lists his family members as Judith Ann Jacoby, wife, James Oswald Jacoby Jr., son, Jon E M Jacoby, brother. James Jacoby died 10 Feb 1991.
THIS is PROOF that these two women are cousins! Another Russia connection revealed.
John Sutton, as well as the rest of the family, are listed on findagrave.com, a website where gravesites can be found:
– Carrie J. Sutton, b. 15 Jan 1899, d. 12 Jan 1964; m. Dr. Joseph Hunter Brooks, b. 6 Mar 1886, d. 8 Oct 1942; attended Howard University, as did Dr. Joseph Hunter Brooks.
Joseph Hunter Brooks was the son of William and Lucy Brooks. William and Lucy married in VA in 1874.
The Reverend C. W. Black, Jr. delivered a prayer at Carrie Sutton Brook’s funeral. More about him in a bit. This is a link to Carrie’s funeral program. Hers is very simple; by the time they got to printing Alexander Sutton’s (the youngest child) the funeral program was 12 pages long!
– Samuel J. Sutton, Jr., b. 19 Sept 1900, d. 25 Mar 1963, Waco, McLennan Co. TX; attended Howard University
From first appearances, Samuel J. Sutton would appear to be a fairly innocuous and undistinguished member of this family. But then I found his funeral program. One of the speakers at his funeral was John Inman, a Chairman of the Communist Party of Texas! Inman was tasked with the “Acknowledgement of Courtesies.” I think that means recognizing the people who sent food, flowers, etc., but I am not certain. It is an antiquated term. Here is a link to the funeral program:
Also interesting is the minister officiating at Sutton’s funeral. None other than Claude William Black, Jr. He also was included in several other Sutton funerals. I believe the family must have attended his church, Mt. Zion First Baptist in San Antonio.
Black was an extreme activist in San Antonio, and had an FBI file of more than 832 pages! The file was released in redacted form in 2010 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Some excerpts from the file are as follows:
“”It is not believed that Reverend Claude W. Black is a Communist Party member or sympathizer. He is a well-known champion of Negro rights. He is the pastor of the Mt. Zion First Baptist Church. He is a friend of John Inman and has worked with him on occasion; however, it is believed that Black’s interest is in the rights of the Negro people.”
That jibes with the recollection of Taj Matthews, Black’s grandson. Matthews said Tuesday that Black once told him Inman, a well-known East Side barber who died in 1996, was a communist, but that he was not to tell anyone.
The FBI file indicates Inman, also a legendary local activist, was chairman of the Communist Party of Texas in 1970.”
“A second-hand recounting of the episode involving Langston Hughes, told by a man named Harry Koger at a meeting attended by the informant, varies slightly from the version Black occasionally related.
It tells of the City Council’s decision, on Feb. 24, 1952, to rescind the use of the San Antonio Library Auditorium for use by Hughes, the internationally known African American poet, who was alleged at the time to be a communist sympathizer.
According to the version in the FBI file, an elderly attorney at the meeting referred to Black as “that pink” n-word.”
Black’s circle of friends, some heavily monitored by the local FBI office, included attorney Herschel Bernard, father of current City Attorney Michael Bernard, who never was identified as a communist but whose house came under FBI surveillance in 1960 for reasons that aren’t made clear.
Black crossed paths with numerous other legendary figures, including Maury Maverick, Jr., Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and Cesar Chavez.
Congressman Henry B. Gonzales was also accused of being a communist, as was Maury Maverick, Jr. We all know about Cesar Chavez.
– Lillian W. Sutton, b. 13 Jan 1903, d. 4 Jan 1998; m. Edgar A. Taylor; attended Tuskegee Institute
The following link leads to an interview with Lillian Sutton Taylor in 1977. She gives many details about her family, including the schools each attended.
Within this article, Lillian recounts family lore, explaining that the progenitor of the Sutton clan was an English sea captain, John Pierre Sutton, who came to Virginia and fathered a child, Samuel Westly, by a black mistress. I say “family lore” because as is the case in many families, this story is likely mostly a myth. The only mention online ANYWHERE of the name of the sea captain is within the above article. Lillian claims the captain, her great-grandfather, was one of the First Families of Virginia. There are NO Suttons listed as FFV on their website. The story claims that the sea captain raised Samuel just like his white children, elevating him in society, but I can find no evidence of that. The man was educated, but the captain story is unverifiable.
Also, Lillian claims that her great-grandfather started a bank in Richmond and her grandfather was a teller there. Yet another source claims the bank was started by her grandfather, Samuel Westly Sutton. Lillian claims her grandfather later started a newspaper, the Richmond Planet. It appears this family story may have been conflated somewhat with that of other men, Reverend William Washington Browne, who founded True Reformers Bank, the first black-owned bank in Richmond, VA in 1888, and John Mitchell, Jr. S.W. Sutton, a laborer and Lillian’s grandfather, was an officer of the bank founded by Browne, not its founder.
John Mitchell, Jr was the founder/editor of the Richmond Planet newspaper. Mitchell served on the board of the bank founded by Browne, but his newspaper was already in operation when the bank was founded. The sequence of events as Lillian tells the story does not align with the historical record. The True Reformer’s actually did eventually start a newspaper, so maybe she has confused them. That is a part of the problem with family stories as history. This newspaper, in contrast to the more radical Planet, is described as sober and conservative by its editors of the time.
It seems very unlikely that Lillian’s story of her grandfather working at the bank belonging to Browne and at the newspaper belonging to Mitchell could be true, as the men were bitter rivals. This newspaper article from the Richmond Planet dated 13 Apr 1895 states that “there is no man who stands to-say closer in the matter of friendship to John Mitchell, Jr. than Sam’l J. Sutton.” Sutton was already in Texas then. Sutton must have picked a side in the rivalry. The newspaper also states that Sutton went to Texas in the fall of 1886. This pre-dates the founding of the True Reformers Bank, so I think Samuel J. Sutton must have been included from Texas by his friend, John Mitchell, Jr. The article mentions that Sutton has “been through Mexico,” but makes no mention on him owning a gold (or silver; accounts vary here, too) mine there. It seems likely to me that if he had, this glowing article would have mentioned it.
So it appears some of the family story is true, but much is not. The importance of Samuel J. Sutton has been exaggerated to a degree. This educated family may not have known, or have been satisfied by, their more humble beginnings.
Family origin stories like this are NOT unusual. I find them all the time. My own family has them. This is a very proud family, and inflating their importance in history seems important to them. Much of Lillian’s story does not match the historical record. She states her father began teaching in San Antonio in 1888, but the True Reformers bank was founded that year in Richmond. He couldn’t be in two places at the same time. She says he went to Mexico and invested in gold mines after he left Richmond. The 1900 census states his marriage year as 1897, but I can’t find a record of the marriage. Wife Lillian was born in Louisiana, according to the 1910 census.
Regardless of how they got there, by 1900 the family was in San Antonio, TX.
In the funeral program for Lillian, there is commentary that she raised several of her nieces and nephews. One of them was Jeffrey, G.J.’s daughter by his first wife. Others were Lura, Alexander, Jr, and Clifton. It stated she cared for them until adulthood. Alexander, Clifton and Lura were three of A.C. Suttons eleven children. I wonder why he didn’t raise these three?
Rev. C. W. Black, Jr. also spoke at her funeral.
According to Lillian and most sources, her father Samuel met her mother Lillian Smith at Guadalupe College. He met her through Rev. Andrew W. Smith, who was the pastor of the historic Second Baptist Church in San Antonio. She stated her father “became a big worker in Second Baptist Church from that day on.” But by the time of Samuel Sutton, Jr.’s death in 1963, the family was apparently associated with the Mt. Zion First Baptist Church where C. W. Black, Jr. officiated.
Looking into the history of the two churches, the Second Baptist Church seems to have been a much more politically moderate venue than Mt. Zion Baptist. Perhaps this was the reason for the family’s change to the more activist Mt. Zion, which featured speakers such as Thurgood Marshall, politician Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., civil rights leader Barbara Jordan, and others.
– Louise Sutton, b. 25 May 1904, d. 8 Sept 1919 of typhoid
– George M. Sutton, b. abt. 1906, d. 9 Jul 1913 of appendicitis
– G. J. (Garlington Jerome) H. Sutton, b. abt. 1909, d. 22 June 1976; m. 1st Jeffrey Plummer on 18 May 1933; m. 2nd Lou Nelle Callahan, b. 20 Dec 1905; attended Wilberforce University
At a Free Angela Davis (black activist) meeting in 1971:
“Seated on the platform were Carlos Richardson, Texas co-ordinator of Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee and chairman of the San Antonio Committee to Free Angela Davis; Raul Rodriguez, publisher of Chicano Times, and Rosie Castro, both candidates for City Council; G.J. Sutton and John Inman, black community leaders; John Stanford, Communist party spokesman; Mario Cantu, Chicano businessman; Mrs. Manuela Sager, and David Plylar.
John Sanford is the man who stated that the SIX SUTTONS were communists. John Inman, Manuela Sager, and Percy Sutton were the others he named in the same speech.
John Inman was a known revolutionary in San Antonio. A.C. Sutton was quoted as saying “Anything that looked like a movement, he would be a part of.” He was deeply connected to the Sutton family and Emma Tenayuca.
John Inman was a fighter for social justice for many years, John Inman, a black revolutionary during the Bellinger era, lived for a long time and fought for positive change for decades. He was socialist oriented and was able to establish strong working relations with the Mexican American community through Emma Tenayuca as they both fought for worker’s rights. John Inman was allied with Rev. Claude Black and the Sutton family, who were at various times connected to the socialist movement.”
Emma Tenayuca was married to Homer Brooks aka Homer Bartchy, born 28 Dec 1910, a Communist Party USA Gubernatorial candidate in Texas in the 1930s. They ultimately separated, and in 1946, Emma left the Communist Party. She became a teacher. Too many of these people are educators.
I found a very interesting quote about G. J. Sutton made in an oral interview by Maury Maverick. Maverick was a San Antonio politician. He represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 1935 to 1939, and was mayor of San Antonio from 1939 to 1941. This is an excerpt of the interview with Chandler Davidson:
Well, tell me a little bit about the black population in San Antonio. That’s a rather small one compared to the Chicanos, isn’t it?
Yes. And they are all working for the Pentagon, too, but like blacks everywhere in the South, they are damn well organized and they know what they are doing and they’ve got a black representative from here, a better fellow than that liberal Texas Monthly magazine gives him credit for being. He is a lot better fellow.
This is Sutton that you are talking about?
Yeah, G. J. Sutton, which may probably be the most interesting black family in Texas and it’s worth telling one of your students, if you’ve got one from San Antonio, to do a story on that family. One of them was a scientist in the Soviet Union and designed a hemp rope of some kind that was of great use to the Russians. He speaks Russian fluently. One of the girls was a medical doctor, one of the first black women to be a doctor in America. One of them is Percy Sutton, the president of the borough of Manhattan and may be the first black mayor of New York City. He was raised on a farm and he was up making a speech in upstate New York to a bunch of farmers and they said, “This Harlem black, what’s he going to know about agriculture?” Well, he got up and talked about crows and insects and locusts and boll weevils and they never had heard anything like that in their lives. He was raised on a farm. The reason that he is borough president of New York, Manhattan, today is that after World War II he applied to go to Texas A&M’s veterinary medicine school, he loved animals, and they wouldn’t let him in. They said that he had to go to the black school. He said, “I’m not going to go to any black school.” For that reason, he went to New York and I tell Percy that Texas lost a good horse doctor.
“They’re all working for the Pentagon”? What the heck is THAT about?
Maury Maverick was branded as a communist by his political opponents, which led to his defeat in 1941.
G.J. Sutton married second Lou Nelle Callahan. After his death, Lou Nelle ran for his place in the Texas Legislature, and won. She is another example of the mythology this family used to disguise its humble origins. On the 1930 census in San Angelo, Texas, Lou Nelle is listed as a single servant in the household of Preston Northrup. In an oral interview, Lou Nelle spoke of when she later moved to Austin.
“I lived in Austin, but I lived with a family. I didn’t…There was one family…there was a family, Reverend and Mrs. Duncan and their daughter, Thelma, and a son, Roosevelt. Thelma and I were very near the same age. We met in the church when I first went there, and we became friends. Before too long, I moved out of the dormitory and moved into the home with the Duncans. And that’s where I did…I spent the rest of my schooling.
Lou Nelle goes on to emphasize that she was treated “Just like Thelma.” I found the family on a census, probably before Lou Nelle lived with them. Thelma was actually four years younger than she. I am fairly certain that the sentence in bold above should read “And that’s where I did for them.” That is the “polite” way Southerners referred to servitude. I think it is likely Lou Nelle was a servant for this black family while she was in school. She “helped” the mother with her sewing for spending money, she states. There is more in the interview, reading between the lines, that supports this theory. But it wouldn’t suit the narrative she was living, as the woman who took her husband’s place in the Texas legislature, if she had ever been a servant.
I keep mentioning these seemingly innocent lies because they strongly remind me of the made-up and covered-up past of Barack Obama. It is clear that deceit about one’s true origins is not an exceptional thing within this group. Percy Sutton was probably easily persuaded to write a letter supporting the admission of a possibly non-deserving student to Harvard Law. He was definitely accustomed to making stuff up!
Another very telling section of this interview involves Lou Nelle’s decision to run for G.J.’s seat. Her brother-in-law Oliver approached her, telling her she would have to run for the seat on the day he died. Here is a widow, in shock, and the pressure starts on the day of his death. His nephew Charles, sister Smithie’s son, also approached her about running the very next day. These people are all about power, and this demonstrates it fully to me.
G.J. Sutton operated Sutton and Sutton Mortuary with his brother, Samuel. After G.J.’s death, it passed to Lou Nelle. She bristled at people calling it the “family business,” stating it was “her business.” She actually went off the record with the interviewed to explain how $200 was what the family contributed. Most sources talk about the owners of the business as G.J. and his brother. According to an oral interview with activist Harry Burns, a good friend of G. J. Sutton and Rev. C. W. Black, the funeral home was an “internal family feud.” Lillian opened a different funeral home in San Antonio. Maybe the family loaned her the $200 to start her business.
Harry Burns also states that he and G. J. often came into conflict, because G. J. was more “militant” in his views and how he wanted to do things.
Rev. C. W. Black, Jr. made a tribute to G. J. at his funeral. G. J. and Rev. Black were very good friends. Both were very radical in the politics of 1950s and 60s San Antonio.
– William N. Sutton, b. 8 Feb 1910, d. 28 Aug 1971; attended Hampton Institute
William N. Sutton seems to be one of the lesser-known of the Sutton family. In the funeral program for Rev. Alexander Carver Sutton, it is stated that William N. Sutton joined A. Philip Randolph as a union organizer for the United Brotherhood of Pullman Porters (this is actually not the correct name of the union; it is Sleeping Car Porters). Randolph was the editor of the Messenger, and was named in an investigation of communist propaganda by Congress in 1930. The newspaper “advocated communism, the overthrow of the United States,” and a variety of other “crimes.”
Interestingly, while looking for William Sutton in relation to this union, I found that Rev. C. W. Black, Jr., who officiated at so many of the Sutton funerals, was born the son of local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters vice president Claude Black, Sr. The Sleeping Car Porters Union was formed by A. Philip Randolph in 1925, when William Sutton would have been only fifteen years old. By 1933, the Union would only have 658 members and had stopped paying its bills. William Sutton would then have been twenty-three. Maybe being a porter was his first job. In any case, perhaps this is when the family first came into contact with Rev. Black.
William N. Sutton most certainly had some sort of relationship with men whom the Congress at the time believed were communists.
– Cora Mary Sutton, b. 9 Dec 1911, d. 22 Nov 2005; m. Granville Andrew Jackson; attended Guadalupe College
Cora Sutton Jackson became a teacher. She eventually taught in Oakland, California. According to the Sutton family, she was head of an educational department in the Oakland Public Schools.
Her husband Grandvel seems to have been fairly undistinguished. He completed college, according to census information, but at age 30 was working as a waiter in a “private club.” His father was a farmer.
In this obituary, it is stated that she and Grandvel became “surrogate parents” to their nieces and nephews who came to California to live with them. The obit didn’t specify which ones, but Jeffrey Dean (Sutton) Greene, G. J.’s daughter is quoted in the obit. His children were also referenced as being raised by Lillian Sutton Taylor, so I imagine they were some of the “nieces and nephews” mentioned here. Some of these people sure seem to have had a hard time raising their kids or staying married.
There is not much other information available about Cora. She seems to have been fairly unremarkable.
– Smithie D. Sutton, b. 4 Oct 1914, d. 5 Oct 1982, Marin Co., CA ; m. 1st Charles C. Andrews; m. 2nd Wendell Henry 29 Jan 1966 in San Francisco, CA
Smithie, along with Lillian, was an activist in the civil rights movement. They picketed Joske Department Store leading to the integration of its Chameleon Room in 1960.
Smithie seems to have been fairly political. She was active in the League of Women voters, the Democrat Party and the NAACP. She was also very involved in children’s organizations, including the Girl Scouts. I could not find any obvious Communist connections. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there, they are just well hidden if they are.
The ubiquitous Rev. C. W. Black, Jr. also spoke at her funeral.
– Oliver C. Sutton, Sr., b. 18 Sept 1915, d. 15 Jul 1983; m. 1st James Marcelle Burley; attended Tuskegee Institute
On the 1940 census, Oliver Sutton is listed as a high school teacher in San Antonio, living with G. J. and Jeffrey Sutton. BUT, on his WWII enlistment papers less than two years later, he is listed as Civil Occupation: Attendants, professional and personal service, n.e.c. I found a reference book to determine exactly what this classification meant, and it is a Service Worker. Teaching is a completely different section. I think this classification probably includes mortuary workers. His enlistment papers did list his four years of college, as did the census.
On the same 1940 census, G. J. Sutton is listed as a mortician, and Oliver lives with him. Wife Jeffrey is listed as a teacher. On Oliver’s WWII Draft Card, G. J. Sutton is listed as his employer. So in 1942, Oliver was definitely working at the Sutton and Sutton Mortuary. Maybe he discovered teaching wasn’t for him. According to his funeral program, Oliver Sutton had a brief career as a licensed plumber in San Antonio and was yet ANOTHER partner in the family mortuary for a time after he was discharged from the Army. Remember, Lou Nelle Callahan Sutton, G. J. Sutton’s widow, strenuously objected to the characterization of the funeral home as a “family business,” and opened one of her own. It’s weird. They pretty much had a monopoly on the black dead of San Antonio.
In 1946, Oliver married James Marcelle Burley, and in 1948, they had a son, Oliver, Jr. According to Oliver Sutton, Jr.’s obituary, he spent his grade school years overseas with his mother and step-father, an Army officer, attending school in Germany and England. He, too, became a lawyer, and worked in New York at the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, the company founded by his father, Oliver Sr., Percy Sutton, and Hal Jackson. Many of the family were into radio and broadcasting.
Oliver Sutton, Sr. moved to New York and completed his education as an attorney. He joined in practice with Percy Sutton and George Covington, a New York State Supreme Court Justice. They represented many civil rights cases, including Malcolm X.
In this 1970 NYT article, Oliver C. Sutton, running for County Civil Court, is listed as a Republican.
This information ALONE would make me question any ties to the Communist Party, unless it is just another fiction within this family. With this group, taking on a false affiliation to a political party as cover would not surprise me at all.
The Rev. C. M. Black, Jr. was also a speaker at Oliver Sutton, Sr.’s funeral.
– Essie M. Sutton, b. 11 Jan 1917, d. 15 Feb 2010; never married, special education teacher for 58 years; attended Tuskegee Institute
The most notable thing about Essie with regards to any Communist ties is the fact that as a special education teacher, she reportedly fought school board opposition to take a group of educationally handicapped children on a cross-country trip. These trips became annual events, to include trips to Egypt and the Soviet Union. Her obituary states that she became fluent in Russian before her trip there.
– Alexander C. Sutton (Willis A. on 1920 census), b. 6 Feb 1919, d. 30 Mar 2002; m. 1st Lura Mae Noland on 12 Dec 1944; m. 2nd Elma Lee Brown in 1972 and divorced in 1987; attended Tuskegee Institute
Alex was a god-child of Dr. George Washington Carver. On one of Carver’s visits to the Sutton home he said they should give him their youngest, so they made him god-father.
On his 1940 WWII Draft Card, Alexander Sutton is listed as a “share-cropper.” In 1942, Alexander enlisted in the Air Corps. His civilian occupation was listed as “farmer,” and he was single with dependents. He wasn’t married until 1944, so who knows who the dependents were. He is missing from the 1940 Census. I can’t locate him anywhere in the US.
A. C. Sutton went on to become very active in local San Antonio politics and business. He owned several businesses. He staged some protests and worked for black rights in the community. He does not seem particularly radical by comparison to some other family members.
In Rev. Alex’s obituary, he was said to have been in charge of the Sutton’s Paradise Funeral Home. This is the original family funeral home. I wouldn’t have even noticed this too much, if it weren’t for Lillian Sutton’s comments about the other one, Sutton and Sutton Mortuary, not being a “family business” when it was stated to be in so many other places. This supposedly “close knit” family clearly had some fault lines, but they kept them pretty hidden.
Alexander’s funeral program:
– Percy Sutton, b. 24 Nov 1920, d. 26 Dec 2009; m. Attended Tuskegee Institute
There is so much information about Percy Sutton online that I won’t even attempt to summarize it. Suffice to say, he ended up in New York City as a Borough president, and was very politically active all his life. There is some interesting information about him that I found buried in an archive.
Lee Rankin was Inspector General of the United States from 1956-1961. Following President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, Rankin served as General Counsel for the Warren Commission that concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in killing President Kennedy. He served as general council from 1953-1964. He assisted in redrafting and editing the Commission’s voluminous report. After his work with the Warren Commission, Rankin worked seven years as the New York City Corporation Counsel (1966-1972).
In the J. Lee Rankin, Law Papers (Law MS 001), Law College, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries, there is an entire box devoted to an investigation of Percy Sutton in New York. The investigation spanned the years 1962-1969. It appears from the list of contents that the investigation involved Caropaul’s Realty Corporation, an interest which changed hands from Percy Sutton to Oliver C. Sutton in 1962, and then to Emsar Bradford from Oliver C. Sutton in 1966. One item listed is a “List of Additional Documents Desired by the Board of Ethics,” 1967, Dec. 4. It appears Sutton was being investigated for some ethics violation. Later, the list includes such items as articles from the New York Post titled “Sutton Linked to Second Slum,” 1967, Nov. 24, “Sutton Listed Slum Building As His Home,” 1967, Nov. 29. It appears Percy Sutton may have been something of a slum lord. None of these articles appear in internet searches.
In 1964, Percy Sutton was finally elected to the New York State Assembly. He had been trying since 1953 to win an election.
In 1966, Percy ran for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Jacob Javits. But Sutton pulled out and supported Paul O’Dwyer. O’Dwyer eventually occupied a position on the board of the All-People’s Congress National Advisory Board, which was influenced by the hardcore Marxist Worker’s World Party.
O’Dwyer was also a sponsor of Operation RAW in 1970. This tree-day Vietnam War protest event featured such speakers as Jane Fonda and John Kerry.
Interesting tidbit here:
Book T. Washington Coin Legislation Amendment to Include George Washington Carver
Public Law 151 – 82d Congress
Chapter 408 – 1st Session
September 21, 1951
“SEC. 4. The coins authorized by the first section of this Act may be disposed of at par or at a premium by banks or trust companies selected by the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial and the George Washington Carver National Monument Foundation, and all proceeds therefrom shall be used, in the manner decided upon by the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial and the George Washington Carver National Monument Foundation to oppose the spread of communism among Negroes in the interest of the national defense.”
Clearly, the government was aware that there was a problem. Communism had great appeal in the black community.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
First of all, you may note that there are only 14 of the reported fifteen children born to Samuel and Lillian Sutton listed here. There is another child who died young, but I have been unable to find a name.
This family had many secrets. Their origins are murky, at best. Of course, considering that they probably descend from slaves, this is not surprising. What is weird is the parts of the origin story which are obvious fiction. At the time the family was telling the tales about their progenitor being a member of the First Families of Virginia, and raising his child by a slave as one of this rarified group, they could not know that one day all of the information to refute those claims would be available online. Today, the click of a mouse tells us the names of the First Families, and there is not a Sutton among them.
Several members of the family are obviously connected in some way to communism. John Sutton travelled to the Soviet Union to work; G. J. Sutton was involved with known Communists like John Inman, and suspected ones like the Rev. C. W. Black and Maury Maverick; Samuel J. Sutton, Jr. was also involved with Inman, who spoke at his funeral; William N. Sutton was involved in union activities with A. Philip Randolph, who’s newspaper advocated communism and who was investigated as a suspected Communist by Congress; Essie M. Sutton traveled to Russia, instigating the trip with her students, and becoming fluent in Russian beforehand; and Percy Sutton, who was the family member present when the “Six Communist Suttons” were referenced at the symposium honoring his long-time friends, the Communists James and Esther Jackson.
These are the six Suttons which historical evidence suggests most strongly may have been the half-dozen Communist members of the family. The whole family was apparently EXPOSED to Communism from a young age, but this is the group which seems most connected to known Communist people and organizations. There are many children from this group; it seems logical to assume that at least some of them would be sympathetic to Marxist ideals, and continue the family tradition into the present day.