Ok! One last post in this series, and then comes NEW STUFF!
This is the finale of the original post, which was really long. This part ties it all up, and names the six Suttons who were most likely Communist.
Here is a link to the original, full post:
Here are the previous parts if you haven’t read them yet:
We start out this part of the story with Oliver Sutton, who became a lawyer and went into practice with his brother Percy in New York.
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. (Hat tip, Wolfmoon; there’s always a visit).
– 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.