How to Prove: Family Ties to White Supremacist Groups

The organization: The Black Legion

May 1936: “The Black Legion’s Spread Surprising the Midwest” (New York Times)
  • New York Times article
January 1937: The Black Legion (Film starring Humphrey Bogart)
  • The film was based on the kidnapping and murder in Detroit of Charles A. Poole.
February 1937: “I was a Captain in the Black Legion” (True Detective magazine)
  • Published in the true crime magazine True Detective

Maternal great-grandfather on grandmother’s side: Harley Nichols

1952: “City Man Dies From Injuries,”
  • Article about the death of Tracie’s maternal great-grandfather, Harley Christian Nichols, a member of the First Baptist Church. The church’s leader, Reverend H. H. Savage, officiated Harley’s funeral. 
1936: “Pontiac City Workers Connected with Black Legion, Ex-Police Chief Says.”
  • Rev. H. H. Savage was “among the men who testified for Pierce,” a Pontiac Police Sergeant who admitted under oath previously before the Police and Fire Trial Board that he was a “colonel” in the Black Legion. 
1936: “Pastor Hits ‘Persecution’ of Legion”
  • A partial reprint of an H.H. Savage sermon saying members of the Black Legion should not be persecuted and refers to them as “American patriots.”

Maternal great-grandfather on grandfather’s side: Bert Weddle

1974: Contract showing the sale of 2186 Oxley
  • from the estate of Tracie’s maternal great-grandfather, who was deceased, to new owners. 
1942: Draft registration card, Bert Weddle
  • Showing that Bert Weddle lived at 2186 Oakwood Drive in 1942.
1940: Document of sale, includes racial restrictions for 2186 Oxley Drive, providing that:
  • “(f) No person of any race other than the Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupant by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.”
  • Document names the trustees Edward V. Howlett, Fred L. Harger, and William R. Ransom in their sale of the property to Norma Strickland in 1940. 
1936: The Michigan Circuit Court “Report on Black Legion Activities in Oakland County”
  • Lists the names of individuals found to be members of the Black Legion, data on membership, and history of the organization. William Ray Ransom, one of the developers/trustees of the Oakwood subdivision that contained 2186 Oxley Drive, is listed as a member.

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