In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan had been so active in Tulsa, Oklahoma – doing everything from holding parades to organizing lynch mobs – that the Governor of the state declared martial law in August of 1923. A month later, the national guard launched an investigation into the Klan’s activities – over 700 people testified. Tate Brady, a prominent business in Tulsa at the time, was called to the stand to discuss his role in the Klan. This Land Press presents a reading of Brady’s testimony, starring Anthony Florig as Tate Brady and Michael Mason as the interrogator. The full transcript can be read below. A full copy of Brady’s testimony before the Oklahoma military tribunal, along with the testimonies of others, can be found at the Western Heritage Collection, in the papers of Governor Jack Walton, at the University of Oklahoma Libraries in Norman, Oklahoma.
Click here to read our feature story “The Nightmare of Dreamland: Tate Brady and the Battle for Greenwood.”
W T BRADY,
Called as a witness, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:
BY MR. STEVENS:
Q What are your initials?
A What is that?
Q Your initials?
A W.T. Brady
Q Your address?
A 620 North Denver, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Q Mr. Brady, were you present in Mr. S. R. Lewis’ office when a conversation was had between him and Mr. Minor Merriweather regarding certain activities of the Klan?
A Yes sir; I was.
Q Just state that conversation as you remember it in your own way.
A Well, as I recall it now, Mr. Lewis called me over at the hotel; it was some ten or twelve days or two weeks before the election, as well as I recall the time now, in 1922, and he called me over and said Mr.Merriweather wanted to see us—wanted to see me and wanted to see us together, and I went over there as well as I recollect now, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Merriweather were in Mr. Lewis’ private office and he talked to us about—what do you want? Want me to tell what we talked about?
Q Yes. Yes; tell the whole story
A He talked to me some time previous to this; I had been taken before the San Hedrin of the Klan. I was a member of the Klan here at one time, and tried on a written charge that I was—that I had supported Tom Owen for Governor, inimical to the interests and contrary to the instructions of the Klan. I think that was indictment number one, or substantially what it was, and a further indictment or further count that I was at this time—this was after the primary—supporting Jack Walton, a jack Catholic, they called him, I believe, inimical to the Klan, and I was asked some other questions. I believe I was asked the question if two men were running for office and one was a Democrat and a Catholic and the other was a Democrat and a Klansmen, which would I vote for, and I answered that by saying that when I came to this country under Republican carpet bag rule, the Indian was first, the negro second and the white man third, and added to that that I was all Democrat and always voted the Democrat ticket—
Q Just a moment—
A Yes, sir.
Q Mr. Brady, after the charges had been made against you on account of your supporting certain men for the office of Governor, were you banished from the Klan by the San Hedrin court?
A When they asked me the questions and when they asked me the last question, I says, “No man can tell me how to vote”. I says, “I have in my home the original records—some of my father’s membership in the original Klan, and I think you are a disgrace” and I considered I was out, and I learned from other members I was banished.
Q You considered you were banished on account of your political activities?
A Yes sir, and Mr. Merriweather’s purpose that day was to tell myself and Mr.Lewis, as well as I recollect now, the way he expressed himself was that the Klan had acted illegally; that he was Grant Titan of this province; that they had no right to do that and that he was there for the purpose of restoring us to full membership. He was talking to both of us at the time and he was stating about the hardships that he had. He stated that he didn’t want us to feel hard toward him; that he had had a hellf of a time; the way he expressed it, to hold these fellows in line. That he had had a half dozen Mer Rouge affairs in his province and told about—in a general way—I have forgotten the places, but he told there was one up here about Drumright and one at Henryetta and he spoke about what he called the Coffeyville case which he said had been done by members in his province. I forget all he did say.
Q But you understood from his conversation that there had been murders similar to the Mer Rouge affair in Louisiana, committed in his jurisdiction and within his knowledge?
A Yes sir, he said there had been half a dozen cases such as the Mer Rouge affair.
Q Did he tell you anything about his knowledge concerning any of the whippings within his province?
A Only just in a general way. He said he was having a hell of a time holding them down; that the boys wanted to hold them down, and he talked like he was against it and wanted to hold them down, and that he had had a hell of a time hold them down.
Q Your belief was that the Klan had been taking certain people out and whipping them?
A Yes, sir.
Q And he did not approve of it and he did approve of certain other mob activities of the Klan?
A Yes, sir. I took it that he was opposed to the Mer Rouge business and went stronger on the whipping.
Q Was Mr. S. R. Lewis banished from the Klan for a similar offense to that which you have been charged with?
A I have been informed he was charged in the same indictment I was charged on. I told him that as far as I was concerned, that I never wanted to go back and I wished it was so I could go in the Federal Court myself and bring a suit to prevent them from using the name “Ku Klux Klan”, as it was a disgrace to a man like my father.
Q Mr. Brady, did you ever have any conversation with Minor Merriweather concerning the military committee of the Klan?
A Yes sir; he said in this conversation where he said he was having a hard time controlling them—he referred to his military committee; he was talking about his military committee.
Q Did he state to you who the head of the military committee in Tulsa was at that time?
A I don’t recall that he did.
Q Do you know who the head of the military committee was at that time?
A Well, I have been informed by members of the organization that it was Mr. Consolvo. I don’t know of my own personal knowledge.
BY COLONEL HUTCHINSON:
Q The military committee acted on Mr. Merriweather’s direction?
A Yes, sir
Q And by his orders?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did Merriweather indicate in any way that there was anyone else that had any authority over that committee besides himself?
A Well, he stated that he was having trouble controlling his military committee. He indicated that they went stronger than he wanted them to go, I imagine. I don’t know just what he meant.
Q What I mean is whether he indicated anybody else besides himself had control over it, and if he was the commander and chief?
A He said he was the commander and chief, and they were under his control, and he was the Grand Titan of this province, and referred to the matter of our expulsion; said that was wrong; that he had supreme power, and he would set that aside and so forth and so on, and reiterated that he was in complete control.
Q And the military committee acted under his orders?
A Yes, sir.
COLONEL HUTCHINSON: I believe that is all.
John C. Walton Papers, Box 14, folder 27, Proceedings of the Oklahoma Military Commission in the Matter of Klan Activity of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman, Oklahoma. Used by permission.