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Jay County Indiana Biographies


John T. SUTTON

a well known member of the bar of the Jay Circuit Court, former prosecuting attorney for this judicial circuit, former mayor of the city of Dunkirk and for many years a resident of that city, was born in Dunkirk and has lived there practically all his life, with the exception of five or six years during the '80s when he was connected with the Government pension office at Washington. Mr. SUTTON is a member of one of the real pioneer families of Jay county, the family having been represented in this county since the year 1837, the year following the organization of the county as a separate civic unit in the then rapidly growing group of Indiana counties. The first of the name in this county were Isaiah and Catherine SUTTON, who came over here with their family from Ohio in 1837 and established their home in Richland township, where they became influential factors in the development of that section of the county. Isaiah SUTTON was the owner of a small farm in Greene county, Ohio, in which county both he and his wife were born, members of pioneer families there, and when the lands in this section of Indiana began to attract the attention of prospective settlers he came over here on a prospecting tour, walking down from Fort Wayne, and entered a tract of 240 acres in Richland township, this county. That was in 1836, the year in which Jay county was organized. He returned to his home in Ohio, disposed of his land and interests there and in the following year drove through with his family and household belongings and settled on his new farm in Richland township. There was an arduous task of clearing to be done there, but he eventually got it done and in time developed a valuable farm. He also opened a store on his place and thus became one of the pioneer merchants of the county, trading extensively throughout this section, and when the railroad came platted there the Dunkirk townsite, as is narrated elsewhere in this work. In addition to his other duties, Isaiah SUTTON was a licensed "local" preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church and became widely known hereabout as a minister of the gospel, his influence in the creation of a wholesome moral atmosphere in the neighborhood in which he settled being recognized to this day. Isaiah SUTTON and wife were the parents of fourteen children, of whom the late William G. SUTTON, former county auditor and father of John T. SUTTON, was the first born. William G. SUTTON was born in Greene county, Ohio, and was but nine years of age when the family came here in 1837. He grew to manhood in Jay county, helpful in .the labors of developing the home farm in Richland township, and was well schooled in his youth. He early entered the ranks of the school teachers of Jay county and for seven or eight years during the years of his young manhood spent his winters as a teacher in the district schools of his home county. He married Judith GAUNT, who also was born in Ohio, a native of Warren county, that state, and established his home on a farm adjacent to the original SUTTON home farm in Richland township, where he developed an excellent piece of property, becoming the owner of about 400 acres of land. William G. SUTTON was a man of force and influence in his home community and was widely recognized as an adviser in the affairs of his pioneer neighbors, acting as the local notary public and for some years as clerk of the township. In political affairs he took a prominent part, allied himself with the Republican party upon its organization, and in 1859 was elected auditor of Jay county, thus serving in that important public capacity when the Civil war broke out. He was re-elected auditor in 1863 and thus served for eight years, during that period making his home at Portland. A year after the completion of this term of public service Mr. SUTTON moved to Dunkirk, where he spent the remainder of his life, engaged in developing his farms, overseeing the clearing and draining of the same, and also for years acted as local claim agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, continuing thus engaged until his retirement about five years prior to his death, which occurred in June, 1918. His wife had preceded him to the grave nearly twenty-five years, her death having occurred in April, 1894. They had four children who grew to maturity, those besides the subject of this sketch having been Richard J. SUTTON, who died on May 15, 1920; Rebecca C., wife of J. M. DUNN, and Elmer E. SUTTON. John T. SUTTON was born on February 28, 1853, and was thus but a lad when his father was elected county auditor and the family moved to Portland, where his elementary schooling- was received. Upon the family's return to Dunkirk he completed the course in the local school there and supplemented this by a course of one term in the normal school at Lebanon, Ohio. Upon his return from the normal school Mr. SUTTON married and was for some years thereafter engaged as a clerk in a store at Dunkirk. In 1882 he received an appointment to service in the pension department at Washington, D. C., and moved to the national capital, where he remained for five years and a half, or until the latter part of 1887, when he returned to Dunkirk, where he re-established his home and has ever since resided. During the time of his service in Washington, Mr. SUTTON continued his studies in law, to which he had been devoting his attention for some time previous to his departure, and upon his return to his old home here was admitted to the bar of the Jay Circuit Court and has ever since been engaged in the practice of law in this county, with offices at Dunkirk, now one of the veterans of the bar. Mr. SUTTON, as was his father, is an ardent Republican and has ever taken an active interest in local political affairs. He served as prosecuting attorney for this judicial. district during the years 1916 to 1920, and has rendered other public service, for a number of years having served as town clerk of Dunkirk and when that city began to operate under a city charter was elected first mayor of the city. He is a Freemason, affiliated with the local blue lodge and the council, Royal and Select Masters; is a past noble grand of the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a member of. the Portland lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. It was in 1873 that John T. SUTTON was united in marriage to Nancy J. WILSON, daughter of Lewis B. WILSON, a merchant of Dunkirk and former postmaster there, and to this union one child was born, a son, Ernest SUTTON, now a United States post- office inspector, stationed at Meridian, Miss., who married Dawn V. JONES and has one child, a daughter, Sarah Jane. Mr. and Mrs. SUTTON are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Dunkirk and Mr. SUTTON has served the church as a member of the board of trustees and as a member of the board of stewards.


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