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John Sutherland


John Sutherland

John Sutherland, whose business experience at the outset of his career was in lumbering and who with the excepting of a few years had been identified with that industry and business ever since, had been an extremely useful citizen of Bay City, and lent his influence and effort to the promotion of every worthy cause and a number of projects for the material development of the community.

Mr. Sutherland was born in Lavaca, Texas, June 22, 1864. His father, George Q. Sutherland, a native of Virginia, came to Texas when a small boy and lived for a number of years at Sutherland Springs in Wilson County. When the war broke out he joined the Confederate forces under General Hood, but most of the time was on detail duty. After the war he returned to Lavaca County, took up stock farming, but died in 1868. His wife was Lydia Middlebrook, a native of Mississippi, who was brought to Texas in 1837. George Q. Sutherland and wife had four children; Anna, who died at the age of fifty-five, was the wife of L. B. Malden and had four children; John; George W., born in 1867, a stock rancher at Alice, Texas, married Sallie McDonald, a native of Bay City, and had three children; and Sarah, born in 1869, was the wife of L. T. Hilburn, a native of Fort Worth, contractor and builder and they had four children.


John Sutherland acquired his early education in the public schools of Lavaca county and also did a great deal of home study, and always followed the practice of reading and keeping in touch with public affairs. After school he worked three years in a lumber business. Later he acquired a third interest in a saw mill at Hooks Switch in Hardin County, but after a year sold out and established a lumber yard at Yoakum, where he was in business two years. Rockport also claimed him as a business man for two years, and for ten years he was a general merchant at Burne [Boerne?], Texas. For two years he was on the road as a traveling salesman for the William Cameron Lumber Company and in 1898 was in the lumber business at Bay City, this time in connection with the Alamo Lumber Company. Besides his financial interest in this business, he owned a large farm and had a home in Bay City.

He married , December 24, 1886, Miss Stella Anderson of Louisiana, daughter of S. H. Anderson. They had five children: Ethel M., born in 1888; Ibbie, born in 1890; George Q., born in 1892; Florence, born in 1894, and Johnnie born in 1896.

Ethel was the wife of C. G. Tippins, of Dallas, and they had a daughter, Ethel May. Ibbie was the wife of C. J. Roundsville, a depot agent at Hamilton, Texas, and had two children, Quinn and Stella Jane. George Q. was a farmer and stock man at Wadsworth, Texas, married Adeline Porter and had one son, John D. Florence was the wife of S.C. Creech, an automobile man at Waco, Texas, and their son, John S., died at the age of thirteen, and their other son, Sid, born in 1921. Miss Johnnie married Floyd Ehlenberg, a traveling salesman.

Mr. Sutherland was a Democrat in politics, member of the Baptist Church, and was a Royal Arch Mason. He was for fourteen years mayor of the city. While he was head of the city government the most important results in material improvement were accomplished, plans having been instituted and many projects carried out that placed the city among the progressive localities of the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Sutherland also served a number of years as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and during the World War as chairman of the Liberty Loan drives put the drive over the top in Matagorda County. He also organized a $100,000 hotel company for Bay City, serving as director of the Bay-Tex Hotel Company, and was instrumental in securing the establishment of a public library.


Texas Under Many Flags, Clarence W. Wharton, American Historical Society, 1930

Matagorda County Genealogical Society Publication, Oak Leaves, Vol. 8 #4, August 1989

“Uncle John” Sutherland knew that he would live to see his 101st birthday. A devout Baptist, he often said that the Lord had promised him he that he would, according to his daughter, Mrs. Stella Norton. And he did. He outlived his 101st birthday by four days.


The end, when it came, was mercifully swift. He died peacefully, Saturday afternoon, shortly after speaking to his daughter, Mrs. Norton. He was exceptionally alert all morning and remained so until the very end, she said.


John Sutherland was born on June 22, 1864 in a little settlement called Old Sweet Home which no longer exists. It was located near the present town of Yoakum, Tex. His father was a soldier in the Confederate War, and his grandfather was the Alamo messenger who escaped the massacre there. His grandfather lived to be 105 years old.


“Uncle John” married the former Miss Estelle M. Anderson in 1885. She died here in 1933.


Sutherland originally came to Bay City to set up one of a line of lumber yards called Alamo Lumber Company. He was later manager of the Company’s Bay City office, and directed the plant here until his retirement in 1959.


Bay City’s third mayor, he was elected to his first term in 1907, and he remained in office until 1915. He was returned to office from 1917 until 1919.


During his 14 years in office, Bay City grew and improved to an extent of which “the most sanguine never dreamed,” according to The Tribune of 1911, a fact which was created “almost, if not entirely, to the mayor’s personal efforts.”


“The little city was lifted out of the mud that bogged horses and vehicles, the mayor obtaining 600 cars of free gravel from the railroad. The sewer system and the water works were installed,” according to the Tribune’s 100th Anniversary Issue of 1945.


He was instrumental in the removal of a raft of debris on the Colorado which caused numerous floods here. During World War I, Sutherland was very active as a Liberty Loan Drive speaker. He also helped found the Bay City Public Library and the First Baptist Church’s library.


He was a member of the Baptist Church since his conversion as a boy of 14.


“Uncle John” was also an early oil man, and was one of the developers of “Big Hill.” Later the Matagorda Oil Company organized by Sutherland sold their interest to the Gulf Sulphur Company.


During the past several years, old age gradually crept up on “Uncle John,” although more slowly, perhaps, than on many others. He remained very alert for his years, but his eyesight and hearing both deteriorated to where he could only distinguish light from dark, and he lived in an increasingly silent world.


Several months ago, he fell and broke his hip, but he had entirely recovered from his injury. He returned to his beloved home at 3021 Avenue L St., where he had spent so many happy years, about six weeks ago. There he was well enough to receive visitors, and did so until the very end.


Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p. m. “Uncle John” finally rested. It had been a long, full life.


Funeral services will be held today at 3 p. m. in the Sanctuary of the First Baptist Church with the minister, Dr. William B. Williams and a grandson, Rev. Billy Norton of the New Gulf Baptist Church officiating.


Burial will follow in Cedarvale Cemetery under the direction of the Bay City Funeral Home. Graveside services will be conducted by the Bay City Masonic Lodge #865. Sutherland was the oldest living Mason in the State, having joined in 1885.


Pallbearers are D. F. Wiginton, Sims McDonald, J. C. Sloan, R. L. Carroll, Connie Anderson, Ira Clements, W. H. Sloan and Dr. D. A. Einkauf.


Honorary pallbearers will be all deacons of the First Baptist Church. Sutherland had been a deacon of the church since 1901.


Survivors include one son, George, of Wadsworth, four daughters, Mrs. Stella Norton, Mrs. Ethel Kinsey, both of Bay City, Mrs. Johnny Elenburg of Dallas, Mrs. C. J. Rounsaville of Mt. Pleasant; seven grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren.


The Daily Tribune, June 28, 1965

Uncle John Is Honored By His Church

The First Baptist Church of Bay City honored Uncle John Sutherland last Sunday for 55 years of service as a deacon.

According to the church newsletter:

"Uncle John became a deacon in our church in 1901 and has served continuously for these 55 years. He not only has been a blessing to countless people during these many years but is a constant inspiration to all of us who know him today.

"Uncle John is 92 years young and only this year underwent major surgery. And yet he is more faithful in his attendance than many of our members who are younger and healthier. Just to see him in the services Sunday by Sunday helps us to know that walking with Jesus Christ will get better as we grow older.

"Today we honor him for his 55 years of service as a deacon. His portrait will be placed in our church library and under it will be placed an engraved plaque commemorating this day.

"All of us in the church family join together in saying: 'God Bless you, Uncle John.'"

Flowers were placed in the church sanctuary Sunday in honor of Uncle John and in memory of Mrs. Sutherland by their grandchildren, Mr. and Mrs. Tom C. Hart and children and Dr. and Mrs. John Quinn Rounsaville of Dallas.

Bay City News, June 14, 1956


Estella Myrtilla Anderson Sutherland

Mrs. Estella Myrtilla Anderson Sutherland was born August 3, 1864, at Emitt City, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Anderson. Mr. Anderson spent the last days of his life in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Sutherland of this city. Miss Estella Myrtilla Anderson and Mr. John Sutherland were united in the holy bonds of wedlock in Austin, Texas, December 22, 1885. Mrs. Sutherland had been a member of the local Baptist church of this city for some thirty-one years. She had not been well for several years. Just recently a sickness set up that took her from the walks of this life to the world beyond. Mrs. John Sutherland died June 22, 1933 at the age of 68 years, 10 months and 19 days. Mrs. Sutherland is survived by her husband, Mr. John Sutherland and her children, Mrs. Ethel Kinsey, Mrs. Bobbie Ropnsaville, Mr. George Sutherland, Mrs. Florence Davis, Mrs. Estella Norton and Mrs. Johnnye Elenburg. By her grandchildren, seven living. There being two deceased.

Mrs. John Sutherland was a very devoted companion loyal and faithful. She was a mother in the most loyal sense and a great lover of home and her family. She gave her of her time without thought of herself to every care and need of her family. May this blessing of our good Heavenly Father rest upon the husband and children that is our deepest prayer.

Daily Tribune, June 3, 1933

Grandfather Alamo Physician/Messenger - Cousin Alamo Defender

John Sutherland’s grandfather, Dr. John Sutherland, Jr. (1792-1867) moved to San Antonio in 1835; there the Alamo garrison hired his medical services.  He was injured in a fall from a horse and could not fight, so Col William B. Travis sent him to bring help from Gonzales.  Dr. Sutherland returned with a contingent of men only to see the funeral pyres; among the dead was William DePriest Sutherland (1818-1836) the seventeen year old son of his brother George. John Sutherland (1864–1965) and his wife Estelle Anderson Sutherland (1864–1933) are buried at Cedarvale Cemetery in Section 2 Block 59.


Alamo Defenders


Mr. S. S. Creech and Miss Florence Sutherland of this city, surprised their many friends yesterday by going over to Wharton and getting married. After the ceremony the young couple returned to their home in Bay City where they will reside in the future, and are now at home to their friends at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John Sutherland.

The groom is the junior member of The Bay City Auto Co., and is a young man of sterling worth and character. He is a faithful worker, a competent machinist and through his constant application to business and quiet determined efforts has made for himself a good reputation and gathered around him many strong personal friends.

The bride is the daughter of Mayor and Mrs. John Sutherland, is popular young lady and likewise is possessed with a large circle of friends.

The Tribune wishes Mr. and Mrs. Creech a happy and prosperous voyage through life.

The Matagorda County Tribune, September 15, 1911


Copyright 2007 - Present by the Sutherland Family
All rights reserved

Apr. 11, 2007
Apr. 11, 2007