John J. Sutton was born in Duchess County, New York, July 8th, 1838 and was the fourth of a family of fourteen children. He came with his parents to Wisconsin in 1844 and later settled on a tract of land in what was then a wilderness, eight miles from the present City of Columbus, where he suffered the vicissitudes and hardships of a pioneer life. He stayed with his parents until he became of age helping to develop the home. He exhibited a penchant for speculation early in life, trading and trafficking in horses and other livestock.
He was married to Francis Murphy on January 27th, 1861, and built a house ten by twelve feet, five miles west of Columbus. Working at all kinds of manual labor, he soon was in possession of five acres of land, where he built a little more capacious home and launched out as a butcher and meat peddler thru the county. Owing to his splendid physique, untiring energy and rare judgment, in a few years he was the possessor of a forty acre farm when he discontinued the butcher business and began the shipment of livestock to the Milwaukee markets, selling stock individually to the late John Plankington and Phil Armour.
From time to time as he accumulated more means he added to his farm until in 1874 he was possessed of a two hundred acre farm and moved to the city of Columbus. About one year later his wife died, leaving him with two children, Carrie and Eugene, aged three and twelve years respectively. Carrie died December 9th, 1887. Mr. Sutton then began shipping to the Wisconsin pinery. About this time he became identified with the prohibition cause and incurred enmity of a large number of the residents of the vicinity who undertook to intimidate him by false arrest.