Sutton, James Compton MAGA 2000-2011
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PAST AND PRESENT OF THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD AND SANGAMON COUNTY ILLINOIS
By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL
1904



Page 196

JAMES COMPTON SUTTON. - - There are few residents of Springfield who have longer resided in this city than has James Compton Sutton, and no man is more worthy of the regard of his fellow citizens than he. He arrived in Springfield in 1841, and after two years was married and established his home here. Through many succeeding years he was an active factor in business life and he is enjoying a well merited rest which has come to him as the legitimate reward of active and honorable labor in former years. Mr. Sutton is a native of New Jersey, his birth having occurred in Somerset county about three miles from Somerville, on the 22d of August, 1813. Back through many generations can the ancestry of the family be traced. William Sutton came to America from England or Scotland in the year 1666 and settled in Massachusetts. He was the first representative of the family of whom record is found in the early history of the New England colonies. Through him the line of descent is traced down through Daniel, Zebulon and Uriah Sutton, the last named being the grandfather of James Compton Sutton of this review. Jonathan S., a brother of Uriah, held the commission of captain in the Revolutionary war and Urial Sutton was commissioned captain of a company of New York state troops and was present at the battles of Monmouth, Watsessing and Connecticut Farms. At his home he often entertained General Washington, who frequently dined with him. At one time representatives of the Sutton family were very numerous in Massachusetts and New Jersey, but now the name has almost entirely died out in that section of the country. Captain Uriah Sutton, the grandfather of our subject, was always an active, industrious man, and during the period of the Revolutionary war he served as teamster between Philadelphia and New York. During the last thirty years of his life, however, he was blind. In 1772 he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bockover, who was born in 1751, during the ocean voyage which her parents were making from Germany to the new world. She died in 1815, and Captain Uriah Sutton passed away at the home of his son Stephen in 1839 at the very advanced age of ninety-nine years. In their family were five daughters and two sons. The latter were Stephen and Peter. Peter died unmarried and Stephen became the father of our subject. He was born in New Jersey in 1775 and was there reared, educated and married. He first wedded Sarah Bedell in 1798. She was born in 1781 and died in 1807. By that marriage there were five children: Letitia, born in 1801, Ruth, born in 1802, and Eliza, born in 1804, came to the west to make their home. Ruth, however, died in Newark, New Jersey, in 1896. Letitia became the wife of Joseph Lewis, and at one time resided at the corner of First and Jefferson streets in Springfield. Subsequently she removed to Macon, this state, where she died at an advanced age. The other two children of that marriage never came to the west. In 1808 Stephen Sutton was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Abigail Martin, who was born at Compton, New Jersey, in 1776, and like her husband was reared and educated in that city. Mr. Sutton was proprietor of a tavern for some time and afterward purchased a farm of two hundred acres known as the Bergen place. He also owned and operated a cider distillery. He was a very public spirited man and was well educated for his day. He took an active interest in public affairs, cooperating in many measures for the general good. His death occurred in New Jersey in 1846, and his widow afterward came to Illinois with her children, some of whom settled in Morgan county and some in Sangamon county. Mrs. Sutton made her home in the latter county, living with a daughter in Springfield for many years. She died, however, while visiting her children in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1859. By the second marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Sutton there were born eleven children: Sarah, who was born in 1809, died in Springfield at an advanced age; Abner M., born in 1810, also passed away in this city; Abigail, born in 1812, died in Springfield, James Compton is the next of the family; Stephen A., born in 1815, passed away in Jacksonville, Illinois; Goyne A., born in 1816, came to Springfield and engaged with his brother James in contracting and building, and was an architect of considerable ability; Phoebe, born in 1818, became the wife of P. Wright and died in this city; Caroline, born in 1819, died in infancy; Joseph, born in 1823, died in Springfield when about forty years of age; Caroline was born in 1826; and Mary L. was born in 1828. The latter is the wife of Dr. Sturges and resides in Macon, Illinois. All of these children were educated in the subscription schools of New Jersey.

James Compton Sutton, whose name introduces this record, was educated like the other members of the family in the subscription schools of New Jersey, and was reared to manhood upon his father's farm, spending his time in the cultivation of the fields and in the work of the cidermill and distillery. In 1839 he came to the west, locating at Jacksonville, Illinois, where he remained for about two years, following the carpenter's trade during that time. He possessed natural mechanical ability and he soon became an expert workman. In 1841 he arrived in Springfield, where for a short time he was employed as a journeyman and then entered into partnership with his brother Goyne A. the first work that they did was as sub-contractors on the old state house, having charge of the pillars, doors and other inside work. their first shop was at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson streets and later at the corner of Fifth and Madison streets. At this time everything was made in the shop, and the saws and other machinery were operated by horse power. For several years the firm did an extensive business. The buildings which Mr. Sutton erected, however, have now largely been replaced by those of a more modern date. For many years, however, he was an active factor in building circles in Springfield and large and important contracts were awarded him. The last work which he did was on the First National Bank building and the Million block. In his early life he worked as a journeyman on a residence on the corner of Sixth and Cook streets, now owned by E. A. Hall. Many years he had an excellent patronage which brought to him a very desirable income. At the time of the Civil war, being too old to enter the service, yet being in hearty sympathy with the Union cause, he was engaged by the commissary department to supply stores for the soldiers at Camp Yates. Since the birth of the republican party he has been one of its most stalwart and inflexible advocates, though he has never had any aspirations for official honors. For four years he served as supervisor, and was a member of the water works commission one year. Many times he has been solicited to become a candidate for other offices, but he has always declined.

As before stated, Mr. Sutton was married tow years after his arrival in Springfield. He wedded Miss Clementine Simpson, who was born in New Jersey, and they lived on Lewis' Row on Jefferson between Seventh and Eighth streets. At the end of almost a decade Mr. Sutton purchased a lot and erected his present home at No. 516 East Jefferson street, where he has resided continuously since 1852. Mrs. Sutton was to him indeed a faithful companion and helpmate on life's journey, and he attributes not a little of his success to her active co-operation and encouragement. She belonged to the Simpson family, one of the old pioneer families of Sangamon County. The living representatives of this family are Mrs. Harvey Darnell, of this county; Mrs. Susan Riddle, who also lives near Barclay, Illinois; James, of Rosebud, Montana; Louis, of New Mexico; and Benjamin, of Texas. Two sisters have passed away, Mary, who died in 1900, and Mrs. Caroline Taylor, who died in Oregon in 1899. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Sutton were born five children: Margaret Ann Lewis, born in 1844, is the wife of Goyn Pennington, of Pittsfield, Illinois, and they have three children, James Sutton, Charles and Susan. Stephen Presco, born July 13, 1855, married Hattie Smith, by whom he had five children, Electa L., James C., Jennette, Louise and Stephen P. The father, Stephen Presco Sutton, died October 19, 1901. He had learned the business of a carpenter and contractor with his father and became his successor. He superintended the work on the state school at Urbana under Governor Fifer and later the city hall in Springfield, the first fire engine house and was likewise superintendent of construction on the high school of Springfield, which was his last public work. He carried on an extensive business for several years and exposure finally caused his death. His widow is still a resident of Springfield. James Simpson Sutton, the third member of our subject's family, was born September 7, 1857, and married Emma E. Rule, by whom he had two children, but both died in infancy. He and his wife now reside with his father at the old home place. For a time he was engaged in the grocery business with James M. Forden, carrying on the store for about ten years on Jefferson street. In 1890 he became connected with John Cherry Jr., of Jacksonville, Illinois, as general superintendent of his work of street paving, and in 1902 he became superintendent of the construction of mains for the People's Hot-water, Heating and Electric Company. he has since had charge of the entire work and is well known in this department of labor. For six years he served as a member of the city council of Springfield and during that time the old block paving of the city was taken up and replaced by brick. He was chairman of the ordinance committee and a member of the committee on public grounds and buildings and streets and alleys. He is an esteemed and valued member of the Pawnee Tribe of Improved Order of Red Men, which he joined on its organization, and for ten years he has been the chief of records. He is also a charter member of Percival Lodge, K. P., and of the fraternal society Crystal Light, and he belongs to Prosperity Camp, M. W. A. He has always lived on the home place where he was born. Mary Ella, the fourth member of the Sutton family, was born in 1860, and is the wife of Edward R. Talbott, of Springfield, by whom she has a daughter, Clementine. George E. Sutton, the youngest member of the family, was born in 1864, and married Emma Mitchell, by whom he has two children, George E. and Dorothy Virginia. His home is in Chicago, where he has resided twelve years. During this time he has been extensively engaged in the coal business. His firm is not only engaged in buying and selling of coal, but of operating mines in the southern part of this state. All of the children were educated in the schools of Springfield.

In 1901 James C. Sutton was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 23d of July of that year, at the age of eighty-four. At the time of her death she was the oldest member of the First Presbyterian church and was a most estimable lady whose life was gentle, upright and kindly. She won the friendship of all with whom she came in contact, and during the long years of her residence in Springfield the circle of her friends became very extensive. To her husband she was a devoted companion and helpmate on life's journey for almost sixty years and as time passed their mutual love and confidence increased. Mr. Sutton has always been a supporter of church, and charitable work, and throughout the years of his residence in Springfield has been one of its public spirited citizens. Few men have longer resided within the borders of the city or have taken a more active and influential part in its improvement and progress, and now in the evening of life, he receives the veneration and respect which should ever be accorded to those who have advanced far upon life's journey.


1904 Index