On the 25th of April, 1901, was summoned to the life eternal the soul of a man whose sterling integrity and most exemplary Christian character have left an indelible impress upon the hearts of his fellow men. At the time when he was called from the scene of his mortal endeavors he was in his seventieth year and it may be said of him that “his strength was as the number of his days.” The prestige which he gained as a fair and honorable business man was the result of his own well directed efforts and his success was on a parity with his ability and applied energy.
Elias Fairchild Sutton was born in Hardyston, Sussex county, New Jersey, on the 25th of June, 1831, and he was a son of Michael R. and Elizabeth Forrester Sutton, the former a native of New Jersey and a substantial farmer and most highly esteemed citizen on Sussex county; the latter was also a native of New Jersey, a daughter of Peter Forrester, an Englishman. The paternal ancestors of Mr. Sutton were numbered among the earliest settlers of New Jersey, representatives of the family having come down from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1672, to become land holders under the proprietaries Berkeley and Carteret, at Piscataway, on the banks of the Raritan river, opposite New Brunswick. Captain Jonathan Sutton, great-grandfather of the subject of this review, was a great-grandson of William Sutton, the founder of the family in New Jersey, and he served as a valiant officer in the “Jersey line” in the war of the Revolution. Elias Fairchild Sutton received his early educational training in the common schools of his native town and supplemented the same by study in the “Wantage Select,” near Deckertown, New Jersey. After leaving school he initiated his independent career as a clerk in the store of Robert A. Linn in the nearby village of Hamburg. In his nineteenth year, he became a most devout member of the North Hardyston Presbyterian church, of which his parents were likewise members. About the year 1850 Mr. Sutton severed the ties which bound him to home and the scenes of his youth and accompanied his sister, Mrs. Joseph Ayres, to her home in Romeo, Michigan. Later he became associated with the firm of W.H.B. Dowling, dealers in general merchandise and lumber, at Port Huron, Michigan, in which concern he eventually assumed the responsibilities of a partner. In May, 1862, in response to a call for men to guard the Upper Lakes, Mr. Sutton was commissioned as first lieutenant and mustered into the service of the United States army for a term of three months. On May 6th of that year he was placed in command of the Michigan-Stanton Guard and stationed at Fort Mackinac. He was mustered out of the service at Detroit, on September 25, 1862.
In 1863 Mr. Sutton moved to Ontonagon county, this state, to become manager of the general store of the Minnesota Mining Company, of which position he remained incumbent for six years. In 1865 the product of the, then, most famous copper mine of Lake Superior began to decrease. The company was unwilling to expend the money necessary to develop the property and at the time of this depression Mr. Sutton opened a store at Huron Mine, Houghton county. About the year 1875 a manufacturing industry in the city of Philadelphia claimed his attention for a period of two years, at the expiration of which he assumed the position of manager of the mercantile business of his father-in-law, the late William Harris, of Lake Linden, Houghton county. Upon the demise of Mr. Harris, in 1891, Mr. Sutton incorporated the business under the title of the E.F. Sutton Company. This enterprise Mr. Sutton most successfully conducted until his death, in 1901. In politics Mr. Sutton accorded a staunch allegiance to the cause of the Republican party, and though never a seeker of public offices he lent his aid in behalf of all measures and enterprises tending to the welfare of his community and as a citizen he was most loyal and public-spirited. He was a devoted husband and father and found his greatest solace in the sacred precincts of his home.
On the 5th of September, 1865, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Sutton to Miss Mary A.T. Harris, who was born June 7, 1842, in Redruth, Cornwall, England, and who is a daughter of the late William Harris, to whom a sketch is dedicated on other pages of this work, so that further details concerning the family history need not be incorporated here. Mr. and Mrs. Sutton became the parents of two children, namely — Elizabeth, born June 24th, 1868, at Houghton Michigan, and Walter Harris, born June 18, 1885, at Lake Linden, Michigan. September 5th, 1900, Elizabeth married Sidney A. Benedict of Chicago, Illinois. Mrs. Sutton survives her honored husband and she, with her son Walter, makes their home in Lake Linden, where their circle of friend is coincident with that of their acquaintances.
Source: Sawyer, Alvah H. 1911. A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company.