In the 1880 Census of Orion, Oakland County, MI, the family headed by Amzy R. Sutton includes an Etta Sutton, aged 18. Some online genealogies, therefore, include her as a daughter of Amzy’s, even though her date of birth would be well before the age at which Amzy’s one known wife would have been capable of bearing children. So, who was Etta Sutton?
She provides us with an illustration of why all information should be checked against alternate sources. Her name was really Etta Place, and she was an orphan who was taken in by the Sutton family. A census taker erroneously named her as Etta Sutton in the 1880 census. Her obituary, which tells the known facts of her life, appears below.
Death of Miss Etta Place
Passed Away at Woman’s Hospital After Two Month’s Illness
Miss Etta Place passed away at the Woman’s hospital at 11:30 o’clock Sunday night after an illness of over a year’s duration with acute mania. Very little is known of Miss Place’s life. About thirty years ago when Mrs. A.R. Sutton of 900 Hoyt avenue was going by boat from Cheboygan to Marine City a woman who said she was the mother of Miss Place, then a girl of 14 years, gave her to Mrs. Sutton as a nurse girl. Mrs. Sutton brought the girl home with her but in all the years that have elapsed since that time, the mother has never appeared nor made the slightest inquiry about her child. The girl refused at all times to speak of her parents. She has worked in the Sutton home since then up to about 2 months ago when she was taken to the hospital. She was broken down in health and, it is said, was losing her mind. Her condition did not improve and death was the result. Mr. Sutton said this morning that so far as he knew Miss Place had no living relatives whatever, and if she had, they were unknown to her at the time of her death.
The News was later told by a friend of Miss Place that Miss Place was the daughter of the head partner of Carruthers & Place lumber dealers who were very prominent in this section of the state about 40 years ago. The family resided at North Newburg a little village about four miles from Durand, Mich., at that time a thriving lumber town. Mr. Place died, leaving a daughter, Etta, an older son and a younger daughter. He left his wife considerable money together with a large amount of insurance. From the first it was alleged that the mother was inattentive to her children. In a few years she went to St. Louis, Mo., where she lost all her money and finally married a shoemaker. The abandoned children were carried for at first by an uncle, a brother of their father but he was poor and had a large family and they were finally given into the care of the Masons in whose ranks the father was very highly esteemed. What became of the children after that is unknown.
Miss Place was about 45 years old. At the Sutton home there is nothing but praise for her faithful nature and kindly services and there her loss will undoubtedly be deeply felt, as her long service had almost made her one of the family. The funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock from the residence and she will be laid at rest in Forest Lawn. Rev. W.H. Gallagher, of whose church Miss Place was a life-long member, will officiate.
Source: Saginaw Evening News, February 27, 1905.