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John Sutter

1803– 1880

Adventurer, businessman; born at Kandern, Grand Duchy of Baden. Details of Sutter’s early life are problematic because of contradictory, inaccurate information given by Sutter himself. Left for America in 1834. Traveled to Missouri and engaged in trade and barter between Missouri and Santa Fé. In 1838 went to Fort Vancouver. Traveled to Hawaii hoping to find timely passage to California. Chartered a sailing vessel and made a trading voyage to Alaska, then sailed from Sitka down the coast to California. Received rights to land in California from the Mexican governor. Established and maintained Sutter’s Fort. Founded the colony of New Helvetia, part of which became the later site of Sacramento. Became a Mexican citizen. The influx of gold miners resulted in damage to his property and the loss of his livestock. Left California and moved to Pennsylvania, where he lived until his death. (Dan L. Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography [Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1988], 3:1,392; Richard H. Dillon, Fool's Gold: the Decline and Fall of Captain John A. Sutter of California [New York: Coward-McCann, 1967]; Marguerite Knowlton Eyer Wilbur, John Sutter, Rascal and Adventurer [New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1949]; Julian Dana, Sutter of California: A Biography [New York: Press of the Pioneers, 1934]; Kenneth N. Owens, ed., John Sutter and a Wider West [Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1994].)