A Brief History of John Sutter

Stephen Beck, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

John Sutter was the first non-native (non-Indian) person to build a permanent settlement in the interior of Northern California. Sutter was born in the Grand Duchy of Baden, a small principality in what is now the Black Forest region of Germany. As a young man Sutter opened a dry goods business and became a citizen of Bergdorf, Switzerland. He married Anna Dubelt and soon fathered five children (one died as a child). Extremely poor economic conditions throughout Europe compelled Sutter, and thousands of his countrymen, to look to the New World for opportunity and prosperity. In 1834, disheartened and in debt, Sutter took what money he had and headed for America. He promised to send for his family as soon as he could properly provide for them. It took sixteen years. What happened in those sixteen years altered the course of World History.

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Overview and History of Sutter's Fort

Stephen Beck, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sutter’s Fort was a stronghold on the frontier, a foothold for American expansion, and it became the name most associated with the “Gold Rush.” The Fort is now preserved as a State Historical Park and Museum open to the public 362 days a year.

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Timeline of the Life of John Sutter

1803 - Johann Augustus Sutter was born in Kandern in the Grand Duchy of Baden in the Black Forest Region of what is now Germany.
1826 - Sutter married Anna Dubeld(t) and they produced five children (one died very young). Sutter became a Swiss citizen and opened a dry goods business in Bergdorf, Switzerland
1833 - Post Napoleonic War economic depression paralyzed Europe. Sutter’s dry goods business failed (along with the businesses of thousands of other Western Europeans).
1834 - In debt, and with no prospects, Sutter left his family and sailed to the New World to seek his fortune and the hope of a better life for his family. He arrived in New York and quickly made his way west to Westport (Kansas City) where he captained a mercantile wagon business with Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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