John Augustus Originally Suter (Sutter), an American pioneer, born at Kandern, Baden,. Feb. 15, 1803. He graduated at Bern, Switzerland, as a military officer, and in 1834 emigrated to America, where he became known as a Swiss. At Santa Fe he carried on for some time a profitable trade with Indians and trappers, whose accounts of California prompted him in 1838 to cross the Rocky mountains; he went to Fort Vancouver and to the Sandwich islands, and thence to Alaska and along the coast of the Pacific, and on July 2, 1839, was stranded in the bay of Yerba Buena (now San Francisco). Penetrating into the interior amid great difficulties, he founded in the same year the earliest white settlement on the site of Sacramento, received a considerable grant of land, and in 1841 built a fort, calling it New Helvetia, which was afterward the first settlement reached by overland emigrants to California. The Mexican authorities appointed him governor of the northern frontier country; and subsequently under the American authorities he was justice of the peace (alcalde) and Indian agent. He acquired great influence and wealth, but was ruined in 1848, when gold was first discovered (February) on his property near Coloma, El Dorado co. His laborers deserted him, and his lands were overrun by the gold diggers.
He never recovered them, though repeatedly advancing his claims, and has not received any indemnity excepting an annual allowance of $3,000 from the state of California. Since 1873 he has resided at Litiz, Lancaster co., Pa.