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John E. Sutton

John E. Sutton
John E. Sutton

Eminent Farmer

County: Sully

John Edwin Sutton, a farmer and rancher who developed a large ranching operation along the Missouri River west of Onida, was honored in 1972 as Eminent Farmer by the South Dakota Board of Regents and South Dakota State University.

The award was presented posthumously to his widow, Mildred Sutton, because Sutton died unexpectedly Aug. 8, 1972. He was 74.

Sutton also was honored by the Northern National Livestock Exposition Hall of Fame for contributions to the livestock industry in 1970 and was president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and director of the National Cattlemen’s Association in 1950 and 1952. He also was honored in1971 by the South Dakota Hereford Association for his contributions to the Hereford breed and in 1969-71 by the American Hereford Association.

John Edwin Sutton was the man mainly responsible for the development of the registered Sutton Hereford herd that is now nationally known.

Sutton also served on the South Dakota State University College of Agriculture’s Agricultural Advisory Committee from 1965 to 1969. The Onida and Agar area rancher was director of the National Quarter Horse Association in 1965.

For several years Sutton served as a member of the Water Resources Commission, appointed in 1969 by the late Governor Ralph Herseth. Sutton was an advocate of the development of the Oahe Irrigation Project and helped in the organization of the Missouri Slope Irrigation District in Sully County.

Sutton was director and one of the prime movers in establishing the Oahe Grain Corporation, which is an elevator and grain storage facility in Onida. He also was a founder and director of the Sully County Bank, director of the Prairie States Life Insurance Corporation and was a lifetime member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

In 1931 he married the former Mildred Hanson. Their children include: John Jr., better known as Matt; Kenneth Allen; Lois (E. Elliot) Byrum; and Thelma (Alvin “Timer”) Allison. The two sons are engaged in ranching and the daughters’ husbands’ have businesses in Onida.

Sutton’s younger brothers James, 72, and Raymond, 66, still operate their original shares of the Sutton Brothers Ranch, but John moved onto the sidelines as senior partner about seven years ago to let his sons, Matt and Kenneth, take the responsibilities for operating the John Sutton and Sons Ranch.