Flakes of gold were found on his land in 1848, leading to the California Gold Rush and his financial disaster.
Flakes of gold were found on John Sutter`s land in 1848, leading to the California Gold Rush and his financial disaster. Sutter, born in present-day Germany in 1803 as Johann Suter, lived much of his early years in Switzerland. He left bankruptcy and his family in Europe to find his fortune in America, arriving in California in 1839. He convinced the Mexican governor to grant him lands on the Sacramento River and built a fort in 1841. While building a sawmill in early 1848, James Marshall found flakes of gold. Marshall and Sutter tried to keep the discovery secret, but the land was soon swarming with prospectors who stole livestock and goods. Sutter`s Mexican land claims were denied in U.S. courts compounding his ruin. He moved with his wife back east and spent the remainder of his life unsuccessfully petitioning the U.S. government.