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William Riley Sutton's Family

Not much is known about William, his wife Lenora or their parents. I have heard that Williams mother or his wife was from some of the islands in the Caribbean. I have also heard my uncle Leroy Autry tell about some of the stories that Lanora told her grandchildren (Leroy's mother Desi and siblings) that were passed on to her by either her mother or mother-in-law. Most of the stories were about how rough things got for African Americans living in Wilmington NC at one time. I don't know if the stories were about free African Americans before slavery ended or African Americans after slavery ended. From the stories I am assuming that at one time either William's mother or Lanora's mother lived in Wilmington. Now I am trying to remember where I read about some of the inhabitants of the Caribbean arriving in NC via the port of Wilmington.

I had been asked by a Ms Agnes Judge to meet with her on the Sutton issue. Ms Judge was met by a close Relative (Craig Hayes) at the Browns restaurant in the Riegelwood vicinity. She is also a descendant of William and Lanora Sutton's. She sent me a message saying that as a child she made many visits to her aunt Mary Catherine and family's home down on the Sugar Loaf. She has also said that her other aunts (Williams and Lanora's daughters) married into such families as the Murphys, Petersons, Browns, Beattys. I was very excited about meeting with her but unfortunately that meeting was never to be. Ms Judge died shortly before our planned meeting date.

I do not know exactly when William was born. His birthday fluctuated from 1820 to 1849. I guess he was a person who could not count or just didn't know when he was born which was not unusual for that period of time. William fathered many children with his wife LaNora who was born sometime around 1848. They both along with their children were found living in the township of Whites Creek (Lisbon) in Bladen County in 1870 and 1880. By 1900 William and his family had moved across the Cape Fear river to the township of Frenchs Creek in Bladen County which includes all of Kelly. In 1910 William was still found living in the Frenchs Creek township with three of his children which included Flora, Climmatina, Thomas and a granddaughter Nora A. Melvin. LaNora must have died sometime between 1900 and 1910 and William sometime between 1910 and 1920 for he could not be found after this.

Here are the descendants of William Riley Sutton.

1 William Riley Sutton 1831 -
.. +LaNora Sutton 1847 -
..... 2 Mary Catherine Sutton 1869 - 1930
......... +Grant Wright 1868 - 1930
..... 2 John H Sutton 1866 -
..... 2 William Randall Sutton 1871 -
......... +Clara 1876 -
..... 2 Hattie Sutton 1872 -
......... +? Mckenzie
..... 2 Louisa Sutton 1874 -
..... 2 Fairby Sutton 1876 -
..... 2 Fannie Sutton 1879 -
......... +John McClaren 1885 -
..... 2 Minnie Sutton 1882 -
..... 2 Florence Sutton 1883 -
..... 2 Thomas H Sutton 1885 -
..... 2 Annie Sutton 1887 -
..... 2 Clemmatina Sutton 1889 -

As you can see LaNora gave birth to many daughters. As a result William's Sutton surname has just about ceased to exist. Even though the Sutton name has all but disappeared William has descendants all over Bladen County, Sampson County and beyond. I myself am familiar with many of them from areas that include Colly, Cypress Creek, Kelly in Frenchs Creek, Tomahawk and Moores Swamp in Lake Creek of Bladen County and Ivanhoe of Sampson County.

The only children of William's that I have any family information on at the moment is my great grandmother (Mary), Randall, Fannie, John and Hattie. My great grandmother's children are listed above in the image of Grant's family of Wright,s. I think John married and lived in the Carvers Creek township of Bladen County, I am still researching him and here is what I know of the others.

The following are the children of William Riley and LaNora Sutton:

Descendants of Mary Catherine Sutton

1 Mary Catherine Sutton 1869 - 1930
.. +Grant Wright 1868 - 1930
..... 2 Cora Jane Wright 1893 - 1983
......... +Oscar Autry 1885 - 1976
..... 2 Rena Wright-Shirley 1889 -
..... 2 Nollie Wright 1896 -
......... +Johnny Johnson 1888 -
..... 2 General Grant Wright 1897 -
..... 2 Avant Wright 1899 - 1980
..... 2 John William Wright 1892 -
......... +Rebecca 1898 -
..... 2 Levi Wright 1901 -
..... 2 Isabelle Wright-McLaurin 1903 - 1991
..... 2 Hezeki Wright 1905 -
......... +Mary L. 1907 -
..... 2 Odessa Dessie Wright 1908 - 1966
......... +James Lonzy Autry 1905 - 1974
..... 2 Alice Wright-Smith

Descendants of William Randall Sutton

1 William Randall Sutton 1871 -
.. +Clara 1876 -
..... 2 Reata Cromartie 1904 -
..... 2 Bruce Sutton 1903 -

Descendants of John H Sutton

1 John H Sutton 1866 -
..... 2 Chase Sutton 1917 -
..... 2 Elvie Sutton 1921 -

Descendants of Hattie Sutton

1 Hattie Sutton 1872 -
.. +? Mckenzie
..... 2 Marie Mckenzie 1899 -
..... 2 Arrie Mckenzie 1901 -
..... 2 Richard Mckenzie 1906 -

Descendants of Fannie Sutton

1 Fannie Sutton 1879 -
.. +John McClaren 1885 -
..... 2 Olivia Sutton 1899 -
..... 2 Janie Sutton 1904 -
..... 2 Edgar Sutton 1905 -

I was only blessed to meet one of William Riley's children and that was aunt Minnie. We were with my uncle LeRoy Autry once when he stopped by to visit her back in the late 60's or early 70's. She was living somewhere in Kelly (Frenchs Creek) at the time. I remember her telling about how one of her sisters had married into the Murphy family but I do not remember which one. She told a great amount of the Sutton history and I a young child of no more than 11 at the time was not interested in hearing any of it. Today I would pay almost any price to relive the night of that visit. That was the first time I saw her and unfortunately the last. God bless her.

I know the list of children above is very incomplete. If anyone can help me with any information on the Wrights and Suttons feel free to contact me at

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