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General Eben Sutton was born in 1836 in Salem, Massachusetts. He began his career by working in the wool business, but soon moved to New York City and established the commission house of Sutton, Smith & Co. While in New York he met and married Mary Hasbruck, a native of the city. They had begun their family when Sutton’s uncle (also named Eben) died, leaving no heir to take over the family mill in North Andover. Sutton uprooted his family and moved from New York to North Andover in order to run the business that had earned the Suttons their wealth. Supposedly, Mary did not want to leave the city, and so to ease her adjustment to the quiet town, Sutton built an enormous estate called Hill Crest.

It was said that General Sutton gave freely to the town of North Andover, always ready to assist with charities and various enterprises. He paid particular attention to St. Paul’s Episcopal church. He was extremely generous with his time and money in an attempt to expand the church. He was also known for treating the employees of his mill particularly well.