Sutton was first settled in 1792 by Adam O'Brien, from Bath County Virginia. Other settlers followed O'Brien. In 1809 John D. Sutton settled at the confluence of Granny's Creek and the Elk River, within the current boundaries of the downtown. His nephew Felix also came to the settlement, along with others, including, Gustavius Taylor, and Andrew Skidmore. The village of Suttonville, formerly known as Newville, was laid out in 1835 and named for John D. Sutton.
Braxton County was formed in 1836 and named after Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The first court was held in the home of John D. Sutton.
Sutton was situated at the confluence of major transportation routes. The Elk River was navigable at times all the way to Charleston. The Weston to Gauley Bridge Turnpike, chartered in 1848, connected the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike in the center of the state to the Kanawha River Valley and the Kanawha James River Road. A wire suspension bridge was constructed across the Elk River on the Turnpike in 1853. Portions of the stone cable anchors still stand in Sutton.
West Virginia was formed out of the conflict of the Civil War. Felix Sutton represented the county in the restored government of Virginia, in Wheeling until the state was created. Due to its location along a major north south turnpike through the center of West(ern) Virginia at the outbreak of the Civil War, Sutton was embroiled in the conflict. On September 5, 1861 the town was occupied by 5,000 troops. Later in 1861, General Rosencrans bivouacked 10,000 troops there, including future President William McKinley. On December 29, 1861 Confederate soldiers burned most of the downtown, leaving only six structures intact.
Sutton slowly rebuilt from the Civil War, but remained a small county seat until the timber industry in the region developed and Sutton became a commercial center. Many of the banks, hotels, shops and other historic buildings in Sutton date from this 1890 to 1920 time period. After this, Sutton once again slowed its development in step with the overall economy of the nation during the great depression.