Born September 20, 1772, John Sawyer was the son of John Sawyer, Sr., one of the first members of a European immigrant family to be born in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County. He was reared in the same township, pursuing farming as a vocation. He served as a private in the War of 1812 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Rischer; seated in the state House of Representatives, 1815-17; and the state Senate, 1818-1822. Sawyer passed away on May 5, 1857, interred in the Hanover Presbyterian graveyard. John Sawyer married Mary Bell in May 1809.