John was born about 1843 in Minnesota, which was at the time part of Iowa Territory.
The 1898 census gives his Hocąk name as wy-nu-ne-nic-kaw, which is for Wainą́nįka, "Little Orphan," from wainą́, "orphan"; nįk; "little"; -ka, a definite article suffix used in personal names. This is probably a nickname rather than a clan name, and suggests that he may have been orphaned at an early age.
All we know about his wife is that she was born in Minnesota. He has a new child as of the 1 July 1890 census, which probably means that she died in childbirth. His children were: