John A. Savage was born in Brownsville, Jefferson County, New York on July 29, 1840. He studied law in New York state. Savage came to Montana in 1867 looking for adventure and gold. By the mid-1880s he had settled in Livingston, close to Hunters Hot Springs, and opened a law office there. By 1890, Savage was appointed as a judge in Park County, Montana, an area which included Livingston and Hunters Hot Springs. Several items from the Livingston Enterprise newspaper during the late 1880s and 1890s mention that J. A. Savage visited Hunters Hot Springs for business and pleasure. Savage was a friend and legal advisor to Cyrus B. Mendenhall (the real Man 15 in the group photo). Mendenhall was the owner of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel during this period (1886-1897).

It is not yet known whether John Savage was related to Charles W. Savage. Charles W. Savage took over management of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel from Cyrus Mendenhall in 1897 and, a year later, bought Liver Eating John Johnston's property in Red Lodge, Montana.

John Savage is included in the 1902 reference work Progressive Men of the State of Montana.