John E. King was born in 1870 in Minnesota to Daniel and Mary M. Grisso King. He had a sister, Alice. He was married in 1895 to Georgia Duncan, and they had a son, Homer D. (below), and a daughter, Florence Helen. His death on November 26, 1938, was attributed to a "chronic heart and kidney disorder, aggravated by pneumonia."
At the age of 11 John E. King became a printer's apprentice in Laketon, Indiana. Seven years later, he established a newspaper, the Leader in Larchwood, Iowa, and in 1890 he became part owner of the Review newspaper in Rock Rapids, Iowa.
From there, he went to Minnesota and founded the Adrian Democrat. From 1901 to 1911, John F. King owned and edited the Gazette in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, followed by the Daily Sentinel in Missoula, Montana.
In Minnesota, he was postmaster in the town of Adrian and was a member of the state Board of Equalization for two years. He was state librarian of Minnesota from 1905 to 1911 and president of the National Association of State Librarians from 1908 to 1911. From 1894 to 1896 he was president of the Southwest Minnesota Editorial Association, and in 1904 he was candidate for Minnesota's secretary of state. In 1908 he was secretary of Governor John A. Johnson's presidential campaign committee, headquartered in Chicago.
In 1912, King purchased half the ownership of the Hemet News, and he moved to that community in Riverside County, California, to take over the publication of the newspaper. Besides his newspaper and banking work in Hemet, King was postmaster there from 1915 to 1924 and president of the library board from 1918 to 1924. He also was a director of the chamber of commerce, and he helped found the Ramona Pageant in Hemet. He was a president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias and of San Bernardino Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
In 1925 he was appointed by Governor Friend Richardson as state printer, and he served three years. In 1927 and 1928, he was a member of the California State Board of Education. In 1932 he was a Presidential elector.
John E. King was also a banker, being a receiver for the San Bernardino, Rialto and Victorville National banks.