Jacques Futrelle was born in 1875 in Georgia. His father was Wiley Harmon Heath, a teacher in an Atlanta preparatory college. His mother was Linnie Bevill Futrelle, from Atlanta. He was brought up in the Southern tradition, with an appreciation for literature.

He started working at newspapers at an early age. During school years worked as printer's devil in small shop learning mechanics of the printing trade. At 18 took his first steady job as aid to business manager at the Atlanta Journal. In 1894, when he was 19, he took a job at the Boston Post, but soon went back to Atlanta Journal where he set up the paper's first sports department. During that time he also worked as a telegraph deskman at the New York Herald.

In July 1895 he married Lillie May Peel, in the Hilliard Street home of her parents in Atlanta. Her parents were David and Molly Peel.

After the wedding they moved to New York where he was to be the telegraph editor at the New York Herald. The lived at 71 Irving Place in Gramercy Park; his neighbors included Edith Wharton and O Henry. In 1897 their first child Virginia was born; in 1899 John (Jacques Jr.) was born.

In 1898 US declared war on Spain. (May 1-July 18). Jacques worked 24 hours a day as the telegraph editor during the period of the War. After the War they went to stay at his sister's cottage in Scituate.

Jacques left newspaper work for a few years and worked for two years as a theater manager in Virginia, where he wrote, directed and acted. In 1904 relocated back to Cambridge, Massachusets to work for the new William Randolph Hearst newspaper, the Boston American. He continued writing mystery/fiction, developing his Thinking Machine character and stories, which were published in serial form in the Boston American. In 1906 left the newspaper business to devote full time to writing, this time turning his attention to novels.

Jacques and May had a house built in Scituate; known as "Stepping Stones", it overlooks Scituate harbor. Jacques also bought the very first motorcar in Scituate.

In January 1912 Jacques and May traveled to Europe to see publishers, sell stories, and expand the European market for Jacques's stories and books. The children stayed at home with their grandparents. Cutting their European vacation short, Jacques and May decided to return home on the maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic. May survived the Titanic disaster and lived with in Scituate with her daughter. She died in 1967 and is buried in Scituate.

There is a memorial plaque to Jacques next to his mother's grave in a cemetery in Georgia.