I think we’re on to something…
After a month-long hiatus, 1923 was back on Paramount+ this weekend, and I think we’re finally starting to answer some questions about the history of the Dutton Family.
The second chapter of the Yellowstone prequels, following 1883, the next part of the story picks up in 1923, as we see the next generation of Dutton struggle to maintain ranch life at the newly constructed Dutton Ranch.
According to the official synopsis:
“1923 focuses on the Dutton family’s next two generations as they struggle to survive historic drought, lawlessness and prohibition, and an epidemic of cattle theft; all battled beneath the cloud of Montana’s great depression, which preceded the nation by almost a decade.”
And one of the biggest areas of confusion… the Dutton Family Tree.
We all know John Dutton of Yellowstone, the character played by Kevin Costner who is the patriarch of the Dutton family, but as we go back in time, the picture gets kind of cloudy.
And it seems like that is intentional… not even the cast members have a full understanding of the various generations of Dutton since they don’t get the whole story… just the parts they are playing.
Brandon Sklenar, who plays Spencer in 1923, confesses that he doesn’t really know where Spencer lies in the Dutton family tree, although he has his own theories:
“It’s something that Taylor is keeping very close to the vest. I have my own theories, but it’s to be told, to be written, to be seen.
He’s always moving all that stuff around.”
However, it seems like we might’ve gotten some confirmation in the latest episode of 1923, titled, “Ghost Of Zebrina.”
From the beginning, there was really only two options: The modern-day Dutton Family either flows through Spencer Dutton or John Dutton, the two sons of Tim McGraw’s 1883 character, James Dutton.
As of right now (in 1923) John has a son named Jack, and Spencer has no children.
My hunch was always that the line flowed through Jack, who I speculated would name his son after his father, and call him John II. However, when John I passed away in Episode 3, and Spencer found a new love interest with Alexandra, folks started to think that maybe Spencer was a focal point in the story.
But I don’t think so…
And I think we may have confirmation.
In Episode 5, we see John’s wife Emma kill herself, overcome with grief of losing her husband. That eliminates any possibility that she was carrying a son when her husband died.
But you know who is carrying a baby? Elizabeth, the wife (well, technically not legally quite yet) of Jack Dutton. She confessed to Cara that she wanted to get legally married right away because she wasn’t sure if she could fit into her dress if they waited until summer.
Of course, not everything is 100% clear, but if definitely seems like the Dutton family will flow through Jack Dutton, who will have a son named John II, who will go on to father John III, aka Kevin Costner.
So without further ado… mapping out the entire Dutton family, from 1883, to today.
The Dutton Family
The original patriarch of the Dutton Family, James (Tim McGraw) was a farmer from Tennessee who took his family out west in search of a new life. The husband of Margaret Dutton and father of Elsa, John and Spencer, he chose to establish the modern day Dutton Ranch where his daughter Elsa passed away.
The original matriarch of the Dutton Family, Margaret (Faith Hill) is married to James Dutton and the mother of Elsa, John and Spencer Dutton.
Elsa (Isabel May) was the eldest child of James and Margaret Dutton. She also serves as the narrator of both 1883 and 1923. She was going to marry a cowboy named Ennis, however, he was killed on the journey West. She vowed to return to a Comanche warrior named Sam once her family reached its destination, however she was killed in an attack on the wagon train. The Dutton Ranch property was established where she died, and she was the first to be buried there.
John Dutton (Audie Rick in 1883, James Badge Dale in 1923) is the son of James and Margaret Dutton, brother to Elsa and Spencer. He was just a young boy during the events of 1883, however in 1923, he works alongside his uncle Jacob on the Dutton Ranch. He is married to Emma Dutton, and they have at least one son, Jack.
Claire (Dawn Olivieri) is James Dutton’s sister, who joins the journey west with her daughter Mary Abel. A widow, she kills herself once her daughter is killed on the trail.
Jacob (Harrison Ford) is the brother of James Dutton, who becomes the leader of the family once James passes away. He and his wife, Cara Dutton, work to run the ranch with their nephews, John and Spencer, and John’s son Jack.
Cara (Helen Mirren) is the wife of Jacob Dutton. A hard-nosed Irish immigrant, she becomes the matriarch of the Dutton family in 1923, following the passing of Margaret and James.
Spencer (Brandon Sklenar) is the second son of James and Margaret Dutton. Born after the Duttons settled in Montana (and the death of his sister, Elsa), Spencer is a WWI vet who spends time hunting in Africa before returning back to Montana to work the ranch.
Emma (Marley Shelton) is the wife of John Dutton Sr. and the mother of Jack Dutton.
Jack (Darren Mann) works on the Dutton Ranch alongside his father, John Dutton Sr. and great-uncle, Jacob Dutton. He is engaged to Elizabeth Strafford, the daughter of another notable rancher.
My suspicion is that Jack may be the father of John Dutton II since the “II” title is generally used when the child is named after another relative, not the father. This is just a guess, but my hunch is that John Dutton won’t survive 1923, and Jack will name his first born son after his late father… John Dutton II.
Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph) is Jack’s fiancée. The two end up postponing their wedding briefly, but are planning on marrying very soon. She is also pregnant with Jack’s child.
John Dutton III
The modern day leader of the Dutton family and the current Governor of Montana. He is the father of Lee Dutton, Beth Dutton and Kayce Dutton, and the adoptive father of Jamie Dutton.
Evelyn (Gretchen Mol) is the wife of John Dutton III who passed away in a horseback riding accident when her children were young. She is the mother of Lee, Beth and Kayce Dutton.
Lee (Dave Annable) is the oldest son of John and Evelyn Dutton. The heir to the Dutton Ranch, Lee was killed by Robert Long (Monica’s brother) after an argument broke out over stolen cattle.
Beth (Kelly Reilly) is the daughter of John Dutton III and wife of Rip Wheeler, her father’s ranch foreman and right-hand man. Unable to have children of her own, her and Rip have taken in teenage Carter.
Rip (Cole Hauser) is the Yellowstone foreman and right-hand man of John Dutton III. He came to the Dutton Ranch as an orphaned teenager after he killed his own father (who killed his mother and brother). Teenage sweethearts, he eventually marries John’s daughter, Beth Dutton.
Kayce (Luke Grimes) is the youngest of the Dutton siblings, and a former Navy SEAL. He’s married to Monica Dutton and the father of Tate Dutton and John Dutton IV (deceased).
Monica (Kelsea Asbille) was raised on the Broken Rock Reservation. She is married to Kayce Dutton and the mother of Tate Dutton and John Dutton IV.
Tate (Brecken Merrill) is the oldest son of Kayce and Monica Dutton, the eldest of the 7th generation of Duttons.
John Dutton IV
John Dutton IV is the second son of Kayce and Monica Dutton, who tragically only lived a few hours following complications from an early birth and a car accident.
Jamie (Wes Bentley) is the adopted son of John Dutton III and the black sheep of the Dutton family.
Christina is Jamie’s ex assistant and the mother of his child.
James Dutton Jr.
The son of Jamie Dutton and his ex-girlfriend Christina, Jamie finds out he has a son after the birth.
1923 is available to stream… NOW.
In that 1893 flashback from Yellowstone Season 4, we see that James has two sons with him, John Sr. (who will be a major character in 1923) and Spencer… Generation Two.
They should be in their forties or so by the time 1923 rolls around and will have children of their own (Generation Three), and John Sr. and Spencer might even have young grandchildren (people got married pretty young back then), so that’s Generation Four.
Now, here’s where it get’s interesting… John Dutton III (born sometime in the 1950s) of Yellowstone would be Generation Five, which means Kayce, Jamie (adopted), the late Lee Dutton, and Beth Dutton would all be Generation Six, and young Tate would be Generation 7.
And that’s exactly what Tim McGraw himself has confirmed.
Tim says he plays the great-great-grandfather of John Dutton in the bonus Blu-ray content:
“I play John Dutton’s great-great-grandfather. Our family is the first to discover Yellowstone and settle it. And in doing that, we are the first to really defend it and fight people off, and try to establish it and then survive.
J.D.’s the patriarch of the family. He’s the guy that had the balls, I guess, to set out and take his family across the country and head up to Montana, and sorta settle this unknown land, this untamed land up there, and turn it into something.”
Of course, which generation of Dutton has implications for the show because in the Season Finale of 1883, Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) is on the verge of death and her father, James Dutton (Tim McGraw) needs to find a place to bury her because wherever they bury her body is where the Dutton family is going to settle.
So Spotted Eagle, a Crow elder, recommends a spot called the Paradise Valley.
But, there’s a catch… the Duttons can’t have it forever.
“Yes, Paradise. Good name. But you know this: that in seven generations, my people will rise up and take it back from you.”
To which James says:
“In seven generations, you can have it.”
Doesn’t bode well for the Dutton family in Yellowstone Season 5, does it?
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