Why Is Spencer Dutton Not in 1883? Explained

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The Dutton family tree gets bigger and bigger with every new series and every new season within the Yellowstone universe. In the 1923 series, we met Spencer Dutton, the younger brother of John Dutton Sr. and possibly the grandfather of John Dutton III from Yellowstone. But if he’s John Dutton Sr.’s brother, why wasn’t he in the 1883 series?

Spencer Dutton wasn’t in 1883 because he wasn’t born yet. We actually met Spencer in two separate flashbacks during Yellowstone Season 4. The flashbacks took place in 1893, and Spencer was around five or six years old. James and Margaret Dutton got Spencer after already settling in Montana.

That means that Spencer Dutton was the first Dutton ever to be born at the Yellowstone Ranch, whereas his older sister, Elsa, was the first Dutton to die there. That being said, fans still wonder how Spencer’s life went from horseback riding with his brother and father at around six years old to being a former WWI soldier who’s now hunting big game in Africa in 1923. Let’s find out.

Who is Spencer Dutton?

It can get a bit tricky following the entire Dutton family tree and lineage, from James and Margaret Dutton, who founded the Yellowstone Ranch, to John Dutton III and his kids over a century later in the Yellowstone series. So, where does Spencer Dutton fit in that family tree?

Spencer Dutton is the youngest son of James and Margaret Dutton, the first generation of the Dutton family who eventually founded the Yellowstone Ranch. In the 1883 series, James and Margaret had two other children – Elsa, their only daughter and oldest child, and John, a son born in 1878.

The family’s plan was to travel from Texas to Oregon to find land and peace, but their daughter perished from a poisoned arrow during the journey and chose Paradise Valley in Montana as her final resting place. James and Margaret decided to settle there instead of continuing the journey to Oregon, and eventually, the Yellowstone Ranch was founded, where Elsa Dutton was buried.

The first time we ever saw Spencer Dutton, however, wasn’t in the 1883 series. It was in two separate flashbacks during Season 4 of the Yellowstone series, both taking place in 1893. 

spencer old flashback

In the first flashback, taking place in the season premiere called Half the Money, we see James Dutton with his two sons – John and Spencer – riding on horseback, doing work on their ranch.  In the second flashback, a few episodes later, we see John and Spencer at home with their mother as their father comes back home after chasing a group of horse thieves. 

He caught them but got shot by one of them, and eventually, he died right in front of Spencer and John in their family home. Both of those flashbacks took place in 1893, ten years after the events of the 1883 prequel series, where Spencer was nowhere to be seen. Fast forward 40-ish years, and we’re following the 1923 series.

Here, we learn that Jacob and Cara Dutton arrived at the Yellowstone Ranch in 1894 following a distressed letter from Margaret, asking Jacob for help, saying his brother, James, had died. But, by the time Jacob and Cara arrived, Margaret passed away, too, leaving the young boys, John and Spencer, alone at the Ranch.

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Is Spencer Dead in 1923? Is Brendan Sklenar Leaving the Show?

Jacob and Cara take them in and raise them as their sons while taking over the Ranch business and eventually turning it into the biggest ranch in the country. At this point, John was sixteen years old, and his brother, Spencer, was no more than seven.

That’s when the story takes us to 1923, about 29 years after Jacob and Cara came to Montana to save John and Spencer and raise them as their boys. John stayed on the ranch with Jacob, being his right hand, whereas Spencer left home to join the army in WWI and later stayed in Africa to become a big game hunter.

He’s now returning home with a new love after a distress letter came from his auntie Cara – much like a distress letter for help came to Jacob and herself all those years ago.

Why is Spencer Dutton not in 1883?

By this point, you probably did the math and realized why Spencer Dutton was not in the 1883 series – he wasn’t born yet. James and Margaret Dutton got Spencer a few years after settling in Montana and starting the Yellowstone Ranch.

That made Spencer the first Dutton ever to be born on their land that’ll remain theirs for generations to come. On the other hand, his sister, Elsa, who he never met, was the first Dutton to die and be buried in the Dutton family cemetery on the Ranch.

During the Yellowstone series flashbacks I’ve mentioned, happening in 1893, we know John Dutton is fifteen years old, as we know that he was born in 1878. However, there’s no exact year of birth yet shared about Spencer. All we know is that he was a very young kid, about five or six years old at the time.

How old is Spencer Dutton in the 1923 series?

spencer old

When the 1923 series came, I remember thinking – that escalated quickly. From not even being in the 1883 show, to appearing as a preschool kid in the Yellowstone flashback, to now already being a WWI veteran living on a different continent, Spencer’s journey was a hell of a ride. 

Granted, a lot of time passed between the shows, but just how old was Spencer Dutton in 1923? Well, we can do some math again.

His brother, John Dutton Sr., was born in 1878, making him 45 years old during the 1923 series. He already had a wife, Emma, and a son, Jack, who seemed to be in his early twenties.

RELATED:

Does Spencer Dutton Marry Alexandra in 1923?

Given the fact that Spencer is about a decade younger than his brother – which explains why he wasn’t in the 1883 series – he was already around 35 years old when the second Yellowstone prequel series took place. That gave Spencer plenty of time to be raised on the ranch, join the army, and then become a prolific big game hunter in Africa.

Right now, there’s a lot of debate on where the Dutton lineage is going and who exactly is the father of John Dutton Jr. – the man who would become John Dutton III’s father (Kevin Costner’s epic character in Yellowstone). John Jr.’s parents could either be Jack and Liz, or Spencer and Alexandra, as both are young and getting ready to be married on the Ranch.

Only time will tell, though, as new episodes of 1923 stream weekly on Paramount Plus.

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