[The following contains spoilers from the series premiere of 1923. Read at your own risk!]
A new generation of Duttons have arrived, and with them comes a whole bunch of new information about the Dutton family tree, which previously had a bit of a hole in the middle. How do we get from James Dutton (Tim McGraw) to Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) to John Dutton III (Kevin Costner), then to the all-important seventh generation Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill)? With help from a convenient voiceover from the late Elsa Dutton (Isabel May), 1923 makes it all a whole lot clearer…and a bit more confusing at the same time. As to be expected in this world, some of the young Dutton men won't live to see their children grow, meaning we're in for more heartbreak—the only break this family can catch, apparently.
Here's exactly what Elsa says at the start of the 1923 premiere: "My father had three children. Only one would live to see their own children grown. Only one would carry the fate of this family through the depression and every other hell the 20th century hurled at them."
Does that mean that Elsa's brother Spencer doesn't survive his time in Africa, or that John Sr. doesn't live to see his son get married and have children? Or does that son not live to make it to his wedding? Are we just reading past the obvious because Spencer is too hot to die so soon? Only time will tell.
For now, as of the beginning of 1923, here's where we're at with the Dutton family tree.
These are the first Duttons to arrive in the beautiful Montana valley that would eventually become the Yellowstone Dutton ranch. When they set out across the country, they had two children: teenager Elsa and 10 year-old John. After settling in the valley, they had another son named Spencer. Per Elsa's voiceover, James died in the 1890s, and Margaret died soon after.
Jacob is James' brother who came to the ranch to take over after James died in 1894. They raised John and Spencer as their own, but have no biological children.
John Sr. grew up to be his uncle's right-hand man, and he and Emma had a son named Jack.
Spencer fought in WWI and was so traumatized that he moved to Africa to become a hunter and has not yet married or had kids, as far as we know. He also might not survive past the end of the season, based on what we saw in the premiere, but that's TBD.
Elsa was the eldest daughter of James and Margaret Dutton, and while she doesn't live long enough to be involved in 1923, her death is the reason the Duttons have the land they are fighting so hard to protect for these seven generations.
Jack, the son of John Sr. and Emma, is just about to be married to Elizabeth, assuming he survived his brush with those grass thieves. Odds aren't great, given the impending wedding, but hopefully the only current Dutton heir doesn't bite it. There's also a distinct possibility that Elizabeth is already pregnant, since we've already got warnings to not do too much math once the first baby is born.
We have only met John Dutton Jr. in flashbacks so far, but he could come into existence at any time on 1923. If the theory that Elizabeth is already pregnant is correct, he might be around sooner than we think. He's the biggest mystery in this family tree so far, so here's hoping there's a prequel in his future as well.
The John Dutton we currently know and love was born in the 1950s to John Dutton Jr. and a mother whose name has never been shared. John III married Evelyn and had three biological children: Lee, Kayce, and Beth. They also adopted Jamie as a baby. Evelyn died when the children were teens, Lee died before marrying or having any children, and John eventually disowned Jamie for…a lot of reasons.
Kayce and his Indigenous wife Monica have one son named Tate, and lost their second child, a boy named John IV, shortly after he was born. Kayce had left the ranch to live on the reservation with Monica, but he returned to the Yellowstone after his brother died.
Beth and Rip married at the end of Season 4, and thanks to the time that Jamie arranged an abortion for Beth at a Native clinic that forced sterilization, she cannot have biological children and she is very angry about it. But she and Rip have sort of (not yet legally) adopted a teen orphan named Carter (Finn Little).
Jamie was adopted by the Duttons as a baby after his father murdered his mother, and after Jamie befriended that biological father and almost got his adopted family murdered, John disowned him. He recently declared that Kayce is his only son, which is a pretty big burn, especially considering that Jamie also technically fathered John's second grandson, a boy also named Jamie.
Tate is the youngest Dutton, and the seventh generation of Duttons to be born. As we learned in 1883, the local tribes would plan to return for the Duttons' land after seven generations, but does it change things at all given that Tate is half Native American? That has yet to be seen, but Tate has been an important part of the series from the beginning and will likely remain a vital member of the Dutton family.
1923 premieres Sunday, Dec. 18 on Paramount+.
(Additional reporting by Megan Vick)