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I don't care if you live or die, but should you live, you tell them about me.
James Dutton

James Dillard Dutton is a main character in 1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story. He is the first patriarch of the Dutton Family. He is a homesteader aiming to make a living in Montana with his wife Margaret after leaving a life of poverty behind to look for a better future.


He is a Civil War Veteran from Tennessee who fought for the Confederate Army as a ranking Captain and a survivor of the Battle of Antietam. He, of course, is captured by the Union soldiers led by General George Meade and spent 3 years in a Union prison. 20 years later, he is reunited with his family in Fort Worth, Texas and joins the caravan trekking to Oregon in which his family ultimately settles in Montana. He did, however, butt heads with Shea Brennan and Thomas on which direction to take when attempting to pass the Brazos River, knowing their direction would set them back 3 weeks and his path would lead into no man's land. During that time, James made it clear that he would his family first, but still agreed to help out the immigrants who were on this treacherous journey.

In 1893, 10 years after the start of 1883, he is running a ranch in Park County, Montana and is a deputized ranger in those parts. His youngest son, Spencer, is born later on and his eldest son, John, is a teenager. When hunting horse thieves, he was severely wounded in the firefight. Upon returning home, he was bleeding profusively and collapsed inside his home. It is unclear whether he died that moment or not.