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Is 1923 Based on a True Story? Yellowstone Prequel History Explained

Is 1923 Based on a True Story? Yellowstone Prequel History Explained

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1923 is the upcoming spinoff series of Yellowstone that follows two generations of Duttons in the early 20th century. It is the second Yellowstone prequel series, following 1883.

The series has a star-studded cast that includes Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Jerome Flynn, Robert Patrick and Jennifer Ehle.

Ford and Mirren will take on the lead roles in the series, starring as Jacob and Cara Dutton.

1923 will premiere on December 18, 2022, on the streaming service Paramount+. Season one will feature eight episodes.

Is 1923 Based on a True Story?

1923 is not based on a true story, however, it does include real-life events that took place during the time. Such current events of the time to be featured in 1923 include prohibition, pandemic, drought and the Great Depression in Montana, which predated the nation by nearly a decade.

The Dutton family is not based on any real-life people. It is unclear at the time if the series will feature any real-life historical figures.

Also read: Yellowstone 1923 Release Date, Trailer, Plot, Cast, and More

Historical Accuracies of 1923

According to Paramount+, 1923 “introduces a new generation of the Dutton family as they explore the early twentieth century when pandemics, historic drought, the end of Prohibition and the Great Depression all plague the mountain west, and the Duttons who call it home.”

Banner Creighton and Cara Dutton in the 1923 TV series

In addition to some of the biggest current events of the 1920s, 1923 will also give flashbacks to WWI. The early 20th century was a tough time for many Americans and the Duttons probably felt the effects of these hard times.

Montana’s Great Depression

While America’s Great Depression began in 1929, it got an early start in Montana. The Great Depression began in Montana in 1918, almost 10 years before the rest of the nation.

While the rest of America was thriving, Montana was struggling. Between drought and the reduced demand for agricultural products, many farmers suffered greatly.

As a result, Montana farmers would default on wartime loans. In return, it caused widespread bank failure throughout the state.

Actor Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton in the Yellowstone prequel TV series 1923

Between 1921-1925, half of the farmers in Montana lost their land. By 1925, 70,000 of the 82,000 homesteaders in Montana left. In addition, 200 banks in Montana failed.

Not only were crops affected by the drought, but also by the invasions of locusts. Cattle also suffered from disease in large numbers.

As ranchers, the drought and Great Depression likely impacted the Dutton family. The 1920s were not an easy time to be a farmer or rancher in Montana.

Also read: Where Is 1923 Filmed? All Known Filming Locations


A major aspect that brought the early onset of the Great Depression in Montana was drought. Throughout the 1920s, Montana suffered debilitating droughts that ravaged the land. 

Drought became so bad in the state that the average Montana farm went from an average of 25 bushels an acre to just 2.4 bushels an acre.

John Dutton Sr holding and aiming a gun in the 1923 TV series trailer

The drought caused fires to sweep across the prairies and horrific dust storms blew topsoil away, only making the situation harder for farmers.


From 1918 to 1920, the world saw the devastating impacts of the Spanish Flu. It is estimated that nearly one-third of the world’s population became infected with the virus. As a result, an estimated 50 million people died of the virus worldwide.

The Spanish Flu affected people of all ages and around 675,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus. From 1918 to 1920, there were four waves of the virus. However, by the end of 1920, the virus had evolved to become much less deadly.

As so many people were affected by the pandemic, there is a good chance it affected the Dutton family in one way or another.


Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933 in America and banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. However, it proved a difficult law to enforce and bootlegging alcohol became a regular practice.

Jacob Dutton riding a horse through town in the 1923 TV series

While we don’t know yet the role prohibition will play in 1923, it is sure to have an impact throughout the series. Prohibition in Montana began in 1918 before the nationwide ban went into effect.

However, Montana went on to become the first state to repeal the enforcement of Prohibition in 1926.

There is a chance that the Duttons played a role in the repeal in 1923 as they are a powerful family.

World War I

World War 1 battle scene in the 1923 TV series trailer
World War 1 battle scene in the 1923 trailer

While 1923 takes place after the end of WWI, the war will still play a role in the series. Spencer Dutton, Jacob Dutton’s nephew is a WWI veteran who saw the horrors of the war.

In the trailer for the series, we even get a glimpse at Spencer’s time fighting in the war. This indicates that we will likely get flashback scenes throughout the series of WWI and the effect it had not only on the Dutton family but the entire nation as well.

Also read: Who the 1923 Cast are Dating or Married to in Real-Life