Hold it right there, outlaw!
This article is littered with spoilers, so I reckon you might ought'a mosey on down the road if you don't want to read any plot details.
Although is mainly set in 1911 and 1914, the background of the characters and the world spans over decades of the American history Red Dead Redemption timeline.
1810s to 1840s
24 April: Birth of Hannah Chilcott.
Birth of Esther Sinclair.
Birth of Edgar Shelton.
Birth of Seth Trice.
Birth of Amelia Eaves.
Birth of Judith Johnston.
Death of Belle Finch, of cholera.
Death of Seth Trice, of unknown cause.
22 July: Death of Hannah Chilcott, of unknown cause.
7 August: Death of Amelia Eaves, of cholera.
Birth of Delilah Gaskell.
Birth of David Purvis.
Birth of an unnamed individual buried in Tumbleweed.
Birth of Ulysses Howard.
Birth of Murtel Purvis.
Birth of Rosie Tenerton.
Birth of Elenora Riddick.
Birth of Clinton Underwood.
Birth of Juan Calomarde.
2 February: Death of Judith Johnston, of unknown cause.
Birth of Dorothy Hewitt.
Birth of Alberto de la Fuente.
Birth of Herbert Forth.
Birth of Agustin Allende.
Birth of Ira Somers.
Birth of Pearl Palmer.
24 August: Death of Esther Sinclair, of unknown cause.
Death of Edgar and Lila Shelton, struck by a lightning.
Birth of Lupe del Valle.
13 September: Death of Georgia Dobbs, killed by a falling oak tree.
Birth of Hamilton Murphy.
Birth of Obediah Graves.
Birth of Andreas Müller.
The start of the "Picturesque Period". Many stories and legends from this period were later adapted to motion pictures in the 1910s.
Birth of Mr. Pickering.
Birth of Houston Greenup.
Birth of John Marston.
Birth of Javier Escuella.
Death of John Marston's mother, died during childbirth.
Death of Ellen Nugent, to an epileptic fit.
Death of Ada Stillman, choked on a fishbone.
Birth of Sam Odessa.
Birth of Butch Somers.
11 January: Death of Juan Calomarde, of unknown cause.
18 January: Death of Gideon Knox, presumably from an orgy with six women.
Birth of Fred Peagler.
Birth of Ellie Boone.
Birth of Lydia Grubb.
Death of Rosie Tenerton, of unknown cause.
1 April: Death of Josephine Byrd, of unknown cause.
Death of Mabel Bryars, of unknown cause.
Birth of Kit Skaggs.
Birth of Harold Thornton.
Birth of Nelly Dillard.
10 May: Death of Samuel Makepeace, of unknown cause.
Birth of Earl Errington.
26 May: Death of Emma Crawford, of unknown cause.
Birth of Gus MacFarlane.
Birth of Jonah.
Birth of Betsie Errington.
Death of Dorothy Hewitt, of unknown cause.
Death of Alberto de la Fuente, of unknown cause.
An eclipse occurred which famously blinded a man named Stretch Hawthorn. The story was later adapted to a motion picture in 1911.
18 October: Death of Minerva Pratt, from a fever.
Birth of Travis Glover.
3 June: Death of Elijah Liggons, of unknown cause.
The 3rd Street Hardware opened in Blackwater.
Death of Obediah Graves, hung for a murder which, according to his gravestone, he did not commit.
19 July: Death of Carmen Galindo, of unknown cause.
7 November: Death of lawman Calvin Draper, killed by a criminal.
Birth of Charlotte Lauterback.
Birth of Hattie Tanner.
Death of Pearl Palmer, of unknown cause.
Death of Dwight Bundy, of unknown cause.
Death of Lupe del Valle, of unknown cause.
10 October: Death of Bryon Vickers, from losing a duel in New Austin.
Birth of Alberto Viveros.
Death of Ira Somers, presumably from Syphilis.
The Prancing Fox Brand, a company selling socks, was established.
29 November: Death of Sergeant Joseph Drummond, of unknown cause.
John Marston meets Abigail in an orphanage and ran away with her.
10 Jan: Death of Myra Leathers, of unknown cause.
Birth of Carlos Bonavides.
Death of Delilah Gaskell, of unknown cause.
23 June: Death of Jack Greenwood, of unknown cause.
12 July: Death of Theodore Kilbane, of unknown cause.
29 September: Death of an unnamed young black male, buried in the Blackwater Chapel, of unknown cause.
Birth of Luisa Fortuna.
Death of Hoover Cowan, of unknown cause.
25 August: Death of Truman Briggs, murdered by his wife.
Birth of Mary Shackleford.
18 August: Death of Matilda Eaves, of unknown cause.
2 November: Death of an unnamed outlaw, buried in the Blackwater Chapel, of unknown cause.
8 December: Death of Hank MacFarlane, to tuberculosis.
15 January: Death of Peter Turner, from a blow to his head.
3 March: Death of Willie Swenson, of unknown cause.
19 May: Death of a child buried in Perdido, of unknown cause.
Birth of Jack Marston.
The end of the "Picturesque Period". Many stories and legends from this period were later adapted to motion pictures in the 1910s.
Leigh Johnson became the Marshal of Armadillo.
Death of Clinton Underwood, of unknown cause.
The Blackwater Restaurant was established.
23 May: Death of Francis Moon, of unknown cause.
16 September: Death of an unnamed cowboy, buried at Coot's Chapel, of unknown cause.
Birth of Florence Snyder.
18 March: Death of Hattie Tanner, of unknown cause.
The Blackwater Massacre occurred. 22 outlaws and 15 lawmen were killed in the gunfight. Landon Ricketts survived the gunfight.
26 July: Death of Cole MacFarlane, from a gunshot wound to the head.
7 November: Death of Oscar Palomares, of unknown cause.
Death of Butch Somers, hung for his crimes as a horse thief.
24 July: Death of Maybelle Fordham, Archer Fordham's mother, of unknown cause.
Basilio Aguirre Olmos de la Vargas begins his 10 year search for his great-great-grandfathers treasure.
Death of Mary Dutton, of unknown cause.
Death of Herbert Forth, of unknown cause.
Death of Walter Pettigrew, the founder of Manzanita Post, of unknown cause.
21 August: Death of Rosalie Tanner, of unknown cause.
16 September: Death of Antonio de la Cueva, of unknown cause.
After a gunfight in eastern California, Landon Ricketts moved from USA to Mexico.
Death of David and Muriel Purvis, parents of Cyril Purvis, of unknown cause.
Death of Alberto Viveros, of unknown cause.
A bicycle model (later branded the "1902 Model") was produced and sold by the Blue Head Wonder Coaster company.
Death of Ethan MacFarlane, after irritating a male bull.
Death of Hamilton Murphy, of unknown cause.
Birth of Ralph Anderson.
The infamous Irving Factory Explosion occurred, killing over 400 child workers.
18 March: Death of an unnamed thief, buried in the Blackwater Chapel, of unknown cause.
23 April: Death of Priscilla Johnson, of unknown cause.
31 October: Death of Dolores Falcon, of unknown cause.
29 April: Death of Lincoln Crenshaw, of unknown cause.
2 June: Death of Fred Peagler, presumably from a brawl.
Death of Louisa Warthington, of unknown cause.
Death of Kit Skaggs, of unknown cause.
Death of Isabel Feaney, of unknown cause.
Death of Houston Greenup, presumably from losing a duel.
15 January: Death of Ellie Boone, of unknown cause.
25 February: Death of Quincy Brogles, presumably from a brawl or duel.
15 March: Death of Ambrose Lee, of unknown cause.
4 August: Death of Gus MacFarlane, killed in a bar fight.
A badly wounded John Marston was left for dead by his gang after a failed bank robbery.
25 May: Death of Jane Scranton, of unknown cause.
8 September: Death of an unnamed woman, buried in the Church of Tumbleweed, suicide.
9 September: Death of Joshua Benning, of unknown cause.
Death of Charlotte Lauterback, of unknown cause.
Death of Travis Glover, of unknown cause.
Death of Mr. Pickering, by a gunshot.
Death of Gustavo Obregon, of unknown cause.
15 May: Death of Grace Blankenship, of unknown cause.
Death of Nelly Dillard, of unknown cause.
11 April: Death of Lambert Henning, hit by a train.
Death of Lydia Grubb, of unknown cause.
Death of Carlos Bonavides, of unknown cause.
23 February: Death of Orla Gaston, hit by a car.
14 August: Death of Alejandro Fortuna, killed by the Mexican Army.
19 November: Death of Hart Cummings, presumably from a deadly illness.
Death of Mr. Braithwaite, of unknown cause.
Ignacio Sanchez took control of Mexico.
Crops in New Austin were ruined by an unknown personnel, and farmers were forced to sell their lands at a cheap price. The culprit behind this was rumored to be Jeremiah Somerset.
The map of the frontier, later used by John Marston in 1911 and passed on to his son Jack Marston, was drawn.
Click to show story-related deaths.
Death of Leander Holland, Alwyn Lloyd, The Stranger and Espinoza, killed by John Marston.
Death of Andreas Müller, Harold Thornton, Mario Alcalde, and Raul Zubieta, shot in a duel with John Marston.
Death of Vincente de Santa, executed by either John Marston or Mexican rebels.
Death of Bill Williamson and Agustin Allende, killed by either John Marston or Abraham Reyes.
Death of Manolo Santander, killed by either John Marston or Landon Ricketts.
Death of Walton Lowe, who is either killed by John Marston or executed for his crimes.
Death of Norman Deek, killed in a gunfight with John Marston by his own gang member's crossfire.
Death of Dutch van der Linde, who jumped to his death after John Marston's assault on his men.
Death of Jenny and Sam Odessa, of heat in a desert.
Death of Ralph Anderson, murdered and eaten by Randall Forrester.
Death of Mary Shackleford and Willie Feaney, killed in the Ridgewood Farm Massacre.
Death of Mr. Fortuna, father of Luisa Fortuna, executed by the Mexican Army.
Death of Luisa Fortuna, executed by Raul Zubieta and his men.
Death of Eva Cortes, murdered by Mario Alcalde.
Death of Muriel Scranton, held hostage and shot by Dutch van der Linde.
Death of Harmon Weinstein, killed in a car crash while held hostage by Dutch van der Linde.
Death of Nastas, shot by Dutch van der Linde's men.
Death of Uncle, shot by Edgar Ross's men.
Death of John Marston, executed by Edgar Ross's men.
Professor Harold MacDougal published a thesis declaring the impossibility of taming a savage man.
Harrison Cherry's gravestone in 1911 writes that he dies on December 7, 1968.
Apparently this could be a very elaborate Beatles reference. To wit: In 1968, Eric Clapton gave George Harrison a cherry red guitar. At the time, Harrison was 25 (1943 + 25 = 1968) and Clapton was 23 (1945 + 23 = 1968), which averages to the age of 24. That guitar had serial numbers that corresponded to a batch that had shipped from a factory in a December, with 7 being the first number in the serial. Harrison then used the guitar through many of the Beatles' most famous works. See this page for more info on the guitar. Also, Harrison apparently named the guitar 'Lucy' in homage to comedienne Lucille Ball, and this could be why Jeb Blankenship's 'love' is named Lucy. Special thanks to therealcaro at reddead.net for doing the research.
Captain Maxwell Laskey died on August 24 in an unknown year. He was 31 when he died. He most likely died in 1917 or 1918 during World War 1 which would have taken place a few years after the storyline of Red Dead Remdemption and is mentioned briefly in a newspaper story at the end of the game.