John Marston was born in 1873, his father being a Scottish immigrant and his mother a prostitute. In Marston's own words, it is hinted that his father might have been her pimp. John's mother died during childbirth. In 1881, John's father died of unknown causes, thought to have been by drinking. When his father died, the 8 year old John was sent to an orphanage, where he spent the next nine years. At the age of 17 he ran away and joined a gang led by a man named Dutch van der Linde. Van der Linde taught John how to read, write and shoot. Other members of Dutch's gang included Bill Williamson and Javier Escuela. In the gang, he met Abigail, a prostitute who traveled with the gang and that John himself would marry in the future. John says that the gang struggled for more than just making money, stole from the rich and powerful to give to the needy, sick, and poor with their own ideals. However, during a bank robbery in 1908, Marston was shot and left to die by his companions, causing Marston to abandon his life of crime and reform. In his own words, "I left the gang when they left me". With his wife, Abigail, and son, Jack, Marston bought a ranch in West Elizabeth to live peacefully. John also had a daughter who had died either during childbirth or soon after. Soon, however, he is required by U.S. Federal Agents, (Bureau Of Investigation) to apprehend his former outlaw friends. To ensure the loyalty of John, they kidnapped his family, holding them hostage until the completion of his mission.
Source: Wikipedia, "John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.