These horrors and a failed marriage drove him to drink heavily. By his own account, he spent the next decade in a drunken stupor. When he emerged from the gutter in 1876, Dutton began to study religion, and in 1883 he joined the Trappist Monastery at Gethsemane, Ky., expecting to spend his life in contemplation.
But he soon learned about the work of Father Damien DeVeuster (“Damien the Leper”) caring for shunned native Hawaiians at Molokai, and he left for the islands in 1886. Dutton introduced himself as “Brother Joseph” when he met the tiny relief corps at the Kalaupapa Leper Colony.
He volunteered there for 45 years, until his death in 1931. Dutton spent his days building latrines, bandaging sores, mopping floors, and serving meals to the diseased and despised. He accepted no pay and insisted that his military pension be donated to the monks at Gethsemane.
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