Pittsford Area Schools

9304 Hamilton

Pittsford, MI 49271



Silas Doty: Outlaw or Outcast?

Silas Doty, a man of many talents, was one of the biggest criminals to walk out of this area. In September of 1890, he found himself in the small, quiet town of Pittsford, Michigan. Silas was married Sophia Adams in 1840, and later served in the Mexican War as a way to escape prosecution for theft.

"As to morals or ethics nothing can be said of the man. He didn't have any." Said his wife.

He was nice in a sneaky way. His neighbors would ask to borrow something and Silas, the nice guy he was, would make sure he got it by stealing it from another person. He had started out small and then eventually began stealing bigger things. Doty began stealing the fastest racehorses and hiding them in a cave in Pittsford's own Lost Nations (one of the best game areas around). Then he stole people's money and it was said he would even kill for it.

When Doty was 51 years old, he found himself in Jackson Prison for 17 years. He later announced that prison was his home. That was the truth. Doty even stole from his some of his cell mates and gave the loot as presents to other prisoners.

A few day before Silas died he stated:

" My reflections were not altogether pleasant at times. I felt I would never be able to distinguish myself in the different avenues of crime. I possessed no other qualifications --- had no other occupation to fall back upon and it seemed as if I was left alone on a tide less and waveless sea to rot and molder in the winds and rains of heaven, like a vessel without sail, mast and rudder."

The last weeks of his life Doty went to the only place he knew he would be accepted. To his son's home. William lived in Reading, Michigan and that is where Silas took his last breath on March 12, 1876. Doty died of pneumonia. He was buried in Mundy Cemetary near Kinderhook, MI (Branch County).

It is also said that if you go to his cave at night you will find a dead fox, and some black walnuts. If you look real hard you will see the ghost of Silas Doty that is said to haunt the cave, and he is smiling.

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Source: 150 Years In the Hills and Dales Volume I. Copyright by: Hillsdale County Historical Society, Hillsdale, MI 1976. Found on Page 84-85.