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