FORTVILLE — As pay for service in the Civil War, Thomas Jenkins Doty was homesteaded 640 acres near Fortville. His great-great-grandson still dwells on the property and greatly appreciates the rich family history that surrounds him.
“I was born and raised in town but visited my grandpa and grandma who lived here,” said Steve "Jim" Doty, retired from Delco Remy/Delphi. “When my grandpa passed, I would come out here with my dad to mow the grass and help my grandma. She was the backbone of the family. She could make fantastic food from nothing. It was a treat to come out here.”
The family line originally hailed from Pennsylvania, as Thomas Jenkins Doty’s parents moved to Green Township in 1826. Generations have since seen the area transform from a wilderness to beautiful tilled acres alongside a state road.
Steve purchased the land from his grandmother to keep the property — now 43 acres and a Certified Wildlife Habitat — in the family.
“The Doty heritage sucked me in,” he said with a laugh. “She was pleased as punch that somebody wanted it.”
Doty moved into the home with his first wife shortly after he and his father remodeled it. Later they built a new home farther back off the busy highway.
“Cars often slid off the road right there,” he explained. “One day the kids were getting ready to play on the porch when a car hit it. It was scary. We may still be there if the car hadn’t hit the house.”
Building a good distance down a gravel lane, Steve laid the foundation in 1974. Wanting an open dining room and living room space with a cathedral ceiling was forward-thinking. Most homes built in that era featured small separate rooms instead of today’s open-concept design.
“We wanted a basement and a big pad for a basketball court,” said Steve. Not only is one goal erected outside his garage, but two. Full-court games are encouraged. “I had to have that, being a Hoosier,” he said.