By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — 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.
Although he doesn’t farm the land, he does use his Master Gardener skills to grow flowers, grasses and the 600 trees he planted on the property. An experienced beekeeper of 40 years, he harvested a honey crop of 600 pounds this season. Many residents stop by his back door to pick up their weekly supply of the sweet spread.
Not only has he been the past vice president and president of the State Indiana Bee Keepers Association, he is also the founder and coordinator of the Indiana Bee School.
Small town dynamics resulted in the marriage of Steve to his second wife, Marcia Rose Barrett. Raised in Fortville, she moved to San Francisco for 13 years. When she returned to be closer to family, the matchmaking began.
“My sister owned a clothing store that his mother shopped in,” said Marcia, clinical laboratory scientist at Indiana University Health. “Word was out that I was coming back. In Fortville, everyone knows everyone.”
Twenty-two years later she is appreciating the family home with him.
“I enjoy the space,” she said. “It’s beautiful here. I work in downtown Indianapolis, so I get plenty of city life.”
Not simply an addition to the property, she has brought her history along with her. As visitors walk through the home, many of the antiques are from her side of the family. The marriage of Steve and Marcia has resulted in the marriage of heritage as well.
“I can be out there with the tractor and bucket and it feels good to know that my great-grandfather and my grandfather and my dad were all out here working too,” said Steve.
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.