From Norway, NY to Oneida, NY
And Places In Between

Contributed by Lisa Slaski
Transcribed by Joanne Murray


R.S. Doty was born in Norway, Herkimer Co., N. Y., on the 26th day of November, 1808. His paternal grandfather, Samuel Doty, was born in Saybrook, Conn., in 1730; raised a company of volunteers and joined the Revolutionary army, and served nearly all through the war, and with his son, Danforth Doty, who had enlisted in his company when only seventeen years of age, was at the battle of Saratoga, at Bemis' Heights, at the time of Burgoyne's surrender. He was a farmer by occupation.

His father, Danforth Doty, was born at Stephentown, Rensselaer Co., N.Y., in 1760; was married in 1792, and settled in Russia, Herkimer Co., N.Y., when a wilderness; raised a family of six children, four sons and two daughters, of whom the subject of this notice only survives.

In the year 1800 the father removed to Norway, in the same county, and where for many years he was a successful farmer, but by unfortunately lending his name to assist friends lost his property. He was in the war of 1812, and marched for the defense of Sacket's Harbor. Unassisted pecuniarily, Mr. R. S. Doty went into the busy world at the age of seventeen, to meet its obstacles and carve out a fortune for himself. Impressed with the idea that education was the great lever to turn the scale in his favor, and having at that time had only six months' schooling in the district school, he began by working on a farm in the summer; and, through the assistance of a kind lady, so applied himself to books by studying night as to be able the following winter to teach a school, which he did in Oneida County.

The following spring, 1826, he entered a store at Rome as clerk, and remained there until 1830, when he commenced business on his own account, and his subsequent career has fully illustrated that his time in early life was not idly passed away, or his education and development of business capacity entirely neglected.

For some twenty years Mr. Doty remained in the mercantile business in Rome, a part of the time under the firm-name of Mudge & Doty, and during this time engaged also largely in dealing in real estate, and was active in carrying forward all public improvements for the benefit of the village. He was a stockholder and director in one of the first plank roads built in the State (from Rome to Oswego), and director of the Bank of Rome for several years.

Mr. Doty always interested himself in the cause of education, and was a subscriber to the building fund of the Rome Academy, and connected with it as trustee, treasurer, and president of the board for many years. He assisted in building the Presbyterian Church at Rome, and was several years one of its trustees. He was connected with the Oneida County Agricultural Society as treasurer, and afterwards as its president; and in 1850 was one in the organization of the Exchange Bank (now First National) at Rome, and was the first vice-president and manager for several years, during which time he had full charge in the erection of the gas-works of that place, and was for several years president of its board of directors.

In the year 1855, Mr. Doty went to Rochester, and was cashier of the Manufacturers' Bank of that city, and there he invested quite largely in manufacturing interests, which during the panic of 1857, proved an unfortunate investment. In 1859 he was appointed deputy United States marshal under Marshal Jewett. In the year 1860 he removed to New York, and engaged in the produce commission business, which he carried on to a large extent, amounting to nearly one and a half million dollars a year.

Thus Mr. Doty, as with other self-made men, rapidly rose from penury and want while a young man to become one of the largest operators of the metropolis in middle life; and while successful in his career financially, he did not forget the many who were striving against poverty in the country and the deserving and needy, but was largely interested in benevolent institutions, and contributed for their support. He was for ten years one of the first active managers of the National Temperance Society and Publication House; was a member of the Chamber of Commerce; of the New York Historical Society; president of the Wayside Industrial Home, and warmly attached to the day-school and mission Sabbath-school for poor children.

Ever kind to those needing aid, Mr. Doty, in trying to assist his friends, lost largely, and gave up his business in New York, and took up his residence in the village of Oneida, Madison Co., where he now resides. It is worthy to note, in writing this sketch, that while Mr. Doty was in business in Rome, and president of that village, he had the honor of introducing the world-renowned Kossuth (who was then traveling through the country) to the people assembled to see him as he passed through; and that, while a resident of New York, he served on the grand jury that first investigated the ring frauds of that city, and was for three and a half months one of the jury that found bills against William M. Tweed and others, and at the time advocated very earnestly the question of taking up these frauds and giving them a just but thorough investigation.

For his first wife he married, in 1832, Miss Cynthia Mudge, of Rome, N.Y., by whom he had eight children, five of whom still survive. His wife died in the year 1872. And for his second wife he married Mrs. Eliza, widow of the late Elon Comstock, of Rome, who was formerly editor of the Journal of Commerce of New York City.

Source: "History of Oneida County, New York, 1667-1878, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers." Philadelphia : Everts & Fariss, 1878.

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Created: 12/5/03
Copyright © 2003 Lisa Slaski/ Joanne Murray
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