Mr. Doty was born near Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1802, and was of Scotch-Irish descent, his ancestors having settled in that region prior to the close of the American Revolution. His father, Abraham Doty, experienced many of the terrors of Indian invasion during the border wars from 1780 to 1795, Fort Henry at Wheeling, being a point for attack by the Shawnees and Wyandots.
In 1815 Abraham Doty removed with his family to what is now Milton Township, Ashland County, then in Richland County, and settled about four miles from Uniontown, now Ashland, on an unimproved farm in the woods. There were at that time but few settlers in Milton and Mifflin townships, and the pioneers had to endure many hardships. Here James and other members of the family grew up amid the wilds of the new country
The war of 1812 had ended propitiously, and emigrants began to flow into this region, and the woodman's axe could be heard in every direction, leveling the forests in the preparation of log cabins, and in preparing fields for culture.
The institutions of the older settlements were rapidly planted in these wilds. The log school-house and hewed log church were found wherever new settlements appeared The minister followed the adventurers, and for a time, organized congregations, that met and worshipped in the cabins of the pioneers. About 1817, Abraham Doty assisted in the erection of "Old Hopewell," one and a half miles west of Ashland, and was soon elected and ordained an elder of the church. James, and other members of the Doty family, attended this church for several years, though residing nearly four miles from it, in the south part of Milton Township.
Abraham Doty gave his influence in the erection of school-houses, for the spread of education, and intelligence among the rising generation, and instructed his own children that intelligence, morality and integrity gave all men influence among their companions and neighbors; and society prospered in proportion to its support of these maxims and ideas.
In 1834, James Doty, having grown to manhood amid the wild forest scenes around him, and having obtained a fair knowledge of the English branches, concluded to engage in preparing a future home for himself. He married Miss Sarah Croninger, daughter of Leonard Croninger, of Mifflin Township, and settled on an unimproved farm near the present home of Joseph Charles. He improved his homestead, and soon was elected to a number of minor township offices by his neighbors. He also was elected justice of the peace three successive terms. He often related an amusing circumstance that occurred when justice. At one time a young man and lady called at his cabin desiring him to perform the marriage ceremony. He did so, after which the young man stated that he had no money, but would see that the 'squire should be paid for his services. The 'squire said it was all right. Several months after this occurrence the 'squire was greatly surprised to see the aforesaid party appear at his office with a fine puppy, declaring that he could not rest contented while he owed so sacred a debt as that held by the 'squire, and begged him to accept the puppy in lieu of the money, and thereby remove the debt. As the 'squire was a generous man, and good dogs were useful in expelling wild animals, he accepted the puppy, and his friend departed in the best of spirits.
In 1846, Ashland County was erected principally out of the territory belonging to Richland County. The first officers were nominated from all parties, by common consent, and elected and served for six months, or until their successors were elected and qualified. Mr. Doty was elected sheriff in the spring, and re-elected at the October election for two years. He was, therefore, the first sheriff of Ashland County. His deputies were Matthew Clugston and Isaac Stull. Mr. Gates became his successor. Mr. Doty made an accommodating and pleasant sheriff. He declined a nomination for his second term and retired to his farm, where he remained until 1856, when he disposed of his home, and removed to Plymouth township, Richland county, since which time he has lived the agreeable life of a farmer. The personal appearance of Mr. Doty is well remembered by many. In disposition he was genial and kind. His weight was near two hundred and fifty pounds in his prime. In business, he was regarded as above reproach, and was much respected by all. In religious opinion he was a Presbyterian in sentiment and practice. He was one of the useful and solid pioneers, and will long be remembered by his old neighbors. He was the father of ten children, seven sons and three daughters, eight of whom (five sons and three daughters) survive him. The pioneers of Ashland County sincerely condole with his numerous relatives, in the loss of so valuable a friend and relative. He died near Plymouth, Richland County, Ohio, January 4, 1879, aged seventy-seven years.