Thomas Doty – Storyteller

1849: Captain Edward Doty in Death Valley


Nicknamed "Kingbird of the Jayhawkers," Captain Edward Doty (1820-1892) led a group of Jayhawkers across California's Death Valley in 1849. Afterwards, he migrated north to the gold mines along the Feather River, eventually returning south and settling on a 500 acre farm in Doty Canyon near Naples, California.

While in the gold country, Edward's son Thomas left the family and married a Shasta-Takelma woman. They lived in the native village of Coyote's Paw along the Klamath River. Following the abandonment of the village in the 1870s, Thomas Doty's children settled in southern Oregon.

Genealogy records show that Edward and his wife Mary had four sons, none of them named Thomas. However, there is a reference to Thomas tucked away in our family archives -- a Doty with a different mother who went to live with the Indians -- and stories of him were told to me by Shasta elder C. George who first took me to Coyote's Paw in the 1980s. There's more to this story yet to be discovered.

The image shows the crossing of Death Valley in 1849.