Camillus Sidney Fly -
Photographer and Lawman
Camillus "Buck” Sidney Fly (1849–1901)
- More commonly known simply as "C.S. Fly," Camillus is most noted for the many photographs he took during
wild and wooly days. However, what many do not know is that he was was
also a lawman.
The Fly's lived in
the time of Camillus' birth. His parents, Captain Boon and Mary Percival Fly planned to move to
but Mary was pregnant with her seventh child. Not wanting to deliver
her baby on the trail, they
waited for him to be born. On May 2, 1849, Camillus Sidney Fly was
born and a few weeks later, on May 24th, the family began their trek
where Fly grew up in Napa County.
He married Mary "Mollie” E. Goodrich on September 29, 1879 in
Francisco. Mary, who was also a photographer, and
Camillus soon moved to
Territory, where they settled in
in December, 1879. Camillus, who preferred to be called "Buck,” and
his wife immediately set up a photographic studio in a tent before
going to work on more permanent quarters.
In July, 1880, they opened up a 12-room
boarding house and a studio called the "Fly Gallery” in the back of the
building located at 312 Fremont Street in
Fly's Photography Gallery has been rebuilt
Kathy Weiser, April, 2007.
On October 26, 1881, Fly
was in a unique position, as the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
actually took place just off Fremont Street between his studio and
Jersey’s Livery Stable. During the shootout, Cochise County Sheriff
John Behan cowered inside the studio,
watching the gunplay, only to be joined by
who fled in terror proclaiming he was unarmed. When the smoke cleared, it
was Fly, armed with a Henry rifle, who disarmed a dying
Billy Clanton. For some strange reason Fly did not photograph the
aftermath of the shootout, but legend has it that he was
threatened by one of the Earp's if he did.
Somewhere along the line,
Camillus and Mary adopted a little girl they called Kitty, and Mary continued to
run the boarding house and studio as Camillus traveled around the area taking
photographs. While her husband was out, she acted as one of the few female
photographers of the times, taking pictures of anyone who could pay the studio
price of 35 cents.
In March, 1886,
General George Crook to the Canyon de Los Embudos for the
Geronimo. He became most
famous for the photographs of the negotiations,
and the other wild Apaches he took on March 25 and 26th.
However, at the same time, Fly had become a
heavy drinker and the year after these famous photographs were taken, his wife
Mary, took their child and separated from her husband. He then left
on December 17, 1887 to tour
with his photographs and briefly established a studio in Phoenix in 1893.
However, the following year, he returned to the area. In the meantime, Mary
continued to run the studio in
during his absence.
Though his drinking was becoming more and more
heavy, he was elected as the Cochise County Sheriff in 1895 and served for two
years. Afterwards, he ranched in the Chiricahua Mountains, until his death at
Bisbee on October 12, 1901. Though Camillus and his wife had been separated for
years, she was at his bedside when he died and made arrangements to have his
body returned to
where it was buried at the Tombstone
Town Cemetery, complete with a stone marker.
Mary continued to run the
gallery on her own, and in 1905 she published a collection of her
husband's Indian campaign photographs entitled "Scenes in
Camp: The Apache Outlaw and Murderer." In 1912, Mary finally retired,
Los Angeles, and donated her husband’s negatives to the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C. She died in 1925.
During his lifetime, the
Fly Studio created one of the best pictorial records of the early
area that exists.
of America, updated May, 2012.
Camillus "C.S. Fly" Photos
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