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C.S. Fly's Photography Gallery: History Alive! - Tombstone Tips, Issue #008
November 05, 2017

Insider Info Newsletter

November 2017


~ ~ C.S. Fly's Photography Gallery - History Alive!

~ ~ October's Events/Insider Update Review

~ ~ The Latest at Tombstone Travel Tips


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Camillus S. Fly was so important in showing us the visual history of the Wild West! He photographed many scenes of Old West events and life in the 1800s. He moved into Tombstone, AZ in 1879. Let's see what he did here.


Today You Can Tour a Remake of Fly's Photography Gallery

Photo Credit: Taken on December 3, 2007
by Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD


#1 - C.S. Fly Started Life in California

~ ~ He was born on May 2, 1849 in Missouri, but soon thereafter his parents migrated West. He grew up in Napa County. His friends & family called him "Buck."

~ ~ He did some farming, and took up photography. He met Mary Goodrich & they fell in love. Her maiden name was McKee, & friends called her Mollie. She'd divorced her first husband. That was a rare act for an Irish woman in those times. She had also taken up photography.

Mollie Was the Wife of C.S. Fly
She Was Also a Photographer

#2 - Marriage & Moving

~ ~ On September 29, 1879 Mollie & Buck were in San Francisco to get married. Soon thereafter they planned to make a new life together in the Arizona Territory. They moved to Tombstone in December 1879.

~ ~ Tombstone started to boom with activity. They set up a photography studio in town. Like most new-comers, they put their business in a tent! Soon they began construction on a more stable business environment.

~ ~ Their building went up at 312 Fremont Street. It housed their studio. There they shot formal portraits. It also doubled as a boarding house. Doc Holliday roomed there at the time of the infamous gunfight.

Apache Warriors


Apache warriors: From Left to Right - Massai; Apache Kid (Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl) - taken when he was a Sergeant for the U.S. Army; & 'Rowdy' - taken in 1880.

#3 - The Gunfight at the O.K Corral

~ ~ It was October 26, 1881. C.S. Fly was inside the Photography Gallery. Just outside his studio, in a vacant lot West of his building a ruckus began. He heard gunfire!

~ ~ After it died down, he ran outside into the lot. A rifle was in his hands. He saw Billy Clanton on the ground weakly reaching for his gun. He ran over & disarmed Billy. Soon thereafter, Billy died.

~ ~ He didn't take any photos of the gunfight aftermath. But he did take the famous photo of the victims in their coffin.


C.S. Fly took this photo of (left to right) Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury & Billy Clanton. This is the only known photo of Billy Clanton that was ever taken.

On a trip to Tombstone AZ - be sure to stop in to the O.K. Corral. You'll see the gunfight site, & learn the details of what happened that day. The re-creation of C.S. Fly's Photography Gallery is also on the same property. Read More>

#4 - C.S. Fly Was There For Geronimo's Talks

~ ~ C.S. Fly had a vision for his photos. He traveled to events & places to capture unique moments. Mollie took care of the home-front. She managed the Fremont Street studio & the lodgings.

~ ~ They also had a child named Kitty. It's not known if she was from Mollie's prior marriage, or if they took her in as an adoptee.

~ ~ In March 1886, C.S. Fly heard of Geronimo's intent to meet with General Crook. He gathered his photography equipment & headed to Cañon de los Embudos with the military. He didn't hesitate to ask Geronimo & his warriors to stand a certain way, or pose their head in a specific position. They complied politely.


Apache leader Geronimo is on the right. His warriors from left to right are: Yanozha (Geronimos´s brother-in-law), Chappo (Geronimo´s son by his 2nd wife) and Fun (Yanozha´s half brother).

Read more about this meeting, and Fly's photo shoot - Click Here!


Photo by C.S. Fly - Captioned: "Discoverer of the Copper Queen Mine" - Pictured is George Warren. It first appeared in a Souvenir of Bisbee published in 1900.

#5 - Some Troubles!

~ ~ Mollie became disillusioned when her loving partner, Buck, began drinking too much. She left him for a time & moved with Kitty to Florence AZ in 1887.

~ ~ Buck was often on the road, & occupied elsewhere. He tried a little mining & had a ranch (Fly's Park) in the Chiricahua Mountains. Mollie came back to Tombstone to run the business there.

~ ~ Mollie & Buck seemed to be "soul-mates." But it appeared they couldn't live with each other - but couldn't stay apart. By reading the local newspaper reports, you can see their separations & reconnections.

C.S. Fly Photo - Bisbee AZ 1885

#6 - Life's Conclusion

~ ~ C.S. Fly's photos were published in well-known periodicals. He was creative & a hard drinker. He served as an electoral delegate & on the local Grand Jury. He was popular enough to be elected Sheriff of Cochise County for 1 term in 1894.

~ ~ His lawman term was complete. Tombstone's economy was suffering. The Fly's looked for better opportunity. They got a place in Bisbee, which had a better outlook. Mollie continued running the Tombstone studio.

~ ~ By the turn of the century his health was deteriorating. He had a bacterial skin infection which brought complications leading to his death. Mollie was at his side when he succumbed in Bisbee on October 12, 1901. He was only 51.

~ ~ He is buried in the Tombstone City Cemetery. Mollie continued the gallery in Tombstone until fire destroyed the building in 1912. All of the C.S. Fly work she salvaged she donated to the Smithsonian.




With all the photography paper, film, chemicals, the wood framing - the structure was big fuel for a fire! Mollie Fly took this dramatic photo. Sadly, so much valuable work was lost.


Article From Daily Tombstone
Monday, December 7, 1885 - Page 3
C.S. Fly Had Mining Interests - but Apparently Poor Returns


From Tombstone Weekly Epitaph
Wednesday, March 24, 1886 - Page 3

~ ~ Even though many of his photos were lost - many remain. We get a great look of the history - a visual look that can't be beat!

We hope we'll see you in town, getting a chance to look over the recreated Fly's Photography Gallery! Let us know what you think...



157 people attended this event at the Tombstone Brewery. It was held during Helldorado on Saturday. It seemed to be a good event - didn't hear of any complaints, especially for a first-time.


We were out of town - but friends told us it was booming, as we did expect. Yet it wasn't quite the Wow! crowds of last year.


**The mine may have a buyer! The owner was in town & opened up for Helldorado. But now the for-sale sign says there is something pending! So our anticipation is now in pending mode also!

**October wasn't the anniversary of the massacre or the trial. But recently the Tombstone Courthouse staged a re-enactment of the 1884 Bisbee Massacre Trial. This trial took place right here in Tombstone. One of the accused was sentenced to life. It didn't sit well with a mob who broke him from his cell & hung him from a telegraph pole. We'll be working on a page on our website detailing it.

**Very soon to come is our new Tombstone Weather page. The weather is super right now! Look for it on our website shortly!

**Also Really Soon, our website will be upgrading to an all-secure site. This complies with the updated requirements of Google. Before they required sites to have secure order & form pages. Now they'll only support websites that have the entire site secure. So we will be doing that in the next few days.


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Karen & Bill McGowan
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