Camillus Sydney Fly – Tombstone Photographer

Camillus Sydney Fly was a photographer and eyewitness to one of the most notorious gunfights in western history. Camillus Sidney Fly was born in Andrew County, Mo., in 1849. Later that same year, Boone and Mary Fly crossed the prairie to Napa County, California with their infant son. On September 29th, 1879 he married Mary “Mollie” Goodrich, a photographer in her own right, and just a few months later, arrived in Tombstone Arizona.

C. S. Fly's Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona
C. S. Fly’s Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona
Historical photo of Ike Clanton in 1881 by photographer Camillus S. Fly, Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
Historical photo of Ike Clanton in 1881 by photographer Camillus S. Fly, Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

Fly arrived to Tombstone Arizona in December 1879 and established, Fly’s Photography Gallery, on Fremont Street. Like many new arrivals, his first shelter was a tent, which the couple lived in while the photography studio and 12 room boarding house are built at 312 Fremont Street. Fly did some prospecting in the nearby Dragoon Mountains, but relied on the Gallery and boardinghouse next to it for income.

While in Tombstone, Mollie would take indoor portraits of the townspeople, while Buck’s photographic subjects tended towards outdoor photographs of mills, soldiers, ranchers and scenic panoramas. Regardless of photographer almost at almost all of their photographs were credited to C.S. Fly.

Destiny arrived for the Fly’s about 3:00 pm on October 26th, 1881. A long running feud between the Earp’s and McLaury/Clantons lead to the most iconic gunfight in western history, the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. For students of history, the gunfight actually occurred near the O. K. Corral in a vacant lot next to Fly’s Gallery. Ike Clanton famously hide in Fly’s gallery during the gunfight and Mr. Camillus Sydney Fly disarmed a dying Billy Clanton with a Henry Rifle in the aftermath of the fight.

We four started through Fourth to Fremont Street. When we turned the comer of Fourth and Fremont we could see them standing near or about the vacant space between Fly’s photograph gallery and the next building west. I first saw Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton and Sheriff Behan standing there. We went down the left-hand side of Fremont Street.

Statement of Wyatt S. Earp
in the Preliminary  Hearing in the Earp-Holliday Case,
Heard before Judge Wells Spicer – November 16, 1881

Geronimo’s Surrender

Geronimo poses with members of his tribe and General George Crook's staff during peace negotiations on March 27, 1886. - Photograph by C.S. Fly
Geronimo poses with members of his tribe and General George Crook’s staff during peace negotiations on March 27, 1886. – Photograph by C.S. Fly

In March, 1886, General George Cook is notified that the Apache Leader Geronimo agreed to meet. The meeting is arranged at Cañon de los Embudos about eighty six miles from Fort Bowie. Fly learned of this meeting and quickly attached himself to the military column. During the negotiations with Geronimo, C. S. Fly took about fifteen exposures on 8 x 10 inch glass plates. After three days of negotiations, Geronimo agreed to terms of surrender and returned to his camp across the Mexican border.

That night, while in his camp, a U. S. solder who supplied the Apache camp with whiskey, bragged that Geronimo and his followers would be attacked and killed as soon as they crossed the U. S. border. Geronimo and his thirty nine follows left camp that night. The U. S. army pursed Geronimo and his band until September 4, 1886 when, exhausted they surrendered.

Later in life…

In 1887 Fly traveled to Mexico to photograph the aftereffects of an earthquake in Bavispe. The same year, he toured the Arizona Territory to exhibit his photographic works of the area. He and his wife moved to Phoenix in 1893, where they opened another studio. The Flys returned to Tombstone after a year in Phoenix, and in 1895 C.S. Fly was elected to a two-year term as a Cochise County Sheriff.

C. S. Fly's Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona on fire 1912, Photograph by Mary "Mollie" Fly
C. S. Fly’s Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona on fire 1912, Photograph by Mary “Mollie” Fly


When his term as a sheriff expired, Fly retired to his ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains, where he spent his remaining days. He died in Bisbee on October 12, 1901, at the age of 51. His remains were interred at the Tombstone Cemetery.

In 1912, his photography studio burns in Tombstone, Arizona. Ever the professional, Mollie documents the destruction of a warehouse of lost western photographic history, with a dramatic photograph.

References

Timothy H. O’Sullivan – Photographer

CDV of Timothy H. O'Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O'Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.
CDV of Timothy H. O’Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O’Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.

Timothy H. O’Sullivan (c. 1840 – January 14, 1882) was a photographer best known for of the Civil War and the western United States. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady’s Fulton Street gallery in New York City. He moved on to the Washington, D.C., branch managed by Alexander Gardner. In 1861. At the age of twenty-one, O’Sullivan joined Brady’s team of Civil War photographers.

Little is known about his early life. He was either born in Ireland or New Work City. As a teenager, Timothy was employed by Matthew Brady where he learn the newly invented craft of photography. When the Civil War broke out, he is commission as a first lieutenant in the Union Army, in 1861.

After the was, in 1867, Timothy H. O’Sullivan is hired by Clarence King to accompany the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel as a photographer. O’Sullivan was with the Survey for the seasons of 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1872.

During these expeditions, he is known to carry two or possibly three camera outfits which include a 9″x12″ and 8″x1O” plates and for stereoscopic views. He developed the plates in the field, as was necessary with the wet plate process, and worked in either a photographic tent or a mule-drawn ambulance wagon. The negatives were usually sent back to the Survey offices in Washington D.C. where they are printed.

In 1871, O’Sullivan join the geological surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Wheeler would caption O’Sullivan’s photographs with practical information useful in the later establishment of roads and rail routes and emphasized the west’s suitability for settlement.

In 1873, on another Wheeler expedition, O’Sullivan photographed the Zuni and Magia pueblos and the Canyon de Chelly and its remnants of a cliff-dwelling culture. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and made prints for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon after being made chief photographer for the United States Treasury in 1880, O’Sullivan died of tuberculosis at age forty-one.

Sand dunes, 1867, Carson Desert Western Nevada RG 77 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1988 Photographic Album of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel – The King Survey, 1867-1872 ARC ID 519530 77KS-3-160

Timothy H. O’Sullivan Portfolio

References

Schwab California

Schwab is a gold mining camp and ghost town located in Echo-Lee Mining District of Death Valley National Park in California. The little townsite of Schwab was a short-lived mining camp run by three ambitious women: Gertrude Fesler, Mrs. F.W. Dunn, and Helen H. Black.

Schwab, California - “In the afternoon the townsite company drinks tea,” Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, Vol 2. No. 1, June 1907
Schwab, California – “In the afternoon the townsite company drinks tea,” Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, Vol 2. No. 1, June 1907

in December of 1906, as the Echo-Lee District is beginning its real boom stage. A new townsite is platted to serve the many mines in the area. The townsite was named Schwab, after the well-known steel and mining magnate, who helo interests in the Echo-Lee District. The townsite was promoted by the Schwab Townsite Company, which was incorporated in Nevada on December 31st, 1906. Thoe project is financed by S. H. Black, J. C. Houtz and J. E. Cram and $30,000 got the town up and running. The town being fully paid in advance by the three principles, made Schwab a closed corporation.

Ads in the Bll Frog Miner and the Rhyolite Herald and attempted to raise interest in the town. The owners claimed to have made arrangements for the town for the completion of a restaurant, a lodging house, a mercantile store, an assay house and a saloon. They also stated that roads were being built and stage service would be establised.

Gertrude Fesler was a young stockbroker out of Chicago who moved to Rhyolite and ended up purchasing a one-third interest in Schwab, located in the Funeral Range. After meeting her business partners, Fesler soon bonded with their wives and it wasn’t long before Mr. F.W. Dunn put his wife in charge and Helen Black purchased her husband’s share in Schwab!

Schwab was a popular town for local gold prospectors in early 1907, but the town did not survive the Financial Panic of 1907. Little remains of the town today besides one fuzzy black and white image from the Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, showing the three women and one unidentified person sitting at a tent, and small historic artifacts such as broken glass.

The town of Schwab is situated just below the Inyo and Skibo camps at the junction of the wagon roads leading up the east arm of Echo canyon and to Death Valley on the south. In other words, Schwab is located in the north or upper branch of Echo Canyon, astride the main Echo-Lee wagon road, across a small ridge from the present Inyo ruins, and about 1-1/2 miles from those ruins. At this location, evidence of the old townsite may be found.

The remains consist of seven leveled tent sites, some with ow and crude stone retaining walls remaining. More tent sites were once present, but have been erased by high water in the adjacent wash during Death Valley’s infrequent but violent flash floods. Two of the tent sites have eroded cellars behind them, about ten feet square and five feet deep. Since an immense pile of broken 1900 to 1910-dated beer bottles is located directly behind one of these tent-cellar sites, it is safe to say that this was the tent saloon, where once twenty-nine men were counted drinking at one time. The townsite covers several hundred feet along the-shallow wash which marks the northern branch of Echo Canyon, and remains are mostly restricted to the west side of that wash On the east side, however, is another tent location, and a shallow, unmarked grave, a lonely monument to one prospector who ended his days during the brief life of Schwab. About 300 yards to the west of the townsite is a crude derrick, the remains of Schwab’s well. The well site is dry and completely filled in, but numerous five gallon cans are scattered along the trail from the well to the townsite.

Rhyolite Herald of 22 February 1907.

Town Summary

NameSchwab, California
LocationDeath Valley National Park, California
Latitude, Longitude36.505, -116.7236
Elevation3,340 feet
Population200
Post Office

Schwab Map

References

Myers Ranch

Myers Ranch is a privately owned ranch located in Goler Wash in the Panamint Mountains of Death Valley National Park, California. The forty acre ranch is privately owned ranch and located about .5 miles from Barker Ranch.

 Myers Ranch, Panamint Mountain
Myers Ranch, Panamint Mountain

A Family Affair

Bill and Barbara Myers settled in Goler Wash in 1932, building themselves a comfortable house complete with such amenities as flush toilets, a swimming pool, an orchard, and of course, a garden. They raised three children there: Charles, Pat and Corky. The Myers family reluctantly moved to Fresno in 1960, so that their children could have a better education.

The ranch is built from wood ties used by the Searles Lake epsom salt monorail, it burned in 1999. The Myers ran a gas and food stop called Wildrose Station, which was demolished by the National Park Service.

Manson Family

Myers Ranch was the original destination for Charles Mason and his “family”. In 1968 he started to look for a desert location to move his “brood”. He choose the desert because “Out there, things aren’t so crazy”. One of his followers is Cathy (Cappy) Gilles is a grand daughter of Bill and Barbara Myers. “Cappy” obtained permission from the family matriarch for her and some girls to come up and stay at the ranch. He later received permission and based his activities at Barker Ranch.

From October 1968 to January 1969, Manson lived / camped in the area. In October 1969, CHP Officer Jim Pursell and a task force raided Goler Wash. Over the course of two days, they arrested seventeen people in the area. Charles Manson was arrested while hiding in a cabinet in the bathroom of Barker Ranch.

Myers Ranch Map

Myers Ranch Summary

NameMyers Ranch
LocationGoler Wash, Panamint Mountains, Death Valley, California
Elevation3700 Feet
Latitude, Longitude35.86162,-117.08227

References

Barker Ranch

Thomason/Barker Ranch is a five-acre property within Death Valley National Park. This historic site is located off of Goler Wash in the southern Panamint Range in the southwestern portion of the park. Barker Ranch is commonly referenced as being the location that mass murderer Charles Manson was arrested after the Tate – La Bianca killings in 1969.

This image, taken circa 1940, shows the main residence, workshop, retaining walls, and ornamental vegetation. Note the windmill located behind the workshop. View north (DEVA collection) - NPS
This image, taken circa 1940, shows the main residence, workshop, retaining walls, and ornamental vegetation. Note the windmill located behind the workshop. View north (DEVA collection) – NPS

Thomason Era (1937 – 1956)

In 1937, Blouch Thomason, a retired Los Angeles County detective, recorded three quartz lode mining claims named
“Tommy Group,” “Tommy Group No. 2,” and “Tommy Group No. 3” and a mill site located. The original structures consisting of three tent shelters is built in 1939.

In 1940, major improvements are made to the land. Thomason built the main ranch house, windmill, workshop, chicken coop, corral, fences, entry road, fences, water conveyance system, and planted ornamental and fruit-bearing vegetation. He also built a single rock building for “shop and storage” at the ranch. Later, a guestroom and garage are added to the shop. The Thomas ranch is inhabited full time by Blouch and Helen Thomason. They ceased mining operations due to poor yield

In 1950, Blouch passes away while visiting relatives in the Trinity Alps. Following his death, Helen moves away from the ranch, but still maintained the property as a vacation retreat.

Barker Era ( 1956 – 1971 )

James and Arlene Barker, from Oklahoma, purchased the Thomason Ranch, in 1955. In 1956, the Barkers recorded the “Chespa Mill Site” with the Inyo County Recorder’s Office. The Barkers built a 5,000 gallon water reservoir ( swimming pool ) and a 14 foot by 20 foot bunkhouse, sometime during 1957.

In 1968, Arlene Barker gave Charles Manson permission to occupy the Ranch in exchange for a Beach Boys Gold Album. After Manson’s arrest, the Barkers continued to maintain the property. In 1971, the Barkers ceased filing mining reports with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the family’s mining activity. The land (and improvements) then reverted to government control. In 1976, the ranch became part of the California Desert Conservation Area.

In 1994, Barker Ranch is incorporated into Death Valley National Park.

Manson Era ( 1968 – 1969 )

Barker Ranch - The building complex was heavily vegetated with trees, with a sparsely planted understory. Note the Manson bus in the left hand side of the image. View northwest, 1969 (DEVA collection). - NPS
Barker Ranch – The building complex was heavily vegetated with trees, with a sparsely planted understory. Note the Manson bus in the left hand side of the image. View northwest, 1969 (DEVA collection). – NPS

The Thomason / Barker Ranch history was stained forever, in October 1968, when Charles Manson obtained permission from Arlene Barker to occupy the ranch. Paul Watkins, a Manson Family Member, stated the Mason agreed to watch over the place in exchange for maintenance and work on the Ranch. Manson and his band of opted to stay and Barker Ranch over the Myers Ranch which is located about .5 miles away. A total of 19 Manson followers performed a phased relocation to the property over time. Manson family members are known to drive to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to bring in supplies.

On October 10 and 12, 1969, CHP officer Jim Pursell and the INYO Sheriffs Department along with California Highway Patrol and NPS Rangers raided Barker Ranch. Actually, they raided the area around Barker Ranch. A raid is executed in search of vandals of earth moving equipment which repaired damage to the playa in Racetrack Valley. Over the coarse to several days, the task forced hunted down Family members who were scattered about the area. The diminutive Manson is arrested when found hiding under the sink in the bathroom at Barker Ranch.

To this day, Barker Ranch is the subject of investigation into the crimes of Charles Manson.

Barker Ranch Map

NPS

Barker Ranch was built by “recreational ranchers” who moved to the desert to enjoy the solitude and simplicity of living far from civilization. Bluch and Helen Thomason moved into the area the the late 1930s to try their hand at gold mining. Around 1940, the constructed a small stone cabin and outbuilding, with electricity. provided by a wind mill and generator, and drinking water from a nearby spring

In 1955, the ranch was sold to Jim and Arlene Barker, who moved to the desert from Oklahoma. To accommodate their family gatherings, the Barkers enlarged the house and constructed more building.

The ranch became infamous when Charles Manson and members of the “Manson Family” were captured at the site. Family members attracted the attention of local law enforcement when they were suspected to burning a piece of road maintenance equipment. Detectives later discovered that the vandalism suspects were responsible for a series of murders in the Los Angeles Area.

Barker Ranch became part of Death Valley National Park in 1994. Tragically, the main house and workshop were destroyed by an accidental fire in May 2009.

National Park Service – Barker Ranch

Sources