FLY, FRANK MERRIMAN

W. Lamar Fly

FLY, FRANK MERRIMAN (1866–1962). Frank M. Fly, Gonzales County sheriff and banker, son of Callie (Bell) and George Washington Lafayette Fly, was born at Big Hill in Gonzales County, Texas, on June 12, 1866. After a brief schooling and a short employment with the Peck and Fly store in Gonzales, he became a deputy under Sheriff Richard M. Glover and later under Capt. W. E. Jones. On June 14, 1901, Sheriff Glover was killed by the notorious Gregorio Cortez, and on June 17 Fly was appointed sheriff.

After a search described as "one of the greatest manhunts ever pulled off in South Texas," Cortez was apprehended near Laredo and returned to the county jail at Gonzales, where he was indicted for murder, tried and found guilty, and sentenced to fifty years in the state penitentiary. After receiving a tip that a lynch mob was forming to take Cortez, Fly locked himself in the jail with the Mexican. At midnight the mob first attempted to pick the lock and then began ramming the door with a telephone pole. Fly saved Cortez's life by confronting the crowd with drawn pistol through a barred window and convincing them that he would defend the prisoner to death; he took Cortez to the railroad station the next day and conducted him safely to San Antonio. Fly was also a personal acquaintance of the notorious John Wesley Hardin during Hardin's attempt to establish a law practice in Gonzales after his release from the penitentiary.

Fly joined the staff of the Gonzales State Bank in 1909 and served as its president during the Great Depression. From 1946 to 1962 he was justice of the peace. He was a member of the Selective Service Board, the Red Cross, the County Fair Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Good Roads Commission, the Gonzales School Board, and other bodies. He described himself as "a Methodist, a Mason, and a Democrat." He married Stella Miller of Waelder in 1908, and they had five children. He died on July 13, 1962, at the age of ninety-six, and was buried in the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gonzales Inquirer, September 28, 1961. Houston Post, July 17, 1962. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Handbook of Texas Online, W. Lamar Fly, "FLY, FRANK MERRIMAN," accessed December 05, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffl36.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on October 3, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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