The issue of "fatherhood" in Muybridge's case is poignant. He himself was never a biological father although for almost six months he did think he was the father of a child named Floredo Helios Muybridge. This boy's first name comes from his real mother, Flora Stone and Helios, his middle name, was a moniker Muybridge used in the early days of his career in photography.
In 1872 Muyybridge, age 42 met and fell in love with Flora Shallcross Stone, age 21 in San Francisco. Flora had already been married and divorced and after a short courtship Muybridge and Flora were married. Two years later, in April 1874 Flora gave birth to a son, Floredo. Muybridge naturally assumed the child was his son. However, the young Flora had been having an affair with a man-about-town named Harry Larkyns. Floredo was Larkyns' son. Muybridge discovered the deception in October 1874. On October 17, during a social event, Muybridge took out a pistol and to the horror of the assembled guests, shot and killed his wife's lover.
Muybridge was jailed for the crime and his murder trial took place in February 1875. Muybridge's lawyer, Wirt Pendegast, created a defense that claimed his client's rage was the result of a serious head injury he suffered 14 years earlier. The injury was sustained in 1860 during an accident that occurred while Muybridge was riding in a stagecoach en route to New York from San Francisco. The head injury created by this misapplication of locomotion would create the necessary conditions that permitted Muybridge to suspend moral principles and murder his wife's lover. This argument proved convincing. The jury acquitted Muybridge. Even though he got away with murder, Muybridge was disgraced in San Francisco and he soon left on a trip to Panama and Central America.
Flora for her part died a few months after the trial in July. Floredo was adopted and placed in a Catholic school. When Muybridge returned from Central America he removed Floredo from the Catholic school and placed him in a Protestant orphanage. Eventually Floredo moved to Sacramento and found work as an apprentice harness maker. Indications are that Muybridge treated the boy as his own. However, Floredo apparently did not develop well intellectually and this disappointed Muybridge considerably. An apparent relationship existed between the two at least until 1894 when Muybridge left America to spend the rest of his life back in his native England. Just before leaving he gave Floredo a photograph of himself and a gold watch. The two never saw one another again. Muybridge died in England on May 8, 1904. There was no provision for Floredo in his will.
Floredo spent the rest of his life in California working as a handyman and a gardener. On February 1, 1944 at the age of 70, Floredo died when a truck accidentally hit him. That Floredo should meet his end by such a misapplication of locomotion does not seem inappropriate.
A sage once said, "That which moves, moves neither in the place in which it is, nor in that in which it is not." (Zeno of Elea, c. 450 B.C.) How, then, can that which does not move be captured at all, much less by a photograph or a tale of misapplied locomotions?
- Muybridge @ the Kingston Museum
- Eadweard Muybridge- Father of the Motion Picture
- Muybridge @ Masters of Photography
- Muybridge @ Leggat's History of Photography
- Muybridge - Telling Stories
- Digital Muybridge
- Robert Bartlett Haas, Muybridge:Man in Motion. University of California: 1976The COSMIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION would like to express its thanks to Tim Everson, a Local History Officer in Kingston, U.K., for providing a reference to useful information about Muybridge and his family.