The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Swat that Fly!
Changing attitudes about the "little birds" that share our homes.

From Poulson's Daily Advertiser.
    What are flies made for--is a question which has puzzled me ever since I was two feet high. To other insects; to reptiles, animacula, and the whole tribe of inferior beings which infest us, there seems to be some sort of final use attached. Deformity is in most cases compensated by an advantage. Those which are even terrible to view have something noble in the very terror which pleases us. The roaring menace of a furious lion is grand. There is a charm in the proudly uplifted crest of a serpent. The dragon and the griffin, the lizard and the sea serpent, strike us with wonder; but the senseless, wretched, harmless fly is a creature sui generis in this respect. It cannot hurt--you do not fear it; its deformity is not shocking--you despise it--and yet the eternal haunting of this half-dead, languid creature bobbing in your mouth, whizzing past your ear, flying through your candle, is intolerable.
    I love a mosquito, delightful creature! Its chirp is worth a bite; there is something like music in its modest notes; there is a gamut; and what is the red drop it sucks from you in comparison with the previous melody? The itching to be sure--
    But never mind that.
    The mosquito can sting you--there is power, and you may dignify his conduct with the name of persecution. The mosquito is brave--it gives you warning of its presence before it bites--you may defend yourself; but the mean, puny wretch of a fly that is ever busy in doing nothing, without the ability to injure, or the sense to keep quiet, who pretends to bore your flesh with his proboscis and can do nothing, is a disgrace to the family of creatures, and excites loathing and disgust.
    You have scarce any compassion for a fly, he is such a perfect fool. He will rush into the hot tallow, or through the burning wick like a salamander, but there he is kicking and twitching in helpless agony, dragging his slow and greasy length over your coat or hand.
    There was a certain Roman emperor who took delight in bodkinning these tormentors. No doubt he had good reason for it. There is, in fact, no other way of getting rid of them, but exterminating them by death. But I hate to hurt them--but this I do confess, that I do not feel half the sorrow when in my fervor I see the silly things drop dead, that I do at seeing the blood of a mutilated mosquito or a crushed cockroach. I have in my younger days considered with delight the deluded multitude crowding to destruction on a fly trap--they sip and sip until their gluttony is punished by a watery grave concealed beneath the well-sweetened bread. I like yet to see them tantalized with the fly brush--driven from a dainty bowl of milk--or whipped up from a sugar dish. And then again to see the pampered wretches full length in your cream pot, scampering over your favorite dish, or drowned by quantities in a luscious goblet of delightful untasted drink--it's enough to rouse the temper and vengeance of a patient Job himself.
    The mosquito is noble--he only asks a few hours, at the most, for his banquet, and he does banquet and is off. But be you up or down, walking or sitting, or standing, or sleeping, or walking, or cat-napping, at home or abroad, the fly will wheeze, and wheeze ad infinitum.
    I was awake all last night (thermometer at least 100) by a fly and a mosquito. I let my singing friend have the reward of his carol in a hearty draught from one of my choicest veins--I itched--I scratched--but did not complain, and in an hour or two it was over. But for the rest of the night there was a fly, weak and impotent as sleep, bobbing lazily in my face--I turned--he whizzed past my ear--I twisted--but there he was trampling on my hair. I shook my head--he leaped on that exquisitely tender inch under my nose. I blowed him--but oh! it's a long chapter--I blowed and knocked and shook myself into a fever--'twas all the same, and then I got up and dressed, and put my bandanna over my head and dozed in my easy chair.
    Buzz--there he goes down my throat while I was gaping--the very identical fellow--I knew him by his humdrum. I've caught him and put him out of the window--me hercule, he's back again! I'll go and hang myself.
(Bennington) Vermont Gazette, September 2, 1823, page 1

    Every thing, we are told, was created for some valuable purpose, and therefore flies may be supposed to form an important link in that "vast chain of being which" unites and diversifies all parts of the visible universe; although their particular utility has never yet been discovered, unless indeed it should be said that whatever severely afflicts and tries the patience of the human family may be so considered, as tending to establish their characters and wean them from undue love of life; for it is an undisputed fact that the whole catalogue of snakes, toads, lizards and mosquitoes are nothing to be compared to the eternal buzz of these little tormentors. It is always the same monotonous, spiritless hum from morning to night, unless as frequently happens they chance to get bemired in your food or drowned in your drink, when you have some little satisfaction in the reflection that they have added considerable to the quantity and nutriment of that aliment by which your powers are invigorated and even life itself is preserved.
"Flies," Farmer's Cabinet, Amherst, New Hampshire, June 12, 1830, page 2

    At this season of the year most dwellings are infested with swarms of house flies that annoy the body, defile the ceiling and thrust their impolite bills into almost every article of food or drink upon the table. We suppose they were not made in vain, and are useful in their place--if that place can be found and they be forced to keep in it. Perhaps they take up and exhaust the imperceptible impurities that the hot weather generates about the premises.
"House Flies," Maine Cultivator and Hallowell (Maine) Gazette, August 22, 1840, page 5

    They fill every nook and corner of the house--are upon everything--dive into every dish, eating what they can and defiling the rest. They have no regard to personal rights--eyes, nose and mouth are open doors to them; inviting them to bite, tease and tickle; and right ready are they in their acceptance of everything offered or unoffered. Nothing is more disgusting than a table blackened with their voracious carcasses.
"House Flies," Charleston (South Carolina) Courier, August 13, 1845, page 2

    Tempus fugit--or, as the Latin scholar translated it, "A time for flies." Those little pests of social comfort are now upon us in swarms. They come up, like the frogs of Egypt, into our houses, and into our bed-chambers, and into our ovens, and into our kneading troughs. The very air is full of them, and they multiply with astonishing rapidity. In the morning, they disturb our slumbers by crawling up our nostrils or whizzing and buzzing or fussing in our ears. At meal time they must taste every dish that we do, but their prelibations would be forgiven if their bodies were not left, too frequently, as a token of their greediness. . . .
    Flies act an important part in our social condition. They consume in and around the house the extra moisture which might otherwise contaminate the air. They seldom touch pure water. The fluids they feed upon are of animal or vegetable origin, which, by mingling with the water, vitiate [i.e., spoil] the air in a dwelling. In the larva or maggot state, they are the great scavengers of nature, and soon consume that which would otherwise poison the air and create sickness. A small number of flies and other insects is an indubitable sign of a sickly season.
"A Word for the Flies," St. Paul (Minnesota) Daily Pioneer, August 8, 1855, page 2

    TO DESTROY FLIES.--To one pint of milk add a quarter of a pound of raw sugar and two ounces of ground pepper; simmer them together eight or ten minutes, and place it about in shallow dishes. The flies attack it greedily, and are soon suffocated. By this method, kitchens, etc., may be kept clear of flies all summer, without the danger attending poison. It is easily tried.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 29, 1861, page 4

    The Amsterdam Recorder says flies are "tame, harmless little birds." That is the most generous stretch of poetry we remember to have seen.
The Evening Star & Times, Schenectady, New YorkAugust 26, 1864, page 2

Dutcher's Lightning Fly-Killer.
--THAT PEST OF SUMMER, huge black swarms of flies, can be got rid of cheaply and easily by the use of the above popular article, which has an enormous sale in the East, and is now for sale by dealers everywhere.
    Wholesale Agents, San Francisco.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 15, 1868, page 4

    One of the conveniences we had [in the 1870s in Sams Valley] that you will never know was a fly trap. Easily made and very effective. Two 12" boards 4 ft. long hanging from the kitchen ceiling about 1 inch apart, the inner sides smeared with sorghum syrup. In passing one would slap the boards together. You would be surprised now how many you would kill. To make it more effective one of us children would stand by the table while the threshing crew, usually 12 or 14 men, were eating with a stick four or [five] feet long, over which had been folded old newspaper, then slit into strips 6 or 8 inches long. As we would wave that over the table it would keep the flies off of the food and drive them to the trap.
Lindsey Sisemore, "Account of Life in Sams Valley," 1940, Southern Oregon Historical Society 1999.100.1, M45C, Box 7

    ROUGH ON THE FLIES.--At last the pestiferous house flies are to meet the fate they so richly deserve. Titusville, Pa. has invented a reliable sort of fly-paper. This fly-paper is covered with nitroglycerin, glue and molasses. The flies, attracted by the molasses, alight, and are stuck fast by the glue. Should any get away, they proceed to rub their legs together in ecstasy, when friction of their own shins causes the nitroglycerin adhering to their feet and limbs to explode, blowing them to atoms.

Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 2, 1871, page 1

    Since the fire, Chicago can boast of many good, bad and indifferent restaurants. Wherever there is met a saloon, or a clothing store, or a gambling room, or a jewelry shop, or a theatre, there is located a restaurant or a lunch room. No sooner was a table set in one of these places than the flies were on it. When hungry mortals undertook to dine, there ensued a fight for the spring chicken, or the broiled salmon or the raspberry rolls. If the man was lucky enough to get it he enjoyed not only the meal but the consolation of knowing he had finished scores of the troublesome pests.
"Too Many Flies," Commercial Advertiser, New York, New York, July 25, 1872, page 1

    The house fly is not generally regarded as a tall insect, but is a "six-footer" nevertheless.
"Local Brevities," Oregonian, Portland, February 21, 1874, page 3

    Amidst the different methods of conveying a contagion the feet of the flies and their probosces must not be underestimated, especially at this season, when flies are beginning to be numerous. The sublime indifference to consequences exhibited by flies in passing from the surface of the most odious substances to that of material for human consumption is complete. But if the flies themselves are uninjured by contact with putrefying matter, the next article of food they rest upon may be influenced by the previous contact, and may be thus either induced to undergo putrefactive changes more readily, or may even become a carrier of material of an eminently septic character. Not only that, but flies pass quickly from surfaces on one organism to another, and it is highly probable that the communication of septic poisons by their agency is not by any means rare. That flies are scavengers most persons who have studied the matter will admit; but, even if thus useful, they may, nevertheless, in virtue of that very function be sources of danger.--[London Sanitary Record.
Boston Daily Advertiser,
September 3, 1875, page 4

    [Mr. McClane.] When we came here [to Oregon in 1843] we did not know what a fly was; that is to say, there was not a fly of any kind in the country--neither a house fly or any outdoor fly. There were not any for several years.
    Mr. Mack. It was several years before I ever noticed any.
    Mr. McClane. There were plenty of fleas. We had nothing but the wood rat. Crossing from Oregon City to the Indian village we were completely covered with fleas.
John Burch McClane, "The First Wagon Train to Oregon," 1878, pages 14-15, MS PA-46, Bancroft Library.  Mr. Mack is not otherwise identified.

    The indefatigable house fly has put in an unwelcome appearance.
"Brief Notes," Oregonian, Portland, April 10, 1878, page 3

    The housefly crawls out of his crevice in the wall, and with wings stiff and feeble begins to practice flying at a mark. In another week he will be himself again, and able to hit a man's nose ninety-seven times out of every hundred.
"Brief Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 21, 1878, page 3

The Total Depravity of Flies.
    The funny man of the N.Y. Times, with evident personal malice, thus describes the vicious characteristics of the fly:
    Not only is the fly an intolerable bore, through his persistent presence where he is not wanted, and his offensive familiarity, but his habits are every way bad. As a "deadbeat" he has no rival in animated nature. He keeps all manner of late hours, and utterly disregards the laws of health and decency. He loafs about bar rooms, and partakes of free lunch without the least sense of shame or degradation. He eats and drinks of everything that can be eaten or drunken, and always at the expense of somebody else, and without the slightest show of gratitude.
    Filth is as attractive to him as elegance and luxury, and he has a most repulsive habit of exploring every accessible mass of pollution and straightway betaking himself to the unprotected cheek of beauty, or the delicious cates of fastidious epicure.
    He delights in tormenting man, from whose labors he derives his chief sustenance, and will take any mean advantage to give him annoyance. If his victim has the misfortune of having to part his hair with a towel, he will rally his forces and make the sensitive expense of the bald cranium a regular parade ground. He will pounce upon a man while he is helpless in a barber's chair, with his arms swathed beneath half a dozen yards of calico, and the perilous edge of a razor at his throat, and will harrow him almost to distraction. He will catch his victim in the act of taking, or trying to take, a nap, whether in the morning, as a fringe to the disturbed slumbers of the night, or after dinner, as a restoration from the cares of the day, and with maddening ingenuity will keep him from the desired boon, and bring him to a state where he is ready to accept the counsel of Job's wicked wife.
    And what are the consequences of the life of iniquity pursued by this depraved insect? Is retribution adequate to his offenses prepared for him either in this world or the world to come? On the theological branch of this injury we shall not presume to offer an opinion, but we are sure that he never comes by his full deserts here. He is idle, dissolute, gluttonous, pestiferous and tormenting, and yet he seems to pass his life gaily, free from care or trouble, and defiant of all laws, human and divine. He even defies the law of gravitation, and travels with equal ease in any direction, or on any surface not smeared with some treacherous stickiness. Apparently he enjoys complete immunity from the retribution which his conduct deserves, except when he is entrapped through his insatiable appetite into sloughs of poison or intricate traps from which he never escapes alive. We believe it is a fact that he never dies a natural death. No one ever knew a fly to be stricken down by disease, or to linger out a painful existence under medical treatment. Fevers and headaches are to him unknown, and he breathes contagion with perfect impunity. He sometimes falls a victim to his invincible curiosity or insatiable appetite, and is scalded in tea, drowned in milk, or smothered in molasses, and occasionally he is crushed or slaughtered as a penalty for his temerity, but he never dies of sickness or old age. Barring accident or violence, the fly is particularly immortal, a perennial nuisance, a standing example of total depravity, without, so far as we know, the eternal punishment which is its proper corollary.
Corvallis Gazette, September 27, 1878, page 1

    The fly season is once more near at hand, and bald headed men are beginning to regret that they did not die young.

"Brief Reference,"
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 4, 1879, page 3

A Chapter on Flies.
    You can sometimes catch a baseball on a fly. The Latin name for a certain kind of fly is Tempus fugit. The fly is an author. See "flies on horses." You can always, at this season of the year, find flies on toast at the restaurants. Flies are always on hand early in the morning. You have all seen a kite fly. Longfellow speaks of a fly as a bird, when he says, "fly, proud bird of freedom." Some people employ the blind to keep flies from the room. You can draw a fly with a drop of molasses better than with a crayon. The spider is the only creature which invites the fly to its parlor. Flies are like rivers. They are often damned. Stage flies are painted. A fly is conservative in his reading; he always sticks to his own paper. There are musical flies. People often speak of that base fly.
Eugene City Guard, September 27, 1879, page 1

    It is a noticeable fact that notwithstanding the hot weather, flies are very scarce. At this time last year the house fly was very troublesome. The birds also are not as plenty as formerly. It is suggested that these winged messengers have gone to higher altitudes to escape the dust and heat of the valley.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 21, 1880, page 3

    Flies may be effectually disposed of without the use of poison. Take half a teaspoonful of black pepper in powder, one teaspoonful of brown sugar and one teaspoonful of cream. Mix them well together, and place them in a room on a plate where flies are troublesome and they will soon disappear.

Ashland Tidings, September 9, 1881, page 4

    THE ANNOYING HOUSE FLY.--In addition to the other annoyances connected with the presence of the common house fly, Dr. Thomas Taylor, of Washington, D.C., has made some investigations, from which it would appear that that insect is possessed of the capacity for transmitting disease by carrying the germs from place to place. This fact has long been suspected, but we know of no careful experiments having before been made to establish the facts in this case.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 28, 1883, page 1

    This reminds me that on this same trip to Yamhill an interesting fact was stated by Joseph Watt, Medorem Crawford and Charley Bruch (all neighbors in Yamhill) that in early times there were no flies in Oregon, or on the plains. Meat could be hung up in the dry atmosphere of the middle kingdom, as we may well call the inland basin of sage plains, with no blow-fly to disturb the curing process. People lived a long time this side of the Rocky Mountains in blissful ignorance of even the common house fly. Our friends remember that in time they used to exclaim: "See! There's a fly." Alas, that the time ever came to see them!
Samuel A. Clarke, "Pioneer Days," Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1885, page 2

An Article that Will Appeal to the Heart of Every Housekeeper.
What One Family Found to Be Most Effective in the Way of
Destroying the Innumerable Little Pests.

(Written for the Sunday Oregonian.)
    It became apparent by the time the last month of our nominal American spring was half gone that the year of which I write was to be cursed by a full "fly season." One week of unseasonably warm weather brought the buzzing horde out in force from the mysterious corners into which the dear old clean-out-of-fashion-and-out-of-mind "cobweb to catch flies" used to tell us the harmless little fly "crept to sleep all winter." In our home we burn the contents of our dust pans, and as winter shows signs of abdicating in favor of beauteous spring, we redouble our zeal in sweeping rooms and suspicious examination of carpet edges. Rugs are shaken harder and oftener, closets inspected, and their contents sifted rigorously. The dogma that with the fluff collected by the broom go into the fire the eggs of house flies, the larvae of moths, etc., is held in cheerful sincerity of belief. Not that we--or any of our acquaintances--ever saw a house fly egg (genus Musca). But, reasoning from analogy, we assume that this is the Muscan method of reproduction illimitable, of maddening multiplication.
    In this fateful year Tyndall's fascinating treatise on "Dust and Disease" had been read in our home circle, and, as a consequence, a mild craze on the subject of bacteria and infusoria possessed most of us. Spontaneous generation was demonstrated by our author to be an exploded myth. Upon housewifely fidelity depended the health and comfort of the family. Where no dust was, disease germs were nil. When our round of exploration was ended we hugged ourselves in the conviction that not a loophole remained unguarded.
    The hot spell of May awoke us rudely from our dream of security. If frogs had hopped into our kneading troughs, or hailstones, and fire that ran along the ground swept our thoroughfares, we could hardly have been more confounded than by ocular proof that Musca ova by the tens of thousands had lain untouched by broom or duster in more than ever mysterious "corners," and had awakened at the call of the south wind along with the violets, tulips and spring bonnets. Disdainful of larval and polliwog precedent, each of the myriads, for all we could see to the contrary, was hatched full grown, with more than the regulation number of legs and a "staying power" of voracity that would have done credit to a condor. They descended and ascended upon us, terrible as an army with banners and bagpipes. The hum above our tables, their titillating touch upon noses and lips in what we could not call sleeping rooms after daylight--were tease and torment; the foray of legions in the kitchen was disgust and desperation.
    Flies and dirt--seen or unseen--are too closely joined together in the housekeeper's mind to be put asunder while reason endures. The domestic brigade sprang to arms. Fly doors were hung in all the portals that opened into the outer world; wire screens fitted into every window; rooms that have always been clean were subjected to such scouring and brushing and burnishing as raised them above hypercritical suspicion; cool dusks reigned throughout the house while the sun was above the horizon. Each morning the brigade, armed with palm leaf fans and damp towels, charged upon the winged battalions, beat out all that could be expelled from the fort, then massacred the stragglers. Each day, forgetful of the past disappointment, we panted that at last victory had perched upon our dusters. In half an hour into library, sewing room, most of all kitchen and dining room, stole the shrill droning of a hundred tiny bagpipes, the slogan of a reconstructed host. We had met the enemy and were, as usual, theirs.
    The balloon-shaped fly trap made of wire netting set above a saucer containing a seductive mixture of treacle and pepper slow its thousands. We gave them the benefit of no probability of actual decrease, but cremated the mass, animated and inanimate, "in one red burial blent" in the kitchen grate. Drowned flies, buried flies, flies that have been stunned and crushed come to life. The tenacity with which they hold to a vampire-like existence is as miraculous as their incubation in "corners" nobody ever finds. They are never fairly dead except in the shape of cold ashes.
    The Pittsfield clockwork fly trap revolved by day and night and slew its ten thousands, until it seemed as if the number consumed must make an appreciable difference in the quantity of fuel used per diem.
    And still the buzz and tickling and swarming went on. We inhaled no air save such as was strained through reticulated wire, but the mustering of the Musca myriad was as if the filtered element had taken visible and auricular life. The plague was phenomenal. Where did they come from? What did their appearance and sojourn portend? We were ashamed with a humiliation every properly trained housewife will comprehend. But for the danger to surrounding buildings it is possible that we might have lent obedient heed to the proposition of the chief of our clan and burned down the house to get rid of the flies.
    To us, in extremity, drifted a newspaper scrap which was neither official nor judicial. Somebody picked it up somewhere. A drowning man would have caught at it, as did we, had it bobbed at him from the crest of a wave. It was not quite explicit in the directions it conveyed, but we got at the meaning of the extract and put it into practice as follows: We had Persian insect powder in the house, also the implement, in shape like a big hunting watch, with a small pipe let into one side, with which we had projected the yellow dust into corners where might lurk the eggs or pupae of moths. This we charged to the nozzle. That night kitchen and dining room were cleared of such small articles as would have to be washed if the powder fell on them; windows and doors were made fast, and an operator, standing in the middle of the floor, worked the spring top of the round case that expelled the powder, throwing it upward at an angle of forty-five degrees, toward every corner and side of the apartment. We used a boxful in each room, then half as much on each succeeding occasion. The rooms were not entered again until morning.
    Cook declared that she swept up "a full pint of the little bastes [beasts]." The waitress did not measure her trophies, but reported that floor and furniture were strewn with bodies. It was a miniature edition of the destruction of Sennacherib by an unseen agent. To make sure that our foes were, like his army, all dead corpses, we consigned them without delay to the crematory.
    This was done on Saturday night, and ineffable peace reigned over our Sunday breakfast.
    "It is too good to be true!" said one. "I am reverently thankful. I have felt for weeks as if the shadow of Moses' rod rested on our house."
    Another--"The marvel is that Pharaoh hardened his heart again. I have less respect for his common sense than ever before."
    Still another--"One text runs in my mind continually: 'They did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart.'"
    Toward evening the vanquished leaders sent in scouts, few in number and wary, to reconnoiter the battlefield. A repetition of the experience of the preceding evening left not one to carry the tale.
    If I have told it lightly it is not because the infliction was not grievous and the deliverance welcome beyond expression. Since then we have held our own successfully in the height of "fly time." In every hot weather the powder is used every night for a week or two at a time; in ordinary circumstances, and by observing common precaution in the matter of screen doors and darkened rooms, twice or three times a week, suffices to keep the premises clear. While the remedy leaves no trace of its recent presence to sight or smell after the floor is swept and the furniture dusted, we have not thought it prudent to use it in bed chambers. But we have learned that kitchen and dining room are the enemy's headquarters, and that heroic measures here cut off supplies from the upper part of the house.
    I shall esteem myself happy if this humble sketch may be the means of extending the knowledge of a device so simple, yet efficacious, in abating one of the most common nuisances of daily life in summer weather.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, May 30, 1886, page 1  The writer was living in Brooklyn.

The Deadly House-Fly.
    Few realize what an enemy to man is the common house-fly. It is bad enough to have them crawl over our berries; it is tantalizing [sic] to have them speckle our glassware; it's maddening to have them investigate our bald heads, but there are deeds of which the fly is guilty that put all these in the shade. Flies eat sewage and putrid matter that is reeking with disease germs until they are filled with them, and then bite us and so inoculate us with disease, or leave the contagion in our food. We hear a great deal about the little things that make up life. Let someone tell us about the little things that cause death.--Philadelphia Times.
Capital Journal, Salem, August 15, 1888, page 2

    Boston Herald: Flies are now recognized as common carriers of contagion. It has been found that the bacillus of consumption may exist in the intestines of flies fed upon the sputa of patients suffering from this disease. What is known as granular ophthalmia can be conveyed by these insects. The writer has had experience in a case of malignant pustule which formed on the spot bitten by a horsefly. It has been said that the late Father Damien attributed his leprosy to the inoculation, through the agency of flies, of a small wound on the scalp. A large number of "proof positive" instances have been distributed by these little insects. To escape them entirely one must go out to sea, but on land they are the least troublesome where there is the least filth. Cleanliness in home and premises, therefore, is an important means of prevention against these intruders.
Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, June 16, 1890, page B9

Sudden Death to Flies.
From Louisville Journal.
    "Come inside a minute," said a Fourth Avenue dealer in pianos, yesterday afternoon. "I have discovered the greatest fly trap on earth, and I want to show it to you." He led the way to an instrument at the rear of the store on which was a newspaper. On the paper had been placed a bunch of sweet peas. At least a thousand dead flies were lying on the paper in the immediate vicinity of the bunch of flowers. "I threw these here by chance," he continued, "and in about ten minutes I happened to notice that every fly that lighted on the flowers died in a very short time." Even as he spoke a number of the insects which had stopped to suck the deadly sweet had toppled over dead. They alighted with their usual buzz, stopped momentarily, quivered in their legs, flapped their wings weakly several times, and then gave up the ghost.

Medford Mail, September 8, 1893, page 1

    Flies, as is well known, are the scavengers of nature, whose office is to neutralize filth by extracting the poisonous elements and thereby in a great measure prevent harmful exhalations which otherwise would probably produce sickness, disease and death.
    Ever since the nature and office of the flies in the economy of nature have been known, their presence in great numbers has been regarded as favorable to health, and their scarcity as presaging sickness if not an epidemic.
"Where Have the House Flies Gone--the Industrious Little Scavenger Has Suddenly Deserted St. Louis," St. Louis Republic, September 4, 1897, page 5

    The report of a commission of scientific men appointed to investigate the condition of military camps and the cause of typhoid fever in them stating that the soldiers had become inoculated through the agency of flies, which deposited the germs of typhoid upon the hardtack and bacon of the soldiers, is causing much discussion in scientific and medical circles.
    The commission reported that it had found the camps infested with millions of flies, and had also discovered that the fly, feeding on the fecal matter from the hospital, picked up germs on its hairy little feet and transferred them to the food in camp. Because of these facts they blame the fly for the whole trouble. A few days after the return of the Fifth Regiment, Major John G. Jay, surgeon of the regiment, in an interview published in The Sun, stated that, in his opinion, the fly was the main cause of typhoid fever in the camp of the Fifth Maryland. The report of the commission bears this out.
    Prof. Phillip R. Uhler, provost of the Peabody Institute, who is an authority on insects, said last night, in speaking of the matter: "The flies might easily be held responsible for the sickness, and could be the cause of it. . . . The fly is of benefit in one way, that is in digesting filth, but it is a question whether it does not distribute as much as it digests. Coming direct from the foulest places, with its lips and proboscis filled with filth, it flies into houses and over the food on tables. In this way they are capable of great harm, and it is a well-known fact that the bacteria of typhoid are developed in filth."
"Germs Carried by Flies," Baltimore Sun, September 23, 1898, page 10

1923 Screen Catalog Logo
    It is said that the following advice, if heeded, will relieve your home of troublesome flies, as the season for that pest is now approaching. Try it: Expose a little oil of bay in a saucer on your windowsill, or coat your doors and windows with any color of paint you like containing as little as four percent of oil of bay, which is far from expensive, and can be had anywhere, and not a single fly will enter your house.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 17, 1901, page 7

    Pamphlets concerning the housefly are now being distributed by the Department of Agriculture, probably because the housefly constitutes one of the country's principal products.

Medford Mail, October 10, 1902, page 2

    After recording an exhaustive scientific report of a committee on sanitation of the New York Merchants' Association, in which the pernicious activity, as a filth carrier, of the common house fly is set forth, one is lost in wonder that, in days before wire screens were employed as a defense against flies, the farmhouses and country hotels were not depopulated every year by a pestilence of typhoid and other enteric diseases. The house fly, as is well known, formerly held right of way between the stables, pig sties and other outbuildings of the farms and villages, and the kitchens and dining rooms of the people, with only the fly brush wielded over the dinner table at mealtime and the improvised fly trap of sweetened water in a glass on the kitchen table as checks to its pernicious activity. While epidemics of typhoid in the rural districts were rare, it is recalled that the enteric disorder known as "summer complaint," supposed to be due to hot weather, was generally prevalent among the children of fly-fighting, fly-conquered farmers and villagers in those days. This disease was, in fact, an expected visitant in families where there were children, just as ague was expected among the settlers along the margins of undrained prairie lands in the Middle West during the earlier years of the last century.
    The cause of these annual visitations was not known, but the effect was a foregone conclusion, and this was fought valiantly by the supposedly wise old doctor, who went his rounds carrying his saddlebags well stocked with calomel and jalap, squills and paregoric and all the rest of the potions known to and compounded by the old-fashioned pharmacist.
    But somehow a portion of the sturdy stock of the old pioneer days survived the invasion of the swamps, the annual incursions of the house fly and the dosings of doctors, though in the light of modern discovery in the realm of cause, we are left to wonder that any were left to tell the tale of a miraculous delivery from death.
    We read in the report of the committee above noted that fly traps were placed on the piers and elsewhere in Manhattan and Brooklyn, which, between July 13 and August 31 gathered in 110,925 files. Dr. Jackson, the bacteriologist of the committee, examined a large percentage of these flies and found them covered with dangerous bacteria, principally with those causing intestinal diseases. His investigations warrant him in expressing the opinion that flies are responsible for the infection that results annually in 5000 deaths from typhoid fever and other intestinal diseases in the great city. As against this estimate, malaria caused 52 deaths in 1905, a comparison that makes the mosquito an almost negligible quantity as a carrier of disease. Concluding his report, after an exhaustive presentment of the means by which he was enabled to reach the conclusions presented, Dr. Jackson says:
    "We are spending considerable time and money in a war on mosquitoes. The cases of malaria reported in Greater New York in 1905 were but 359, and the deaths only 52. Much more to be feared is the common house fly. This so-called harmless insect is one of the chief sources of infection which in New York causes annually about 650 deaths from typhoid fever and about 7000 deaths yearly from intestinal diseases. We are in the habit of considering the fall rise in typhoid deaths as inevitable. The fall rise, if set back two months from the report of deaths to the time of the contraction of the disease, will exactly correspond to the prevalence of flies and to the rise in deaths from intestinal diseases of both children and adults. It also corresponds to the rise in temperature. We are therefore erroneously inclined to view the disease as due to hot weather. While climatic conditions, by reducing the vitality, favor the contraction of the disease, they are not the real cause of it. Temperature does not produce the specific germ which invariably accompanies the disease. The activity of the house fly is in proportion to the temperature; and the time at which it is most active and most numerous corresponds exactly with the time of the contraction of typhoid fever and other intestinal diseases.
Oregonian, Portland, December 29, 1907, page 8

"Typhoid Fly."
    Or as it is commonly called, "House Fly," is considered by most people a harmless creature, but it has shown as a result of scientific research to be, in reality, a most dangerous insect. It not only carried typhoid bacteria, but spreads the bacteria of all the intestinal diseases. Tanglefoot and B.F.D. Poison Fly Paper are sure death to these insects. Get them at Bolton's Pharmacy.
Ashland Tidings, June 21, 1909, page 5

    A physician who was in attendance one June at a medical convention was asked why the meeting had not been called in cooler weather. The reply was: "This is our slack season. It is this way, you see: In cold weather people shut themselves up in close, poorly ventilated houses and get pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, and all sorts of diseases which affect the lungs and throat. That keeps us busy in winter and spring. In the latter part of the summer come the flies. They carry from one person to another all kinds of diseases which affect the intestines (dysentery, typhoid fever), and then we are busy again. But just now when people are living in the fresh air and there are no flies we are free to go to conventions."
    The inference from this remark is that we could almost put doctors out of business--the business of curing diseases at least--if we could get rid of bad air and flies.
    The health department of Chicago is trying to do both of these good things. Last winter it told the housekeepers of the city in its weekly bulletins that no house is clean that is poorly ventilated. This summer it has issued a large poster, headed "Speaking of Flies," which shows more clearly than any words could show the way in which disease and filth are carried by means of these insects. From the reading matter a few sentences are taken:
    Don't allow flies in your house.
    Don't permit them near your food, especially milk.
    Don't buy foodstuffs where flies are tolerated.
    Don't eat where flies have access to the food.
    Flies are the most dangerous insects known to man. Flies are the filthiest of all vermin. They are born in filth, live in filth and carry filth along with them. Flies are known to be the carriers of death-dealing disease germs. They leave some of these germs wherever they alight.
What to Do to Get Rid of the Flies
    Screen your windows and doors. Do it early before fly time and keep the screens up until snow falls. Screen the baby's bed and keep flies away from the baby's bottle, the baby's food and the baby's "comforter." Keep flies away from the sick, especially those ill with typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria and tuberculosis. Screen the patient's bed. Kill every fly that enters the sick-room. Immediately disinfect and dispose of all the discharges.
    Use liquid poisons, sticky fly papers and traps.
    Place either of these fly poisons in shallow dishes throughout the house:
    (a) Two teaspoonfuls of formaldehyde to a pint of water.
    (b) One dram of bichromate of potash dissolved in two ounces of water sweetened with plenty of sugar.
    To quickly clear rooms of flies, burn pyrethrum powder or blow powdered Black Flag into the air of the room with a powder blower. This causes the flies to fall to the floor in a stunned condition. They must be gathered up and destroyed.
Eliminate Breeding Places of Flies
    Sprinkle chloride of lime or kerosene over contents of privy vaults or garbage boxes. Keep garbage receptacles tightly covered and clean them every day.
    Sprinkle chloride of lime over manure piles and other refuse. Keep manure screened if possible. It should be removed at least once a week.
    Pour kerosene into the drains.
    Clean cuspidors every day. Keep a 5 percent solution of carbolic acid in them. Don't allow dirt to accumulate in corners, under stoves, etc. Allow no decaying matter of any sort to accumulate on or near your premises.
Remember: No Dirt--No Flies.
Ashland Tidings, April 7, 1910, page 8

Will Conduct Educational Campaign Throughout State
Regarding Common Pest Which Does So Much To Spread Disease--
Splendid Session Is Held Here.
    At the session of the state board of health Wednesday afternoon many matters of moment were discussed.
    All the members of the board were present excepting Dr. Kinney of Astoria, who was unavoidably absent from the meeting.
    It was resolved to inaugurate an educational campaign against the house fly, regarded by the physicians as the most constant and pernicious disseminator of contagious and infectious diseases known. It is proposed to conduct the campaign along the line of instruction in the way of eliminating the pest.
    "Garbage and manure piles are the principal breeding places of flies," said Dr. E. B. Pickel, "but you would be surprised to see what can be done even with these sources, if properly handled and outside of these, the breeding places may be practically eliminated."
    The board is also going to use its authority to require the improved sanitation of school buildings and will insist upon a more rigid inspection of all schools as regards sanitary observances.
    Slaughterhouses will come in for their share also, and the butcher who sells carrion-fed meat is likely to find himself up against it. Instances were related at the meeting where dead horses and other animals were found in the feeding pen of hogs, and carcasses hung up to cool within a few feet of the festering carrion, with nothing to prevent flies from traveling back and forth. This violation of the law will be rigidly dealt with hereafter.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 30, 1910, page 1

    Household sanitation is becoming an actual watchword in all well-regulated homes. "Keep the fly out of your house" is an injunction no housewife can ignore and preserve her credit; "Place all food beyond the reach of the fly's contaminating feet," governs the arrangements of pitchers and coolers; education along these lines is pretty generally established among housewives and cooks--but it is not pleasure of knowing them personally not permitted to feed upon the materials which make for contamination and infection, the danger both for enlightened and unenlightened will be minimized, and in the case of the utmost precautions, practically done away with. [That "sentence" is here transcribed as printed.]
    The Review of Reviews for July publishes an article on this subject which is as suggestive as it is startling, and with the article are illustrations which point the truth and force it home. From the open garbage can in the yard--nauseating, but too true--the fly makes his familiar excursion--through door and window inadvertently opened or forgotten--to your table and your food. He cannot always be successfully excluded. Or, he comes from the dead fish, lying some squares away, and lighting momentarily on the baby's bottle, leaves a train of anxieties and even of disaster for the whole family; and so on.
    The housewife in her fight against this creature, the fly, which scientists declare to be responsible for more disease and death than any other known agency, needs help; the help of the men, the citizens, who are awake to their responsibility toward their neighbors.
    Medford housewives are everywhere complaining of the premises and barns, belonging to our well-to-do and supposedly responsible citizens, that are receiving no attention; that are drawing millions of the pests and then sending them merrily on their way to carry annoyance and despair into a neighbor's carefully kept kitchen. Carelessness in this matter on the part of the enlightened is vastly more reprehensible than that of the unenlightened, and the women of the city have a right to protest, and to keep on protesting until every negligent citizen is awakened to his crying duty toward his neighbor as well as himself and to all recognized ideals of cleanliness and healthful conditions.                                               M. H. P.  [Mable H. Parsons?]
Medford Saturday Review, July 16, 1910, page 1

    It is not only a menace to public health but a misdemeanor in the face of the law, "to suffer to accumulate" vegetables, decayed or decaying substances, garbage or filth of any kind, to the extent of becoming a public nuisance. It is a misdemeanor to neglect barns and stables that draw flies and spread sickness in the owners' and neighbors' houses. It is a misdemeanor to carry, convey or haul through or upon the public streets or alleys of the city fresh meats of any kind, offered for sale or intended to be sold or offered for sale within the limits of the city of Medford, unless the same shall be covered so as to be protected from flies, dust or unwholesome matter--. (This offense is occurring every day. The meat of which you are to be the probable consumer is handled through our dusty alleys, willy nilly, without protection. Are you as a citizen prepared longer to overlook such things?)
    It is a misdemeanor to expose for sale any fruit, vegetables, dried meat, butter, honey, bread, cakes, cookies, confectionery, or anything intended for human food within the limits of the city of Medford, unless it be securely protected from the contamination by flies. This applies to all fruits or vegetables except those known to be universally cooked prior to consumption.
"Clean Up!" The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 1

    The fly season is now at hand, and screen doors and windows are making their appearance in all parts of the city. Last season the merchants were a trifle late in putting up the fly protectors, and as a consequence the stores were full of flies all summer that found lodgement inside early in the season. The bluebottle fly and its relation, the Jersey mosquito, are no friends of the people, and a little work now will save one many an unpleasant hour later on. Medford is not bothered to any great extent, but a little precaution will not come amiss at this time.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1911, page 5

Help Wanted to Destroy the Typhoid Fly
    The house fly, or to be more descriptive the typhoid fly, the tuberculosis fly, the disease fly, is again in evidence with the coming of the warm days of spring. The number is now limited, but a month's warm weather will bring this dangerous pest in countless millions.
    The fly has two missions in its life, one is as a scavenger to destroy filth, and the other is as a disease disseminator to destroy human beings. It is now a proven fact that flies distribute more infectious diseases among people than is done by any other means.
    Manure piles are favorite places in which flies lay their eggs, but any decaying, putrid matter that has heat enough to hatch the eggs and food for the maggots is a successful breeding haunt for the pest. So prolific is the fly that one pair could produce in one season more than a hundred million flies if no deaths took place.
    The fly in seeking its food has no preference as to place. It will visit the room wherein is a typhoid or tuberculosis patient and there feed off the sputum and get covered with deadly germs, and then it will wing across the street and enter a house and alight on the baby's face or hands or on the nurse bottle and leave a disease that may kill the little one. And it will as readily feed off a rotten, filthy carcass and then go direct to the farmer's kitchen and alight on the meat or butter or fall into the milk and leave dangerous germs by the countless number. After feeding on the filth in the street the fly has no hesitancy in alighting on the meat in the butcher shop or on the fruit and vegetables in the grocery store or on the pastry in a bakery.
    All that saves humanity from certain destruction by the fly pest is that nature has provided a measure of protection to mankind by developing in persons a toxin that checks or eradicates the bacteria distributed by the flies. While the strong can resist the attacks of these disease germs, the weak cannot and die by the thousands each year from diseases that could be prevented by the extermination of the flies.
    No food for persons whether in stores or kitchens should be exposed to flies. The afternoon naps of babies should not be made into the sleep of death by diseases left by flies. Hospitals and other places where there are sick persons should be thoroughly screened to keep out the flies.
    The fly menace could be readily controlled if vigorous measures were carried out for keeping flies out of dwellings, hospitals, schools, stores, etc., and for killing the pests and from preventing their breeding. To kill flies tanglefoot and traps are quite successful and are best for use in the house, but for outdoors and in the stable poison makes a wholesale destruction at little cost and trouble. This is best done with formalin which has been diluted with water in the proportion of two teaspoons full of formalin to half a pint of water. Put the solution in a bottle or jar and invert it in a dish or saucer. Raise one edge of the bottle so that the liquid can flow out, which it will do only as it gets low in the dish. During dry, hot weather when water is not readily accessible to flies they will come to the dish by thousands to allay their thirst, and one drink is their death. Meat, bread, sugar or other attraction will further popularize the dish to the flies and cause more of them to be killed. This poison will last for a long time, for the bottle keeps the strength of the solution and doles it out as the dish is emptied, so when set it needs no further care until the solution is exhausted and a million flies are dead.
Rogue River Fruit Grower, June 1911

The New Version.
Here's a fly
Let us swat him, you and I,
Take a brick,
Or a stick,
Bounce it on his forehead, quick!
Ad Brown, "Jolts and Jingles," Medford Mail Tribune, June 13, 1911, page 4

    If this fly-swatting fad continues, many a fly will have to take to the raisin bread for safety.
Ad Brown, "Jolts and Jingles," Medford Mail Tribune, June 27, 1911, page 4

City Council Passes an Ordinance Defining Districts in Which
One May Be Operated--Came at Request of University Club.
    An ordinance, backed by the Rogue River Valley University Club, which was hurried into action by the report that a livery stable was to be opened by R. H. Bradshaw next door to their quarters in the Mail Tribune building, was passed by the city council Friday evening, which defines a district in which a livery stable can be opened and maintained. No livery stable can be placed within 100 feet of any church, school, club or hotel.
    Clarence Reames, for the University Club, appeared before the council and spoke for the ordinance, which was passed unanimously. Mr. Reames called attention to the fact that a livery stable bred a great many flies and that it was unsanitary, and for this reason should be restricted to certain districts. The new ordinance will not affect any livery stable now in operation.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 9, 1911, page B4

Medford Physician Tells of the Work of the National and State Medical Meetings
    "Educate the people in the ways of healthful and clean living and two-thirds of the fight against disease will be won." This is the statement given out by the American Medical Association, which was in session in Los Angeles, Cal. June 26-30. "Through the press, by means of addresses by prominent medical men and with special medical literature, laymen should be told how to keep well and how to get well when once sick."
    "The most important feature of the association's work was this matter of education," said Dr. E. B. Pickel, who has returned from the national and state medical conventions. "Tuberculosis in cattle is killing thousands of people by contagion through milk, and the fly pest is very real, despite the attempt to belittle the danger." Education and resulting cleanliness will result in the extermination of these evils and many others tending to produce disease.
Excerpt, Medford Sun, July 16, 1911, page 14

Medford Mail Tribune, July 25, 1911

    Market Master E. J. Runyard has issued orders to Bob Crowder at the public market to screen in stalls 11 and 12 before offering any more meat for sale at the market. Crowder will comply with these orders at once and will be in readiness to offer meat for sale Saturday.
    Mr. Runyard states that he issued the order simply from a sanitary standpoint now that warm weather is at hand. Flies will be kept at bay by this means and the meat kept more sanitary.
    A light offering was in evidence at the market today, the farmers wishing to wait for Saturday before coming in. Saturday promises to be a big day.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 11, 1912, page 4

    During the past year I have read a great deal about flies. I suppose a large percent of the readers of The Citizen feel that they know lots about flies that they never «new before. The fly stories were certainly interesting, and of course we thought there was nothing left to tell about flies, but here is something the editor left out. Billy T. Jackson and Ben Lanver, two Modoc Indians, summoned before the U.S. Indian subagent at Yainax, Oregon, for the purpose, told the following story about the Indian "fly feast."
    About forty years ago on Pit River, Modoc County, California, the koo-chah-bie fly was found in great quantities. The fly was called at that time by the Pit River Indians "hah-lip-wah," but after the flies were cooked and ready for food the mass was called "koo-chah-bie." The Klamaths at this place still call the fly "hah-lip-wah." In certain localities these flies were so thick on trees, logs, etc., that the Indians would take something like a shingle and rake them off, and fill great baskets in a few minutes. The areas where these flies were found were small--about one-fourth of a mile radius, and outside of these areas scarcely a fly could be found. The Indians never knew why the flies gathered in these particular localities.
Method of Preparing the Food
    A hole was dug in the earth about two feet square and two feet deep. Then two layers of stone were placed in the bottom, the layers being about three inches thick. A wood fire was then built on the stones and more stones were placed around and over the fire. When the fire burned out and the stones were hot, all the stones were removed except the bottom layer. Then tules or coarse grass was spread out on the layer of stones left in the bottom of the pit. The walls of the pit were also lined with the tules. The oven-like enclosure was then filled with the flies, which the Indians had worked into a jelly-like mass with their hands. Tules or coarse grass was then placed over this and more hot stones placed on the tules. Next, water was poured on the rocks of the walls and top of this enclosure which converted it into steam. As soon as the water was poured on, dirt was hurriedly placed over all to the depth of several inches. The mass of flies was allowed to cook in this way until the heat was pretty well expended. The dirt was taken off and "koo-chah-bie" allowed to cool. When  "koo-chah-bie" is in a cold state it can be sliced like cheese. Koo-chah-bie was then carried away by the Indians to their camp for winter food. This food is not used by the Indians at present and has not been for several years.
    John D. Creech,
        Principal of U.S. Indian School at Yainax, Oregon.
The Citizen, Berea, Kentucky, August 10, 1911, page 5

Mutt and Jeff, July 19, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune
July 19, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune. Open the image in an other window to make it legible.

    To the editor: I have been asked to give an expression regarding sanitary conditions within your city, and if you will kindly allow me space in your valuable paper, I will appreciate the courtesy.
    In looking around, such conditions as must come under my observation lead me to think that in this regard Medford is about upon a par with many other cities throughout the state, except in a few particulars. However, upon our arrival here, one very objectionable condition was impressed upon us very strikingly, and that is the presence of the swarms of flies. I feel that I can safely say that in no other city in Oregon have I seen so many of these disease spreaders as are to be found here.
    Grocery stores, markets, eating rooms and other places are alive with them, and in a window of a vacant store room, upon a central street, there are thousands of them, living, dying and dead, and it all goes to prove that your people have not solved the fly question, the solution of which is both practical and possible.
    First of all, the fly must have a home, especially in his younger days, and those who have gone down into his habitat have found it to be the manure pile, the garbage can, and such places where animal or vegetable refuse is allowed to collect and decay.
    The only real effective work in exterminating him is done through looking after these breeding places. Remove garbage every day; remove manure once a week, or more often. Sprinkle all these places with a solution of creosote preparation, or mix common land plaster with the manure. Feed him formaldehyde diluted with water and sweetened with sugar.
    Let all join in the roundup, and you will soon get results. Let each one look to his own premises, and when yours are thoroughly cleaned and free from the pest, then help your neighbor. It has been proven that the fly does not travel far--from one to three hundred yards, but he never overlooks anything with[in] that radius whether it be the baby's bottle, some choice dish which you are preparing for luncheon, or the decaying body of some animal that may have fallen from the wayside or any portion of filth that is offensive to human beings.
    Misdirected efforts of protection from his visits are worse than no attempt at all. I have observed mosquito netting over fruit that seemed to be there for the purpose of detaining him, and in one of your grocery stores we observed a large showcase containing flies, and bread with a large number of flies of reach loaf of bread.
    In your local creamery they are too plentiful, and more are being incubated in a manure pile in the rear. In the alleys leading from the streets surrounding your high school, manure piles are numerous, boxes of household garbage and other piles of refuse, so is it any wonder that you have a fly plague.
    These conditions need not and should not be tolerated, unless your people are satisfied with them, which I feel they are not, but you have not become sufficiently dissatisfied to bring about a remedy.
    The good health of the residents of this city is something that you cannot afford to neglect, and along with municipal growth comes a multiplication of the avenues of disease, unless you give special consideration to the subject of sanitation.
    This not only applies to the fly question but also to the disposal of the refuse of this city, the production, the manufacture and the handling of your food products. In the case of the latter, the office of the Oregon Dairy and Food Commissioner is earnestly endeavoring to assist you by preventing adulterated and unclean foods from being placed upon the market, and in requiring sanitary regulations to be observed in the manufacture and handling of food products.
    Our force of inspectors is limited to five in number, with which we are expected to cover the state, and our inspections include all restaurants or eating houses, bakeries, groceries, markets, creameries and cheese factories, candy factories, slaughter houses, canneries and packing plants, or all places where food products are made, kept, stored or sold, likewise about 19,000 dairies, so in such a wide field we must necessarily spread the work rather thin. However, it is gratifying to me to say to you that we have been able to bring about some good results in this city, not all that we might wish to see or hope for the future, but a decided improvement, and in the future you may expect that we will publish and report to you exactly such conditions as we find. We will do our work as a servant of this community, and if anyone's business is benefited by our report, he will have himself to congratulate and thank for it, but if on the other hand our reports are not complimentary, neither the fault nor the consequence will rest with us.
    Collectively, it may all be summed up in this: If the people of Medford so desire, they can boast of having one of the cleanest, most sanitary , most healthful and delightful home cities in Oregon where your bread, butter, milk, meat and groceries will come to you from clean places and clean hands, and you can give them to your children and partake thereof yourself knowing such to be true.
    Do you wish to have these conditions brought about? I can do only a small part in this work, but I will do it.
    Will the people and the city of Medford help?
            Yours respectfully,
                        J. D. MICELE
                        Oregon Dairy and Food Commissioner.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 15, 1913, page 5

Now Is the Time to Swat the Fly
    Time was when we treated the fly as an evil that must be endured, but later investigations into his habits, etc. have proven him too dangerous a pest to tolerate. Along with the study of his operations as a disease breeder and germ conveyor, we have been enabled to look into the homes of his younger days, the favorite of which we find to be the manure pile. Although born amidst such lowly surroundings he soon seeks better quarters, and is no respecter of places or persons. We may find him feeding in all kinds of filth, or perhaps upon the daintiest morsel upon the table. After having partaken of his meal his delight is to find an open vessel containing milk and there perform the operation of washing his feet and face. His over-venturesome nature sometimes leads him one step too far and the intended wash becomes a bath, disease germs contained in particles of filth adhering to his feet are transmitted to the milk and then taken into the human system, and we wonder why children become sick in warm weather. In this case an ounce of prevention is worth more than pounds of cure.
    Swat the fly by doing away with places where they breed, and whenever possible do away with places where they feed. Screen all places where food is kept or prepared, screen the privy--allow no decomposed animal or vegetable matter to lie around.
    Two flies less in June means thousands less in August.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 13, 1913, page 4

    Professor Wilson comes from the entomological bureau and will launch a death-dealing campaign on flies. Mrs. E. E. McKibben of Grants Pass is lately from Muskogee, Okla., where she waged a successful "swat the fly" campaign last year. This work is being undertaken by the civic section in order to get the upper hand, as it were, and remove the breeding places of the flies before the warm weather begins--also to enlist the school children in the warfare while the schools are still in session and before the flies have had time to multiply.
"Women's Club Notes,"
Medford Mail Tribune, January 10, 1914, page 3

Medford Civic Club Plans War on Pest's Breeding Place.
    OREGON AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE, Corvallis, Jan. 14.--(Special.)--A statewide campaign for the eradication of the fly will be initiated by Professor H. T. Wilson, of the Agricultural College, the coming week. The campaign will open at Medford Saturday, at a meeting to be held under the auspices of the Civic Club of Medford. Professor Wilson has been invited by that organization to plan a campaign for the eradication of this pest from Medford and vicinity.
    The keynote of the campaign will be the destruction of the breeding places for flies. This will include a campaign of education.
    It is also suggested by Professor Wilson that the children of the various cities be used in this campaign. He suggests that prizes be offered for the cleanest blocks, districts and yards. His plan is to use the children to aid in cleaning up and destroying the breeding places of files rather than offer prizes for destroying the largest number of flies alter they have been hatched. He believes that this will have a better effect, both in the campaign against the fly and in teaching the children the proper point of view.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 15, 1914, page 4

Commercial Club, City and Schools Asked To Cooperate in Work
    A swat-the-fly mass meeting will be held at the public library today when speeches will be made by Dr. Wilson. Dr. Hodge and Mrs. McKibben of Grants Pass, who conducted a successful anti-fly campaign in Oklahoma. A definite campaign will be financed and launched and probably the school children will assist in a swatting fest through the spring and summer.
    Previous to the meeting a luncheon will be held at the Hotel Medford. The following representative citizens have been invited to attend the fly-swatting meeting and assist in the work:
    Mayor Purdin; Mr. Gates, president Commercial Club; Ben Sheldon, vice president Commercial Club; Professor O'Gara, county pathologist; superintendent Collins, superintendent of schools; Dr. Thayer, city health officer; Dr. Hill, food inspector; Professor Wilson, entomologist; Prof. Hodge, entomologist; Mrs. Gore, president Greater Medford Club; Mrs. McKibben, chairman food section; Mrs. Bird, chairman civics section.
Medford Sun, January 16, 1914, page 4

    A campaign for the extermination of the fly was inaugurated for Medford at the library yesterday afternoon, when three practical and interesting addresses were listened to by a good-sized audience of interested housewives. Dr. Hodge, who is known the country over as an expert in this kind of work, was the first speaker and dwelt first upon the importance of fly extermination, noting the fact that in the Spanish-American War over 7000 soldiers died of typhoid due largely to fly infection, while only 1000 men were killed in battle. Summer complaint among children is largely caused by flies, about 56,000 deaths yearly. Millions are invested in fly screens but are almost useless, keeps the flies indoors, screened pits are almost perfect incubators, stable cellars also dangerous.
    Plans for extermination require a friendly cooperation, authority required, so some ordinances may be necessary.
    The biological plan requires outdoor extermination, a thorough vacuum cleaning. Cleveland, Ohio was pointed out as a city which had carried out an effective campaign under the charge of a woman, Dr. Dawson. More effective apparatus is needed here in Oregon. Dr. Hodge explained in detail the window fly trap, a very effective apparatus which he made and suggested that the manual training classes might make at very little expense. The butterfly net to be used in the home is superior to the ordinary "swatter." He believed if this campaign is prosecuted vigorously Medford will see its last fly in June.
    Prof. Wilson of the agricultural college also dwelt strongly upon harmonious cooperation if good results are to be obtained. Destroy the fly before he reaches the house, as he may be carrying typhoid germs. Destroy the breeding place of the fly, dispose of all refuse and treat with something to destroy larvae. Disinfectants are not usually effective; place fly traps where flies appear. The general plan involves an educational campaign and the enacting of city ordinances. All garbage should be removed at least once a week. The education is brought about by posters, placards, lectures and moving pictures. Interest the women's clubs, the newspapers, school children, Boy Scouts; place books bearing upon the subject in the library; bring the subject before the Commercial Club and the city council; encourage the dealers to handle the best traps; offer prizes to children and let them distribute posters. Prof. Wilson urged that patronage be withdrawn from all dealers in foodstuffs and dairies who were uncleanly and unsanitary.
    Mrs. McKibben of Grants Pass, recently of Muskogee, Okla., a prominent club woman and connected with the food inspection department in that state, told of the campaign to make Muskogee flyless, which was practically accomplished largely through her personal efforts. She also advised the boycotting of dealers who did not maintain sanitary conditions in their places of business.
    In early spring cards were distributed to the school children and prizes given to the child in each school who had killed the most at the end of the season, count made each week, credit entry made on each card. Interest was maintained by much matter appearing in the newspapers relative to the destruction of the fly.
    As a result Muskogee was made nearly flyless, though it had lapsed somewhat now, due to the subsidence of enthusiasm.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 17, 1914, page 6

Medford Has Little Illness.
    MEDFORD, Or., Jan. 24.--(Special.)--According to the annual report of City Health Officer Thayer, there were only three cases of typhoid, seven of scarlet fever and 14 of measles in Medford in 1913. The number of deaths was 56 and there were 76 births. Dr. Thayer's only recommendation is a city garbage removal system operated by the city and an aggressive anti-fly campaign.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 25, 1914, page 51

Co-operation Needed.
Feb. 6, 1914.
To the Editor:
    I see so much talk about swatting the fly. This seems to me to be one of the greatest benefits the people of Medford can receive from the swatting committees. But I think it will be necessary for the city council to take a hand. The fly is very prolific, as everyone knows. Good breeding places is their delight. The manure plies give them the ideal place. You can’t make very much headway against the fly unless you attack their stronghold, that is, the breeding places.
    If the city council will pass an ordinance compelling every person that keeps a horse or cow to prepare a fly-tight receptacle to hold the manure until such time as they can haul it off, or use chemicals of some kind that will stop the flies from using it for a breeding place. This may work a hardship on some people to prepare for this kind of warfare, but it will stop nine-tenths of the fly supply, the other one-tenth might be handled with the swatter and trap. It is worth trying.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1914, page 8

Oregon Communities Can Get from State University Directions for Anti-Fly Wars.
    UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, Eugene, March 10.--(Special.)--Now is the time to begin killing off the earliest spring flies, each pair of which, if left alone, will be responsible for millions of descendants before the end of August. It is easier to kill one pair now than to try to trap or poison or "swat" several hundred thousand descendant pairs during the summer.
    "Any community in Oregon may become flyless if it will consistently follow directions," says Dr. Clifton F. Hodge, professor of social biology at the state university, who stands ready to send instructions to any organization that is willing to undertake an anti-fly campaign in any neighborhood.
    Eugene, Medford, Creswell, Portland and Pendleton are Oregon cities that have promised spring fly campaigns. Astoria, Albany, Salem and several other cities have campaigns under consideration.  That success is possible is demonstrated by the highly successful campaigns in Cleveland, Worcester, Washington, Baltimore and other big cities in the United States, where entire neighborhoods have been enabled to live the summer months in peace.
    As winter breaks up there are comparatively few flies. Dr. Hodge gives directions for simple traps, which can be made at home, for the capture of these early pairs. Such traps are baited, and one of them will frequently catch all the flies around a house or barn when placed upon a garbage pail or in a stable window.
    Investigators have recently discovered that a fly seldom travels farther than 1500 feet during its lifetime. This makes it possible for a limited area to be free from flies where neighboring areas may both be swarming with flies and miserably afflicted with infantile paralysis, children's stomach troubles, fevers and other diseases that flies carry.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 11, 1914, page 6

The It Theatre Starts.
    Today, matinee 2:15 p.m. and evening 7 p.m. with five cents for admission price, and a daily change of licensed photoplays. "Our Mutual Girl" (52-reel series), "The Mutual Weekly," and Keystone comedies, none better. A free ticket for 50 dead flies in envelope, caught with the swatter only for this week. Next Tuesday night Mr. Armstrong will lecture (with 3500 feet of film) about the Canadian Pacific railway, "The Way to a Home," Canadian resources etc.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 17, 1914, page 2

    The swat the fly campaign, for which the Commercial Club offers $31 in prizes for the best swatters in the schools of the city, opened today with a bang, the boys and girls going after the world's greatest carriers of disease germs for the fun and the dollars that are in it. Teachers of the various schools gave the pupils instructions regarding the way to earn the prizes, and much interest is being shown.
    An ordinance providing for the cleaning up of rubbish, garbage and cooperating with the Greater Medford Club in its anti-fly campaign [sic].
    J. S. Howard, the father of Medford, says he can remember when it was considered inhuman to kill a fly, and that the boy who did so was scheduled to meet an ignominious death on the gallows, when he grew up.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 1, 1914, page 4

    The fly-swatting campaign was started in earnest all over the city this week. Each school was furnished with score cards by the superintendent, and the principals were urged to stir the schools into making a competitive race. The children are not required to save the flies, as the school authorities deemed it dangerous to health to have them kept in jars.
    The parents are required to sign their children's score card vouching for the accuracy of the count.
    The Roosevelt School has divided its grades into teams, some of the rooms having as high as four teams in the race. The sixth grade room has a score of 39,600 flies killed.
    Everett Rummell has high score, with over 9000 flies killed, Art Foster second with 7500 and James Medley third.
    Superintendent Collins is giving every aid to the work and personally has had score cards printed. He said, "We will do our part to make Medford a flyless town."

Medford Mail Tribune, May 2, 1914, page 4

    At the last meeting of the Greater Medford Club a letter of appreciation was read from Mr. Foyes of the Foyes Grocery Company, regarding the fly swatting campaign of last year. It is very gratifying to the club to know that untiring efforts accomplished such good results, being of inestimable value to those dealing in foodstuffs. The work will go forward again this year with renewed enthusiasm.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 24, 1915, page 2

"Medford Flyless" Is Slogan.
    MEDFORD, Or., March 21.--(Special.)--"Medford Flyless in 1915" is the slogan of the swat-the-fly campaigners who have started cleaning up the alleys and rubbish heaps in the city. The Commercial Club will give cash prizes for dead flies, the school children, under the direction of Superintendent Collins, will construct fly traps and fly nets, following the plans of Professor Hodge of the State University, and the women of the Greater Medford Club will get up a fly breeding survey of the city, so that the undesirable section can be definitely located.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, March 22, 1914, page 57

    The swat the fly campaign, for which the Commercial Club offers $31 in prizes for the best swatters in the schools of the city, opened today with a bang, the boys and girls going after the world's greatest carriers of disease germs for the fun and the dollars that are in it. Teachers of the various schools gave the pupils instructions regarding the way to earn the prizes, and much interest is being shown.
    An ordinance providing for the cleaning up of rubbish, garbage and cooperating with the Greater Medford Club in its anti-fly campaign [sic].
    J. S. Howard, the father of Medford, says he can remember when it was considered inhuman to kill a fly, and that the boy who did so was scheduled to meet an ignominious death on the gallows when he grew up.

Medford Mail Tribune,
April 1, 1914, page 4

    At the last meeting of the Greater Medford Club a letter of appreciation was read from Mr. Foyes of the Foyes Grocery Company, regarding the fly swatting campaign of last year. It is very gratifying to the club to know that untiring efforts accomplished such good results, being of inestimable value to those dealing in foodstuffs. The work will go forward again this year with renewed enthusiasm.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 24, 1915, page 2

Now Is the Time to Swat Flies
    Uncle Sam is waging a relentless war on the deadly housefly, and in a late bulletin prepared by the Department of Agriculture valuable information is given on the best means of combating this deadly pest. The most effective way of exterminating the fly, according to the bulletin, is to eradicate his breeding places. The breeding season of the fly begins early in March and continues through the spring and summer months. All dirt should be removed from the premises, stables cleaned and decaying vegetables destroyed.
    The fly has rightly been called the undertaker's traveling salesman, and in addition to his regular line of "typhoid bugs," he carries a sideline of tuberculosis, Asiatic cholera and other disease germs. Now is the time to "swat the fly."

Jacksonville Post, March 27, 1915, page 1

    You have frequently heard some lazy lout complain because Eve wished the apple on Adam. And now a chronic kicker complains because Noah didn't swat the flies when the supply was limited.--Atchison Globe.
"Laughs," Medford Mail Tribune, April 17, 1915, page 4

April 30, 1915 Medford Sun
Medford Sun, April 30, 1915

    The Parent-Teacher Circle of the Valley View school district held a meting Friday afternoon to discuss several important subjects. A local Thrift Stamp club of twenty-three members had a number of representatives present who were making it very easy for anyone desiring to purchase thrift stamps to do so without difficulty.
    County School Superintendent Ager was present and gave an illustrated talk on "Fly Extermination and the Necessity of an Early Swat-the-Fly Campaign." Figures were given to show the progeny of a single pair of flies permitted to live and thrive under ordinary conditions for a period of 120 days. The life cycle of a house fly is about ten days, and since the offspring of the first generation is about 120 flies, of which we may safely estimate one-half to be females and therefore capable of propagating their kind, the number of flies from a single generation during the warm breeding season of three months would be 4,427,353,903,728,813,539,322, or forty million times the entire population of the United States.
    The figures strikingly illustrate the value or necessity of the swatting campaign as early in the season as possible. Steps are being taken in the Valley View district to conduct a campaign that should do considerable toward getting rid of these disseminators of disease and death.
    Systematic study of summer complaint and the number of flies for the same locality where such disease prevails show beyond a doubt that the fly is a disseminator of this disease, and that this common ailment might better be called fly complaint. For many years it was supposed that the recurrence of summer complaint was inevitable as the season itself, and was in some manner connected with the heat and too much overripe fruit.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1918, page 3   "Summer complaint" is now known to be food poisoning--the result of eating unrefrigerated food.

    Though nobody says anything about it, the tse-tse or house fly is the leading screen actor.
Arthur Perry, "Ye Smudge Pot," Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1920, page 4

1923 Screen Catalog Cover

    Somehow we never thought it cruel to catch a big horsefly and insert a slightly bent foxtail sticker (or wheatstraw) into its rectum and turn it loose. Y'see, that causes their otherwise million-mile-a-minute attempted straightaway flight to buzz and zigzag in crazy circles. Fun no end!

Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, 1935, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS9

Autobiography of a Fly
    To the editor: I'm a fly. To you, that is not important, but to me it's very important. Of course, my life is short--only a matter of days from the time I was a maggot in a manure pile to the time I die--but oh, how busy.
    I like my life as a maggot--eating and growing. Soon my skin burst off me and out I walked, full of energy and amazed at what I was--a fly. I had wings, I had legs, I had sticky pads for feet.
    I tried my wings and with all the joys of my fly mind I started to fly, more sure of my new power and oblivious to everything else--and especially did I forget to clean my feet.
    I flew around until I came to a house. I flew into a room and found a bottle with a funny little rubber end, lying near a baby's face, nose, mouth--what a feast. Clean my feet before I walked on baby's bottle and baby's mouth? I couldn't be bothered.
    Other odors met my sensitive nose and I investigated. A taste of meat, cake--everything, and I hadn't cleaned my feet. Why should I care?
    I was tired and sat down in a pleasant spot. What was that moving toward me? A human? What was coming through the air so fast--so deadly? A fly swatter.
    The story ends, but not the story of millions of other flies with dirty feet crawling over baby faces--all with never a thought to clean their feet.
Jacksonville, Ore.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 16, 1946, page 6

Last revised July 31, 2022