The War On Flies

Thirteen was an unlucky number for flying pests in Fort Smith. In May 1913 in a public health campaign, school children slaughtered around 1,500,000 of them.

Pupils at DuVal School won the contest to kill as many flies as possible. They were given incentive by some cash prizes donated by a Fort Smith citizen "who is some 'swatter' himself."

In the DuVal contest, Clarence Laws won first prize, $10, with a total of 220,000 flies. Ray Williams won second prize at $5 with 200,000 killed. Fifty cent prizes were awarded to Lela, Odie and Ollie Cantwell, Mildred Burks, Essie Tankersly, Katherine Moore, Elizabeth Howe, Mary Thomas, Orlene Montague, Rodney Montague, Herschel Ledwidge, Neal Pryor, John Anderson, Percy Howard, Lawrence Music, Ruby Greer, Arthur Lemaster, Lloyd Wiseman, Frank Ingle, Darvin Leekly, John Linthicum, Delmar Page and John T. Evans.

The scores of the 50-cent prize winners ranged from 1,000 to 1,500.

Traps were used to catch the majority, but swatters were working too. One girl caught 15,000 on fly paper. Some traps were store bought and others were homemade, each type working equally as well as the other.

Clarence Laws placed traps in a number of places likely to have high concentrations of flies — store fronts and stables.

Baits included boiled cabbage, fish heads, putrid meat and bread and milk.

Source: "One and a Half Million Flies Slaughter'd By School Pupils, Prize Winners and Results," Fort Smith Times Record, May 25, 1913, p. 1.