Flies and Livery Stables

The presence of horses in Nebraska towns and villages during the decades when they were necessary for transportation resulted in public health problems. One of the most disagreeable was the accumulation of large amounts of animal waste near barns and livery stables. The mounds of manure not only produced odor but provided a breeding ground for disease-carrying flies, which prompted many complaints to local government.

“By next summer, when the fly nuisance reappears in all its fervor,” said the Lincoln Daily Star on October 13, 1907, “Lincoln may have laws regulating the breeding of domestic winged insects. Livery stables play the part of fatherland to billions and trillions of flies every week. On heaps of barn refuse, they pass their infancy. On the perspiring flanks of toilworn steeds they learn to take their first steps and then fly forth to forage in the milk pans of the restaurants and find last resting places in the soup of sedentary housekeepers. . . .

“It is proposed by the terms of the ordinance which is being drawn up in the office of an attorney that all livery stable owners in the sewer districts be compelled to connect the stalls with the drainage system. This is now done at the fire department stations and by means of daily flushing, the stalls are kept sweet and clean. Visitors to the various fire stations have commented frequently on the fewness of the flies. . . . With the livery stables kept clean by the flushing method, other measures could be taken to check the spread of the insects. . . . As it is now there is hardly a livery stable in which the floor around the stalls is not fairly saturated with filth. Out in the rear, great heaps of decaying matter rise higher every day, to be carted off only at irregular intervals.”

The Star reported that Dr. H. H. Morrill of Lincoln “has made a number of nonchalant trips through the alleys of the down-town district lately, and has counted flies. Back of one livery barn he counted several million in a single community. In the doctor’s office is a powerful microscope. He also has a number of other delicate instruments. During a recent series of professional visits upon a typhoid fever victim he caught some flies which were crawling on the sick room window panes. When he got back to the office with them, he permitted them to waltz over a preparation of gelatine. Then he took his microscope and after a sufficient time had elapsed put the gelatine under the lense [sic]. It was in the footprints of the flies on the gelatine that he found germs in abundance, each thriving, each growing and getting fat. They were typhoid germs. They were carried in the feet of the flies.” 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.