One of the foremost leaders in health reform in the State of Kansas was
Dr. Samuel Jay Crumbine. Although born and educated in the State of
Pennsylvania, Samuel Crumbine came to Kansas to earn money to put
himself through medical school in Ohio.
Dr. Crumbine was appointed to the Kansas State Board of Health in 1900.
His second year of service on the Board was probably the turning point
in his life’s work.
His campaign against the common housefly was probably his most famous
battle. Dr. Crumbine became a household name
when he coined the phrase,
“Swat the Fly.” Boy Scouts in Weir, Kansas went door to door with their
scoutmaster’s new invention – the fly swatter. Fly ordinances and
screening on windows soon followed.
The next issues were the common drinking cup and common hand towel.
Crumbine was appalled when he noticed a small child drinking from a tin
cup while riding on a train with tuberculosis patients. On September 1,
1909 the common drinking cup was banned in Kansas. Kansas was the first
state to issue such a ban. Soon a similar ban on the common towel
This led to the invention of the “health cup” by Fort Scott native, Hugh
Moore. It soon became known as the “Dixie” cup.
Dr. Crumbine demonstrated his leadership skills as not only as Secretary
of the State Board of Health but in every position he held, locally,
regionally and nationally. His contributions give insight to how early
public health efforts became a powerful force in shaping the health of
our nation and giving us the quality of life we enjoy today.