Flies have been around probably since the beginning of time, or at least since the existence of life on this earth. And I'm sure even the earliest of homo sapiens have been aggravated more than once with their presence. And they didn't have rolled up newspapers to get rid of the pesky critters.
In 1900 Robert Montgomery received Patent No. 640,790 for invention of the Fly-Killer, a "cheap device of unusual elasticity and durability." It was made of wire netting, "preferably oblong," attached to a handle. He did not specify the material to be used in the making of the handle. After all, the netting was the important part as it reduced wind drag, allowing the user to apply a "whip-like" swing.
In 1903 he sold his patent to John Bennett. The designation of "Fly Swatter" for the apparatus was made in 1905 by Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine of the Kansas City Board of Health. He was attending a ball game in Topeka, but his attention was focused on a major health issue. How could they reduce the spread of Typhoid Fever by flies?
It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the score was tied. Topeka had a man on third. The fans began screaming at the batter, yelling "Sacrifice Fly!" and then "Swat the ball." Inspiration struck the good doctor. A few days later he wrote an article about the situation for The Fly Bulletin with the headline: Swat The Fly! And thus, a new phrase came into common use.
Over the years there were adaptations to the common fly swatter. In 1913 jazz bands were everywhere as folks loved to dance to that sound. One problem was that the drums were too loud. There were no sound systems that are now everywhere, and the drums would overpower the other instruments.
At that time there was a fly swatter with metal brushes and an expandable handle . One night there was a bright drummer decided to give that a try during a set. He loved the quieter sound, and soon it was copied by many others. Their new brushes allowed them to create new and innovative sounds and soon every drummer incorporated them into his set.
Don't you love the creative spirit of people?