Trading horses, like trading used cars, is an activity that has always been best entered into
with caution. Traders’ tricks are legendary. Many’s the dupe who thought he’d made a great
deal, only to discover his new critter was a worse “lemon” than the old.
Not all horsetraders were deliberate shysters. In fact, the phrase, “he’s a good judge of
horseflesh” was complimentary and denoted a useful skill in a society that depended on
living, breathing “horsepower.”
But even with the best of intentions, someone often got “the raw end of the deal.” One such
case made the papers in l876.
“Rev. Mr. Willis, a Methodist preacher at Kearney, traded a jackass to a Mr. Throop recently
for a fine mare and a cow, and it now transpires that the jackass wasn’t worth ten dollars. Mr.
Throop is whining about the matter by publishing a card in the Press in which he says he did
not know anything about jackasses and told the Rev. gentleman so.
“Mr. Throop had better practice the Bible injunction “Know Thyself” and he will be well
posted on the jackass question. He says Rev. Mr. Willis took from him a good mare and the
best cow he had, and if his own brother had done it to him he could not have felt any worse
about it, and that he always felt such a regard for Methodist ministers.
“Poor, simple Throop, you know more than you did before you met this man of God. We’ve
seen Methodist ministers, not more than a thousand miles from Lincoln, that we would be
afraid to trade jackasses or anything else with; and when a man preaches Christ for $400 a
year and the people who hear it preached pay when they get ready and let the minister’s
children go without shoes, and compel him to wear his clothes a year or two after they are
worn out, we don’t blame any preacher for showing that he is a better judge of jackasses than
his disciples. The fact that a man is a Methodist preacher is no reason to suppose he is not a
judge of jackasses, nor should he be abused for being a preacher and trading this much