Let the Trader Beware

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

abused animal.”

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