Hornswogglers, Fourflushers & Snake-Oil Salesmen: True Tales of the Old West's Sleaziest Swindlers
Matthew P. Mayo
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PRAISE FOR MATTHEW P. MAYO’S WORK: “. . . I can’t recommend it highly enough. The man knows the West and, better still, knows how to tell a story.” —Andrew Vietze, award-winning author of Becoming Teddy Roosevelt “An excellent variety of great stories, told in superb narrative style.” —John D. Nesbitt, Spur Award–winning Western author of Trouble at the Redstone “Mayo brings the West alive. . . . Cowboys, Mountain Men & Grizzly Bears puts the reader right in the middle of the action. Mayo is
well-loved was the charismatic—and wealthy—Brinkley that he swatted his detractors down like flies. He was invited to demonstrate his techniques at a Chicago hospital operating theater. During the proceedings he implanted goat testicles into a number of high-profile folks, men and women, eager for relief from whatever afflictions they claimed troubled them. A whopping thirty-four people in all received his ministrations that day, including a judge and the chancellor of a university law school.
businessman to gasp and widen his eyes. “Is that . . . ?” The dapper man nodded vigorously, said, “Shhh, yes. It is what it appears to be.” He leaned closer. “A brick of solid gold.” A few moments passed while the businessman gazed, lost in honest admiration of the dully beautiful object. Then he regained his composure. “I . . . I don’t understand. Why are you showing this to me?” He mimicked the other two men and spoke in a lowered voice as he glanced around at the nearly empty sidewalk. The
never gone west along that route. He had followed the Oregon Trail four years earlier, in 1842. But he did travel his proposed shortcut, from west to east, in 1846, though not with winter coming on, not with overloaded wagons and draft animals and elderly and infant family members and dogs and chickens. . . . Hastings had traveled it on horseback, with pack mules, and in decent weather, arriving at Fort Bridger mere weeks before the Donner Party. While there, and emboldened by his success, he
umbrella, all right. And standing under it was a thin, small man, head bent to his task, all eyes on him. The fat man moved closer, edging his girth through the crowd to the front. He smirked. Now he saw what the commotion was all about. It was a sleight-of-hand man. Every person in the growing crowd stared not at the man under the umbrella but at his hands as he quickly shuffled three walnut shells atop a small folding table before him. He paused, looked up, and feigned surprise at the