The narrator in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is a loyal friend and good-sport character, who is never identified by name. On a quest for his friend to find out information about Reverend Leonidas W. Smiley, the narrator never does discover anything about this Mr. Smiley. Instead he finds Simon Wheeler in Angel's Camp who proceeds to tell him about a man named Jim Smiley.
Jim Smiley was a man who would bet on almost anything. According to Wheeler, Smiley "most always come out winner." He would bet on the typical dog and cock fights, but Smiley would also bet which bird would fly first from a fence.
The Parson's wife had been ill for some time. When it appeared she had finally taken a turn for the better, Smiley bet how long it would take her to die. Smiley was the type of man to change his bet if he could not find anyone to bet against him.
Even the death of his fighting dog, Andrew Jackson, did not slow Jim Smiley down. He went down to the creek with the intent of catching a frog and teaching it to jump. He caught Dan'l Weber, who Smiley boasted could jump higher than any frog in the town. Dan'l jumped and jumped and jumped, until the day Jim Smiley came across a stranger.
Jim made the stranger the same bet. The stranger, however, couldn't participate because he did not have a frog. Leaving his money and Dan'l with the stranger, Jim went in search for a frog for the stranger.
While Smiley was gone, the stranger dumped shot down the frog's throat making it impossible for the frog it jump. When Jim got back, the stranger's frog jumped higher, he took the bet and left. Jim was astounded until he turned Dan'l Webster over. Shot poured from his mouth but as Jim looked up and down the street it was as if the stranger had disappeared.
Simon Wheeler realizes someone is calling him and the narrator leaves, no closer to information about Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley than when he met Simon Wheeler.