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The Adventures of The Abernathy Kids

Our post on the Paulsen girls and their grandfathers Brush the other day, prompted one of our readers on facebook, to direct us to the story of the Abernathy Kids. We had seen the photo of the boys on the Indian Motorcycle before but were unaware of their incredible journeys. Read along and follow the links for more information.

According to www.brushauto.net “The Abernathy Kids lived with their father Jack Abernathy in the town of Frederick, Oklahoma.  Frederick is located in Tillman County, the southwest corner of Oklahoma. Jack Abernathy became friends with Teddy Roosevelt as a result of the notoriety he received for his ability to catch wolves alive with his hands. Teddy Roosevelt had heard about “catch-em’ alive” Jack Abernathy but was skeptical that it was possible to catch wolves alive just with bare hands. After persuasion by his friends, Roosevelt decide to meet Jack Abernathy.  Jack Abernathy welcomed President Roosevelt to Frederick, Oklahoma in April 1905 where a large crowd greeted him when he arrived. Abernathy took him on a successful hunt, a live wolf was caught bare handed. At the time of the wolf hunt Oklahoma was a U.S. territory. President Roosevelt later appointed Jack Abernathy to the position of U.S. Marshall.”

As the old saying goes “the apple does not fall far from the tree” and the Abernathy boys seem to have taken right after their dad. On their first journey in 1909 the two brothers, Louis “Bud” aged nine and Temple five, encountered a host of Old West obstacles, including wolves and wild rivers, when they rode more than 1,000 miles from Oklahoma to Santa Fe and back – ALONE!

The following year the brothers set their sights on New York City, which they reached after a month of hard riding. Along the way Orville Wright offered to take them up in his  airplane and President Taft gave them a warm welcome when they reached the White House. These two boys were the story of the century at the time and widely followed by the whole world in the news.

This public frenzy ended when Bud and Temple rode their Oklahoma ponies alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in a victory parade witnessed by more than a million cheering New Yorkers.

For the return journey, the boys used their meager savings and “bought” a Brush automobile, then drove it home to Oklahoma. One has to think that the PR opportunities offered to the pair must have been numerous at this point and to lead one to think the the Brush Company must have helped them out.

Even though they were only six and ten years old, Temple and Bud Abernathy were a national sensation. In the summer of 1911, they did the impossible. They rode nearly 4,000 miles, from New York to San Francisco, in only sixty-two days. Once again, the Abernathy Boys had made a historic ride without any adult assistance and accomplished an equestrian feat which has never been equaled.

In 1913 the pair did it again when the rode from Oklahoma to New York City at the ages of nine and thirteen on the Indian Motorcycle seen in the (top) photo.

To learn more about his story we have found online access for you to The Ride of the Abernathy Boys by Miles Abernathy.  You can also find excellent coverage on www.brushauto.net . And Wiki also tells the brothers life story.

This entry was posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Motorcycle photos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Adventures of The Abernathy Kids

  1. dave l says:

    Slightly off topic. In the motorcycle photo, those are definitely leather boots. From the looks of the pants and other old motorcycle photos, it doesn’t look like full leathers were being used way back when. Does anyone know the timeline when full leather outfits on motorcycles took off?

  2. PAB says:

    What a great post ! Makes me wonder how much is fact & how much is fiction. What ever it is, its a great article.

  3. Wow, what a story! Stupendously brave. It makes you think about how fast kids in those days had to learn to look after themselves and how molly-coddled today’s are in comparison.

  4. jsfury says:

    Molly-coddled today indeed. Now here’s a story that Holly-weird could do o the sliver screen and not have to rewrite anything. I’m inclined to think this is a factual story, but wouldn’t it be great if the Abernathy boys kept a journal of their adventure. Really, somebody needs to put this on film. It’s an academy award winner for sure. Great story. Thank you face book reader for the send, and thank you Dave.

  5. Tony costa says:

    i’m the proud possessor of “The Remarkable Ride of the Abernathy
    Boys”,by Robert B. Jackson(1967).It resided in the Lassen County
    Schools Library for kids to read,until discarded 10 years ago. On the cover it states that Dad met them after a train ride to NYC. He then got
    a Maxwell with a chauffeur(as he didn’t drive). The back cover has
    pictures of the boys as grown-ups,with their occupations(lawyer/oil
    business) and details about their adult lives. Acknowledgments include:
    Ken Gooding at Harrah’s Auto Collection,Oklahoma Historical Society,
    and many librarians and researchers.It seems like the well known kids showed up in many newspaper articles. I can’t tell you what’s true or
    false,but the book is very enjoyable(a must read for Brush Owners),and
    if only half of what I read is true, they’ve set a high benchmark for
    elementary school-age kids.After all, when you lose your Mom at age 3
    and your Dad has caught thousands of wolves by chasing them down on
    a horse with the help of 2 greyhounds,using his bare hands to subdue the
    animal(selling it live to a zoo or travelling show),you have to grow up
    tough!
    P.S. Dad followed the kids in the Brush,in his chauffeured Maxwell.

  6. Alex Abernathy says:

    This is actually my great ancestors, and from what i have heard from the stories from the notorious “Jack” Abernathy, that they did some wild things. Jack Allegedly killed a wolf with his bare hands in front of Teddy Roosevelt himself…

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