Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Abernathy kids, Bud and Me

They were children from Oklahoma who, without adult supervision, took several cross-country trips. On one trip they rode on horseback from Oklahoma to Manhattan in 1910 when they were 10 and 6 years old.

Louis (sometimes styled Louie) Abernathy was born in Texas in 1899 and Temple Abernathy was born in 1904 in Tipton, Oklahoma.

Their father was cowboy and U.S. Marshal John Abernathy. Best known for catching wolves alive with his bare hands, John R. Abernathy (1876–1941) was born to Scottish ancestors in Texas. Raised in the burgeoning railroad town of Sweetwater, Abernathy considered himself a true son of the Wild West. In his amazing life he worked as a U.S. marshal, sheriff, Secret Service agent, and wildcat oil driller. But it was the accidental discovery of a bold means of catching wolves alive that made Abernathy famous and drew the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. By forcing his hand deep enough into a wolf’s mouth, he could stun the creature long enough to capture it, a service for which he was paid fifty dollars by eager ranchers. This trick earned him the nickname “Catch 'em Alive Jack”.

In 1909 the Abernathy boys rode by horseback from Frederick, Oklahoma, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back. Louis was nine, and Temple was five.

When the boys completed their Santa Fe journey, they began planning a cross-country horseback ride to New York City, again by themselves, to meet Theodore Roosevelt when he returned from his trip to Africa and Europe. They made that trip in 1910. They were greeted as celebrities, and rode their horses in a ticker-tape parade just behind the car carrying Roosevelt. While in New York, the boys purchased a small Brush Motor Car, which they drove, again by themselves, back to Oklahoma, shipping their horses home by train.

In 1911, they accepted a challenge to ride horseback from New York to San Francisco in 60 days or less. They agreed not to eat or sleep indoors at any point of the journey. They would collect a $10,000 prize if they succeeded.

After a long trip, they arrived in San Francisco in 62 days, thereby losing the prize but setting a record for the time elapsed for the trip.

In 1913, the boys purchased an Indian motorcycle, and with their stepbrother, Anton, journeyed by motorcycle from Oklahoma to New York City. This was their last documented adventure.

They were something rare, and their true story has been written up in the book Bud and Me:

In the early 1900's there are only 150 miles of paved road in the entire country. Fifty percent of Americans live and work on farms. Radios and refrigerators are still years away. Women are not allowed to vote yet and along came two adverturesome boys, Temple and Bud Abernathy who wanted to see it all.

 Raised by their widowed father, the boys, ages 5 and 9, set out on a series of daring rides across America. First, alone on horseback from Frederick, Oklahoma to Sante Fe, New Mexico and back. Then to New York City, alone on horseback to meet their friend "Teddy" and back to Oklahoma driving their own "Brush" automobile.


  1. No kids today could do this....No WiFi on a horse..No way....

  2. Why the hell hasn't a movie been made of this? With all the bull shit movie making out there, this story should be told on the wide screen. And no stupid producer re-writing the TRUE story. Just tell it like it is!

    1. Yup... I haven an answer, and you're not going to like it. Take a look at all the garbage on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whatever. Sure, they have a lot of good stuff, but, all that bull shit they have that they bought the broadcast rights to cheap... someone had money to make it, film it, pay actors, editors, sound and lighting people. Even catering, set design, and gaffers. But a cool idea like this? Or the daughter and mom that rode a Harley and sidecar round trip NY to San Fran? Aren't considered viable profit making movies. All anyone has to do is convince a movie company that they can make 10 to 1 profit, and the movie gets made. Even a TV show... look how many 10 episode Netflix shows that there are!