In 1911, eleven & seven-year-old brothers rode on horseback from NYC to San Francisco in 62 days
The brothers Abernathy were a few adventurous children, who made many country trips at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Louis Van Abernathy was the oldest brother who was born in Texas in 1899. The younger was born in 1904 in Tipton, Oklahoma and was given the name Temple Reeves Abernathy.
Jack Abernathy, their father, was a cowboy and a U.S. Marshall. Adventurous from age one, in 1909 when Louis was 9 and the Temple 5 years of age, the brothers made their first ride.
They came to Santa Fe, New Mexico on horseback from Frederick, Oklahoma, and they did their feat without adult supervision. They started their plans for a new trip when they came back home.
The second adventure of the Abernathy brothers happened in 1910 when they rode from Oklahoma to New York City, all in order to meet Theodore Roosevelt.
The ex-president of the United States had just returned from his trip to Africa and Europe, and the young boys wanted to greet him.
Again without an adult to supervise them, they made the trip and were greeted as celebrities once they reached New York.
A parade was organized in their honor and they rode their horses behind Roosevelt’s car.
While they were there, the brothers bought a small Brush Motor Car, sent their horses back home on a train and drove the car to Oklahoma by themselves. They were 10 and 6 years old, respectively.
One year after they became celebrities, the brothers were challenged to ride from New York to San Francisco in 60 days.
As the prize of $10,000 was promised if they succeeded, Louis and Temple accepted the challenge. This, their third and most famous adventure happened in 1911.
According to the contract, they were forbidden from sleeping and eating indoors during the trip. It took the boys 62 days to reach San Francisco and sadly they lost the prize, but they had set a record for the shortest time taken to travel this distance on horseback.
It was two years later when the famous brothers purchased an Indian motorcycle, which they used to travel from Oklahoma to New York one more time.
This was their final documented adventure, on which they were accompanied by their stepbrother Anton. When the boys grew up, Lewis studied at the Oklahoma Law School and became a lawyer in Texas. The younger brother Temple found a job in the oil and gas business.
The world eventually forgot about the adventurous brothers and as time passed, they faded from history. However, the city of Frederick, Oklahoma still remembers the Abernathy brothers well.
Besides erecting a statue in honor of the boys, the city also dedicated a part of the Chamber of Commerce website to promote their story. What’s more, an annual celebration of their ride to Santa Fe is organized.