Louis Van “Bud” Abernathy and Temple Reeves “Temp” Abernathy were two adventurous young brothers from Oklahoma who, without adult supervision, took several cross-country trips. On one trip in 1910, when they were 10 and 6 years old, they rode on horseback from Oklahoma to Manhattan.
Louis 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 Jack Abernathy.
In 1909, the 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.
Louis later graduated from the University of Oklahoma Law School and became a lawyer in Wichita Falls, Texas, while his brother Temple worked in the oil and gas business.
Although they were noted celebrities at the time of their travels, they have almost disappeared from history. Frederick, Oklahoma, celebrates their Santa Fe ride each year and has erected a statue of the boys and has dedicated part of the Chamber of Commerce website to promoting the boys’ memory.