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On the Road, Oklahoma Style

April 3, 2002

Historian's Notes

I thought that this topic was incredibly interesting both in its own right and for its ability to show us how much and in how many ways our society has changed. DHS would have those kids removed from the Abernathy house immediately in today's world!


Oklahoma Today. November 1996.

Contemporary newspapers of the time, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Almanac Transcript

On the road, Oklahoma style this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

For many people the thought of traveling across the country is a frightening or daunting prospect; now imagine that you are making the trek on horseback and are only six years old. The Abernathy boys of Frederick, Oklahoma faced just such a challenge in the spring of 1910. The two brothers Bud, ten years old, and Temple, six, set out on horseback with New York City as their destination. The ultimate goal of the brothers was greeting Theodore Roosevelt in New York City, Roosevelt being a good friend of their fatherís U.S. Marshal Jack Abernathy. The boyís father had every confidence in the boys as the year earlier, at ages five and nine, the pair traveled on horseback from Frederick to Albuquerque and back.

Jack helped his boys plan the safest route, gave them a checkbook with which to pay for things along the way and made them promise to follow four simple rules. Never ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter, Never cross a creek unless you can see the bottom or have a guide, Never carry more than five dollars at a time and No riding on Sunday. As the pair made their way through Oklahoma and into Missouri news of their adventure began to catch up with them. It wasn't long before crowds were waiting at each town they passed through. The further east they went the bigger the crowds became. Soon the boys were treated as traveling dignitaries, given tours of towns and greeted by all manners of VIPís including among others, Wilbur Wright, who gave them a tour of his airplane factory.

In Washington DC, the boys met with President Taft, various other politicians, and received a tour of the town and capital complex. Once in New York City, crowds of thousands mobbed the brothers as they met ex-president Roosevelt, toured the city and took part in a parade. Using money earned from newsreel appearances, the boys prepared for their return trip. The six and ten year old Abernathy boys shipped their horses home and set out on the road once again, but this time driving a car! The return trip is the subject of another Almanac, but it was in this week of April in 1910 that young Bud and Temple Abernathy set out from Frederick for their long journey east.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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