Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols today, the final day of our special event! Mary Connealy will be giving away our prize today, a $25 AMAZON gift certificate, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!  Today, I’m going to post one of the first blogs I ever wrote for P&P about two remarkable young boys, Bud and Temple Abernathy and their true life adventures as long riders. Even now, over 100 years later, they still hold the record for the youngest long riders ever. Here is their incredible story!

In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true.  They rode across two states on horseback.  Alone.

It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.

Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime.  The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.

They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”

Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills.  Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.

Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used to chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony.  There were four rules the boys had to agree to:  Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.

The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks.  Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage.  The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal.  But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”

One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous.  At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari.  They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.


Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.

Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo.  While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.

They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.

It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own.  They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout.  After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.

They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.



But their adventures weren’t over.  The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco.  If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000.  Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days.  Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, nearly one hundred years later.


The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City.  They returned to Oklahoma by train.

As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer.  There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.















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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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  1. That was a great story about the Abernathy Brothers adventures and accomplishments thank you for sharing it and offering the amazing giveaway.

  2. Could you imagine kids today doing things like these two boys. Some aren’t even potty trained at 4 and still have pacifiers in there mouth.
    Thanks for sharing such an amazing story of these two.

  3. Wow! Those are some amazing and inspirational young men. Their daddy sure did have confidence in them and they proved him right. I think every young kid should know this story. It’s such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing it with us. I enjoyed this one.

  4. This is an amazing story. Children matured faster back in those days and knew how to take care of themselves. It’s harder to grow up in modern society.

    If something like that happened today, the father would be arrested for child endangerment and the boys put into protective custody.

  5. Loved the blog. I had never heard this one before what an amazing story.

    Have a blessed day

  6. What amazing pair these brother’s were.. I can’t imagine any of my brother’s doing that.. Well one of them, but the other three, no way..
    Thanks for reposting this on the blog.. I love all these wonderful western facts..

  7. Cheryl, I really enjoyed seeing this post again. It intrigues me. I can’t imagine such young boys traveling across country alone. They must’ve really been mature for their age and quite adept for taking care of themselves. I can’t imagine young boys today even having an inkling of how to survive in the middle of nowhere. No Walmarts, no McDonalds, no cellphones. Simply unbelievable.

    Congrats on your upcoming release! It looks great. That guy on the cover is Hot!

  8. Enjoyed reading the comments about the brothers. They were certainly adventurous. Thanks for sharing it with me.

  9. Thank you for the post! I have never heard that story before. I love how boys lives were raised on horses. At that time it feels like children were almost born in the saddle. I’m always surprised of how boys and girls grew up so fast then! Girls getting married at the ages of 14-16 and boys having to be men even at the ages 6-10! It’s so different from how life is looked at today. But I enjoy thinking about life then and think that sometimes I was born in the wrong era 🙂

  10. I like historical facts like these of the two brothers Bud and Temple Abernathy. I think that’s why I have a fascination with historical romances because I usually learn something while reading.

  11. WOW, I can’t imagine kids doing anything like that! It doesn’t matter the era, just amazing! You might understand if they were forced to or HAD to because of some people chasing them or they were lost in the wilderness but doing it because they wanted to is another story! Thanks for the post! Very interesting!

  12. What exceptional brothers. hard to imagine anything like that nowadays when everyone is coddled. Congratulations and best wishes on your release.

  13. Those were some awesome boys! Today we wont let our kids cross the street by themselves but they went across the country all by themselves! WOW! I love how brave they were. 🙂 Good job boys…

  14. WOW LADIES! I’m getting a late start to my morning, but what a wonderful wake up!

    I am so thrilled that you all enjoyed this story so much about Bud and Temple Abernathy. Did you know there was a movie made about them? I’ve never seen it, but hope to get it one day and watch it–I’d like to see how Hollywood treated this amazing family.

    Yes, Margaret, you are so right–I thought the same thing about the dad. LOL He definitely would be in the slammer for child endangerment or something!

    There is also a children’s book out there about these boys and their adventures.

    It’s such a great story, isn’t it? Amazing that they were able to do all the things they did and stay out of harm’s way. I’m sure there were many close calls they may not have even realized. God was watching out for them for sure!

  15. And I wanted to say, too, thanks to everyone who congratulated me and wished me well on my new release, GABRIEL’S LAW. That model on the cover is the fabulous JIMMY THOMAS and he graces almost every cover I have. Never get tired of looking at him!

    I’m hoping that GABRIEL’S LAW will be released next week!

  16. Jennifer Tipton says:

    Wow! I’m impressed! I can’t imagine letting my boys travel that far alone. Tons of prayers would be said. God thankfully watched over those boys and they were blessed with a good Dad. What an amazing article!

    Posted on June 28, 2013 at 11:03 am.

  17. Wow, fascinating post…….enjoyed it!!!
    Please count me in for Mary’s Gift Card…….thanks.

  18. Sherri, one time when I was 5 or so, my mom forgot she had taken me with her to the grocery store and left without me! LOL I didn’t even know she was gone (I was looking at the children’s magazines)until I saw my dad driving like a crazy person into the parking lot. LOL THEN I got scared.

  19. Fabulous post. I can’t imagine two ten year old boys doing this. They were just children when they started.

  20. Valri,
    While doing the research for this blog post, I read that they had been asking to go for a couple of years before he let them do it. He had promised them that when they got to be 5 and 9 he’d let them go, and so he felt he had to because they remembered that he’d promised them, etc.

  21. I had never heard of this – so amazing. Can you imagine kids that young today trying to do something like that! I do remember that my uncle who is now in his 90’s traveling across the country with two other boys as soon as one got their driver’s license. I think they brought a couple spare tires and very little money. I’m not quite sure how they managed lol.

  22. Catslady,
    I can’t imagine it, especially when I think of how my own kids were at that age. LOL But, back then, I think with the different times, people were different. Even the outlaws that followed them made sure they were safe! LOL

  23. Laurie,
    I think, too, in this case it was a matter of being raised by a very unconventional father, don’t you? I bet if their mother had been around she would have said NO. LOL

  24. Wow, and my nieces couldn’t walk by themselves to the pool which was only three blocks away, in a small town. They felt they needed me to drive them. AND they are 15 years old!

  25. What an incredible story. I was so fascinated I called my husband over to the computer to read it. What brave little boys they were. I would be proud to call them my sons.

  26. Different times, different standards but I still can’t imagine letting a five year old ride that far with a nine year old even then. If it was a necessity, yes but not just because they wanted to.

  27. This is an absolutely fantastic story. I ‘m really thrilled you posted this as had never heard of these brothers previously. Quite honestly, I think it would make a fabulous film. Disney Pixar, are you listening?

  28. Wow! Their story is amazing! It is truly hard to believe that two young boys were able to safely accomplish that.

  29. I’m astounded!! Completely and utterly!! Thanks for sharing this with us!! And can you imagine what that $10K would be worth in today’s money?

  30. As I was reading I thought this would make an amazing coming of age movie, then I saw your comment saying that there is a movie, I’ll have to look for it, I love a good western.

  31. What an amazing story! I can’t imagine how they were able to accomplish those feats at their ages. However, I will say that, in my opinion, most children in this day are not given enough responsibility.

  32. CateS, I have thought about that money, too. And to be so close to getting it! How disappointed they must have been. I wonder if they ever realized what they had accomplished, truly? Maybe when they were grown men. I love the picture of them driving their car.

  33. Rita, I would be very proud of them, too. Even though I might have no fingernails left from biting them from worry!

  34. Andrea,
    They did make a film of it several years ago, but I never heard of it until I started researching this article. Too bad. It is one of those the schools should buy and show! Especially here in OK where they were from. I wonder if anyone might be interested in doing a remake of it?

  35. Cori,
    I’m like you–I think of those young people in days gone by and what they had to do–they grew up so fast. My great grandmother was married at 13!!! After 4 children came along, her husband died freakishly and she was left alone to raise them. She remarried a man who had several kids and of course, then they had kids. She already had some gray hair by the time she was 25. We romanticize it, but I dont’ think I’d want to actually live back then.LOL

  36. I want to say thank you again to every single one of you who stopped by today to read and comment here at P&P. We treasure you all, and love doing these special event weeks from time to time. It means a lot to us to know that you all are out there and are reading and cheering us on as we write, but we also love sharing these bits and pieces of historical tidbits with you as well, especially when we have such a wonderful group of ladies who get as excited about it as we do! Mary and I are glad to wrap up this special events retro week, and we’ll be drawing the winner’s name for Mary’s gift card to Amazon a bit later on.

    THERE’S STILL TIME TO COMMENT! Thanks again for including Petticoats and Pistols in your lives!

  37. Enjoyed that story. What enterprising young men. They would never have gone on that first trip, young as they were, if their mother had been alive. 🙂 I do think, generally speaking that kids were more self-reliant in those days. Probably had to be. And fathers tend to allow more independence. But holy cow!! 9 & 5! Would any of us mothers have slept a wink if our boys were gone on that first trip?

  38. Those boys make me proud to be from Oklahoma! (Even if I did move to California at age one. My parents drove me, so I can’t claim the same wanderlust.)

  39. Totally enjoyed the story. thanks for sharing it again. This goes to show that different times and different parenting sure make a difference. Would like to win the book.

  40. Eunice,
    I know I sure wouldn’t have! I would have been a basket case. LOL Yeah, I think dads are a lot more lenient with the freedom. I remember when I was barely 16 and could drive without someone else, and I decided I wanted to go to visit my sister 100 miles away. This was back in the day before cell phones. Long, deserted stretches of highway. He said, “Well, be careful and call me when you get there!” (my mom was gone to my other sister’s house, or she certainly would have stepped in!) I made it down there and back, but boy, did she give him what for! LOL

  41. You’re welcome, Connie. I was glad to share this one again. This is one of my favorite true western stories.

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