The Abernathy Kids

I've seen this photo a number of times and always thought it was just another picture of someone's children on a motorcycle.  Then I stumbled across a short newspaper article which explained that these two boys rode this motorcycle from their Father's ranch in Oklahoma to New York City to attend their sister's graduation.  That in itself is pretty impressive, given that the boys are ages 13 and 9.  Even more impressive is the fact that they did this trip solo.  That's right, 1750 miles alone on a motorcycle.  A motorcycle that they also purchased themselves.

This was enough to spark my interest and I dug a little deeper into the story of these two boys.  Their father, Jack Abernathy, was a Rough Rider and close friend of Theodore Roosevelt.  After retiring from the service, he moved his family to ranch in Oklahoma, where he held several law enforcement positions including marshal and sheriff.  He was most famous for his ability to catch wolves with his bare hands and was well paid by local ranchers to capture wolves that were preying on their livestock.  The boys' mother died in 1907 and Jack raised them alone.  I guess if you can catch wolves with your bare hands, you wouldn't think twice about letting your sons ride cross country.  

In 1910, at ages 9 and 6, the boys took their first solo trip on horseback, riding from Oklahoma to New York to visit Theodore Roosevelt.  After their visit, they purchased a Model E Brush automobile and drove it back to Oklahoma.

The next year the boys excepted a challenge to ride horses coast to coast in under sixty days.  They completed that trip in 62 days and although they didn't win the $10,000 prize, their new found fame attracted the attention of a traveling vaudeville group.  For a few weeks, the boys toured with the group to the tune of $300 per week.  This earned them enough money to easily purchase the Indian motorcycle.

Oddly enough, the trip on the Indian was their last famous ride.  After reaching New York, the boys and the motorcycle rode back to Oklahoma via train.  I'm sure they continued to travel, but once they were both teenagers, their adventures would not have caught the public's attention.