Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Abernathy Family

 Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
June 8, 2010
Frederick newspapers reported about Abernathys
Exactly 100 years ago this week, Bud and Temple Abernathy were approaching their destination – New York City.
They had left the family ranch west of Frederick on April 10, 1910; they spent more than a week in Washington, D.C. where they met with President Taft and his cabinet; and they arrived in New York City on June 11. Their father had traveled to New York by train and was waiting for them there.
The boys’ adventures on the trip were reported in many major newspapers of the day, and they were greeted by masses of people in New York City, including groups of children riding stick horses in imitation of their two young heroes.
The long trip by two young boys from Oklahoma all the way to New York City was remarkable in 1910, as it is to us today.
So, it is proper that today, exactly 100 years later, we remember the Abernathy family and the remarkable accomplishments of the two Abernathy boys.
We all know that the long close relationship between Roosevelt and the Abernathy family began during the wolf hunt in April 1905. Frederick newspapers provided many details of the hunt. Jack Abernathy became a well-known figure in the area.
Jack Abernathy and his wife Jessie had homesteaded their ranch west of Frederick in the Tesca and White Lake community in 1901 (the nearest early post office at the time was Tesca. The nearby school was White Lake). Their first “residence” there was a piano box, followed soon after by a dug-out, and later a house. The couple had six children: Kittie, Golda, Louie (Bud), Johnnie, Temple, and Jessie Pearl.

Newspaper Reports
In the years after the wolf hunt, Frederick newspapers also reported numerous details of the Abernathy family’s lives.
NOTE: Jack Abernathy is referred to in the newspaper accounts by his official name “John” or “J.R.”
May 5, 1905 – J.R. Abernathy has been appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal. This appointment came to Mr. Abernathy unsolicited. His headquarters will be at this place. He is the only U.S. Marshall in Comanche county.
NOTE: Abernathy’s appointment as Deputy U.S. Marshal by President Roosevelt came less than one month after the wolf hunt.
October 19, 1905 – John Abernathy took his little daughter, Goldie, to the Deaf Institute in Guthrie last week, where she will receive instruction.
March 8, 1906 – John R. Abernathy was sworn in recently at Guthrie by Chief Justice Burford as United States Marshal for Oklahoma.
NOTE: The Abernathy family moved to Guthrie at this time, although the family also kept the ranch west of Frederick. Jack Abernathy’s father and sister remained at the ranch.
May 9, 1907 – Jessie (Jordon) Abernathy, wife of United States Marshal John Abernathy, died Tuesday morning at the family residence in Guthrie. She was born at Brownsville, Tenn., and was thirty years of age at the time of her death. She was united in marriage to John R. Abernathy, in Cleburne, Texas, in 1894, and six children, the oldest twelve years, and the youngest three months old, were the result of this union. She also leaves five brothers. Her mother and father preceded her, the father dying two months ago. The funeral service was held from the Baptist church in Guthrie with interment in that city.
NOTE: Reported cause of Jessie Abernathy’s death was Bright’s disease.
July 9, 1908 – United States Marshall John D. Abernathy, aged 31, and Miss Elmira Perviance, aged 19, a junior of the Logan County High School, were married at the home of Mr. Nichols in Guthrie.

The Abernathy Children
Visitors to the Pioneer Townsite Museum often ask what became of the Abernathy children later in life.
In his book “Struggles in a New State”, Larry Lewis provided the following account of the six Abernathy children: Kittie Joe attended Ursiline Academy in New York City and served as a nun at St. Joseph’s Academy in Guthrie; Golda, who was born deaf, married a deaf bank teller in Wichita Falls; Louie Van (Bud) graduated from the University of Oklahoma Law School and served as prosecuting attorney for several terms in Wichita Falls, Texas; Johnnie Martin married an oil promoter in Longview, Texas; Temple Reeves was also an oil promoter who lived in Fort Worth; and Jessie Pearl married a man in Gainesville, Texas.

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society's board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at


  1. Jesse Pearl was my great grandmother. She was a sassy adventurous lady her whole life and passed away outliving two of her sons in California.

    1. Louie Van was my husbands great grandfather. One of the reasons my husband went to aw school was be ause of the stories he was told about Louie Van while growing up!

    2. Rhonda SteenbergenApril 18, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      Hi, Lisa. I just read the book Bud and Me. I chuckled several times while reading it. I'd love to know more about your family. How old was Alta when she passed away? Are any of the grandchildren alive?

  2. Joe, or anyone else who may see this. I am a freelance journalist from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am writing a lengthy article about the Abernathys. I am looking for contacts among their descendants, with the aim of hearing family stories handed down independently of the media. I am especially interested in Louis, who, for me, is somewhat of an unsung hero of their adventures. My interest is not restricted to Louis only. I am interested in "Jack", Temple, Louis, and other family members from the time of their famous exploits.

  3. I am sorry I neglected to identify myself and my contact info. My name is Richard Higgs. My email address is Thanks.