Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Abernathy Painting Dedicated at the Capitol

"The Abernathy Boys" by Mike Wimmer

Painting Honors the Abernathy Boys

     Tillman County's Abernathy Boys are now represented in the Oklahoma State Capitol.

     A painting of Bud and Temple Abernathy was commissioned by Representative Don Armes and Senator Don Barrington as a project with the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund.

     The painting by noted Oklahoma artist Mike Wimmer of Norman depicts an actual scene from the July 1910 New York City tickertape parade that honored former President Theodore Roosevelt on his return to the United States after a long trip abroad. Roosevelt traveled to Europe in 1909 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, and he had then traveled to Africa where he collected specimens for the National Museum. Even though he was no longer President, Roosevelt was still the most famous man alive. His return to the U.S. after a year abroad was met with a giant celebration, including the biggest tickertape parade that had been held in the city up to that date.

     Bud and Temple Abernathy, ages six and 10, had ridden their horses, alone, from the family ranch west of Frederick to New York City to be part of the celebration. In the parade, the "little cowboys from Oklahoma" (as the national news media of the day called them) were afforded a place of honor behind the President and ahead of Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

     Wimmer's painting depicts the parade scene, showing Roosevelt with New York City Mayor William J. Gaynor riding in the back of a carriage, followed by Bud and Temple Abernathy riding their Oklahoma ponies. The Rough Riders are shown marching behind the boys.

     The painting was unveiled during a ceremony in the Oklahoma House of Representatives this afternoon, May 14, 2014.

     I was honored to attend representing the Tillman County Historical Society and the Frederick Chamber of Commerce. Also present were Ray and Virginia Walker, current owners of the Abernathy's original Crossroads Ranch west of Frederick. Virginia also represented the Tillman County Historical Society. Also present was Dennis Hammond of Dove Publishing, publishers of the book "Bud and Me" by Alta Abernathy, the story of the boys' great adventures. The four of us were invited to stand with the painting on the floor of the House.

     Also present in the House balcony were Frederick native Leslie Blair, public information officer at the Oklahoma Department of Tourism; and Harvey Schroeder of Frederick, executive director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council.

     Rep. Don Armes made introductions and delivered comments about the painting and the story of the Abernathy Boys. Sen. Barrington also spoke, as did Mike Wimmer and retired Senator Charles Ford, president and founder of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund.

     The painting will hang permanently in a hallway on the Senate side of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

     According to Wimmer, it is likely that fine art prints of the painting may be produced at some point in the future, in which case they will be available for purchase.

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