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The Amazing Abernathy Brothers

Every now and then, among the sand storm of irrelevant and uninteresting press releases, one arrives that catches our attention. This morning one such release arrived. The reborn Indian are building bikes that are being very well received; have entered American Flat Track's national series with the FTR750 (read all about it in Sideburn 27) and are on a marketing onslaught to ensure they're at least considered when prospective customers start looking for new bikes. Part of the strategy is to mine the brand's history. Indian was founded in 1901, so there's plenty to dig out, like this incredible story taken from the press release (that I've edited a bit)...

Bud (AKA Louis) and Temple Abernathy set out on their first horseback adventure, from Oklahoma to New Mexico, aged 9 and 5. Their father, a US marshall and friend of Roosevelt, came up with the idea saying they needed to “toughen up”.

On July 10, 1909, the brothers saddled up their horses (called Geronimo and Sam) and set off for Roswell in New Mexico, 500 miles away – alone.

The following year the two young Abernathy kids set out from Oklahoma again, but this time headed for New York, 2500 miles away, where they would meet President Roosevelt who was returning from a hunting trip in Africa. This adventure gained huge media attention with the entire nation country following the brothers in newspaper reports.

When they arrived in New York City, on 11 June 1910, they were greeted by a crowd of several thousand people (and their father, Jack Abernathy, a famed wolf catcher). For the return trip back home to Oklahoma, the boys bought a Brush Motor Car and drove home, once again on their own. They were now aged 10 and 6.

In 1911, they accepted a challenge to ride horses from New York City to San Francisco in under 60 days. The rules stated they couldn’t sleep or eat indoors during the entire journey and there was a $10,000 prize if they succeeded. Sadly, they were two days late. Despite missing out on the prize money, they set the record for crossing the country on horseback and the pair had earned a fair sum from their notoriety, enough to buy an Indian motorcycle.

In 1913, they rode it together from Oklahoma to New York (Bud now 14 and Temple 10). Their stepbrother Anton went along with them too.

Their ride to New York on the Indian was their last documented adventure. Louis grew up to become a lawyer and practice law in Wichita Falls, Texas. He died in 1979. Temple worked in the oil industry and passed away in 1986.

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