Temple Abernathy


The Abernathy Boys Music Video

 

Jack Abernathy The Wolf Hunt

Library of Congress Footage

 

Close shot of one of 2,000 Wolves Jack Abernathy caught alive and released in the wilderness away from the ranchers cattle.

 

 

The Greatest Wolf Hunter That Ever Lived,
The Story Of 'Catch`em Alive' Jack Abernathy was written by Ronald J. Ward

 

 

 

 

Ronald Ward was born on a cold winter day in 1948, Hall County, Texas.

 

 

His family had been farmers and people of the land.

His 6th Great Grandfather on his father’s side was Jesse Ward of North Carolina, a patriot of the
Revolutionary War. The 6th Great Grandfather of the Revolutionary War on his mother’s side was the
patriot Daniel Ragan of Virginia.

Ward was greatly influenced by the Christian example and stories of his Grandfather W.C. Ragan.
Mr. Ragan had also worked at many jobs and knew Charles Goodnight, while working as a cowboy on a
ranch near Goodnight, Texas in 1923.

The first 4 years of his life was spent on a Hall County cotton farm between Lakeview and Leslie,
Texas. The family lived conservatively, growing most of what they ate and butchering their own
hogs and beef.

Mr. Ward is a graduate of Tascosa High School Amarillo Texas, class of 1966. During high school
he was a member of a rifle team sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars under the direction of
the Division of Civilian Marksmanship Program. He was a student of the Distributive Education
Program, always had a job, and paid his own way.

In 1969, Ward graduated from Clarendon Jr. College where he studied agriculture. He also attended
West Texas State University at Canyon, Texas. He attended the night school of Texas Technology
Institute, where he received certificates in agriculture and welding.

During Mr. Ward’s college years, he worked for Clifford Brothers Grocery store, one of the oldest
grocery stores in the Panhandle of Texas. While there he did everything from feeding the Clifford
Bros. hogs to working after hours butchering beef. During this same time Ward and his brother
Randy owned two `coon hounds and hunted the many creeks and spring areas of Donley County. Ward
even learned from another `coon hunter how to wrestle a live `coon from a pack of hounds and put
him in a tow sack, not very smart or profitable, but exciting!

In 1970, Mr. Ward entered into an agriculture venture where he learned how to produce premium
quality horse hay and three years later bought a farm of his own. At 24 years of age Ward was the
youngest person in Donley County to buy a farm through the Farmers Home Administration.

In 1974, Ronald married his wife, Dixie. They have been married 38 years and have raised 2
children. They live on their farm home near Clarendon Texas, where Mr. Ward continues to grow
premium quality horse hay.

In 1978 and 1979, Ronald and his wife Dixie were dorm parents for 24 boys, ages 8 to 18, at Cal
Farley’s Boys Ranch, a home for orphaned and troubled boys. Boy’s Ranch is located on the Canadian
River 36 miles from Amarillo. It was once the cattle trail town of Tascosa, Texas, where Billy the
Kid sold stolen horses.

Ronald has helped work and gather cattle, worked on windmills, and was a bulldozer operator for
the Matthews Ranch. From 1979 to 1994 Ward custom bailed the hay every summer for the historic J.
A. Ranch, and while working there he killed his share of rattlesnakes.

In 2005, after five years of research and writing, Ward published “The Greatest Wolf Hunter That
Ever Lived, The Story Of “Catch`em Alive Jack”. This is the historical biography of Jack
Abernathy, famous from a 1905 wolf hunt at Frederick, Oklahoma that President Theodore Roosevelt
attended.

Since Jack Abernathy was a Texas cowboy and caught his first wolf on the JA. Ranch where Ward once
worked, it is only natural that Ward would find an interest in the almost forgotten story.
Abernathy was appointed as U. S. Marshal by Roosevelt after the wolf hunt of 1905. Abernathy and
Teddy Roosevelt became great friends.

Ronald was the guest speaker for the Tillman County, Oklahoma Educational and Historical Society
where he introduced his new book in April 2005, the 100th anniversary of the Wolf hunt. The
Frederick Museum has a complete exhibit on the Abernathy family.

Mr. Ward has been the guest speaker for several museums, historical societies, civic groups, and
radio programs. His program for the Chisholm Trail Museum at Kingfisher Oklahoma was filmed for
Oklahoma PBS Television. Part of his presentation includes the narration of a film Abernathy made
in 1908. This film was also shown to Theodore Roosevelt in the White House and includes several
scenes of Abernathy capturing the wolves alive by the bottom jaw.

Mr. and Mrs. Ward have continued their work with children at their church and Mr. Ward is the
recent author of “Survival Guide for a Suffering World “a religious tract written for his church.

Back in Donley County, folks know Ward as just a neighbor and friend and enjoy his tall tales told
around the Cotton Gin office and Fertilizer Company and wherever he tells a story there is always
someone to listen.

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

BAILING HAY ON THE JA RANCH
BY RONALD WARD

 

The blazing sun tested my endurance as it penetrated into every part of my being. I reached for my water jug and got out my big handkerchief or bandana as some cowboys call it. Tying the wet bandana up as high as I could under my eyes and over my nose and ears, I began to feel the refreshing coolness for survival in temperature of over 100 degrees.
My work must go on, bailing hay on the historic JA ranch. They were depending on me for their winter cattle feed and feed for the horses. Even more than that, my wife and 2 little children were depending on me for the extra money I would earn.
This job was no easy task. Sometimes I would bale 6,000 to 10,000 bales on the 300 acre JA meadow 5 miles east of the headquarters. It would take me 2 days to move my equipment into the ranch. Cattle guards were not built wide enough for my machinery, fences had to be let down and then put back, mesquites and brush had to be cut with an axe and removed. Then there were the two creeks, Halls creek and Mulberry creek, which had to be forded. Sometimes a bulldozer had to be brought in to push down the cut banks at the creeks when heavy rains would wash it down.
In addition to the heat there was the rattlesnakes to watch out for that might be anywhere at any time. Extra care had to be taken to make sure a snake wasn’t inside the hay bailer where it needed to be greased. Sometimes I didn’t have time to find something in which to kill a snake so I carried a Ruger Bear Cat revolver to shoot them. It was a long way to a doctor and every precaution was made not to get snake bit. Many times I would bail a rattlesnake in a bale of hay. It was always fun for the hay haulers to find one, just like getting the prize in a box of cracker jacks.
The necessary items were taken for my work, like: extra hay bailer parts and tools to make the repairs, extra water, food for dinner and supper. I carried an extra change of clothes in case it rained and the roads got bad. I could always stay at the bunkhouse at headquarters There were no cell phones, no air conditioned cab tractor, and no radio or CD to listen to. There was the beauty of Gods creation, the solitude of the vast countryside far removed from the problems of the city, and the independence of being my own boss. The cowboys knew the importance of the job I did and I was always treated with respect and paid in a timely way on the JA Ranch.
One hundred years earlier, Jack Abernathy did a different job in the never- to be- tamed JA country. He knew the quick changes of the weather and lightning strikes out of a dry cloud and all the dangers and excitement of it all. There was the freedom of being a real individual that had sweated over the land and had earned the right to be there and had gained a measure of self worth from having done your best.

Ronald J. Ward
Copyright, June 12, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mslindascott@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

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