Bose Ikard was born a slave around 1843 – 1847 in Noxubee County, Mississippi. Bose gave his age to be 37 in 1880, making his year of birth around 1843, but some accounts say 1847. All of the available genealogical records list his father to be Dr. Milton Ikard with the mother’s name simply listed as “unknown.” In the vernacular of the time, his “master” was Dr. Ikard who was the source of his last name. His mother would eventually be revealed as having the last name King and to have also been born in Mississippi, but beyond that, no more is known of her. The Ikards moved first to Union Parish, Louisiana before coming to Texas about 1852 when Bose was around 8. Bose lived with the Ikards and moved with them first to Lamar County and then to Parker County. There he lived the life of a farmer and ranch hand, joining Milton Ikard and others defending their homes and property from Indian attacks. While living here, Bose acquired his skills as a cowboy, to ride, rope steers, fight Indians and to shoot.
It is unknown exactly where Bose spent the Civil War years. It is assumed that he remained with the Ikard household the entire time, but he became a free man following the war. He left the Ikards and went to work when he was in his 20s as a cowboy for Oliver Loving. In this capacity, in 1866 he took part in the first cattle drive that established the Goodnight-Loving Trail from Texas to Wyoming. The association was to be short lived, as Oliver Loving died the next year in New Mexico from wounds received in an Indian attack on another trail drive.
Following Loving’s death in 1867, Bose went to work for Loving’s partner Charles Goodnight where he remained the next four years. Bose became a trusted member of the outfit and endeared himself especially to Goodnight. This time in Bose’s life was likely the basis for the character Josh Deets in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove.” Around 1869, Bose married Angeline, ten years his junior, and began to think of settling down. A couple of years later, the couple bought a farm in Parker County. By 1880, the couple was well established in the Weatherford area and had raised 6 of their children. Angeline was only about 15 when they married and they were husband and wife until her death in 1902.
Goodnight and Bose would remain friends and Goodnight would give Bose special praise for his skills and trustworthiness back when they were together on the trail. A well known quote of Goodnight says “Bose Ikard surpassed any man I had in endurance and stamina. There was a dignity, a cleanliness and a reliability about him that was wonderful. He was my detective, banker and everything else in the wild country. When we carried money, I gave it to Bose. We went through some terrible trials during those four years on the trail. He never shirked a duty… rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with the Comanches. Splendid behavior. I have trusted him further than any living man.”
At present, not a lot is known of his life in Texas following his separation from Goodnight and the end of the great cattle drives, but it appears that Bose remained in the Weatherford area where he and his wife operated a farm and raised their large family. Bose survived Angeline by 27 years. He died in Austin, Texas at the Seton Infirmary on January 4, 1929 after suffering from the flu for six days. His remains were transported back to Parker County where he was interred in City Greenwood Cemetery alongside his wife Angeline and two of their children, the infant Easter and young daughter Annie May. Upon learning of Bose’s passing, Charles Goodnight, by then in his 90s, came to Weatherford and saw to it that a granite marker with an inscription similar to the above quote was placed on his friend’s grave.
In 1997, a statue of Bose Ikard was placed in the Fort Worth Stockyards. In Weatherford, Texas the Bose Ikard Elementary School is named in his honor. Bose is also featured in the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas and was in the inaugual class of Hall of Fame inductees in 2003.
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