The inspiration behind a ‘Lonesome’ black cowboy died in Austin 88 years ago today

When former slave Bose Ikard died of the flu at Austin’s Seton Infirmary on this date in 1929, his body was shipped back to his home in Weatherford for burial.

Bose Ikard

Bose Ikard

A brief newspaper obituary just identified him as “one of the old-time negroes of Weatherford” and said his age was suspected to be between 85 and 90 years.

And that’s all anyone would have ever heard of Bose Ikard … except for one thing: He was an old-time friend of iconic Texas cattle rancher Charles Goodnight. And, as described in the book “Black Cowboys of Texas,” when Goodnight found out about his old friend’s death, he decided Ikard needed a proper monument.

By June of 1929, the Weatherford newspaper had published a new obituary for their now-famous departed citizen. In it, the printed the words Goodnight had inscribed into granite marker for Ikard:

“Bose Ikard served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches, splendid behavior.”

Sounds familiar, right?

In Larry McMurtry’s book “Lonesome Dove,” here are the words Captain Woodrow Call etches into the grave marker for black cowboy Josh Deets:

Josh Deets
Served with me 30 years, Fought in 21 Engagements with the Comanche and Kiowa. Cheerful in all weathers. Never shirked a task. Splendid behavior.

Yes, just as Charles Goodnight and his partner Oliver Loving were used as models for Call and Augustus McCrae in McMurtry’s Western masterpiece, Ikard was an inspiration for trusted employee Deets.

Though Ikard spent a fraction of the time with Goodnight that his fictional counterpart spent with his employer, it didn’t take long for Goodnight to consider Ikard a trustworthy friend and particularly able worker. Like Deets at the beginning of the novel, Ikard was trusted to carry large sums of cash for Goodnight while on the cattle trail.

A free man after the Civil War ended, Ikard first rode for Loving, then Goodnight from 1866 through 1869. Afterward he became a farmer in Parker County, living near Weatherford for the next 50 years.

His friend Goodnight never forgot him, visiting occasionally, bringing gifts of money.


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