Ikard, William Susan (1847–1934)

By: Joseph Andrew Blackman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 9, 2019

William S. Ikard, rancher, was born in Somerville, Mississippi, the son of Dr. Milton and Isabella (Tubb) Ikard. He used the name Sude in place of his given middle name. His parents and four brothers moved from Mississippi, first to Union Parish, Louisiana, and in 1852 to Lamar County, Texas. In 1855 the family moved to a home about nine miles southwest of Weatherford in Parker County, probably the most dangerous and violent part of the United States at the time. There Ikard received his schooling and learned to farm and ranch. His family fought in several encounters with Indians in the 1850s to 1870s and fortunately suffered no deaths. Ikard was a boy when the Civil War began, but by 1863 the Confederacy was desperate for recruits, and he joined a militia unit that helped defend the North Texas frontier. He lost a brother in the war.

In 1865 Sude and his brother Elisha Floyd entered the cattle business by rounding up cattle in Parker County that had strayed south during the winter. They held and then returned the cattle to their owners at a dollar a head, payable in money or cattle. With the herd formed from payments in cattle, all four Ikard brothers began in 1867 to make from one to three trail drives a year up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas City and other rail depots. They continued these drives until 1874, after the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad had been completed to Denison. In 1871 W. S. and E. F. Ikard secured range rights and moved to what later became Clay County, where they built a log cabin with a buffalo-hide roof. The two brothers helped organize the county and lay out the town of Henrietta. In 1878 Ikard built a new home and moved to it. The two brothers bought 20,000 acres at Charlie in 1875, and this V Bar Ranch prospered until the great drought of 1881. The Ikards then joined the three Harrold brothers and drove their combined herds to Greer County, Indian Territory, where they paid for range rights to a large area between the North and South forks of the Red River. This gamble succeeded, and the next year W. S. sold out to the Harrolds and to his brother.

In 1883 Ikard purchased a tract of 11,000 acres near Wichita Falls and 75,000 acres in Clay and Archer counties, the latter of which became the Circle Ranch. In 1884 he sold half interest in this ranch to E. F., who had liquidated his Greer County holdings, and they subsequently brought in the other two brothers, Lafayette E. and Milton Ikard, Jr. The Ikards were among the first ranchers in North Texas to fence their land but because they left large gaps and gates, they were never troubled by fence-cutting. The Indians also left them alone because the Ikards employed several Indian cowboys and paid Quanah Parker a fee every month for protection from raids. The drought, however, persisted into the mid-1880s, and the winters of 1885–87 caused additional devastation to the Ikard herds. When the Circle Ranch went bankrupt, the four brothers divided their holdings and continued ranching individually. Sude focused his efforts on purebred, especially Hereford, cattle that he had purchased at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Unfortunately, most of these died from Texas fever soon after they reached Henrietta, and it took him years to build a small herd of immune cattle. The calves of these surviving Herefords provided the nucleus of the state's Hereford industry.

Ikard was one of the founders of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (now the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association) in 1896 and was a founder and first president of the Texas Hereford Association. He was a Democrat and a Baptist. He married Kate Lewis on September 18, 1877, and they had eight children. He died at the age of eighty-seven on September 13, 1934, and was buried at Henrietta.

Rupert N. Richardson, "William S. Ikard and Hereford Raising in Texas," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 25 (1949). Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).

  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joseph Andrew Blackman, “Ikard, William Susan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ikard-william-susan.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 9, 2019