Overview of St. Charles Bay Hunting Club
a retreat from hectic, demanding urban lifestyles
Since 1923, the St. Charles Bay Hunting Club has provided its members a source of enjoyment - a retreat from hectic, demanding urban lifestyles.
St. Charles Bay, located in Aransas County, is situated in an area rich in history. The area encompassing Rockport and Lamar was the site of ancient Indian settlements, expeditions by early European explorers and colonization by the Spanish.
The earliest persons historically known to have lived in this area were the Karankawa Indians. They did not practice agriculture, but were hunters, gathers and especially fisherman. They ate plants and animals, relying heavily on marine life, such as oysters, turtles, fish, mussels and ducks.
North Americans came to the area when, under Mexican rule, empresario grants were issued. The Refugio Colony was largely settled by Irish immigrants, who were joined by settlers of Mexican and northern European origins.
Also, drawn to the area are Whooping Cranes, which nest in Canada during the summer and at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in winter. They make the saltwater marshes their winter feeding grounds; productive tidal flats provide clams and crabs for the cranes to eat.
The Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 to protect the wildlife of Coastal Texas. The 70,500 acre refuge includes Blackjack Peninsula, named for its scattered blackjack oak trees and located directly across the bay from St. Charles Bay Hunting Club.
St. Charles Bay Hunting Club is situated in the town site of Lamar, an inactive municipality. The town is named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas. It was founded in 1923 by a group of San Antonio businessmen. Purchasing property from the Roberts family in Lamar, the club was established on the waterfront of the St. Charles Bay, where duck and goose hunting was bountiful, urban life remote and Aransas County's tourist trade a comfortable distance away.
In the mid-1920's, St. Charles Bay was an exotic location, reached by ferry with automobiles shipped by railroad from San Antonio, Texas.
The early members were professionally based in a variety of fields, including agriculture, oil/gas and related industries, such as banking. The principal organizers and first officers of the club were Charles P. Steffler, A.L. Huber and federal judge R.J. McMillan, who secured the corporate charter and wrote the first by-laws.
The group formed a private corporation under the name of the St. Charles Bay Hunting Club, formed for " the establishment and maintenance of a fishing, hunting and boating club, and the protection, preservation and propagation of fish and game and the purchase and ownership of such land and bodies of water as may be desirable."