Library

The books Spread Oaks Ranch has collected have significance to anyone who wants to learn about the region, the ranch, and natural history.

BOOKS FOR PURCHASE AT THE RANCH, OR ONLINE

Adventures in Reading – an Oxymoron?

Most everything that Spread Oaks Ranch has to offer is usually exciting or adventurous. So how could a library – books – find a place in the ranch’s repertoire? OK, the tomes won’t compare to a helicopter hog hunt, or pintails locked up over the decoys, or a chuckwagon meal with Ric. But the books we’ve collected to share with our guests have significance to anyone who wants to learn a little more about the region, the ranch, and natural history.

There are a few copies remaining of the limited-edition Welcome to Spread Oaks Ranch. It’s a photographic journey through the lens of Karen Sachar that captures the landscape, ranching, and the people who have brought the experience together. There are about 122 Spread Oaks photographs in her compilation, interspersed with some historical photographs, descriptive quotes, a short history of the ranch, Colorado River, Matagorda County, and some colorful stories about a few of the local characters.

Speaking of characters, another recent book added to the Spread Oaks library was written by rancher Tommy LeTulle. Tommy owned a portion of today’s Spread Oaks Ranch – you may have seen the bronze statue he commissioned of himself sitting on a mule on the east side of the ranch entrance. Before he died in 1988, he wrote a summary of his life and the world as he saw it. With many of the stories set in 1900s Spread Oaks, his is a book of rising rivers, winter pastures, steers and cows, trailing dogs, wagon wheels, old Indians, ex-slaves, cocked pistols, and a couple of outlaws. The result is a second limited-edition book, titled The Memoirs of Tommy LeTulle, available for reading or purchase at the lodge.

The ranch also has a book collection that should appeal to outdoors sporting enthusiasts. One is new book released in November 2022, called The Tarpon Club of Texas & the Genius of E.H.R. Green. Written by R.K. Sawyer and Jim Moloney, it is the story of a fabled late 1800s sporting club and its founder, Edward ‘Ned’ Green, and it reads more like fiction than history. E.H.R. ‘Ned’ Green was the one-legged son of the world’s richest female business tycoon, Hetty Green, who was known in financial circles as “the Witch of Wall Street.” In 1892, Hetty sent her 24-year-old son to Texas as the youngest railroad president in the United States. Within just six years he became an accomplished railroad man, banker, politician, and founder of the world’s most extravagant hunting and fishing club – The Tarpon Club. When Ned opened the club in 1899 in the Coastal Bend of Texas, it was the most expensive, expansive, and exclusive club the world had ever seen. Tarpon Club founder Ned Green wanted to be governor of Texas but was sidelined because of his alliance with African Americans during a time of little racial tolerance, and his love for a Chicago prostitute in a state still resonating with Bible Belt sentimentality. Ned Green left Texas in 1910, leaving behind much more than the legacy of the Tarpon Club. The Tarpon Club of Texas & the Genius of E.H.R. Green is available at the lodge and from Nueces Press.

We also try to keep on hand R.K. Sawyer’s three-volume series on the history of Texas waterfowling. Sawyer’s first book, A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl Hunting (2012), covers sporting clubs, wooden decoys, hunting guides, and coastal communities beginning after the Civil War. The second, Texas Market Hunting (2013), is the story of the men who made a living from wildlife, the tools they used, and game laws and outlaws. Images of the Hunt: A Photographic History of Texas Waterfowling (2020), celebrates the waterfowler’s sport through the 20th century not in words, but in almost 250 pictures. Forrest Wylie even put down his business pen long enough to write the book’s foreword. If we run out of copies at the lodge, they are available at robertsawyer.com.

Lastly, we began carrying our friend Gary Chambers’ seminal A History of North American Goose Hunting: Images of the Morning’s Sport. It’s a story like no other, and full of period photos. The introduction was written by R.K. Sawyer.

The Spread Oaks library – read our collection when you are visiting, or take them home, either way we hope you enjoy what we feature!