The Moulton Ranch was established by Lewis Fenno Moulton. He was a twenty year old Bostonian who learned to run a ranching operation by working at Rancho San Joaquin starting in 1874. According to Louise Moulton Hanson, “In 1881 he bought Jonathan Bacon’s band of sheep and rented his 1,600 acres.” Lewis F. Moulton and Company was established with Jean Pierre Daguerre, a Basque sheepherder, in 1874. On April 29, 1884 Lewis leased “17,000 acres, from Cyrus Rawson” (Appraisal and Title Collection_2018.43) which was a part of Rancho Niguel, a Mexican land grant once owned by Juan Avila. Throughout the years, Lewis purchased 21,723 acres which became the Moulton Ranch. Today, the land comprises much of Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and Aliso Viejo. We aim to work with these cities to provide them with their heritage and preserve the past. Together we can educate the communities by exhibiting their history at the Moulton Museum.
Lewis married Nellie Gail Moulton in 1908 and built their family ranch home with a luscious garden. As an educator, Nellie taught in the Seattle area in the early 1900s and shared these lessons with her daughters Charlotte and Louise. Nellie, an en plein air artist, supported Orange County’s creative community by devoting much of her time and resources. Her generous financial partnership secured the future of the Laguna Playhouse & Moulton Theatre, Laguna Art Museum & Moulton Hall, Laguna College of Art + Design, and Chapman University. Additional community partners include the Moulton Elementary School and Aliso Viejo Ranch’s 7.7 acre parcel of interpretive history. Former Moulton Ranch land was conserved by OC Parks with the development by Mission Viejo Company with the creation of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This parcel is the 4,500 acres of pristine, open landscape with a visitor’s center housed with artifacts for the rangers to interpret. Louise Moulton Hanson, Nellie’s youngest daughter, helped maintain this heritage by dedicating her 14,000 acres of Santa Barbara cattle ranch land to the California Rangeland Trust. Charlotte Moulton Mathis, Nellie’s oldest daughter, inspired her children to maintain the ranching lifestyles to the current era. The heirs of the Moulton Ranch began Moulton Museum, a 501c3 non-profit, to continue the family legacy of community involvement and heritage preservation.
If you are interested in helping the Moulton Museum pursue its goals, please contact Jared Mathis at 949-450-6285.
We are supported by The Moulton Company. Visit their site to learn more about the history.