Historically speaking: Reminders of Moulton legacy live on around South County

In last week’s story, wealthy cattleman Lewis Moulton marries Nellie Gail, a schoolteacher 24 years his junior. They have two daughters, Charlotte and Louise, who grow up loving the Niguel Ranch as much as their father.

During the early 1900s, life on the 22,000-acre ranch is a romantic idyll for the Moulton family, as well as Lewis’ business partner, Jean Pierre Daguerre.

But changes were coming.

Louise, interviewed in 1994, remembered: “[Father] always had breakfast about 6:30 a.m. with the boys at the cookhouse, then most always luncheon out there also.”

Both girls enjoyed joining their father for these meals about a mile from the ranch compound.

By the mid ’30s, Lewis Moulton’s health began to fail and in December 1938, the famous cattleman died at age 84. Nellie, Charlotte and Louise were in charge of the Moulton two-thirds share of the ranch.

Nellie Gail Moulton looks on at what great-nephew Jared Mathis says is Louise Moulton Hanson’s Santa Barbara County ranch. Hanson moved to the ranch after the Mission Viejo Com. purchased the last 6,600 acres of the Moulton Ranch in Orange County in the 70s.

About 18 months after graduating from Pomona College, Charlotte married rancher Glen Mathis. Their 57-year union produced two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

Louise married three times, with the first marriage ending in divorce and in the other two cases she became widowed.

The Moulton women prepared to sell their share of the ranch after the Daguerre women sold theirs in the 1950s.

Nellie Gail Moulton moved to Three Arch Bay, and eventually to Leisure World (Laguna Woods Village).

Charlotte and her family retreated to the Hollister area. Louise and her husband began establishing their Las Cruces Ranch in Santa Barbara County. . In the late 1970s, wrecking balls began taking down structures on the Niguel Ranch for construction of the future Oakbrook Village Shopping Center.

Nellie Gail Moulton died in 1973 at the age of 94.

Charlotte’s husband Glenn died in a car accident in 1990. Charlotte lived on until 2006, dying at age 96.

Louise rode horses until her early 90s.

Around the time of Louise’s 98th birthday, the family announced that all 14,000 acres of her Las Cruces Ranch would be put under conservation easement upon her death, insuring the land would never be subdivided, bulldozed or paved over.

Louise died Jan. 26, 2014, one month after her 99th birthday.

For today’s residents, the story of the Moultons and their beloved Niguel Ranch may seem more the stuff of fiction than of fact. And yet reminders do exist.

Sheep Hills Park, for example, recalls the livestock that once grazed in what is now Aliso Viejo. There’s also Moulton Parkway, Nellie Gale Road, Calle de la Louisa, and Avenida de la Carlotta, which follows much of the same route Charlotte and her father traversed to collect mail at the El Toro General Store.

In addition to Charlotte’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as their various enterprises – many focused on preserving the family’s heritage – there is yet another survivor: Louise’s central California ranchland, always to remain pristine, a living tribute to the days of the great California ranches and the vision of Lewis F. Moulton.

Original article can be found here.

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