Lewis Fenno Moulton was born on January 17, 1854 in Chicago, Illinois to John Tildon Moulton, his Harvard educated lawyer father, who was one of the first editors of the Chicago Tribune. John was a classmate and friend of Abraham Lincoln. His mother Charlotte (Harding) Hiller Moulton was native to Maine.
Lewis F. Moulton decided to leave home in 1874 on a daring adventure to California. It was not an easy journey during these times as it required many forms of transportation. According to his oldest daughter Charlotte Moulton Mathis in her oral history, “In 1874, when Father was twenty years old, he came from Boston on a Pacific mail steamer and across the Isthmus of Panama by train. He took another Pacific mail vessel to San Francisco. After a few days he caught a San Diego-bound #boat which landed him at Wilmington, from whence he proceeded by stage to Santa Ana. He arrived there at midnight on May 6, 1874.”
Lewis Fenno Moulton (1854-1938) arrives at Rancho San Joaquin (Irvine Ranch) at twenty years old. His second daughter Louise shared, “He got a job on the San Joaquin ranch working under Charles French. He and Mr. French bought a flock of sheep, and my father eventually bought out Mr. French. He ran his sheep on rented land from Oceanside to Wilmington.”
Lewis buys Rancho Niguel and other properties from Rawsons (Rawson Deed of Trust, 1899-09, 2017.15.05) Louise stated ”In February 1895, Father purchased Rawson’s 17,000 acres. A few months later Mr. Daguerre bought a one-third interest in it.” “Niguel was sold by the grantee to C. B. Rawson and sold by him to Lewis F. Moulton. The original grant was patented for 13,316.01 acres but the ranch has been enlarged by purchase until it now has an acreage of about 22,000 acres.” In 1895, L.F. Moulton and J. P. Daguerre become partners of the L. F. Moulton and Company. He would aquire nearly 22,000 acres (21,723) composed of modern Lake Forest (El Toro), Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Niguel. This land could also be defined from El Camino Real to the Pacific Ocean at Monarch Bay. Cattle camp was at Monarch Bay in modern Dana Point, CA. The corrals were located in Aliso Canyon near modern day Soka University in Aliso Viejo.
As a pioneer, his biographical history was part of History of Orange County written by Samuel Armor in 1921. Armor stated, “the steady increase in population and the tendency toward intensive cultivation of the land have had much to do with the dividing up of the great ranches of the early Spanish grants into small tracts. Noteworthy among the few large tracts that still remain intact is the great Moulton ranch of 22,000 acres which lies southwest of El Toro. Lewis Fenno Moulton, its original proprietor and owner, still directs its affairs with the ability and energy that have always characterized his undertakings.”