Preserving the Pioneer Spirit
Laguna Hills, California
Moulton Museum, an Orange County-based museum that works to keep the history of the region and its ranching era alive by archiving, restoring, and preserving historical artifacts, hosted nearly 1,000 visitors for our Grand Opening weekend. Jared Mathis, President of Moulton Museum and CEO of Moulton Company, welcomed our guests and shared the heritage of the Moulton Ranch.
1874: Into the West
1874 was a historic year for the nation. It marked the opening of the Southern Pacific Railroad, General Custer led an expedition, the patenting of barbed wire and Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis jeans. The QWERTY keyboard was first used by Remington typewriter. 1874 was also a significant statewide year in Orange County history. Back East, Lewis F. Moulton decided to leave home at twenty years old on a daring adventure to California. His future business partner, Jean Pierre Daguerre, journeyed to California as a French Basque sheepherder. It was not an easy journey during those times as it required many forms of transportation. Lewis ventured into the west as an eager and formidable businessman. Join us as we chart this adventure in our exhibition with interactive stations and film!
The Nellie Gail Moulton Exhibit features her sketches and paintings in Nellie’s Gallery. This series of conserved fine art has been on a traveling exhibit with our partners. It will be on view to the public until December 31, 2022. We have a artist-in-residency program. Please inquire for details.
An avid en plein air painter, Nellie belongs to a larger movement of female artists who have recently gained significant recognition for their contributions to the arts. Nellie created art throughout her entire life and studied with renowned artists such as William Wendt, Anna Hills, Frank Cuprien, and Edgar Payne (also showcased within this exhibition). Her work captures the rich beauty of nature, expressing her keen eye for detail and impressive use of color.
Aliso Viejo Ranch
The Aliso Viejo Ranch is located at 100 Park Ave, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656. Self-guided tours are available during regular business hours. They are Monday-Thursday 7:30am-5:30pm and Friday-Sunday 8am-3pm. If you are looking for a facility tour with staff, please schedule an appointment at (949) 425-2550 or avcity.org. The city, county, and state officials recognized this historically significant and monumental site for the community’s use. We hope you enjoy the OC Register article that highlighted the May 1, 2021 opening event. We had the Bunkhouse BBQ on August 25, 2021 with the California Rangeland Trust. This inaugural annual event was featured in the OC Register. Take our virtual tour to see the site today!
Pioneers of Orange County
Lewis Fenno Moulton & Nellie Gail Moulton
Lewis Fenno Moulton was a prestigious lawyer’s son. His father was a classmate and friend of President Lincoln. Lewis had worked at old Daniel Webster farm as an adolescent. As a part of Western expansion, many young men ventured West for opportunity. Lewis traveled to California at twenty years old by a boat around the Isthmus of Panama, train, and another boat to San Francisco before landing in soon to by Orange County. He learned to run a ranching operation by working at Rancho San Joaquin (Irvine Ranch) 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. They would developed a sheep and cattle enterprise along with agriculture.
On April 29, 1884 Lewis leased “17,000 acres, from Cyrus Rawson” (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 known as the Moulton Ranch.
Lewis and Nellie married in 1908. He built her a house on their homestead near the modern day Oakbrooke timeline near the 5 Freeway. They had two daughters, Charlotte and Louise.
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.
The Moulton Family Today
Cities Incorporated from Moulton Ranch
Moulton Ranch Center Murals
Laguna Hills, California
The Moulton Ranch Center mural depicts the history of Laguna Hills in a large, immersive mural painting that combines maps and photos from the Moulton Museum archives. These images are taken from the Moulton Ranch into an original artistic composition by Tim Smith, LCAD. View Orange County history through art in Laguna Hill’s first mural project! We hope you can experience the mural in person at 23272 Cabot Road in Laguna Hills. Please visit moultonmuseum.org/mural.
The Pioneer Spirit is featured within the Moulton Museum. It was created by Luis Barajas Ochoa, LCAD graduate. Luis designed each section based on Nellie Gail Moulton’s extraordinary life. It is an app enabled experience with our partnership with Tim Pryor, LCAD Department Chair Game Design.
Get in Touch
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