Orange County










            Lewis Fenno Moulton, who has been known for years as one of the fine old characters of the west, is part owner of a ranch of over twenty-one thousand acres at El Toro which constitutes one of the beauty spots of Orange County.  He purchased the tract in 1895 and has devoted his attention to its cultivation and improvement throughout the intervening period of thirty-eight years.  A native of Chicago, Illinois, he was born January 17, 1854, his parents being J. Tilden and Charlotte Harding (Fenno) Moulton.  The grandparents in the paternal line were Dr. Jotham and Lucy (Farrar) Moulton, of Bucksport, Maine, where the former passed away November 3, 1867.  Dr. Jotham Moulton was a soldier of the War of 1812, and his father, General Jeremiah Moulton, participated in the Revolutionary War.  Other members of the Moulton family who figured prominently in early colonial life in New England were Samuel Farrar, who fought in the Battle of Concord, and Samuel Fenno, a member of the Boston Tea Party.  J. Tilden Moulton, the father of Lewis F. Moulton, was a native of Bucksport, Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College as well as of the Harvard University Law School.  For many years he engaged in law practice at Cherryfield, Maine.  In early manhood he married Charlotte Harding Fenno, who was born in Massachusetts and acquired her education in Connecticut.  In the early ‘40s J. Tilden Moulton removed to Chicago, Illinois, where he became prominent in legal circles and was accorded an extensive practice.  He served as master in chancery for the United States Court of Chicago.  Among the many great men of the day who were numbered among his personal friends was Abraham Lincoln, who visited the Moulton home many times when our subject was a youth.  Mr. Moulton well remembers talking with him who was to be the “Great Emancipator.”  J. Tilden Moulton was also well known in journalistic circles, being the first editor of the Chicago Tribune.  He died in Chicago when his son, Lewis F. Moulton, was about twenty, being survived by his wife, whose death occurred in San Francisco, California, in 1885.  They had two sons:  Irving, who was for many years vice president and cashier of the Bank of California in San Francisco; and Lewis Fenno, of this review.

            Lewis F. Moulton left school early in life, and at ten went to Boston, in which vicinity he worked ten years, then coming to California.  As a youth of fifteen years he worked on the old Daniel Webster farm in South Marshfield, Massachusetts, there remaining for three years.  Here he formed the acquaintance of the son of Daniel Webster.  In 1874 he came direct to California via the Isthmus of Panama and made his way direct to Santa Ana, then Los Angeles County.  He began work on the San Joaquin ranch near Santa Ana and subsequently engaged in the sheep business for several years in association with C. E. French.  He established a wholesale slaughter house in San Francisco but eventually returned to Orange County.   It was in 1895 that he purchased what is now known as the Moulton Ranch at El Toro, California, a tract of land embracing about twenty-one thousand acres, which is one of Orange county’s most picturesque and attractive spots.  He had leased the ranch for sheepraising prior to this.  The acreage not required for pasturage is devoted to the raising of hay, grain, barley and wheat, for which purpose Mr. Moulton has leased the land to tenants.  There are two well-built and handsome residences on the ranch, the homes of the Daguerre and Moulton families, whose beauty is enhanced by well-kept lawns.

            In 1908 Mr. Moulton was united in marriage to Miss Nellie Gail, daughter of John Lockwood and Prudence Adelaide (Stoneman) Gail, of old colonial stock, the latter being a cousin of General Stoneman.  John Lockwood Gail, a veteran of the Civil War, passed away in 1896 and was buried at Sawtelle, California.  His family numbered three children, two of whom survive, Mrs. Nellie (Gail) Moulton and Mrs. Carrie Drews of El Toro.  Mrs. Nellie Moulton is a member of the Ebell Club of Santa Ana and manifests an active and helpful interest in all community work.  By her marriage she has become the mother of two daughters, Charlotte and Louise.  The former was graduated from Pomona College with the class of 1930 and also attended the University of Southern California.  In June, 1933, she married Glen E. Mathis, owner of an orange orchard at Villa Park, Orange County, on which they reside.  Louise Moulton, a student at Pomona College, lives with her parents on the home ranch.

            No history of Orange County and southern California would be complete without reference to Lewis Fenno Moulton, whose residence on the Pacific coast now covers a period of six decades and who is widely known as a broad-minded, public-spirited and progressive citizen, generous and charitable to all.  Assisted by his family, he is still in full charge of affairs on the Moulton Ranch at El Toro.




Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: California of the South Vol. IV, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 453-455, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  V. Gerald Iaquinta.