Moulton History

The history of Moulton, Texas begins in a land pristine with its beauty of native wildflowers, native animals, and breezes that blow as the season dictates.

The native Indian inhabitants were more than likely Nomadic Tonkawas or Comanche. 

In the early 1820’s Mexico achieved its independence from Spain.  In those same years, Moses Austin, his son Stephen F. Austin, Green DeWitt, and other American settlers surveyed the area and found it a good land for settling families wanting to establish new roots. 
One of the earliest Anglo settlers in the Moulton area was David Burkett who arrived as one of Green DeWitt’s original colonists in the early 1830’s  The deed for his land grant is dated May 4, 1832 and covers a large parcel of land about one mile north of the present Moulton town site. 
Other colonists soon filtered into the region drawn by the deep, fertile soil and its bounty. 
There was no organized settlement in the beginning.  Separate families lived throughout the region in isolated cabins, each working the land they owned.  Further settlement came to an abrupt halt in October 1835 with the "Come and Take It" Battle at Gonzales.  People who lived in what was to become the Moulton area got caught up in the Texas Revolution as did most Anglo-Americans living in Texas.  Soon after the Alamo fell, General Sam Houston abandoned Gonzales and burned the town so as to leave nothing of value for the Mexicans.  On March 15, 1836 part of the Texas Army camped on the East Fork of the Lavaca River.  Today a State monument on the present site of the American Legion Hall marks the approximate site.  They only camped there for a short time, just long enough for a small black slave boy of 6 years to meet and speak with General Houston.  That young slave, Mose Chappel, later went on to become one of Moulton’s oldest and most unforgettable citizens.
Lavaca County was officially organized in 1846.  Both the river and the county get their names from the large number of buffalo or "cows" found grazing on the banks by the early Spanish explorers.  Lavaca literally translated from Spanish means "the cow". 
No one knows exactly how the settlement actually got its name.  One theory suggest that the community received its name from a native of Moulton, Alabama, who named it after his home town.  Another suggests that the community was named after E. L. Moulton, a pioneer settler.  Yet another says the settlement was named after the small circular patches of oak trees called "motts" that abound the region.
In the early 1850’s many Southern families immigrated to this part of South Texas.  During that same period of time thousands of foreign emigrants, mostly German and Czechs began their journey to America.  Driven out by the revolutions and wars in Europe, they came to Central Texas wanting only to live in peace and work the land. 

The Old Moulton Cemetery was started on land given by H. R. McGinty and his wife.  The first burial was about 1855 or 1856.  In March 1981, the Old Moulton Cemetery Association was formed and now is under the care of the City of Moulton.

In 1887 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Company laid out a spur from Yoakum northward to Waco.  Soon after the construction of the railroad, a depot was built on the west side of the tracks and was called Topeka.  Soon the little depot became the economic center of the area.  In 1887 the first business opened in Moulton was a general store owned by Ed Boehm with later additions that also housed a saloon, barber shop and the Post Office.

To handle the large influx of people arriving in the growing community during this period, the Samuel Moore family built the large 32 room Moore Hotel in 1888.  The Moore Hotel was located directly east of the tracks and the depot.  In 1890, Mr. C. M. Kotzebue purchased the hotel from the Moore family.  The hotel continued under the management of the Kotzebue family until 1940 when it was demolished to make way for a new business, the Pundt’s Café.  That was later remodeled in to the current Kloesel’s Steakhouse and Bar. 

A large two-story hospital was established on McKinney Street in 1910-1911 by Dr. John Guenther and Dr. Frank Guenther. 

Since its founding, Moulton has had only one newspaper.  The Moulton Eagle has reported and recorded the history of the community since February 3, 1900. 

In 1913 F. T. Fehrenkamp erected a large 300’ by 70’ lumber shed beside the railroad tracks.  The Lumber Shed is currently owned by Hi-Way Lumber Company and still stands today.

Geographically speaking, Moulton lies in the heart of South Central Texas along the border of the Post Oak Belt and Gulf Coastal Plains.  Moulton straddles the East and West Forks of the Lavaca River with most of the acreage within the city limits perched atop a slight rise between these two streams.  Farming became the area’s main commercial enterprise and remains so to this date.  Cotton dominated the rural landscape. 

Samuel Butler and William J. Moore recognized the need for good educational facilities in Moulton.  The Sam and Will Moore Institute was constructed in 1900-1901.  The structure has withstood the ravages of 112 years of weather and is currently Moulton High School. 

On July 11, 1938, a newly-elected city council adopted a resolution officially incorporating Moulton as a city.  The first Mayor was F. T. Fehrenkamp with Edwin A. Jaegglie, Vladik Boehm, R. B. Papacek, Joe Biehunko and Fred Pietsch serving as aldermen.  Mr. William Waehtendorf was elected to serve as the first city secretary, a position he held for 36 years.  In 1939 the city purchased the water works system and in 1941 purchased the electric distribution system.  The sanitary sewer system was put into operation in 1951.  The current City Hall is located in the former Farmers & Merchants State Bank which dates back to 1920.  Currently the city uses the old bank vaults to store records and important documents. 

Today, Moulton is a growing, unique community that retains its historical past while moving into the future.