The Queen of the Prairies
his book, The History of Lavaca County, well-known local historian Paul
C. Boethel has several pages describing some of the towns
in the county, including a location known for years as Old
Boethel wrote that Moulton was founded before 1860 and probably
sometime during the late 1850s. He also indicated that the origin of the town’s
name was in doubt, with most of the early pioneers saying that the place was named
for an old town in the States possibly located in Kentucky or Alabama; the latter
being the most likely because it still had a town by that name.
the mystery as to how the town came to be called Moulton was never really solved.
In the old days there were differing opinions on the name selection. Some folks
said it was named for E.L. Moulton, a pioneer settler in the area, and there were
those who said it was named by a visitor who said the live oak motts were so prevalent
in the region that it should be named after them – perhaps the word “mott” eventually
became Moulton, no one knows for sure.
Sometime before 1860, the town
acquired the name “The Queen of the Prairies” because of its location in
what was considered a rich prairie-land section of the county.
the Moulton post office opened and a private school operated out of a log cabin
about the same time. In the 1860s school was also taught in an old Christian church.
Boethel said that the town didn’t make any great progress until 1874 when
Professor M.H. Allis located his school there. “The school flourished under his
excellent management and direction and won state-wide recognition for the settlement,”
wrote Boethel. In 1875 the community had a church, a wagon and blacksmith shop,
several stores, and an Odd Fellows Hall. This was Moulton up until the
late 1880s – known today as Old
Then in 1887 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad was
constructed from Yoakum
to Waco with the
rails passing within two miles of the town and school. This greatly enhanced the
economy of the community and when the railroad
built a station, named Topeka, the old town gradually moved to its present
location near the tracks.
most of the citizens left the old town for the new location, the station inherited
the name, post office and business of Old
Moulton. According to “The Handbook of Texas Online,” by the late 1890s the
old site was pretty much abandoned – the community around the railroad station
was now Moulton.
Moulton Baptist Church in Old
TE photo, August 2005
typical building in downtown Moulton
TE photo, 2003
the 1890s significant numbers of Czechs and Germans settled in the community,
and by 1896 the town had an estimated 550 citizens, a Catholic church, a public
school, a hotel, cotton gins, and gristmills. By 1900 Moulton
reached a population of 733, and by 1914 the town had both Lutheran and Catholic
churches, a bank, an opera house, telephone service and a weekly newspaper.|
1970 the population of Moulton
has remained consistent at around 900. The census of 2000 showed the number of
inhabitants at 944. The largest number of people living in the city occurred in
1980 when there were 1,009 residents.
Not much remains of Old
Moulton these days. The historic Baptist church being the predominate structure
which has survived the years of change. Down the road is the old cemetery, with
its hallowed ground containing the remains of early pioneers – some who were involved
in the Texas Revolution.
Founded in the 1850s, the place once known as
“The Queen of the Prairies” is one of the oldest settlements in Lavaca County
and was a noteworthy contributor to the rich history of this area.
September 1, 2010 column