By Bill Black, Special to The Leader
Sarah Mooney Museum's Living History figures: Aaron and Sara Mooney, Robert Armstrong, Oscar Beaver, Granville Follett, Emma Fox, and Rosina Byron.
Sarah Mooney Museum's Living History figures: Aaron and Sara Mooney, Robert Armstrong, Oscar Beaver, Granville Follett, Emma Fox, and Rosina Byron.
Photo Courtesy Sarah Mooney Museum

Have you ever wondered about the makeup of Lemoore’s DNA – the basic building blocks that influenced the early development of our community? Well, you have a chance to discover the character of early Lemoore by attending the Mooney Museum’s Living History Cemetery Walk on September 29 at 9 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. at Lemoore Cemetery along Lemoore Avenue.

At this delightful event, you will discover the character of six early families, who helped lay the cornerstones and prepared the foundation of what was to become the City of Lemoore.  During this year’s walk, you will also meet several skilled and capable presenters representing those early families, revealing significant life stories describing what it was like living in the Lake Country before 1900.

You will meet Lemoore’s first businesswomen, who as a youngster, lived in Kingston during Tiburcio Vasquez’s daring raid on December 26, 1873. Later the family moved to Lemoore to be close to the opportunities provided by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Here, her business interests flourished, as she became one of Lemoore’s most respected business owners.

When Tulare Lake’s waters lapped at the western edge in 1869, this family arrived with family members and friends to claim its part of prosperity. Unfortunately, the family was caught up in the events that lead to the Mussel Slough Tragedy. But all was not lost, and their descendants continue to influence commerce 151 years later.

Take a stroll with local legends with Sarah Mooney's Living History Walk, Sept. 29

You have traveled on the street named after this early settler, but he and his wife experienced a remarkable life before arriving in 1875. They were deeply involved in events before and during the Civil War that shaped our entire country. You will learn more about what it took for a husband and wife to stand on principle, in defiance of public opinion and the law.

You might call our next husband and wife team the “Welcome Wagon” team. Arriving in 1868, he and his bride pre-empted 160 acres in what was then Fresno County. At the time, their worldly goods consisted of a horse, wagon, and $45 in cash. The country trail, along with their property, ran from Kingston to what would become Lemoore.

They welcomed early settlers with open arms, warm food, and good advice. They were also very involved in ensuring the youngsters of the Lake Country had schools to attend. You will also discover why education was their greatest social motivation.

Our next DNA contributor’s family arrived in Lemoore in 1883 with a small family and lots of energy. This Irish immigrant opened a first-class horse boarding and stable business along Champion Street and a downtown hotel, which his wife managed. His son also became a significant community activist and leading merchant. DNA runs deep in this family, and you will discover why the family was so important.

Last but not least we have a founder and his wife who were at the forefront of creating the community of Lemoore. They purchased a 160-acre section just south of railroad property in 1875. Arriving with family and friends, who were just as anxious to make the Lake Country their new home. The couple immediately set out to develop a model farming operation featured in the September issue of Pacific Rural Press.

There is a peek at last year’s DNA contributors (picture) who had lots to share with attendants: Aaron and Sara Mooney built their home 1893, which is now the Sara Mooney Museum. Aaron also served as the town’s undertaker. Robert Armstrong had a street named after him, and he was one of the areas early settlers. Oscar was the first, and only Lemoore peace officer killed in the line of duty. Granville Follett was Lemoore’s first general store merchant. Emma Fox was the daughter of Lovern & Ellen Moore and founder of the Lemoore Women’s Club in 1893. Rosina Byron was married to Henry Byron and kept a diary of her experiences in the Lake Country.

The Byron’s were the first owners of property that became the Lemoore Cemetery. There was much more to their stories, and like the founders, we will be celebrating on September 29, 2018.

Please join us for a look at Lemoore’s past and discover the character of our Legends and their living Legacies.  Tickets are available from any Mooney Museum board member, Rambling Rose Florist, and the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce.