Dr. Lovern Lee Moore first made his home in what was western Tulare County,
California -- now the City of Lemoore -- in April, 1871. It was near Tulare
Lake, then the largest body of water in central California. This was a stretch
of vast virgin land on which sheep, horses and wild animals had grazed but had
never been cultivated before American pioneers from eastern states had come to
By the time Dr. Moore arrived, scores of individual farms dotted the landscape.
The soil was rich and productive as it had been brought down and deposited for
centuries from the high Sierras by the Kings River. Wells were easy to dig, as
the water level wets unusually high. So water was plentiful for irrigation from
shallow wells farm families installed. Raising of sheep and grains were
principal concerns of farmers in the area.
However, the pioneers were somewhat isolated, since they had to drive by horse
as far as six miles northeast to Grangeville settlement, to get mail or
newspapers. It was even farther to Kingston for other supplies. Hanford was not
yet founded until later in 1877. Even the area was called by various names,
believed to be of Indian origin, such as Latache, Tailholt, or just, in
English, the Lake District.
Dr. Lee Moore proved to be a man of vision. He decided to knit together the
scores of surrounding farm families, to secure a post office, and some local
center for conducting business which could be hastened by direct means of
communicating with the outside world. He must also have had the hope of
attracting the railroad, which was then being planned but was not built until
six years later.
The first steps he took to organize a community began in early 1872, when he
surveyed a 10-acre subdivision in what is now the land immediately west of the
present Lemoore High School. In August 1872 he had established the first real
estate development in this district and had laid out and named the streets
after other pioneer families. In the summer of 1872 land auctions were held
and lots went to the highest bidder. Prices ranged from $75 to $150 per lot.
One business lot was sold for $600, rated as a very high price, considering
the value of the dollar in 1872. Dr. Moore's home was believed to be situated
where the grammar school playground on Bush Street is now located.
The year 1872 was a busy one for the inhabitants. In addition to sales at the
subdivision and putting in of streets, new buildings for homes and businesses
began to arise. This was the start of a real community, but it still lacked a
school, a definitely accepted name, and a post office.
All these developed in the next eventful year of 1873. Dr. Moore had presented
a signed petition to the U.S. Post Office Department in distant Washington for
a post office in the new town in 1872, but his petition was not granted until
At that time it was common custom to name communities after their founders or
some prominent person of the day. The naming of Hanford and Porterville are
examples of this common practice.
For some reason the U.S. Post Office objected to the name "Latache," so it
combined the founder's name by omitting one letter "e" and called the new post
office Lemoore after Lee Moore. In that way the new community received its name.
In the same year, 1873, a Mr. Armstrong donated two acres of land for the first
school building in Lemoore. It was a frame structure 18 by 30 feet, completed
and dedicated at a country dance held in December 1873.
The railroad came to what is now Kings County in 1877. At that date
Grangeville was the largest community in the entire area. After some dispute
with its residents, rail officials decided to by-pass that settlement and went
through Hanford. Lemoore, by that time had shown healthy growth. It could have
been through the foresight of Dr. Moore in setting a head-start in '72 which
attracted the rail route to his budding community. The line was put through
Lemoore in 1877 parallel to Front Street, now called E Street.
This re-directed the business growth of the town toward the railroad station
from where Dr. Moore first encouraged residence and business activity. It
eventually made E (Front Street) and D Streets the main business avenues of
After 25 years of service to the Lemoore area, Dr. Lee Moore passed away on
September 11, 1898. He was beloved by a multitude of families he had served in
the area. The number of new residents he had helped bring into the world
numbered in the thousands.
In 1883 the town then had a flouring mill of 200 barrels daily capacity. It
was an important shipping point for wheat and wool, and not long after wards
became a center for fruit, but in its early period many fires retarded its
Many of the early settlers of the Lemoore District were cultured people, and
Lemoore attained a reputation for literary and musical accomplishments
unmatched by many pioneer towns. There was an early literary society that had
a long and noteworthy existance.
In 1893 Tulare County, by act of the State Legislature, was split into two
areas. Western Tulare County became what is now Kings County. In creating the
new County of Kings there was keen competition between Hanford and Lemoore as
to which would become the county seat. By that time Hanford's population had
exceeded Lemoore's and the addition of the Santa Fe Railroad's main line
through Hanford gave it the advantage of two rail lines instead of one. The
result was the construction of the County Courthouse in that city.
Lemoore became an incorporated city on 11 July 1900, which opened a new era
for the community, with government by an elected City Council. Lemoore
residents have always taken a keen interest in local political activities.
For more information about the
of Lemoore, visit the
Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum
542 West D Street
For more information about arranging a special group tour, call Lynda Lahodny at (559) 381-3844.