Richards becomes a prominent advocate for local taxpayers in the “Railroad War” of the late 1860s and early 1870s.
Fernald and two other investors build the first street car system in Santa Barbara.
Fernald and Samuel B. Brinkerhoff form the Santa Barbara Gas Company, which lights State Street for the first time on the night of February 21, 1872. Prior to that time, a city ordinance obligated State Street residents to hang lanterns over their doorways from dusk until 10 p.m.
Richards prevails in the Railroad War. Annoyed by Richards’ success, Santa Barbara Daily Press editor J.A. Johnson tells his readers, “Richards is an ass, as stupid as he is brazen, with no more regard for his own word than the people of Santa Barbara now have.”
The next day Richards encounters Johnson on State Street and the two men engage in a fist fight. Richards soundly beats Johnson, much to the delight of a crowd of onlookers, many of whom have also been pricked by Johnson’s poison pen. Richards’ victory greatly boosts his standing in the community, and he is promptly elected mayor of Santa Barbara.
As mayor of Santa Barbara, Richards conceives the system of having city warrants bear a reasonable rate of interest, establishing the city’s credit. Historian Walker Tompkins records that Richards was “one of the most efficient and productive mayors in the city’s history.”
Fernald becomes the part owner in several ranches, including the Cuyama, Simi, Las Posas and Conejo ranches. Closer to home, he also obtains the tract of land forming Fernald Point, the beautiful prominence northbound travelers see as they enter Montecito.
Fernald represents Colonel William Welles Hollister, Ellwood Cooper and the Sturgis Brothers in the Den vs. Hollister case, a fourteen-year struggle for control of a large part of the Goleta Valley.
Fernald is elected mayor of Santa Barbara, receiving all of the votes cast except eleven. He refuses any salary for his services.
As mayor, Fernald plays a leading role in what historian Walker Tompkins has called the greatest social event in the history of Santa Barbara: the Christmas visit of HRH Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria.
January. Fernald is appointed commissioner of the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of California.
Fernald passes away. Eulogies appear in newspapers throughout the state. The most moving remembrance is written by Fernald’s childhood friend Edward Hoar, whom Fernald came ashore to meet in 1852. After learning of the Judge’s death, Hoar, who was then living in New Hampshire, sends this letter to Beatrice Fernald, the oldest of the Judge’s five children:
I am grateful, sincerely so, that in your own affliction and bereavement you have remembered the friendship and respect that I have always felt for your father since we were young men together in the golden days. Of all of the boys who then assembled on that coast without experience, wisdom, or settled purpose, how few have made their lives so creditable to themselves and useful to their neighbors as he has done and meant to do from the start. This, and the remembrance of his affectionate and loyal nature, must be your great consolation.
Very truly yours,
Edward S. Hoar
July 21, 1892
Charles A. Carrier joins the firm, which becomes known as Richards & Carrier. Carrier also serves as the District Attorney of Santa Barbara County.