Source Information

  • Author Yda Addis Storke 
    Publisher Lewis Publishing Company, 1891 
    Page 674 
    Periodical A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura, California 
    Source Type Book 
    Source ID S702 
    Text CHARLES FERNALD. — Conspicuous among the homes of the Channel City is that of the Hon. Charles Fernald, perhaps the most widely known as well as the oldest New England resident of Santa Barbara. An entire city block is devoted to the culture of fruit and forest trees, upon a slight elevation in the midst of which stands the dwelling. The exterior is a true indication of the hospitable home within, for the Judge and his family unite to the simplicity and character of social life in New England, the genial hospitality and grace of the sunny South.

    Judge Fernald traces his lineage to one of the oldest stocks of American progenitors, being a direct descendent from Dr. Renald Fernald, who came from England to New Hampshire with Captain John Mason's company, in 1631, and settled in Piscataqua in that year. The Doctor had the distinguished honor of being the first surgeon who settled in New Hampshire, where the family has continued for more than two centuries.

    In 1640 appears the name of Renald Fernald as one of the grantors of fifty acres of glebe lands settled by the government and inhabitants of the Piscataqua Rivers to the church wardens for the advancement of the cause of religion. The city of Portsmouth has since been built upon the site of this grant. With this city the name of Fernald has been deservedly connected to the present day.

    Dr. Renald Fernald and is brother Thomas Fernald, who came from England with him, became proprietors of the island, or the northeast shore of the Piscataqua River, and their descendants held the same for a century and a half, until John Fernald, Jr., of Middleton, New Hampshire, conveyed away the middle one, known as the " Lay Claim Island, " and also as Fernald's Island, which afterwards on June 15, 1806, passed into the ownership of the United States and is now tlie site of Fort Sullivan in the Portsmouth or Kittery navy yard.

    The Fernalds have ever been a brave and loyal race. In 1776 Mark and Gilbert Fernald appended their signatures to the solemn engagement, to oppose the hostile proceedings of the British fleets and armies against the United American Colonies, and Hercules, or Archelaus Fernald, as he was sometimes called, the grandfather of our present subject, then only twenty-seven years of age, and a resident of Kittery, York County, Maine, enlisted in the Continental army in the regiment of Colonel Francis, when he marched to the Heights of Dorchester near Boston and engaged in the defense of his country. He afterward did much other pa-triotic service.

    The subject of our present sketch. Judge Charles Fernald, was born at North Berwick, County of York, State of Maine, on May 27, 1830. After completing the preparatory studies for college under the tuition of Professor Harrison Carroll Hobart, at the age of eighteen he joined that band of hardy and brave youth sent forth by New England to California, arriving at San Francisco June 14, 1849, being one of the Argonauts to pass through the Golden Gate in that memorable year, — which honor the Judge still preserves by a life membership in the California Pioneers' Society. After a few months spent in the mines he returned to San Francisco in November 1849, and was engaged in editorial work and law reporting until May 1852, being upon the staff of the Morning Post and Alta, the two leading journals of that day. During the time of his residence in San Francisco, he pursued his law studies with steadfast ardor, although interrupted greatly by the fire of May 4, 1851, which blotted out the city and for a brief period checked business pursuits. On May 4, 1852, a conflagration again destroyed the growing city and swept away his entire library, which he had accumulated in the meantime. This second disaster seemed to have changed his determination to remain longer on this coast, and he resolved to return to Boston. Having many friends and acquaintances in Southern California, the Judge resolved to visit them on his way home, stopping at Santa Barbara and at Los Angeles, intending to take the Panama steamer at San Diego where it then touched. On June 30, 1852, he arrived at Santa Barbara, where he met his friends, Ed-ward Sherman Hoar and Augustus F. Hinehman, who were among the leading lawyers and citizens of what was then an old and respectable Spanish settlement.

    At this period the law-abiding citizens of Santa Barbara were carrying on a vigorous campaign against an organized set of bandits who, disregarding all laws, had so terrorized the peaceful residents that their lives were a daily burden. They had compelled the offi- cers of the law in the county to resign their trusts, and anarchy and terrorism ruled supreme. At a public meeting of the leading citizens of the town it was resolved to make a firm and determined effort to re-establish order, and they invited Judge Fernald, then a young man of twenty-two, to remain and assist in the good work, desiring him to accept the office of County Judge. He was not a man to decline a public duty thus imposed upon him, and finally consented to remain. Upon the application of the leading citizens of Santa Barbara, Governor John Bigler, on March 14, 1853, appointed him Judge of Santa Barbara County. To this place he was elected September 5, 1853, and re-elected in 1857. At these elections the Judge was the unanimous choice of the citizens of the county, only a few votes being cast against him. Among his first official acts was the appointment of Russel Heath to the office of district attorney, with a strong and efficient corps of county officers throughout to take the places of those who had resigned. To these the people gave loyal support and the county government was successfully reorganized, and so strictly and impartially were the laws enforced under the new regime that no public disorder or resistance to the laws was attempted for many years, notwithstanding many " bravos," outlaws and desperados were at large in some of the adjoining counties.

    On January 7, 1860, by a joint resolution of the Senate and Assembly, Judge Fernald was granted five months' leave of absence from the state, in order to transact some very important business and visit his old home in the East.

    The Judge spent six months in Massachusetts and in the East. On his return he was again elected County Judge, in 1861. In 1862 he again visited his old home in New England, and returned in October of that year accompanied with his bride, who was Miss H. H. Hobbs, of North Berwick, Maine, ever since and now the universally esteemed and honored wife who has so well aided in making an ideal home in Santa Barbara.

    In 1862 the Judge resigned his office on account of the inadequacy of the salary, and entered upon the active practice of his profession in Santa Barbara and throughout Southern California, where he has continued his practice with signal success up to the present time. He was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of this State on September 2, 1854, and the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California, September 2, 1857, and to the Supreme Court of the United States at the October term, 1874. He was appointed Judge Advocate of the Fourth Division of the California Militia, April 26, 1854, by Governor John Bigler.

    Judge Fernald was almost unanimously elected Mayor of the city of Santa Barbara in May, 1882, and held the office for two years, to the great satisfaction of the citizens and honor to himself, declining to accept any salary, provided by city charter, for his services as such.

    For more than thirty years Judge Fernald has been identified with all the important litigation of this and adjoining counties, and throughout Southern California, and has numbered among his clients the most distinguished citizens as well as the largest non-resident land-owners; and during that long period has maintained his great reputa- tion in his profession for fidelity and signal ability. He is said never to have lost a land case.

    Nearly all the great land-owners, including John C. Jones, late of Boston, Massachu- setts; Colonel Thomas A. Scott, T Wallace More, Henry M. Newhall, Dr. Nicholas A. Den, Thomas B. Dibblee, Dr. J. B. Shaw, EUwood Cooper, Lazard Freres, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, and the Southern Pacific Railway Company were numbered among his clients. He has never been identified in any way with any doubtful or questionable litigation, refusing retainers in in- equitable cases as well as declining criminal practice.

    He is strong physically and morally, alert, an acute observer, and possesses the great and natural advantage of a good memory of facts and occurrences at a trial, as well as tireless industry.

    His services to this city in finally settling the title to and fixing the boundaries of its municipal lands, as successor to the ancient Pueblo of Santa Barbara, by obtaining a patent therefor (four square leagues) from the United States Land Department, the first patent ever issued to a pueblo in this State, were of great value to this city and its inhab-itants.

    Fortune has smiled on the Judge's professional career, and bestowed upon his exertions ample pecuniary rewards. He is now an ex- tensive land-owner in Santa Barbara and its vicinity, and a stockholder in many of its leading corporations. The Fernald Block, in which his elegant offices are located, is a striking ornament on State Street, situated in the heart of its business center. He has ever been one of the foremost in all local enterprises for the improvement of the city, and he has contributed in no small degree to its business prosperity.

    There is perhaps no citizen of Santa Barbara more widely known and respected than Judge Fernald. He is deeply read in an- cient and modern history, in English, French and Italian literature, and familiar with the principles of the civil as well as the common law; also a close student of international law and the science of government.

    He has ever taken a deep interest in fruit culture and in forestry, being a life member of the American Forestry Association. The first experiment in planting, and in the culti va tion of the olive tree in Southern California, outside of the old missions, was made by him. As early as 1865-'66, and long prior to the greater and more successful experiment of Mr. Ellwood Cooper, he purchased the "Belmont property," about seventy-five acres of land, near the city of Santa Barbara, and planted it out in olives of the mission variety, for the purpose of establishing the fact that the soil and climate of Southern California was alike favorable for the produc- tion of olives for preserving and for making oil of the best quality. 

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