A distinguished pioneer, eminent in the public and intellectual life in which he has so long and so actively participated, is John Evan Richards, Judge of the District Court of Appeals of the First District, who resides at 338 South Tenth Street, San Jose, near which city he was born on July 7, 1856.  His father, Richard Evan Richards, was born in Llangollen, Wales, while his mother, Mary Hamilton before her marriage, was a native of Ballykelly, County Derry, Ireland,  The father emigrated to the United Stated in the early thirties and followed the trade of an engraver in the State of New York. In 1849, drawn by the worldwide movement toward the California gold-fields, he came to California by way of Cape Horn and engaged in mining on the south fork of the American River, where he mined successfully for about two years.  In 1851, however, he removed to Santa Clara County and settled near Edenvale.  There he purchased a ranch, which he devoted to the raising of stock and grain.  Mary Hamilton who had broken away from the narrow environment of her native village and came to the United States in 1837, had also followed the golden lure and come to California in 1852 by way of Panama, settling in the Santa Clara Valley.  In 1854 Richard Richards and Mary Hamilton were married and in 1856 the subject of this sketch was born.  Seven years later Richard Richards purchased a ranch at Berryessa, to which the family moved, and there in 1867 he died, from congestion of the lungs.  His widow and only son continued to reside at Berryessa for the next several years during which the boy gained his early training in the public school.
Judge Richards recalls with the fondest memories his days at the Redwood schoolhouse at Berryessa.  He used, for example, Wilson's Fifth Reader, issued in 1864, and even now, when the Judge wishes inspiration for a public address, he takes down his boyhood copy of this once famous school classic, and cons over some of the sketches, many of which he learned by heart.
In 1869, Mrs. Richards and her son went to Ireland, by way of the transcontinental railroad, on a visit to her childhood home.  It took seven days to cross the continent by rail and an equal time was required for the ocean passage to Liverpool.   The trip held in store many wonderful experiences for the California country lad who had never before ridden on a railroad train or ocean liner.  Every day on  land and sea was a new marvel to his eager eye and retentive memory and he still relates with zest the incidents of that early experience.
Arriving in the north of Ireland with his mother, they remained there for a years, during which time the boy attended the same school, taught by the self-same pedagogue to which his mother had gone in her childhood.  Master Brewster was the Irish schoolmaster's name; he had taught there for more than fifty years; and the thoroughness of the instruction imparted is still recalled with grateful recollection.  They youth was much impressed with the simple yet sturdy habitudes of the Scotch-Irish people, whose  lives were occupied in the growing and marketing of their products and in otherwise discharging the plain, everyday duties of their rather insular existence.  Some forty years afterward a correspondence sprang up between Judge Richards and a cousin, who still lives in the region, and the well-read Judge marvels at her letters, which with no other basis than that exceptional early training, are wells of English undefiled.  At the end of a year, however, the mode of life in this old and easy-going country began to pall upon them and Mrs. Richards and son decided to return to California.  Upon reaching home they took up their residence in San Jose, and there the youth attended the old high school of San Jose which then stood upon the site of the present Horace Mann school, remaining in that institution two years.   in 1872 he matriculated at the University of the Pacific where he took up the classical course, and from which he was graduated in 1877 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.  He then went to Ann Arbor, Mich., entering the law School of the University of Michigan; and in 1879 graduated from that university with the degree of Bachelor of Laws.  Returning to California, he was admitted to proactive in the Supreme County, and soon became actively interested in the social, educational and political life of the community in which he lived.  In addition to the duties of his growing practice he became chief editorial writer on the "Mercury" with the idea of thereby perfecting his literary style.  He also lectured upon economics, history, rhetoric and law in the University of the Pacific, and he also early became a lecturer upon varied subjects and a writer of very acceptable verse.  In 1895, Mr. Richards opened an office in San Francisco "Call."
In 1907 he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, to succeed Judge A. L. Rhodes, in which position he served six years, when he was appointed by Governor Johnson to the position of Associate Justice for the District Court of Appeals for the First District.  Since then, Judge Richards has been twice re-elected to the eminent position which ne now holds.  In 1918, he served a years as Justice pro tem of the Supreme Court, during the illness of one of the members, and since that time he has been several times recalled to that court for a like service.  In state and national affairs Judge Richards is a life-long Republican, but in local affairs he has never permitted politics to interfere with his support of the best measures and the best men.
At San Jose on November 23, 1891, Judge Richards was married to Miss Mary Wallace Wesphal, a native of San Francisco, where she was born in 1858, the daughter of John T. and Marcy (Percy) Westphal.   Her father was at one time County Clerk for San Francisco, while the Percys are of Scotch-English extraction, sprung from the Percys of Northumberland.  Miss Wesphal attended the schools of Santa Clara County, and afterwards became an instructor in the public school in the vicinity.  She has always been, and still is active in the women's social, religious and education movements in the community.  She is one of the earliest and most devoted members of the Monday Club.  She has also been treasurer of the Pratt Home for many years, and is an active member of the Woman's Guild of the Trinity Episcopal Church, and was its president for a number of years.  Two children blessed this happy union of Judge and Mrs. Richards, John Percy Richards, who is in business in San Francisco, and Donald Wallace Richards who is an attorney at law, with offices in San Jose.  Judge Richards is a member of Golden Gate Lodge No. 30 of the Masonic order, in San Francisco.  He is also a member of the Observatory Parlor of the Native Sons, and Modoc Tirbe of Red Men of San Francisco; and he is also an active member of the Society of California Pioneers.
Judge and Mrs. Richards live in a quaint old home on South 10th Street, built in 1862 by J. H. Flickinger, and in the beautiful gardin of which are still to be seen some of the trees which the latter planted in that years.  Forty-one yeasr later, the Judge bought the place, and he has lived there ever since. There is a great cherry tree on the place, the larges in the region; the trun measuring thirty inces in diameter, and the limbs spreading more than fifty feet.  In 1918 this tree bore a thousand pounds of lucions cherries.  The Judge also has a ranch of seven acres in the foothills six miles east of San Jose, mainly devoted to an orchard, but the grounds about the house are given over to the cultivation of wild flowers, upon which Mrs. Richards is an uthority and is often called to deliver talks upon in different parts of the state.  The garden is really glorious during most seasons of the years, due to the interesting effort on the part of its owners to assemble every available species of California wild-flower life.  Both Judge and Mrs. Richards are sincere and earnest students, fond of reading and lovers of books; and not a month passes but what some valuable work in classics in science, in philosophy, in poetry or in general literate is added to thier large and valuable library.

from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page  313