The Abel Stearns Papers, Collection II, comprises papers from the early part of Stearns's life, supplementing the papers in
the Stearns Collection I, which come predominantly from the California period of his career.
Abel Stearns was a pioneer ranch owner and businessman of Los Angeles. Orphaned in 1810, he left his native Massachusetts
and went to sea, making trips to China, the East Indies, and Latin America. By the early 1820s he was back in the United States
trying to establish himself as a businessman, dealing mainly in shoes. In 1826 he left for Mexico, settling in Mexico City.
As partner in a colonization enterprise for Upper California, he became a naturalized citizen and moved to Monterey in 1829.
While awaiting approval of a land grant, he turned to merchandising. In about 1833 Stearns settled in Los Angeles, joined
Juan Bandini in the trading business, and married Bandini's daughter Arcadia. Stearns became involved in almost every type
of business, held minor political offices, and was sent as a representative of the Los Angeles district to the state constitutional
convention in Monterey in 1849. He began acquiring rancho property and by 1858 was the owner of vast landholdings and cattle
herds and the wealthiest man in Los Angeles county. As a member of the state assembly in 1861, he took an active part in promoting
the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad. Stearns was forced to sell a great deal of his property when he became bankrupt after
the drought of 1863-1864, which caused the decline of the cattle industry in California. He died in San Francisco in 1871.
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property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances,
the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate
curator for further information.
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