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Papers of Abel Stearns: Addenda 2
mssHM 57166-57209  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Papers of Abel Stearns: Addenda 2
    Dates: 1817-1878
    Collection Call Number: mssHM 57166-57209
    Creator: Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
    Extent: 44 items 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The Abel Stearns Papers: Addenda II, comprises of personal and business correspondence of Abel Stearns.
    Language of Material: The records are in English and Spanish.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Papers of Abel Stearns: Addenda 2, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Dawson's Book Shop, January, 1991.


    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.

    Scope and Content

    This collection, which is arranged alphabetically by author, is made up of correspondence and documents from Stearns' early years in California. The collection primarily deals with the history of Spanish California, as well as early commerce and trading in the region. It also contains a few items prior to Stearns' move to California, concerning his business on the East Coast. Also included in this collection is a letter to Robert S. Baker, second husband of Arcadia (Bandini) Stearns Baker, from Edward Fitzgerald Beale of the Department of the Interior.
    Correspondence: The letters deal with personal and business matters, including Stearns' plan for obtaining land in Upper California and creating a colony for Americans. Included are letters from Jose Maria de Echeandia, Governor of California under Mexico, Friar Narciso Duran, Friar Luis Gil y Taboada, and several business partners, both Mexican and American.
    Documents: These include bills of lading, contracts regarding a land grant with the official seals of Mexico on them, and several receipts for goods sold and purchased, including cost of merchandise. The collection also contains the constitution and articles of association for the Philadelphia Cordwainer's Company.


    Arranged alphabetically by author.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871

    Corporate Names

    Hudson's Bay Company


    Fur trade--California
    California--History--19th century--Sources


    Business records--California--19th century
    Letters (correspondence)--California--19th century
    Personal papers--California--19th century
    Professional papers--California--19th century