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Papers of Abel Stearns
mssStearns papers  
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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
    Dates: 1821-1935
    Collection Call Number: mssStearns papers
    Creator: Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
    Extent: 97 boxes
    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: Professional and personal papers of Abel Stearns, including corresondence, business records, legal documents, and other manuscripts.
    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, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Mrs. Margaret Gaffey Kilroy, February 1937.


    Abel Stearns (1798-1871) was born in Lunenberg, Massachusetts. As a young man he spent some years at sea, taking part in the trade with South America and China. In about 1826 he reached Mexico and during his residence there became a naturalized citizen. In about 1833, Stearns settled in Los Angeles, joined Juan Bandini in the trading business and married Bandini's daughter Arcadia. He became involved in almost every type of business and held minor political offices. In 1849 he represented the Los Angeles district at the constitutional convention in Monterey, and later was a member of the state assembly. By 1858, he had become the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County. After the drought of 1863-1864, he became bankrupt and had to sell a great deal of his property. He died in San Francisco in 1871.

    Scope and Content

    Professional and personal papers of Abel Stearns, including corresondence, business records, legal documents, and other manuscripts. The materials in the collection deal with life in California during the Mexican and early statehood periods, including the cattle industry, ranching, real estate, political and social life, and the gold discoveries in Southern California in 1842. |bCorrespondents include Juan Bandini, Cave Johnson Couts, Tomas Eleuterio Estenaga, John Forster, Thomas Oliver Larkin, Perfecto Hugo Reid, Alfred Robinson, and others.
    Also included are diaries kept in 1879-1905 by Juan Bautista Bandini, son of Juan Bandini, who lived in the Santa Monica area.
    The collection also contains a group of papers accumulated by John Tracy Gaffey, third husband of Mrs. Abel Stearns. The Gaffey papers contain correspondence, including letters from Stephen Mallory White, papers relating to San Pedro, California and historical sketches.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871


    Couts, Cave Johnson,1821-1874--Correspondence
    Forster, John, 1814-1882--Correspondence
    Larkin, Thomas Oliver, 1802-1858--Correspondence
    Reid, Hugo,1811?-1853--Correspondence
    Robinson, Alfred, 1806-1895--Correspondence
    White, Stephen Mallory, 1853-1901--Correspondence
    Cattle trade--California
    Real property--California
    California--Gold discoveries--Sources
    California, Southern--History--Sources
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--Sources
    Bandini, Juan,1800-1859
    Bandini, Juan Bautista
    Couts, Cave Johnson, 1821-1874
    Estenaga, Tomas Eleuterio
    Forster, John,1814-1882
    Gaffey, John Tracy
    Larkin, Thomas Oliver, 1802-1858
    Reid, Hugo, 1811?-1853
    Robinson, Alfred, 1806-1895
    White, Stephen Mallory, 1853-1901


    Business records--California--19th century
    Diaries--California, Southern
    Family papers--California
    Letters (correspondence)--United States
    Legal documents--California
    Personal papers--California
    Professional papers--California
    Property records--California