Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Abel Stearns Papers, Collection III , 1817-1878 (bulk 1825-1831)
HM 57166-57209  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (64.43 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Abel Stearns Papers, Collection III,
    Date (inclusive): 1817-1878
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1825-1831)
    Collection number: HM 57166-57209
    Creator: Stearns, Abel
    Extent: Number of containers: 1 box (44 cataloged items)
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Administrative Information:
    The collection numbers 44 cataloged items, in one box. Twenty-nine of the items are in the Spanish language. The collection spans the period 1817 to 1878, with the bulk of the collection between 1825 and 1831.
    Acquisition number: 1551.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    This collection was acquired from Dawson's Book Shop in January, 1991.


    Collection is open to qualified researches by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL. 

    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], Abel Stearns Papers, Collection III, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Access Points

    Eayrs, George Washington. Co-author of articles of agreement with Abel Stearns,
    Echeandía, José María de. Addressee for Abel Stearns, 1829, Aug. 20. HM 57200.
    Peck, Sherman. Addressee for Abel Stearns, 1829, Oct. 17. HM 57201.
    Eayrs, George Washington. Subject of certificate by William Stevenson, 1817,
    Hudson's Bay Company. Subject in Abel Stearns letter to Sherman Peck, 1829,
    Victoria, Manuel. Subject in Abel Stearns letter to Sherman Peck, 1829, Oct. 17.

    Biographical Note

    Abel Stearns (1798-1871) was a pioneer ranch owner and businessman of early California. Orphaned in 1810, he left Massachusetts and went to sea, making trips to China, the East Indies and Latin America. In the 1820s he began his career as a businessman dealing in shoes in Philadelphia. He left for Mexico in 1826 and eventually arrived in Monterey in 1829. In Monterey, while waiting for a land grant approval, he began his career in merchandising. He moved to Los Angeles in 1833 and joined the trading business with Juan Bandini, eventually marrying Bandini's daughter Arcadia. As well as being a businessman in Los Angeles, he held minor political offices and was a representative for the Los Angeles district at the state constitutional convention in 1849. In 1858 he was the wealthiest man in Los Angeles, owning several businesses and a large amount of land. Stearns took an active role in promoting the development of Los Angeles and San Pedro. 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 José María de Echeandía, 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.