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Inventory of the Abel Stearns Papers, Collection I, 1804-1935
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject matter
  • Correspondents represented by ten or more pieces
  • Some important or interesting items

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Abel Stearns Papers, Collection I,
    Date (inclusive): 1804-1935
    Creator: Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
    Extent: Approximately 12,500 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Most of the Abel Stearns Papers were purchased in February, 1937, from Mrs. Margaret Gaffey Kilroy of San Pedro, California. In 1939 additional manuscripts were given to the library by Mrs. Kilroy and by Mrs. Susanna Bryant Dakin.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers 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 I, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    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. About 1826 he reached Mexico and during his residence there became a naturalized citizen. He arrived in California in 1829 and soon settled in Los Angeles, where he made his home for the rest of his life. From a small beginning as a trader and merchant Stearns expanded his activities into the fields of landholding, cattle ranching, mining, politics, education and so forth, gradually becoming a wealthy and influential figure. Because he was a participant in so many important phases of the development of California, his papers constitute a valuable source of historical information.

    Subject matter

    The Abel Stearns Papers are of value chiefly to students of the economic and political history of California. Of particular importance are the materials relating to the following subjects:
    • A. The cattle industry
    • B. The gold discoveries of 1842 and of 1848 - 1849
    • C. The hide and tallow trade, especially as it was carried on at Stearns' warehouse in San Pedro
    • D. Land titles and transfers
    • E. Mines and mineral resources
    • F. Politics and government
    • G. Ranchos of Upper and Lower California

    Correspondents represented by ten or more pieces

    David W. Alexander
    18 pieces
    Juan Bautista Alvarado
    13 pieces
    José Antonio Argüello
    27 pieces
    José Ramón Argüello
    33 pieces
    María Guadalupe (Estudillo) de Argüello
    16 pieces
    José Antonio Avila
    12 pieces
    José Bandini
    10 pieces
    José María Bandini
    21 pieces
    Juan Bandini
    190 pieces
    Juan Bautista Bandini
    118 pieces
    Eugenio Bonnet
    23 pieces
    Charles H. Brinley
    34 pieces
    Samuel C. Bruce
    17 pieces
    Lewis T. Burton
    15 pieces
    Carlos Antonio de Jesús Carrillo
    21 pieces
    José Antonio Carrillo
    12 pieces
    Pedro C. Carrillo
    45 pieces
    José Miguel Castañeda
    22 pieces
    Francisco Castillo
    16 pieces
    José Castro
    11 pieces
    M. G. Cobb
    37 pieces
    John Bautista Roger Cooper
    10 pieces
    Cave Johnson Couts
    90 pieces
    W. Blunt Couts
    12 pieces
    Henry Dalton
    12 pieces
    William Goodwin Dana
    10 pieces
    Robert J. Elwell
    12 pieces
    Thomas Eleuterio Esténaga
    106 pieces
    John H. Everett
    20 pieces
    Edward H. Faucon
    14 pieces
    Francisco Figueroa
    27 pieces
    Henry Delano Fitch
    45 pieces
    Charles Henry Forbes
    83 pieces
    John Forster
    83 pieces
    John Charles Frémont
    11 pieces
    Francisco Javier Gastelum
    10 pieces
    Marcelin Giraudeau
    92 pieces
    Miguel Gonzalez
    55 pieces
    Ramón Gonzalez de la Riva
    49 pieces
    Rafael Guirado
    15 pieces
    Isaac Hartman
    11 pieces
    William Davis Merry Howard
    29 pieces
    Charles R. Johnson
    119 pieces
    James Johnson
    13 pieces
    John Coffin Jones
    10 pieces
    Thomas Oliver Larkin
    93 pieces
    Jacob Primer Leese
    15 pieces
    Los Angeles (Alta Calif.). Courts. Juzgado de Primera Instancia
    13 pieces
    Timothy Lynch
    13 pieces
    James McKinlay
    19 pieces
    William S. Manning
    11 pieces
    Silvestre Mireles
    17 pieces
    Eugenio Montenegro
    14 pieces
    Vicente Moraga
    70 pieces
    Thomas Wallace More
    14 pieces
    José Hilario Morillo
    13 pieces
    Edward F. Northam
    13 pieces
    Agustín Olvera
    27 pieces
    Blas Ordaz
    18 pieces
    Thomas B. Park
    44 pieces
    Parrott & Co.
    17 pieces
    Sherman Peck
    12 pieces
    Miguel F. de Pedrorena
    25 pieces
    Juan Crispin Peres
    11 pieces
    José Antonio Bernardino Pico
    26 pieces
    Pío Pico
    21 pieces
    Nathaniel Miguel Pryor
    49 pieces
    Perfecto Hugo Reid
    116 pieces
    Alfred Robinson
    221 pieces
    Francisco Rodriguez
    14 pieces
    Mariano Reyes Roldan
    58 pieces
    Horace C. Rolfe
    47 pieces
    James G. Scott
    30 pieces
    Thomas Shaw
    20 pieces
    Nathan Spear
    17 pieces
    David Spence
    16 pieces
    Abel Stearns
    169 pieces
    Oliver Stearns
    39 pieces
    Joseph Steele
    21 pieces
    Max von Strobel
    11 pieces
    Alexander S. Taylor
    10 pieces
    John Temple
    13 pieces
    Henry Frederick Teschemacher
    16 pieces
    Alpheus B. Thompson
    73 pieces
    Dixey W. Thompson
    14 pieces
    Joseph P. Thompson
    57 pieces
    José María Villavicencio
    36 pieces
    Jonathan Trumbull Warner
    14 pieces
    Stephen Mallory White
    69 pieces
    Isaac Williams
    11 pieces
    Bernardo Yorba
    14 pieces
    Tomás Antonio Yorba
    24 pieces
    Levi Young
    10 pieces

    Some important or interesting items

    • Argüello, Luis Antonio. Document granting permission to McCulloch and Hartnell to build a warehouse at San Pedro. May 21, 1823
    • Bandini, Juan. Libro manual de ingresos que en el año de 1831 tiene la Comisaria Prãl de la alta California al cargo provicionalmente del Ciudadano Juan Bandini. Jan. - Oct., 1831
    • Bandini, Juan. Report of William Walker's invasion of Lower California. May 25, 1854
    • Documents relating to cattle brands of Juan Bandini and Abel Stearns (11 pieces). 1834 - 1859
    • Documents relating to damage done by troops of Frémont, Kearny and Stockton in Los Angeles (10 pieces). 1847
    • Larkin, Thomas Oliver. Letters to Abel Stearns referring to California politics and government (24 pieces). 1842 - 1856
    • Mission San Gabriel (Alta Calif.). Deed of transfer of the Casa de San Pedro to Abel Stearns. Aug. 23, 1834
    • Pico, Pío. Letter to John Drake Sloat relating to the latter's proclamation to the inhabitants of California. July 25, 1846. (Note: This is a certified copy, dated Aug. 7, 1846.)
    • Rancho Los Coyotes. Testimony regarding the measurements of the Rancho de Los Coyotes, property of Don Juan José Nieto. 1835 - 1863
    • Rancho Ensenada de Todos Santos (Lower Calif.). Expediente. 1804 - 1876
    • Rancho Valle de San Rafael (Lower Calif.). Expediente. 1830 - 1876
    • Stearns, Abel. An account of the stabbing of Abel Stearns by William Day. 1835
    • Stearns, Abel. Day Book... Jan. 1 - Sept. 30, 1840
    • Stearns, Abel. Draft of a letter to Peirce & Brewer relating to the discovery of gold in California in 1842. Apr. 25, 1842
    • Stearns, Abel. Petition to Fray Narciso Durán to dispense with the marriage banns of Abel Stearns and Arcadia Bandini because of the discrepancy in their ages. Apr. 29, 1841. (Note: This is an autograph copy.)
    • Stearns, Abel. Tariff list for the Casa de San Pedro. Jan. 1, 1835
    • Stearns, Abel and Stearns, Arcadia (Bandini). Draft of a deed of conveyance of various Southern California ranchos to Alfred Robinson. May 25, 1868