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Abel Stearns Papers: Addenda 2
mssHM 57166-57209  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Abel Stearns Papers: Addenda 2
    Dates: 1817-1878
    Collection Call Number: mssHM 57166-57209
    Creator: Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
    Extent: 44 items in 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains personal and business correspondence of Southern California businessman and politician Abel Stearns (1798-1871) 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.
    Language of Material: The records are in English and Spanish.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

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


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

    Biographical Note

    Abel Stearns was a pioneer ranch owner and businessman of Los Angeles, California. 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.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    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

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    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