Scope and Content
Title: Papers of Abel Stearns: Addenda 2
Collection Call Number: mssHM 57166-57209
Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
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.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information,
please go to following
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.
[Identification of item], Papers of Abel Stearns: Addenda 2, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
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.
Stearns, Abel, 1798-1871
Hudson's Bay Company
Business records--California--19th century
Letters (correspondence)--California--19th century
Personal papers--California--19th century
Professional papers--California--19th century