This collection contains the professional and personal papers of Southern California businessman and political
Abel Stearns (1798-1871). The materials in the collection deal with life in California during the Mexican and early statehood
including the cattle industry, ranching, real estate, political and social life, and the gold discoveries in Southern
California in 1842.
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.
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