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