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Phelan, James (02 December 1821–23 December 1892), merchant and entrepreneur, was born near Grantstown, Queen’s County (now County Laois), Ireland, the son of John Phelan and Judith Brophy, farmers. Phelan was brought to America to rejoin his widowed father, who had emigrated in search of greater economic opportunities. James reunited with his two older brothers (John and Michael) and his father in Newark, New Jersey, in 1827. Upon the early business failure of John Phelan, Sr., the three sons ceased attending public school. James entered the retail trade at $5 per month plus his keep....

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Stearns, Abel (09 February 1798–23 August 1871), California pioneer merchant and ranchero, California pioneer merchant and ranchero, was born in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, the son of Levi Stearns and Elizabeth Goodrich (occupations unknown). When his parents died within three months of each other in 1810, Stearns went to sea and rose from merchant sailor to supercargo before acquiring his own trading schooner in 1822. By then, a failed marriage to Persis (maiden name unknown) between 1817 and 1820 had resulted in the birth of a child in 1819. In the meantime, Stearns traveled to the East and West Indies, China, and South America before abandoning the sea, the United States, and apparently his own child in 1826. Settling in Mexico City, Stearns became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1828 and moved to Monterey, California, the following year....