Charles Vivian

From Kook Science

Charles Vivian
Charles Vivian - portrait.png

Born Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian
22 October 1842(1842-10-22)
Exeter, England, United Kingdom
Died 20 March 1880 (37)
Leadville, Colorado
Nationality English
Affiliations Elks
Spouse(s) Imogene [Holbrook] (m. 1876)

Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian (October 22, 1842 - March 20, 1880) was a British comic singer and actor, noted as the founder of the Jolly Corks and its successor, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.


  • Ellis, Charles Edward (1910), "Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian", An Authentic History of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Chicago: By the Author, p. 39-41, 

    CHARLES ALGERNON SIDNEY VIVIAN was the youngest of two children, having a brother, George Vivian. His father was a clergyman, and young Vivian was born in Exeter, Devonshire, England, on October 22, 1842, and not 1846 as heretofore stated by some writers. His early life in England is described in the opening chapter of "Transatlantic History"; hence this narrative begins with the close of his engagements in and around New York city about the fall of 1869. At this time he went to California, where he played under the management of Sheridan Corbyn, and later with Thomas McGuire. While in San Francisco he sang all of his own songs, "Not for Joe," "Any Ornaments for Your Mantel-piece?" "Who Stole the Donkey?" "Bathing" and "Good Evening." He was the first one to bring to the coast the songs of Horace Lingard, "On the Beach at Long Branch," "Walking Down Broadway," etc. Vivian became a great favorite there, remaining on the coast until the middle of the year 1876, when, on June 9 of that year, he married Miss Imogene Holbrook, who was doing dramatic recitals there, and Vivian and his wife then started East, playing Eureka, Nev., Salt Lake City, Ogden, then up to Helena, Virginia City and Butte, Mont., then on to Bismarck and Fargo, and then up to Winnipeg. From there to St. Paul and Minneapolis, and down to Chicago, where he played the week of October 22, 1877, at the Academy of Music, and following with a week at Hamlin's Theatre. He then went to Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and finally to New York city, where during the season of 1877-78 he played an engagement at the Theatre Comique. He then organized a small company of his own and played through the New England towns, but it did not prove a financial success and the tour was abandoned. He returned to New York city, where he was engaged by Mr. James Duff to do the Admiral in "Pinafore," which had its premier in Chicago at McVicker's Theatre in 1879. From Chicago the Duff company went to St. Louis, direct to Ben De Bar's Opera House, where Vivian played the Admiral in "Pinafore" and the Judge in "Trial by Jury", shortly afterward the season closed. Vivian then played a summer engagement, in opera, at Uhrig's Cave, in that same city. He then signed with another opera company to. play the same operas ; going West, they played Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence and Leavenworth, Kan., then jumped to Denver, where the company stranded. "Bill" Langdon, then running the Cremona Gardens in that city, got up a benefit for the players and sent them all back East, except Vivian and his wife, who remained in Denver a short time, and then went to Leadville. The gold excitement at the latter place was at its height in 1880, and Vivian went by stage overland to this El Dorado. He fixed up an old amphitheatre and got a company together and began playing legitimate drama; with him were Joseph Proctor, of "Jibbenainosay" fame, and his daughter Anna; Charles Edmunds and wife, E. P. Sullivan and several minor players. The opening bill was "Oliver Twist," Anna Proctor doing Nancy; Sullivan doing Bill Sykes; Edmunds, Fagin; and Vivian, the Artful Dodger, his wife doing Oliver. The rough element in camp did not take to this style of entertainment and the project was soon after abandoned. Vivian then played at the Comique and at Wood's Theatre, Leadville, at which place he contracted a severe cold, which later brought on pneumonia, from which he died on March' 20, 1880, aged thirty-eight years.

    The funeral services were held at Tabor's Opera House, and owing to Vivian's great popularity was very largely attended. The Rev. T. J. Mackay conducted the services. In those days no hearses were used, simply a light express wagon. A number attended the funeral to the cemetery in buggies, heavy wagons, or any kind of a vehicle available. The only one on horseback was "Bill" Langdon, who supervised the whole affair, and, after the interment, got up the benefit for Mrs. Vivian, from which was realized over $600. These figures have become distorted and hitherto misapplied in the statement of events. The "Forty-Niners," of which Vivian was a member from a 'Frisco camp, had charge of the funeral, and not the Knights of Pythias. The casket cost about $150, and not $600 as erroneously stated heretofore; in fact, there was no lodge of Knights of Pythias in Leadville at that time, only some individual members of that fraternity, but no concerted action was taken by any lodge, the "FortyNiners" being the nearest approach to an organization attending. Vivian's grave was almost entirely unmarked excepting the rude scratching by some sharp instrument of his name on a pine board, until two years later, when Texas Jack Was buried in the same cemetery. An old minstrel man and Elk attending that funeral saw this grave of Vivian neglected. On his return East he began to tell the various lodges about it. Among others he visited Boston Lodge, where his story met with a response and brought forth results. Bro. W. C. Vanderlip, of Boston, then Chairman of the Board of Grand Trustees, with the co-operation of his own lodge and Bro. W. F. Bechel, of Omaha, Neb., on April 28, 1889, exhumed the remains and had them taken to Boston and placed in the Elks' Rest, Mount Hope cemetery, where they now repose.