Keweenaw County Michigan

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CAPT. JOHNSON VIVIAN, one of the best known citizens and business men of Houghton, Houghton County, Michigan, whose portrait is herewith shown, has been a resident of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan for upwards of 50 years. He was born in Cornwall, England, May 20, 1829, and comes of a family long identified with mining interests. His father, grandfather and three brothers were mine agents, the brothers going to different countries. He is a direct descendant of Sir Vyell Vivian, who married Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Kildare, in 1295, and removed at that time from Normandy to England. One of the family, Sir Henry Huzzy Vivian, was with Wellington from 1809 to 1815, serving in the Peninsular War, and being present at the battle of Waterloo.

Captain Vivian began work about the mines of his native place when 14 or 15 years old and continued in that occupation in Cornwall until 1853, when he came to the United States. He located at Eagle Harbor, Houghton (now Keweenaw) County, Michigan, and worked in the Lake Superior copper district as a miner for one year. He was then appointed mining captain by Hon. Samuel W. Hills, and served as such until July, 1856, when he went to Copper Harbor, took charge of the Clark mine operated by a French company, and remained there until February 1, 1857, He returned to the Copper Falls mine and took a tribute lease of the Hill vein, which he worked until October 1, 1859, when he took charge of the Phoenix mine as chief mining captain, and continued there in that capacity until October, 1863. He was then appointed superintendent and served as such until February 1, 1867, when he was appointed agent of the Hancock mine, where he remained until June, 1868, during which time the mine was worked at a profit. He then took charge as superintendent of the Schoolcraft mine, erected mining machinery and operated it until it was demonstrated that the vein would not pay, the mine then being abandoned. Some fifteen years later he again took charge of this mine, whose name had been changed to the Centennial, and operated it for three or four years, but it never proved a success. He left the company's employ in 1874 and was appointed agent of the Franklin and Pewabic, contiguous mines, which were in poor condition, having been worked at a disadvantage. Captain Vivian instituted needed reforms and the mines are still working successfully. In February, 1880, in addition to regular duties, he took charge of the Huron mine, lying just south of Lake Portage, the Concord and Mesnard mines, and the Tecumseh mine, the last named being worked at intervals. He remained actively in mining until 1896, since which time he has been practically retired.

Captain Vivian is now extensively interested in the mercantile business at Laurium, where the firm of J. Vivian, Jr., & Company conducts the largest store in the county, employing about 50 people. For the past 11 years, Captain Vivian has resided in Houghton. In whatsoever business he has engaged, he has met with good fortune and prospered. He was one of the promoters of the Superior Savings Bank at Hancock, a promoter and for years a director of the State Savings Bank at Laurium, a promoter of the Electric Light & Power Company at Houghton, and a director and promoter of the Lake Superior Soap Company. He was senior member of the firm of Vivian & Prince, manufacturing safety fuse for blasting purposes, which conducted a very successful business for 20 years.

Captain Johnson Vivian was married to Elizabeth Simmons, of Camborne, England, who is now living at the age of 72 years. Of the two daughters and four sons born to them, the sons alone survive; they are: John C., a druggist of Laurium; Joseph H., purchasing agent at Butte, Montana, for the Boston & Montana Copper Company; Johnson, Jr., a member of the firm of J. Vivian, Jr., & Company, of Laurium, Houghton County; and William J., a machinist of Houghton.