Haverly was an ambitious man, an
gambler and investor; he
made fortunes and lost fortunes. When he bought a theater he
selected someone to manage it, though he managed his 14th Street
Theatre in New York City. His traveling shows-- minstrel and
companies, comic opera companies-- all had road managers.
His investments in mining brought him to Colorado in 1880, first to
Leadville, then quickly to Gunnison in 1881 where he bought a ranch a
few miles up Tomichi Creek east of Gunnison. Duane Vandenbusche,
The Gunnison Country (1980), mentions Haverly frequently and at some
length: "Jack Haverly, famous theatre and minstrel millionaire, was a
colorful and key figure in the development of early Gunnison. When
Leadville boomed in the late 1870s... Haverly came to Colorado. From
Leadville, his thoughts increasingly were of the Gunnison
country.... The 'minstrel king' came to Gunnison... and soon made a
impact on the new town.... Haverly bought up fine ranch land just
of Gunnison, had a town named for him [where he bought a mine just west
of Copley Lake], invested heavily in silver mines at Gothic and Irwin,
bought coal land up Washington Gulch, and purchased several ranches and
a sawmill up Ohio Creek.... A compulsive gambler and speculator,
Haverly later declared that he had lost $250,000 in Colorado
of Irwin bitterly chastised
'Take a man
from his line of business and place him in a business entirely foreign
to his own, and he win surely make a wreck of it.'"
In 1882 and 1883 the New York
ran numerous stories of his financial and legal problems; he
was having hard times staying out of debt. But he kept many of his
theatrical enterprises going, at least into 1884 when his fortunes
began their final collapse.
Jack Haverly, born in Pennsylvania in 1838, died of heart disease in
Salt Lake City on September 28, 1901, "but a few years ago one of the
best known and most successful of theatrical managers...." At one time
he owned six theatres and thirteen road companies; the comic opera
company was one of the thirteen. The New York Times
, in a piece
entitled "Memories of 'Jack' Haverly," wrote that "during the height of
his prosperity his lieutenants included most of the men who have come
to the front in recent years... Charles Frohman, Daniel Frohman, Al
Hayman, Gustave Frohman, Will J. Davis, Harry Mann, Frank McKee,
Frederick E. Wright, Thomas McGuire, Charles L. Andrews, and William
Fitzsimmons were among the men who were in his employ. He was the
promoter of the Chicago Jockey Club race track, paying $150,000 for the
controlling interest. He was identified with various mining....
In 1884 his love for speculation caused him to overreach himself, and
he failed. But he was always a successful showman, and his collapse was
due to his mining 'investments' and the accompanying speculations in
the Western mining exchanges and in Wall Street. Eugene Field thus
'Jack' Haverly, 'Jack' Haverly, I wonder where you are.
Are your fortunes cast with Sirius, or 'neath some kindlier star?
How happens it we never see your wondrous minstrel show,
With its apt alliterations, as we used to, years ago?
All the ebon aggregations that afflict these modem times
Are equally unworthy our prose and of our rhymes.
And I vainly pine and hanker for the joys that used to come
With the trumpets um-ta-ra-ra and the big base drum.
'Jack' Haverly, here's a hoping that some bright propitious star
Beams kindly down upon you, whereso'er your interests are,
For my heart is warm toward you for the joy you gave me when
I was a little wambling tyke; and I were glad again
To see you marching up the street with your dusky knights of song--
By George, I'd head the gang of boys that whooped your way along;
And I'd stake that all our plaudits and acclaims would over come
The trumpet ump-ta-ra-ra and the big base drum.
Eugene Field (1850-1895), the "poet of childhood" and journalist, once
worked for the Denver Tribune
. and he is remembered in the
area. There is a Eugene Field Elementary School in Littleton, Colorado
and a Eugene Field Branch of the Denver Public Library.