Charles Robert Burger was a prominent temperance leader in the years before and after 1900. He ran for local office in California as a Prohibition Party candidate in 1908, 1913, and 1922.
A man of many interests, Burger also was prominent in the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA), a hobby group of writers and publishers. The following biography is excerpted from longer articles by Ken Faig and by David Tribby, published in The Fossil, whole number 392, July 2022 (www.thefossils.org).
Burger was born, in New York, in August of 1864 and died, in California, on 31 May 1939.
He began writing and publishing in 1882, issuing small amateur journals for the NAPA. Almost immediately, he met prominent Massachusetts Prohibitionist Willard Wylie, who, coincidentally, was also a NAPA member.
Burger grew up in New York City but, after his father's death (ca. 1876), he moved to New Jersey with his older brother and widowed mother. There, he was employed as a clerk, as a tailor. and as a stock broker.
Burger had become a temperance leader in New Jersey as early as 1889, where he was a member of the Hudson County Temperance Alliance. He was the Prohibition Party representative on the Hudson County Ballot Reform Association. In 1890, he was an officer of the Madison Council No. 12 of the Royal Templars of Temperance (a Scottish Rite Masonic group advocating total abstinence).
The humid East did not agree with his health, however, and in 1894 he moved to Colorado Springs, where he was manager of the Colorado Stock and Grain Company.
Little else has been discovered about his life in Colorado.
Still moving on, Burger appears in Pasadena, California in 1906. Pasadena city directories around that time describe him as a "clerk" and a "stocker broker" and as (still) manager of the Colorado Stock and Grain Company. He never married, but census records show that his household included his widowed mother and various other relatives. He worked with errant boys in the YMCA, in the Epworth League, and in the Good Templars' orphanage. He adopted one of the Good Templars orphans, Miles Elliott, to be his son.
Becoming locally prominent, he was appointed a member of the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission in 1918; he was made chairman of the Commission in 1921. He was involved with the Citizens' Suffrage League of Pasadena and with the Municipal League in Pasadena. He was Grand Chief Templar of the California International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) and a trustee of its state Grand Lodge.
Charles Burger was a delegate to the 1908 Prohibition Party national convention. He had become chairman of the California Prohibition Party by 1916; the State party had an office in Los Angeles (129 west Second, room 215). He was also chairman of his county (Los Angeles) Prohibition Party.
He ran for the California Assembly from his Pasadena district in 1908, for the Pasadena City Commission in 1913, and in 1922 as a fusion (Prohibition/Democrat) candidate for the California Senate. He won none of those campaigns, but he always made respectable showings.
Disapproving of our Party's endorsement of Herbert Hoover in 1928, he left us and voted, instead, for Socialist Norman Thomas -- not because he really was a Socialist, but because he abhorred both major parties and wanted to lodge his vote where it would make the largest protest.
--Excerpted by James Hedges