Burdick Newsletters

January/February, 2001

The Long Route to Roots

by Frank P. Mueller

(As you know, I frequently mention Frank Mueller's work in Burdick history. This month's feature article, in Frank's own words, tells how he got started on his long journey writing his award-winning book, "The Burdick Family Chronology" - HB)

I never thought I would become a genealogist after my retirement! Let the dead rest in peace, particularly if they happen to be your own ancestors. Go sniffing around your family tree and you might run the risk of a rotten apple falling on your head. What a rude awakening! What if you descend into your world of ancestors and discover you are related to a horse thief, an army deserter, or heaven only knows what else!

At first I thought there are things in life I am better off not knowing. I soon came to realize that I had no reason to fear such possibilities. This happened after I became wrapped up in my wife's (she's the Burdick here) glorious ancestors. I decided to write a book which, is something I never had time to do during my working career as a National Sales Manager for a food products manufacturer in Chicago. I decided to name my book "The Burdick Family Chronology" and then spent over ten years digging into the Burdick past. This was not to be a tale beginning with grandpa Burdick getting off the boat at Ellis Island in New York, which, genealogically speaking is a fairly recent event. This chronology starts with Burdick ancestors found amongst the pre-1000 Vikings, moves through the Normans in pre-1066 France, and ends in England after 1066.

My study of the Burdick families started out as an innocent hobby -- something to do during my retirement years. I gradually found myself getting into the subject so deeply that it dominated everything else on my calendar of daily activities. My wife, Lorraine, and I now run a modest archive called The Burdick International Ancestry Library. We gradually accumulated many file drawers full of data about the world's Burdicks via correspondence with thousands of people. Some of these are now on our library's Honorary Board of Directors. We soon learned the value of well known names on our library letterhead, resulting in a 99.9% response rate to our research letters sent out worldwide.

Our library has also been honored via a cash grant from a large foundation in New York to help with research expenses and activities. This has helped prove the legitimacy of our library, which is also now the publisher of The Burdick Family Chronology. As author of the book, I am donating all receipts from sales to support further research activities. After all, a genealogy is never complete!

I had never attempted any genealogical research before this experience but my activities since retirement from the business world have earned me the title of Accredited Genealogist, granted by the American College of Genealogists.

I decided to trace my wife's lineage rather than mine because an earlier researcher, Nellie Johnson, had published a book in 1937 entitled "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island". This book is loaded with family connections between 1651 and 1937, but it tells nothing about Burdick history pre-1651, the date when the first Burdick of record came to America from England. This aroused my curiosity. I went to work digging into those earlier years and a fabulous story developed.

Only 500 copies of Nellie's book had been printed and distributed. Many were located, but no one wanted to lend their copy for our study. I finally located a very kind lady, Pauline Judd Weggeland, in Salt Lake City. Her grandfather was a former President of the Mormon Church who married a Burdick girl. Mrs. Weggeland donated her copy of the Burdick book to our library. That book is a listing of names and their relationships to each other. There is very little data about those people and their influence on history. That oversight became something to correct via my own book, which was finally published in 1990.

I didn't want to write a book that is just for Burdicks. I wanted it to be interesting to many others who have a general interest in all genealogies. Further, I wanted to develop more interest in genealogy by the youngest family members so that they might become genealogists much earlier in life than has been the norm. Through my own work I learned that most of my correspondents are elderly. Most people do not become interested in their ancestors until they are in their 60's. We must remember that when an older person dies an entire library has "burned to the ground" and so much family history becomes lost forever.

I have discovered important family connections to famous names in history which develop interest on the part of readers of The Burdick Family Chronology. This is especially true with youngsters in school who get very excited when they learn of their own connections to famous names in history. The salesman in me urges people to buy my book just to see how tight those links are to the past.

The book contains 560 pages under a beautiful hard cover with much gold designing. Actually, over 5000 pages were written to arrive at the final copy. We have already sold almost 2000 copies, which is a record in the genealogy field. This has returned to me my huge research expenses plus a small profit. The latter was placed directly in the coffers of The Burdick Ancestry Library to enable still more research activities. Over 100 major libraries across the U.S. have my book on their shelves and the book has been ordered by Burdicks and others as far away as Australia, Hon Kong, South Africa, Germany, Spain, England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and every one of the United States.

We keep looking for "kinks in the links" because of the great interest people have in such things. It helps to spice up the story about our ancestors. Imagine the expression on people's faces when, for example, you tell them of a past relationship to someone known as "William the Bastard"!

My book is sold out, but you can order a copy of the Burdick Coat of Arms, in full color, that was granted to James Burdick in the time of Queen Victoria in England. Many people have beautifully framed the Coat of Arms for display in their homes. The cost is $5.00, postpaid, from The Burdick Ancestry Library, 2317 Riverbluff Pkwy., #249, Sarasota, FL, 34231-5302. Phone: 941-922-7931.

Burdick News... Up-To-The-Minute!

Cynthia Cook DeCloux (CDeCloux@southsenecak12.ny.us) knows all about Burdickville, RI. She grew up there! The red barn in the background of the picture on the Burdick web site is the Furniture Barn run by Lloyd Cook, her father. The Woodworks is run by Geoffrey Cook. Lloyd is Geoffrey's father and both are descendants of Lydia Burdick. The house in the picture is Lloyd's and the river is the Pawcatuck River. The photograph was taken from the Burdickville Bridge and looks out at what was once the mill town of Burdickville.

Amy Bly (cowpoke64@madbbs.com) reports that Allie William and Lynn Renee (Adams) Burdick became proud parents of a girl, BobbiAn Leona Burdick, on October 17, 2000. She weighed 5 lbs, 12 ozs, 20-1/2 inches long and was three weeks early. Parents and Aunt Amy are very Proud of her! Amy also reports that while on a family vacation to Washington, DC they stopped at the Veitnam wall I saw the names Howard Burdick and Douglas Burdick. She wishes to express her many thanks to all who gave their lives so that we have freedom!

On a personal note, my mother, Lenore Emma (Rasmussen) Burdick, passed away on December 10, 2000 after a 25+ year battle with multiple sclerosis. She was the person who instilled in me the excitement and adventure of exploring my Burdick roots. I will miss her greatly.

Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2019. All Rights Reserved.