Burdick Newsletters

March/April, 2002

William Mansfield Burdick Harcourt, Part 2

by Susan Welch (swelsh3@earthlink.net)

(The last issue of this Newsletter included background information about William Mansfield Burdick Harcourt. the original historian of the Burdick family. Susan Welch, his great-great granddaughter, has provided a copy of a letter written by WMBH to his daughter, Florence Mansfield Harcourt Williamson, urging her to apply for membership in the Society of Mayflower descendants. Susan has also provided some other correspondence as well as WMBH's obituaries. - HB)

February, 1908

Oliver Burdick, Jr., son of Oliver and Lydia (Elderton) Burdick, was born in Charlestown, Washington (then King's), County, Rhode Island, February the seventh, AD 1760. He died August 22nd 1806 (in Stonington, Connecticut-probably), and is interred in Babcock Ground-one of the oldest burial grounds in Westerly, R.I.-beside his wife.

He was married in Westerly, December 17, 1780 by Elder John Burdick, to Olive Brown. She was born December 17, 1757 (probably Stonington), and died in Stonington, October 23, 1818. She was the daughter of Jonathan Brown Jr., and his wife Elizabeth Burdick.

Oliver Burdick's father, Oliver Burdick, Sr., was a son of Jonathan Burdick and Judith (Clarke) Burdick, a grandson of Thomas and Abigail (Richmond) Burdick, the father of this Thomas Burdick-also named Thomas-being a son of the immigrant, Robert Burdick. This Robert Burdick was a member of the Rhode Island Colonial General Assembly and a deacon of the Sabbatarian Church, which is now named the Seventh-Day-Baptist Church.

Lydia Elderton of Ellerton or Allerton (Oliver Burdick's Jr.'s mother) was a daughter of Roger and Lydia (Babcock) Elderton. The name Elderton or Ellerton is said to be a mutation of the name Allerton. A line to the "Mayflower's" Pilgrims of 1620 is here suggested, as one of the signers of the Compact made by her passengers, before landing at Plymouth Rock was Issac Allerton. Mary, his wife, who accompanied him on the voyage, did not survive the hardships of the first winter, and he married a second time, Fear Brewester, in 1626.

Another line to the "Mayflower's" for Fear Brewster, though she came over in the "Ann" was a daughter of Elder William Brewster, the next in importance to Governor Carver of the "Mayflower's" famous passengers.

Judith Clarke was a daughter of William and Joan (Bliven) Clarke, and a great-granddaughter of Joseph Clarke, Sr., whose name is in the Charter granted Rhode Island by King Charles II of England, July 8, 1663.

Two more lines to the "Mayflower", for Thomas Burdick's Jr.'s wife was a daughter of Edward Richmond, and his wife was Elizabeth Alden, she a daughter of Benjamin Alden, he a son of David, he a son of that Lieutenant John Alden whom Priscilla Mullins thought was a better man than Myles Standish-that brave but foolish man who tried to court by proxy. She (Priscilla) came in the "Mayflower" with her parents-her father was William Mullins (or De Moulins).

One or more lines to the "Mayflower" might be obtained through the ancestors of David Alden's wife.

Humility Cooper, a "Mayflower" Pilgrim, who returned to England, may have been related to Tase Cooper, who married Samuel Hubbard, whose daughter, Ruth Hubbard (the first white child born in Springfield, Mass.) married, November 2, 1655 at Newport, R.I., the immigrant Robert Burdick.

We may be able to throw other lines to John Howland, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, and others of the one hundred passengers on the "Mayflower".

But let us go back to Oliver Burdick Jr. he lived with his parents on a farm that embraced Watch Hill - now a great summer resort. Rev. Fred Denison's historical "Westerly and its Witnesses" contains this extract from the Westerly record of 1777-8.

"Oliver Burdick is to be paid L for the use of his house as a guard house near Watch Hill beach. Six shillings to be allowed for a half a cord of wood furnished Watch Hill guard, and 18s for one and a half cords furnished the guards on Noyes' beach".

"The spirit of Rhode Island in 1776" (a history of Rhode Island during the Revolution, which may be found in many public libraries mentions Oliver Burdick as a soldier in Colonel Topham's regiment. Smith's Civil and Military Lists of Rhode Island" also mentions him, and the Military State House, Providence, R.I. states that Oliver Burdick enlisted as a private, at Westerly, January 10, 1777, in Captain Thompson's company of Colonel Topham's Rhode Island Regiment, and was discharged March 11, 1778. (Vol. 11, pg 29).

In October 1777, his regiment embarked at Westerly in barges to join General Sullivan's expedition to drive the British from the Island of Rhode Island. While rounding Point Judith on a dark and stormy night some of the barges were capsized by the heavy seas. A number of men were drowned and others rescued, but lost their equipments. Among those drowned was Joseph Burdick, Oliver's uncle. Oliver was rescued from one of the foundering boats, and January 3, 1799 a committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly made the following appraisement of his losses;

"Oliver Burdick - one bayonet, gun and cartouch box, one good flannel shirt, one pair of new stockings, one pair of shoe buckles, one pillow case, one towel, one quart basin, one pewter plate and spoon - all at L9 3s, od".

You will find this in the Rhode Island Colonial Record, Vol. VII, p. 488, which may be had in the St. Louis public libraries.

Oliver Burdick and his wife, Olive Brown, had nine children. The first, third and ninth were born in Westerly, the second in Charlestown, and the others in Stonington. Among those born in Stonington was Rowland Burdick, June 16, 1799, who married his cousin, Sally or Sarah Thompson, daughter of Capt. Joshua P. and Sarah (Burdick) Thompson. I do now know the date of this marriage, but it was prior to October 9, 1823, at which date they had a son born, whom they named William Stanton Burdick.

Rowland Burdick and his brother, Rev. Stanton Stevens Burdick, changed the spelling of their name to Burdett, believing that was the name originally. Rowland Burdick died in New York City, May 11, 1849. His wife, Sarah Thompson died in Tompkinsville, Richmond County, Staten Island, New York, Sept. 23, 1840. She was born in Westerly, R.I. Nov. 22, 1796, and her ancestors, besides the Thompson's, include names that are distinguished as those among the pioneers of New England - Stanton, Denison, Chesebrough, Ingraham, Miner, Holmes, Gardner, Cord, Lee, etc. Her grandmother was descended from Thomas Stanton, who married Catherine Washington, daughter of Walter Washington. And there are more "Mayflower" lines, leading again to William Brewster.

There is a magnificent picture in the Capital at Washington at which I used to gaze every day while I was in Washington in 1904. It hangs in the rotunda and the figures on it are almost life-size. The scene precedes the departure of the "Speedwell" from Delhaven, Holland, with the passengers who were afterward transferred to the "Mayflower" , the "Speedwell" proving unseaworthy. Elder John Robinson is delivering a prayer - the one you will find preserved in American histories - and the Pilgrims appear in attitudes of devotion, tears showing on the faces of the women.

I felt a pardonable pride when I looked at that picture and saw among its figures likenesses of a number whom I know to be ancestors - brave and religious men and women whom religious tolerance had driven the from their native land to seek refuge, for their lives and liberties, in a wilderness, there to found the first government that gave civil and religious liberty to all.

The Babcock burial ground is about two and a half miles from Watch Hill, and is reached by the highway leading from Westerly, crossing the highway is Astute brook, near which was built the first house in the Narragansett region, by John Babcock, when he ran away with Mary Lawton. Not far from the brook is a hill which you ascend to reach the burial ground. Among the graves are two marked by sandstone tombstones, One contains this inscription:

Sacred to the Memory of Mr. Oliver Burdick Who died August 23rd 1806 in the 47th year of his age. As a husband, affectionate,As a parent, dear and kind.

The other tombstone is thus inscribed:

Sacred to the Memory of Mrs. Olive Burdick Who died October 23, 1818 in the 61st year of her age. Children have lost an affectionate mother, and society a useful member, whose virtue will be kept in perpertual rememberance.

Oliver Burdick's parentage, birth and marriage are printed in Arnold's Vital Statistics of Rhode Island, in the volume devoted to Washington county, which also tells the number of the volume and page of the original records at Westerly. The Narragansett Magazine and the Newport Magazine also give the same records. Several of the children's births are recorded in Westerly and printed in Arnold's. The other children are recorded in Stonington.

Denison's "Westerly and It's Witnesses" speaks about Babcock Ground and gives part of the inscriptions on the tombstones of Oliver and Olive (Brown) Burdick.

Your Congressman can find out from Commissioner of Pensions whether Oliver Burdick or his widow ever got a pension because of the Revolutionary record.

In showing proof of eligibility to membership to D.A.R. you may be called for evidence of the marriage of Rowland Burdick and Sarah Thompson. I have failed to find a record, and believe it is because they were married at a Presbyterian church in Westerly which was disbanded long years ago. Denison's book says the records of this church were taken to a town in Maine.

My father told me that his mother had her marriage license framed and that it hung on the wall of her parlor in Tompkinsville. Miss Ellen Harcourt said she remembered the frame containing the marriage liscense and two daguerreotypes - one of Sarah (Thompson) Burdick, the other of her son which, with a trunk, a family Bible and other effects came into the possession of Dr. Richard Harcourt but were lost or destroyed when the Harcourts moved to New Jersey after the Doctor's death.

The marriage of William Harcourt and Mary Ellen Betts is recorded at Norfolk, Va., where also are recorded the birth and baptism of their son, William Mansfield Burdick Harcourt. His marriage to Florence May Adams is recorded in Baltimore, Md. As is your birth and baptism.

It will cost you a sum of money to get certified copies of the vital records necessary. There is also an obstacle in the way of providing identity, and you would have to get the evidence in my father's pension claim examines to show proof of relation to Sarah Burdick.

My daughter, Florence Mansfield Williamson, wife of Frederick Morwich Williamson, was born in Baltimore City, Md., May 31, 1877 and is my third child by my deceased wife, Florence May Adams, who was the daughter of Albert and Caroline (Lee) Adams.

My mother was born in Norfolk, Va., July 2, 1833, and died in Baltimore, Md., Oct. 21, 1895 and was a daughter of Captain William M. and Ann (Fitnam) Betts, she was married at Norfolk, Va., may 2nd 1850 by Rev. A.L. Hitzelberger to William Harcourt.

Captain William A. Betts was born in Heathville, Northcumberland County, Va., about 1798 and was a son of Elisha and Betsey (Alderson) Betts. He married in 1830, as his second wife, Ann Fitnam, daughter of Christopher and Ellen (Large) Fitman, of Norfolk, Va. Capt. Bett's parents died when he was a small boy, and he and a sister were reared by their father's sister, Aunt Nancy (Betts) Crouthers. Captain Betts sister married a Maith, whose son, Capt. William Maith died October 9, 1898 in Baltimore. You probably remember him.

During the second war with Great Britain Capt. William M. Betts served as a substitute for his uncle, Royston Betts, in Captain Thomas Atwell's company of Colonel Fairfax's regiment, Virginia Militice, and received a land warrant for 160 acres of land in Wisconsin. His widow also received a pension for his military service. Captain Betts was a mariner. In his early years he made a number of ocean voyages as a master of sailing vessels and commanded the first steam boat that passed through the Dismal Swamp Canal. One of his vessels became the Confederate gunboat "Raleigh", He was a very large and strong man, weighing considerably more than 200 pounds, had red hair and bushy eyebrows, and was a generous and jovial disposition, fond of teasing and of playing "practical jokes". In politics he was an "Old Line" Whig and in the religion a Baptist, His favorite hymn was "How tedious and tasteless the hours", but often after singing that doleful tune, he would suddenly change his mood, sing "Dolly Day" or "Hey get along Josey" and execute a double shuffle. He died at sea, suddenly, of disease of the heart, Sept. 23, 1851. His body was brought to Norfolk and interred in the Old Protestant Cemetery. His widow, Ann (Fitnam) Betts, died December 13, 1892, in Baltimore, aged 78 years, and is interred in Bonnie Brae.

I have a certified copy of a bond executed at Heathsville, Va., November 28th, 1795, by Elisha Betts, to obtain a liscense to marry Betsey B. Alderson - she then of the "full age of twenty-one", to which Jordan Betts certifies her willingness to make oath "if required, Elisha Betts was under twenty-one and his parents were dead, as "John Daughity, guardinate to Elisha Betts" joins in the bond and authorizes the issue of the said marriage license. I have a suspicion that Elisha Betts and Betsey B. Alderson were cousins and that Jordan Betts was their uncle.

I do not know the names of the parents of Elisha Betts, but his father is said to have been a soldier in the Revolutionary War. You might obtain his name, or a clue to it by addressing a letter to "The Commissioner of Pensions, Washington D.C." and ask him if a pension or bounty land was ever granted to a Betts of Heathsville, Northcumberland County, Va., or his widow on account of military service in the Revolutionary War. (Write "Records Division" in the lower left hand corner of the envelope. ) You may write to Hall of Records, State Capital, Richmond, Va. for Revolutionary War records of Betts, and a clue might be found by asking for the parentage of Nancy (Betts) Crowther, Royston Betts and Jordan Betts, sister and brothers of the unknown father of Elisha Betts,

These Betts are all descended from a "William Betts, aged 20," who took the allegiance at Gravesend, England, June 6, 1636 on the Ship "Thomas and John" then about to sail for Virginia. He had sons Charles and William, who figure in the records of "Heathsville", St. Stephen's Parish, Northcumberland County, Virginia".

In your letter to the Commissioner of Pensions ask for Revolutionary records of Joshua Thompson and Oliver Burdick, both of Colonel Topham's Rhode Island regiment.

In our talks during the Homecoming week so much was said that one thing that has been long in my mind to tell you failed to get the airing. It is the recollection of a talk between my father and Mrs. Alfred (Adams) Stenchmond - then Miss Sallie (Adams - about thirty years ago. Cousin Sallie had been to Stonington, Conn., to visit relatives there, and my father was very much interested in the persons she talked about, some of whom he knew. Write Cousin Sallie and ask her who her Stonington relatives were; also ask her what she knows about the ancestors of her father, who was a brother of your grandfather, Albert Adams. I have forgotten the names of your grandfather Adam's father. I think his mother's name was Welch. Perhaps you may learn that some of your Adams, Welch, Lee and Shipley ancestors were also soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

After reading what I have written about the ancestors of Oliver and Olive (Brown) Burdick you will feel that you ought at once apply for membership in the Society of "Mayflower" descendants. I hope that you will be interested in this letter and that you will preserve it for your children.

Affectionately, Your father

Wm. M.B. Harcourt

great grandson of Oliver and Olive (Brown) Burdick



January 18, 1910


Mr. William M. Harcourt, a proofreader of The Sun, died at 6:12 o'clock last evening at his home, Glen avenue and the Belair road, Belgravia, after an illness of two weeks from heart trouble.

He was born in Norfolk, Va., 59 years ago, and was the son of the late Capt. William M. Harcourt, who died in Baltimore. During the Civil War he served in the United States Navy, being a captain's clerk on one of the vessels in Farragut's fleet, in which his father was an officer. He was a practical printer and before entering the service of The Sun had been a reporter and editor of the Baltimore American.

Tracing his ancestry to the New England pilgrims, Mr. Harcourt made a study of genealogy and maintained a voluminous correspondence with descendants of the Burdick family, who came over in the Mayflower.

Mr. Harcourt was a member of Columbia Council, Royal Arcanum, Baltimore Typographical Union and Benjamin Franklin Relief Association. He leaves a widow and the following children: Messrs. Albert V. Harcourt, William H., Robert R., and Oscar R. Harcourt: Mrs. J.H. Bowen, Mrs. F.M. Williamson, of New York, and Misses Elsie, Sallie and Ruth B. Harcourt



January 19, 1910


The funeral of Mr. William M. Harcourt, a proofreader of The Sun, who died at his home, Glen avenue and Belair road, Belravia, on Monday evening, after a short illness of pneumonia, will take place from the house at 11 o'clock Thursday morning. The services will be conducted by Rev. J. St. Clair Neal, pastor of the Govanstown Methodist Episcopal Church, assisted by Rev. E.C. Fellenbaum, pastor of Gatch's Methodist Episcopal Church, of Raspeburg. The pallbearers will be members of the Baltimore Typographical Union. Burial will be in Loudon Park Cemetery.

Mr. Harcourt leaves a widow, four sons, Messrs. Albert V., William H., Robert R., and Oscar R. Harcourt---and six daughters---Mrs. Kate Harting, Mrs. J.H. Bowen, Mrs. F.M. Williamson, of New York, and Miss Elsie , Sallie and Ruth B. Harcourt. He also leaves 17 grandchildren.

A Letter Written by WMB Harcourt to Miss Grace Wheeler


Raspeburg P.O. Baltimore Co., Md.

August 28, 1901

Dear Miss Wheeler:

Your letter (undated) at hand containing statements of Mrs. John R. Cheseboro, of Stonington and Mr. Daniel C. Chester of Westerly, relative to ancestors of Rowland Burdick and his wife who was a Sally Thompson.

I had long ago presumed that the mother of Wm. S. Harcourt was the Sally Thompson recorded by Arnold's V.S. R.I. as born Nov. 22, 1796 and daughter of Joshua P. and Sally (Stephens) Thompson, married at Westerly Oct. 25, 1789. This Joshua b. June 25, 1749, son of Joshua b. Aug. 13, 1714, who was a son of Issac and Mary (Holmes) Thompson and married Mar. 27, 1736 Sarah Stanton (b. Oct. 10, 1714) dau of Samuel and Sarah (Gardiner) Stanton of Stonington.

Your father's "History of the First Church, Stonington" names Issac Thompson and his children as members but does not state his parentage, not does Austin Arnold and the other Rhode Island records to which I have access. Do you know?

I wish you had secured from the Thompson's a statement fortifying those of Mrs. Chesebro and Mr. Chester that the man I've been seeking with Sherlock Holmes persistence as the father of William S. Burdick was Rowland Burdick who married Sarah Thompson b. Nov. 22, 1796

I was must surprised to learn that Sarah Thompson Burdick was not a widow when she married George Seabury and that Rowland Burdick was living. Rowland Burdett so late as 1852 in New York City with a second wife. From the U.S. Pension Bureau I learned that on Rowland Burdick, a resident of New London, and 66 years old, had in 1855 applied for a bounty land for service in Capt. Stanton's Company of Connecticut militia during the War of 1812-14. The age of this soldier, 66 in 1855 shows that he was born in 1789, the year after the birth of Gilbert, son of Oliver and Olive (Brown) Burdick. Perhaps Rowland Burdick, the soldier, was identical with Rowland of Olive, having removed after 1852 from New York to New London. (incomplete)


Raspeburg, P.O. Baltimore Co.

July 1, 1901

Judge Richard A. Wheeler

Stonington, Conn.

Dear Sir:

Knowing of your familiarity with the histories of Stonington families, I take the liberty of addressing you in the hope that you are able to give me information that I desire concerning some of my Stonington ancestors. I am not able to pay large sums for the information I want but will give $5.00 for a copy of record of marriage of:

Sarah Thompson, of Stonington

Who married before Oct. 9, 1823

A Mr. Burdick (forename unknown)

The date mentioned is that of the birth of her only child.

Mr. Burdick having died she married a second time a Mr. Seabury, and she was again a widow when she died in September 1840, at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, and N.Y. While a resident of Tompkinsville she attended a Presbyterian Church and she occasionally visited relatives in Stonington and Little Compton, R.I. She or her husband had a sister "Nancy". Perhaps she went to Little Compton to visit her husband's (Seabury's) relatives, as I have learned that Seaburys are numerous there. I have also learned that there were Seaburys residing at Groton before 1830.

As you know the Burdick's were and mostly "Seventh Day Baptists", but I have thought it probable that a record of Sarah's first marriage could be found at a Congregational or Presbyterian Church, so would like to know of churches in New London County in the vicinity of Stonington Groton that have records of marriage before 1823.

I have seen your "History of the Stonington First Stonington" and have examined the records of the Town Clerk of Stonington, but they do not contain the Burdick-Thompson marriage I am looking for.

A friend of mine sent me extracts from your recently published "History of Stonington" about the several families of Thompson's who were among the early residents of your town. The extracts sent me did not contain any reference to Isaac Thompson who was a contemporary of Stonington of the William Thompson who married Bridget Chesebrough Dec. 7, 1692. Will you kindly tell me what relation existed between Isaac and William Thompson? I presume they were related from the similarity of the names of their children. Isaac may have lived at Westerly and attended church at Stonington, for his children's births are recorded at Westerly, while their baptisms are recorded at Stonington.

You will confer a great favor by answering this letter, as I have an interest in learning about Sarah Thompson that is more important than mere genealogical research.

In prosecuting my search for me the Thompson - Burdick marriage I have acquired so much Burdick data that I have resolved to publish a "Burdick Genealogy."

Hoping for a reply from you, I am, with great respect,

Yours truly,

Wm. M.B. Harcourt

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

Bill Stillman (bill@stillman.org) runs the Stillman family website: http://www.stillman.org. Check it out, it is quite informative. The Stillmans and Burdicks have intermarried many times over the years. If any of you have Stillman connections, contact Bill, he may be able to help.

Do you remember Alice Burdick's (aliceburdick@yahoo.ca) Cheese Store & Bible story in the September Newsletter? A few of you contacted her, but there have been no substantial leads to the mystery yet. Alice's new book of poetry will be coming out in April through a press in Canada called Pedlar Press. The book is to be called 'Simple Master.' Congrats, Alice, let me know how I can buy a copy.

You may also remember that Kelly (Kellys02832@aol.com), our favorite reporter at The Chariho Times, is investigating the murder of Rhode Island State Senator Charles Burdick that took place in Charlestown, RI on October 17, 1930. Nothing yet, but some of you have been helping. Contact Kelly if you know any more. Will keep you posted.

In the last Newsletter, Jane Maxson (JhMaxson@aol.com) , Secretary of the Maxson Family Association, was trying to find a book for me, "Along the Shore", a collections of Howard Burdick's taste of life in Rhode Island in the early part of the last century. Jane hasn't found the book yet, but we know a lot more about Howard. Howard's son, Howard Frederick Burdick, Jr. (Seaburds@aol.com) , reports that his father celebrated his 101st birthday on January 6, 2002. Howard Sr. wrote for the Westerly Sun until just shy of his 100th birthday and now lives at the Watch Hill Manor. Truly a Burdick family treasure.

Burdicks on Braodway! Dan Lundy(jardam@concentric.net), one of our family members in NYC, points us to this web site: http://www.ibdb.com/ to find a listing of Burdicks that have been in Broadway productions. Thanks, Dan!

Connie Wright (DBBFAN111@aol.com), recommends this article on Joshua Philip Burdick of Nebraska, her gg grandfather, for those looking for family connections in the Midwest: http://www.rootsweb.com/~neresour/OLLibrary/pbco/pages/baco0196.htm#1197. If you are related to Connie through Joshua Burdick, please contact her!

Gary Portsche (garyport@planetkc.com), reports that his first great grandchild, Jakob Tyler Rolstad, was born December 21, 2001 at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, CA. Jakob is the 15th great grandson of Robert Burdick.

And finally, my own "first" cousin Laurie (Laurie3380@cs.com), reports that her son Robert has graduated from Baker College in Muskegon, MI with an Associate Degree in Computer Information Technology as a Networking Specialist, and will have his Bachelor's in another year or two. He's also passed his exams and is now a Certified Novell Engineer (CNE). Good job, Robert.

Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2019. All Rights Reserved.