New technology spurs feud on Conn.-R.I. line
By Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe Staff, 1/1/2004
HOPKINTON, R.I. -- Iva Crider has long been a proud Rhode Islander, living nearly all her 79 years in this rural village. She was the town's first female school bus driver, fed 13,000 chickens a day in her coops, and buried two sons and her husband in the backyard.
But now, the neighboring town of North Stonington, Conn., has mailed Crider a property tax bill for her ranch house. New mapping technology, North Stonington officials said, shows that Crider is not a Rhode Islander, but instead a resident of Connecticut.
"I like it right here in Rhode Island," Crider said. "Do they think we've been dumb for all these years?"
Whether Crider actually lives in Rhode Island will not be determined until commissions in the two states decide -- once and for all, many hope -- where the border lies between two former colonies that have been arguing about their boundaries since European settlers arrived.
"I never anticipated that I might have to go out there, walking in knee-high waders, along a boundary between two states," said Patrick C. Lynch, Rhode Island's attorney general.
The determination of North Stonington officials to mail property tax bills to Rhode Islanders has raised Lynch's hackles, prompted Hopkinton's assessor to make cross-border comparisons to the Hatfields and McCoys, and caused Crider to wonder where she will turn if Hopkinton police no longer patrol her secluded road.
Hopkinton's Town Hall, ambulance, and Post Office are all less than 2 miles from Crider, who uses a wheelchair. If her house is part of North Stonington, Crider said, the comparable services would be about a dozen miles away. "In Rhode Island, if I need them, they're right here," she said. Border spats have surfaced sporadically in the country, particularly in its older regions, where stone walls and hand-held surveying equipment determined the division of farm from farm and state from state. Maine and New Hampshire battled for years, all the way to the US Supreme Court, before the justices ruled in 2001 that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard lay within Maine's boundaries.
On Dec. 9, in a dispute nearly four centuries old, the Supreme Court ruled that the Potomac River does not belong solely to the state of Maryland and that Virginia could draw water from the river without permission. In Hopkinton, North Stonington's effort to take Rhode Island property should be viewed in simple, human terms, Lynch said.
"It's humorous at first blush, but it can deeply affect and injure a person's quality of life," Lynch said. "The bus route goes; utilities can change. It's the very essence of one's home. It's serious stuff." But to Joyce Elias, the former North Stonington assessor who mailed out the tax bills in July, that is fodder for politicians to discuss. To her, the boundary is the boundary, and let the chips fall where they may.
"What's black is black, and what's white is white, and you have the way it is," said Elias, who now directs the town's mapping work.
"I'm a techie, and I deal with fact," she said. "Someone else needs to worry about the ramifications to people's lives."
Those ramifications affect about 40 properties and parts or all of eight residences, said Hopkinton assessor John D. Majeika.
The property tax transfer would be about $15,000 in North Stonington's favor on an additional 22.3 acres. In many cases, most involving vacant land, the line claimed by North Stonington is less than 60 feet farther east.
"It's not a huge amount of money, but they've taken away the rights of those people who want to live in Rhode Island," Majeika said. "We've lived with this border for an awful long time."
But longevity and comfort don't necessarily make it right, countered Elias, who said modern technology finally has given the states a chance to settle centuries-old differences. With low-level aerial photography, aided by satellite-targeted control points, North Stonington was able to draw a straight line between granite markers placed in the ground in 1840 during an official boundary survey.
Although that border was ratified by the two legislatures, farmers often could not see intermediate markers placed along the line. As a result, they plowed to where they thought the boundary existed. So instead of a straight divider, the border began to meander.
The turf battle is not new to the two states, which received their royal colonial charters in the 1660s. In 1720, for example, the English Board of Trade became so irritated by their territorial arguments that it recommended the charters be revoked and the two colonies be annexed to New Hampshire.
"While some would joke and say, `We'll take Foxwoods, and you can have another part of our state,' we both have things at stake here," said Lynch, the Rhode Island attorney general.
He has advised all residents who have received adjusted property tax bills from Connecticut not to pay them. Instead, he has directed the chief of his civil division to hold those taxes in abeyance until a resolution is reached.
Lynch's counterpart in Connecticut, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, said yesterday that North Stonington has been advised repeatedly that only the Legislature can set boundaries.
Lynch said he is confident that the two border commissions will be able to reach agreement, preferably for an "occupational border" that might deviate from the straight line envisioned in colonial times, but would accommodate the desires of Rhode Islanders and Connecticut residents to stay put. "In the long run," Blumenthal said, "this supposed dispute may be regarded as a curious footnote in the history of our two states."
On a Septic Tank Truck in Oregon:
Yesterday's Meals on Wheels
On a Septic Tank Truck:
"We're #1 in the #2 business."
Sign over a Gynecologist's Office:
"Dr. Jones, at your cervix."
At a Proctologist's door
"To expedite your visit please back in."
On a Plumber's truck:
"We repair what your husband fixed."
On a Plumber's truck:
"Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."
Pizza Shop Slogan:
"7 days without pizza makes one weak."
At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee:
"Invite us to your next blowout."
On a Plastic Surgeon's Office door:
"Hello. Can we pick your nose?"
At a Towing company:
"We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."
On an Electrician's truck:
"Let us remove your shorts."
In a Nonsmoking Area:
"If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."
On a Maternity Room door:
"Push. Push. Push."
At an Optometrist's Office
"If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
On a Taxidermist's window:
"We really know our stuff."
In a Podiatrist's office:
"Time wounds all heels."
On a Fence:
"Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."
At a Car Dealership:
"The best way to get back on your feet -- miss a car payment."
Outside a Muffler Shop:
"No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."
In a Veterinarian's waiting room:
"Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"
At the Electric Company:
"We would be delighted if you send in your payment.
However, if you don't, you will be."
In a Restaurant window:
"Don't stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get fed up."
In the front yard of a Funeral Home:
"Drive carefully. We'll wait."
At a Propane Filling Station,
"Thank heaven for little grills."
At a Tire Store in Syracuse,
On a sign over the counter with a picture of a smoking gun:
"WE DON'T CALL 911"
Speaking of links, Gary Burdick (email@example.com) has a new on-line home for his extensive collection of Burdick and Sullivan family photos. Take a look at http://www.burdick-sullivanfamilyphotogallery.org.
Speaking of photos, Bev DePriest (firstname.lastname@example.org) is looking for one. Bev has helped us before, let see if we can help her. She is looking for more information and a photograph of her g-g grandfather, Henry E. Burdick (b: Aug 9, 1845 - d: July 6, 1925). He was married 6 times (that's right, SIX times - HB) to: Eliza Ellen Austin, Lydia Rachel Deuel, Hannah Teral, Adelaide Bassinger, Anna Green Hughes and, Georgianna Smith. He had at least four children. Surely with all these connections, someone has a photograph! He served in Battery A, 1st Illinois Light Art. (Union side - Civil War). There were photographers near most Army posts to take portraits of Civil War soldiers, but Bev can't find one of Henry. SHe has LOTS of Burdick information and photos, can you help fill out her collection?
David Kendall Martin (email@example.com), another friend of this Newsletter, is trying to locate a picture of Kendall Burdick (1778-1871) of Clifford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Kendall was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, but went to Pennslyvania as a young, married man and left numerous descendants. Somewhere, perhaps in Susquehanna County or among his descendants, there might be a picture. If you know of any pictures of Kendall Burdick, or any of his children, please contact David. Thanks!
Thomas H. Roderick (firstname.lastname@example.org) is working on the family of James Burdick and his wife Phoebe Smith. Thomas notes that the ancestry comes through a presumed line of Hubbard and Avis Burdick, cited my many Burdicks, but that is incorrect. He thinks the false parentage of James goes back to Nellie Johnson's book, where she notes the family of Hubbard is tentative. Thomas has discovered that James Burdick was the son of Joshua Burdick and Abigail Lamphere. Thomas is writing an article on it and, hopefully, will make it available to us when complete.
Gary Gygax (email@example.com) received the following Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Newspaper Obituary Index 27:
BURDICK A 1834 1892 2/26/92 5 HER
BURDICK BYRON 1850 1934 1/11/34 9 RN
BURDICK CHARLES 1839 1903 2/26/03 1 HER
BURDICK CLARENCE 1863 1936 8/6/36 2 RN
BURDICK DARIUS 1826 1897 6/11/97 1 HER
BURDICK EARL DARIUS 1893 1917 2/1/17 1 RN
BURDICK ECWARD 1887 9/23/87 5 HER
BURDICK EMMA C H 1849 1942 11/19/42 1 RN
BURDICK GARDENER 1822 1911 2/2/11 1 RN
BURDICK GRACE D. HUGH A. DOWNING 1876 1962 9-6-62 2 RN
BURDICK GUY 1943 9/30/43 1 RN
BURDICK HUGH E. 1932 1993 11-25-93 2 RN
BURDICK HUGH A. 1864 1952 2-14-52 1 RN
BURDICK MARCIA 1905 1985 5/30/85 2 RN
BURDICK MARTHA S C CRANDALL 1813 1899 5/5/99 1 HER
BURDICK MARYA. CLARENCE ? 1874 1950 8-17-50 6 RN
BURDICK PELEG 1820 1892 7/1/92 5 HER
BURDICK SOLOMON 1811 1891 7/3/91 5 HER
BURDICK C H 1886 7/23/86 5 HER
And for those of you who just can't get enough of Burdick Newsletters, don't forget that Joe Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) produces one. They are all archived on burdickfamily.org (click on "Newsletters" then scroll down to the bottom), but if you want to receive yours via email, contact Joe to get on his distribution list.
Eleanor Burch (email@example.com) is searching for more information about her great-grandfather's sister, Maria Eddie. Maria married William Harper and was living in Rock Falls, IL in 1880. Their daughter Bessie Harper married Charles L. Burdick in 1891. They are buried in the IOOF cemetery, Rock Falls. Does anyone know more?
I wish I could remember who sent me this link, but I can't. But whoever you are, thank you very much! Please check out the Fallen Heros Memorial (http://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/) which commemorates the U.S. military members who have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect OUR freedom. And while I'm on the subject, please take a look at the updated "Military" section of burdickfamily.org. It can't be said enough -- THANK YOU to our wonderful sevice men and women and God bless you all!
Wayne Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) is looking for anyone researching George Burdick who was born about 1823 (possibly in NY State). He came to Canada and married Lydia Stephens/Stevens. Their child was John Oscar Burdick, born 1860 in Lambton Co. Ontario, Canada and died in Ravenswood, Ontario. He married Catherine A. Towle on Dec. 25th, 1883 in Lambton Co., Ontario, daughter of Henry Towle and Helen Shaw. Their children were: 1. Lydia Ellen (Nellie) Burdick born Dec. 19th, 1888. Died Feb. 25th, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 2. William Burdick born ??, in Lambton Co., Ontario. 3. John Burdick born May 5th, 1887 in Lambton Co., Ontario. He married Edna May Pearson. 4. Orville Burdick born 1900 and died 1962 in Lambton Co., Ontario. Anyone know more?
Let's give a great big welcome to Marsha Burdick Galbiati (email@example.com) in Milan, Italy! Marsha has lived in Italy for 17 years. She is a writer, translator and English teacher, and was born in Illinois. Just a few more European countries to go before we have the entire continent covered by Burdicks!
Christina Yunck (firstname.lastname@example.org) had a very special privledge. On a recent trip to Rensselaer County, NY to finish up locating and photographing burial locations of her Burdick-Feathers-Peckham roots, she had the honor of attending religious services at the SDB church in Berlin, NY. The church celebrated 200 years in that location in 1980! Elder John Burdick was sent from Hopkinton, RI to confer with the brothers and sisters of the Sabbath keepers on the Berlin church establishment. There are numerous ancestors in the local SDB cemetery and when Christina explained she was a 12th generation Burdick, she was warmly welcomed at the church. She encourages anyone in the area to go there for Saturday Service at 10AM.
John Konvalinka (email@example.com) wants to let everyone know about the upcoming genealogical Professional Management Conference, sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org), in Austin TX on September 8 in conjunction with the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference. Check out their web site for details.