Every summer the email traffic I receive at The Burdick Family Association drops off. That's understandable, people are out enjoying the weather and family reunions. No need to be bottled up in a stuffy genealogy library when the sunshine beckons! Unless, of course, you live in a hot climate like I do, where you hibernate under air conditioning 'til the mercury drops below 95. Here in Dallas that's usually September, but we've had a "cool" summer this year with only a couple days above 100.
This summer we've had the Presidential campaigns, important world events, the Olympics, high-profile trials, etc., etc., so it's no surprise that genealogical interest falls even lower on the "how I spend my time" scale.
But back the point. This slow period give me a chance to do something I've been meaning to do for a long time.
I looked back through past Newsletters and realized that I have not contributed anything in over 3 years! So with the annual summer correspondence dip upon me I figured it was a good time to fill you in on some things about my work with the Burdick family.
First, the statistics.
The start of 2005 will mark the 8th year anniversary of my rendition of The Burdick Family Association. Seems like it was just yesterday when I put the first Burdick web site on-line. But is was 1997. I had no idea how long it would last, what it would contain, or if there would be any interest in it. Needless to say, burdickfamily.org is still going strong. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Over the years I've slowly added new things. There's always more I want to do but I'm never able to find the time. Some day...
Family members continue to visit through cyberspace, constantly increasing the web site's reach. There are now over 600 people who receive this Newsletter in their in-boxes. Actually, it's more than that since a few recipients are distribution lists so I have no idea where the Newsletters get forwarded. I have received, literally, thousands of emails over the years -- on average about 5-10 per week. I am in touch with family from Maine to Alaska, from Miami to San Diego, nearly every Canadian province, and several European countries. And the thing that amazes me most is that I have never advertised or promoted the web site -- you have all just sort of found it! Isn't the Internet great?
To all of you, my heartfelt thanks. Without you there wouldn't be a Burdick web site. I'm not a genealogist; I could never do the work you do, it's much too difficult! I do like to think of myself as a "facilitator", though. Someone who can help make contacts and distribute information. It gives me untold joy to make a connection between heretofore unconnected family members. It also causes me frustration (as I'm sure it does you!) to not be able to help someone make their link into our extended family. But as I tell those people, just because we can't make the link doesn't mean you're not part of the clan!
So please keep writing to me. About genealogy or anything. I love to hear about births, graduations, marriages, promotions and whatever else goes on in your lives and I try to include them in the Newsletter for all to read. While difficult, I also want to hear about illness or the passing of a loved one. Please know that we truly are one very large extended family and that you can gain strength from us, if only electronically, during the inevitable bad times.
Which brings me to my favorite answer when responding to many of you: "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write but..." On average, I only have about 10 hours per month to spend on editing the Newsletter, maintaining the web site and trying to keep up with correspondence -- in that order of precedence. I do appreciate your patience and, one more time, "Please forgive my tardiness in taking so long to answer."
Besides the obvious, I've noticed something odd about people like me who get involved in genealogy from a "technical" perspective rather than a "research" one. Many of us do not have children! While I would never put myself in the same league as Nellie Johnson and Frank Mueller, they, too, never had kids. Perhaps it's an unfulfilled parental instinct. Or maybe it's because we're not burned out by the daily rigors of raising kids. (For all you parents out there, you have my unwavering respect, I could never do your job anymore than I could be a genealogy researcher!) I can't speak for Nellie and Frank but my reasons for interest in the Burdick family stems from my mother's interest when I was young and my desire to see the "big picture" in things.
OK, no more psychoanalysis.
There has been a lot happen in my life over the past 8 years, as I sure there has in yours. Lois and I celebrated our 25th anniversary a few years back, Number 30 is coming up soon. Next year marks the Big Five-O for me. I started the Burdick web site when we lived in Southern California and since then have moved it to Colorado, Northern California, and now to Texas. I think we have one more move left in us, which I hope will be to our retirement home in East Texas. But I've learned never to say never, for all I know life may take my weary bones on yet another cross-country adventure!
There have been other big events in recent years. We lost my mother to MS four years ago. Dad has gotten remarried to a wonderful woman. We lost Lois' Mom just this summer and brother-in-law Jack the summer before. My oldest niece, Nellie, was married a few years back and she and Keith had their first child last November. Middle niece Annie is all grown up and on her own and Emily, the youngest, is starting her last year in High School. Can you tell I live vicariously through other people's kids? By the way, brother John and sister-in-law Janet are doing great in northern Michigan, they're also ready to celebrate their 30th year together.
Enough about me. Before I wrap this up, I wanted to let you know what I see as the future of burdickfamily.org and my role in it. I defined three goals when I started, and only one has been accomplished so far:
Goal #1: Get Nellie Johnson's book, "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island", digitized for the computer age. This was accomplished and is available on CD-ROM through H & L Creations (http://www.hlcreations.com). In addition Frank Mueller's book, "The Burdick Family Chronology", was also digitized. Response has been very good, and I hope everyone who has purchased the CDs are enjoying them.
Goal #2: Convert Nellie's book into a relational data base. I don't know if this has already been done by someone. I know that a lot of people have incorporated sections of the book into their personal genealogies, but I do not know if anyone has converted the WHOLE book into a data base. If anyone has the desire to take on this task let me know! I would think that this is not TOO difficult (if you know what you're doing!) since the book now exists in digital form.
Goal #3: Update the Burdick genealogy from its 1930's version. This is the "Big One". Nellie's book is approaching the ripe old age of 80 while our family has continued to multiply. For example, my 77-year-old father is just a passing footnote in HIS grandfather's entry! Since most of us can only remember 2-3 generations back, it is critical to capture the last 80 years before it's too late. The holes that currently exist in our history are small compared to the ones we are creating today. A lot of you are maintaining your own thin slice of the Burdick "pie", which I applaud, but someone needs to cover the entire thing. I envision an on-line repository were people can add their lines in a consistent, accurate way.
I believe that Burdick is one of the better researched Colonial names precisely because of the work of William Mansfield Burdick Harcourt, Nellie Johnson and Frank Mueller. If we wish to maintain that distinction we had best get our act together -- soon. We have such amazing computer tools today that make the job much easier than what former historians had. I can only imagine the smile on Nellie's face if she had been able to collect information at the push of a button on her PC. I know Frank feels that way, I've discussed it with him.
As I mentioned, I'm rapidly approaching the half-century mark. While I plan to be around for quite a long time, I also realize that there is only so much I, or any one person, can do. Trust me, if I could devote 60-80 hours per week to the Burdick family I would. Perhaps as retirement looms nearer I can. But the question remains: Who will be the next Nellie Johnson? You?
So I'd like to present a proposal to the "real" genealogists out there who know how to use today's data base products. If you can define how to accomplish the goal of updating the Burdick genealogy, I will do whatever I can to help make it happen. I would like to hear from anyone who has given this problem some thought or with whom I can collaborate or assist to get this project underway -- or at least PLAN to get it started. I have some ideas but I don't know enough to get moving down the proper path. It may not happen for a while but I am confident that it WILL happen.
I'll leave you with that thought. Once again, I truly appreciate your support over the years and look forward to continuing in my role for a long time. But time will catch up with me, too, so if you are young and have an interest in our extended family, I encourage you to get involved. The Burdicks need you!
U.S. News & World Report
June 21, 2004
I gave an informal talk the other night and got a very odd reaction. I was speaking at a small dinner--16 people--of a cultural group here in New York. My topic was the sometimes-demented culture of American universities. I talked about the repressive speech codes, stolen newspapers, canceled speakers; the defunded Christian groups; the distortion of the curriculum by powerful diversity bureaucracies; and the indoctrination of students, starting with freshman orientation and introductory writing courses.
Nothing in my remarks would have come as a surprise to readers of this column, and it turned out that maybe two thirds of the people at the dinner strongly agreed with my talk. But it shocked one man--a former university president of some note--who denounced my comments as "the most intellectually dishonest speech I have ever heard." I think he meant to say that he disagreed. Or maybe he thought I was attacking his old university. Nobody knows what he thought because he just repeated his "intellectually dishonest" remark and left, closing the door quickly behind him.
This will stick in my mind as a good example of what has happened to debate in this country. Given a chance to speak his piece, the college president just got mad and got out. It never used to be this way. As many reporters reminded us last week, Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan fought sharply during the day but enjoyed having the occasional drink or two together after work. In the old days, William F. Buckley Jr. would hold public debates with all comers (I recall Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Steve Allen), then go out to a pleasant dinner with his opponent.
Nowadays, Buckley or his adversary would probably be required to take umbrage, hurl some insult, then stomp out in a snit. I caught the tail end of the civil-argument culture when Garry Wills and I started out many years ago as the original columnists in the National Catholic Reporter. We would frequently attack each other's ideas, but it never affected our friendship. Why should it?
In the current Atlantic, P. J. O'Rourke says that, "Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, seems to have gone out of fashion with everyone." O'Rourke doesn't pay much attention, he says, to talk radio, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Al Franken, or Michael Moore because they just shout things at partisan audiences that already agree with their chosen shouter. Technology reinforces the decline of serious argument--now we can all go to a TV channel, a radio show, or a website that will protect us from those aliens across the moat who disagree with us.
It's true that we have more semistructured Crossfire-style debates than ever before. But much of this is rigidly preprogrammed sniping. (I was once chastised by a TV producer for not interrupting other speakers more. What a failure!) Even when the sniping is downplayed, TV demands sharp sound bites, which pushes all talking heads toward more vehemence and simple-mindedness. Instant certainty becomes mandatory, a delivery style many talking heads start to regret before they're even out of the studio. Where is the real debate?
Listening -- and learning. In my remarks at the dinner, I talked about the birth of a "no debate" style on many campuses. When sensitivity and nonjudgmentalism are the dominant virtues, raising arguments can be perilous -- you never know which unauthorized campus opinion will turn out to be a sensitivity violation. Better to keep your head down. This is particularly true now that some speech codes explicitly say that challenging another student's beliefs is forbidden.
This is yet another perverse campus trend. Arguing is crucial to education. It's a kind of intellectual roughhouse that lets students try out new ideas. E. J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, sometimes tells his class at Georgetown that he intends to support the argument of whichever group in the class is in the minority. He does this because he wants his students to argue as passionately as possible without fear of intimidation by a dominant group.
In his book The Revolt of the Elites, the late Christopher Lasch wrote that only in the course of argument do "we come to understand what we know and what we still need to learn... we come to know our own minds only by explaining ourselves to others." If we wish to be engaged in serious argument, Lasch explained, we must enter into another person's mental universe and put our own ideas at risk. Exactly. When a friend launches an argument and your rebuttal starts to sound tinny to your own ears, it shouldn't be that hard to figure out that something's wrong -- usually, that you don't really agree with the words coming out of your own mouth. Arguing can rescue us from our own half-formed opinions.
Jane Maxson (email@example.com) always keeps us posted on events in Westerly, RI. There was a leaking pipe at the library that closed the local history/genealogy section. Fortunately, no damage was done to the contents of the vault which contained many glass slides of Westerly along with other fragile collections. Repairs were supposed to be completed at the end of July, and normal access restored.
Valerie Burditt (firstname.lastname@example.org) is trying to link her lineage to the Robert Burdick. It is her understanding that her Burditt ancestor was from England in the 1630's and Robert was his name. Valerie also believes Robert Burditt owned the Manor Richmont or Aghavellan in Ireland. I've heard of lots of possible connections to England, but never this one. Does anyone know more?
Gwen Wood (Woopga@aol.com) in Seattle has made some good connections to the Burdick family but is having a problem with some stubborn ancestors. Gwen's Great Grandmother was Jessie Burdick who married Mineheart Brunell. Gwen's Grandfather was the son of Mineheart and Jessie Brunell, his name was Marshall Nay Fremont Brunell, he had a sister Mildred Allen. But Gwen is having trouble locating the rest of the family. Marshall married Addie Benjamin, daughter of Charles Carol Benjamin and Phebe Maricle (not too sure of the spelling). I know there are some active Burdick researchers in the Pacific Northwest, can anyone help?
Carol Swensen (email@example.com) is trying to either prove or disprove that a Martha Burdick is her great-great grandmother. Joseph S. Burdick was born about 1795 in R.I., according to the 1850 census in Kane Co., Illinois. He had a daughter named Martha born about 1833/34 in NY. Martha married Stephen Wheeler on July 3, 1854 in Coldwater, Branch, Michigan. Martha died before November, 1875 when Stephen was remarried in Jackson Co., Michigan, Stephen was listed as a widow. Stephen Wheeler was born in Niagara Co., NY, according to his 2nd marriage record in 1875. Carol has no information when Martha Burdick arrived in Michigan. Any of you Michigan researchers know more?
Louis LaBarge (firstname.lastname@example.org) is looking for his great-grand mother Marion A. Burdick's maiden name. She was born in January, 1854 in Vermont and married James G. Burdick about 1874. They had two daughters, listed in the 1880 census for Dickinson, Franklin, NY: Cora M. 1875- ??? , Voila I. 1879-1937 (Louis' grandmother). They ended up in the Town of Pierrepont, Saint Lawrence, New York. James Burdick was born in Underhill, Vermont, and he may have also lived in Westford. He had two brothers and a sister: Willaby, Avery and Fanny. The family ended up in the area of Saint Lawrence County. Census records state that Marion's parents were both born in Vermont. Louis has hit a dead end, can anyone help?
Bill Wise (email@example.com) is looking for information about his great grandfather, Harry Minor Burdick. He was married to Eleanor (aka. Nellie) Hoyt. They had three children: Eleanor (Bill's grandmother, b. 1902), Frances Vivien (b. about 1904) and Harry Junior (b. about 1912).
Alice Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org) wished to pass along news of the passing of her mother, Dorothy Ann Burdick Magee, on Friday, July 16, 2004 after a battle with lung cancer. Alice says she put up an incredible fight - right to the end. God bless her.
Gary Gygax (email@example.com), one of our family members in Wisconsin, received a newspaper clipping about the passing of Virginia N. Burdick, 86, of 285 N. Chambers St., Galesburg, IL, died Monday, June 21, 2004, in Galesburg Cottage Hospital. She was born on June 10, 1918, in Parkersburg, WV, daughter of Opha K. and Gertrude Bush Norman. On June 29, 1943, in Milton, WI, she married Dr. H. Laurence Burdick, who preceded her in death on May 24, 1998. Contact Gary for the full obituary.
Connie Wright (DBBFAN111@aol.com), our family correspondent from Nebraska, sends along an update. Her Dad had quadruple bypass on June 8, 2004. Her Mom also had two blocked heart arteries so she had stents put in. Her friend John had two stents put in 3 weeks ago! Connie has also been babysitting little granddaughter Mallory. Sounds like enough excitement for one summer!
Bev DePriest (firstname.lastname@example.org) wants to send her thanks to those who responded to her request for a picture of Henry Burdick in the last Newsletter. Bill and Esther Kratochvil of Laconia, NH, emailed a digital portrait of 4 generations of Burdicks - among them was Bev's g-g grandfather, Henry, along with his father, Barnett Stillwell Burdick. They're not sure who the other two gentlemen in the picture are, but will figure it out! Bill R. Cook from Texas sent an abundance of information that was very much appreciated. I thank you all, too!
Does anyone know Carrie Burdick? Ingmar Mix (email@example.com) is a friend of hers in Germany and would like to make contact. Carrie was from Phoenix, lived in Germany from 1996 to 1997 and then moved to Utah. If anyone knows Carrie's whereabouts, please let her know Ingmar is looking for her.
Shelley Cardiel (firstname.lastname@example.org) has "rescued" an old tin type photograph identified as Orpha Burdick. The photograph was probably taken in the 1870's with Orpha appearing to be in her teens at the time. In addition to her name someone has written "Schoolmate of Mom's Mother" on the back of the photo. Based on limited research, Shelley believes this is a photograph of Orpha Victoria BURDICK b. 27 Feb 1861 at Otego, NY the daughter of George Washington BURDICK and Electa Ann WHIPPLE and died 20 Feb 1934. This photo was recovered with others belonging to the TRASK, HAMILTON, HENDRICK, BARBER, MASTIN, SLOAN, and HAYNES Families from Oneonta, NY; Norwich, NY; Walton, NY; Unadilla, NY; and Glens Falls, NY. Please contact her ONLY if you are a family member,Shelley wants this wonderful old treasure to be returned to its rightful place with family. Thanks, Shelley, for caring.
Larry Crandall-Wood (email@example.com) just had an article just published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (NYG&B) (Volume 135 Number 2 pages 92-105). The article is titled "Connecting Parker Burdick Crandall to the Rhode Island Crandall Family". It contains a significant amount of new information on both the Crandall and Burdick lines not previously published and firmly connects the "Bradford, PA Crandalls" to the rest of the family. Good job, Larry!
Ray Pugh (firstname.lastname@example.org) needs help in finding his Burdicks. Ezra Burdick, his GGG-Grandfather, married Mary Gill about 1825, possibly in New York. Their children were Fanny Melissa, Harry Lester, Shadrach Adoniram, Harrison A., Marcellia L. and Viola L. Burdick. The family ended up in Wisconsin after Ezra's death and were shown in the 1860 census for Hartford, Washington County, Wisconsin. Viola L. Burdick married Lucian D. Wyatt if Ohio in 1875, Monroe County, Wisconsin. They both passed away in the early 1920's and are buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Tomah, Monroe County, Wisconsin. Their children were Ernest E., Vera May and Ethel Viola. Shadrach Adoniram Burdick, Ray's GG-Grandfather, married Mary Hart in 1861, Hustiford, Dodge County, Wisconsin. Their children were Adelbert Harrison, Roswell Ulysses, Altha(?) M., and LaVonnie L. Burdick. LaVonnie L. Burdick, Ray's G-Grandmother and married his G-Grandfather, William C. Stotera in 1891, Monroe County, Wisconsin. At the time Shadrach ran a grocery store in the 3rd Ward of Tomah and William worked for his Father-in-law. In about 1910, William, LaVonnie and their children, Floyd Chester, Mae E. and Russell Lawrence moved to Conrad, Pondera County, Montana. They had a 4th child, Edgar George who died May 29, 1894 in Tomah, Monroe County, Wisconsin. Does anyone know more?