Burdick Newsletters

May/June, 2005

And Should We Die Before Our Journey's Through

by Heber J. Grant

(Heber Grant (1856-1845) served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint from 1918 to 1945. His wife, Hilda Augusta, was Rebecca Winters' granddaughter. The following is an excerpt form his book, "Teachings of Presidents of the Church," and was originally published in the Conference Report, October, 1919. - HB)

"And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell."

Do we feel that, if we die, all is well? Are we living so that if the summons comes to us, that we are worthy to go back to our Heavenly Father, when we leave this earth, and be welcome there? Are we so living that we are worthy of the blessings we have received? I ask my self the question, Am I doing all I possibly can for the uplifting not only of myself but of my fellows, am I in very deed a shining light to the people, by reason of the example I set before them?

What sublime faith -- that all is well! even should you die in the wilderness, and be buried in an unknown grave, so to speak; and yet that was their faith; and they could sing these words, night after night, with their hearts in what they sang. They were verily praying to the Lord. They had full faith in the revelation given to the wife of Prophet Joseph Smith, wherein it is written: "The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." Also: "My soul delighteth in the song of the heart." [D&C 25:12.]

"And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell.
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
O how we'll make this chorus swell --
All is well, all is well!"

I remember upon one occasion, and I have often spoken of it, ... that my father-in-law, the late Oscar Winters, said: "Heber, I believe that the young people of Zion do not thoroughly appreciate what Brother Clayton's hymn meant to us, as we sang it, night after night, crossing the plains.... I want to tell you an incident that happened as I was coming to the valley. One of our company was delayed in coming to camp. We got some volunteers, when we saw him coming in the distance. When he arrived, we unyoked his cattle and helped him get to his supper. He had been quite sick and had to lie down by the road, a time or two. After supper he sat down on a large rock, by the camp fire, and sang the hymn, 'Come, come, ye Saints.' It was the rule in the camp that whenever anybody started to sing that hymn, we would all join with him; but for some reason, no one joined with this brother. His voice was quite weak and feeble; and when he had finished, I glanced around, and I don't believe there were any of the people sitting there whose eyes were tearless. He sang the hymn very beautifully, but with a weak and plaintive voice, and yet with the spirit and inspiration of the hymn. The next morning we discovered that he was not hitching up his oxen; we went to his wagon, and we found that he had died during the night! We dug a shallow grave and laid his body in it. We then thought of the stone on which he had been sitting the night before and we sang:"

"And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell."

"We then rolled that stone over in place as a headstone for his grave."

I noticed tears in Brother Winters' eyes. He started, as if he was about to tell me something more, but he hesitated and did not. I subsequently learned that after he had been in the valley for some time he came from his home in the country to Salt Lake to meet his mother, only to learn that she, too, had died before her journey was through.

Some years ago, as the Burlington Railroad was building through Nebraska and Wyoming, the engineers found a piece of wagon tire sticking in the ground, on which was chiseled the word, "Winters." They wrote to Salt Lake City, telling of the discovery, and they returned several miles and kindly changed the line of the road so as to miss that spot, knowing that it was the grave of some Utah pioneer. We have since erected, there, a little monument to the memory of Grandma Winters; and, on one side of the little monument, built of temple granite, we have had chiseled the words in the last verse of, "Come, come, ye Saints."

Never can I hear this song, never can I read it, but my heart goes out in gratitude to my father and to my mother, and to thousands of those noble men and women who journeyed over the plains. Many of them, time and time again, crossed the plains to help others, enduring hardships cheerfully, carrying out, in very deed, the teachings of this inspired hymn! I can never think of them but I am full of admiration and gratitude, and utter a prayer to the Lord to help me, as one of the descendants of that noble band, to be loyal, to be true, to be faithful as they were! in very deed, they were a band of men and women who, as the years come and go, will command greater and greater admiration and respect from the people of the world.

Pioneer Grave

by Will Bagley

(It appears that remembrance of Rebecca Burdick Winters continues to grow with time. The following newspaper article, published in 2001, recounts her struggle and the latest developments with her monument. - HB)

Reprinted from The Salt Lake Tribune with permission

"Pioneer Grave Remains Part Of Trail Lore"
by Will Bagley, 07/15/2001

No one knows how many tens of thousands of graves lie beside America's wagon roads to the West. But one grave near the great stone castle of Scott's Bluff in Nebraska has become part of the legend of America's overland trails. Rebecca Burdick was born December 16, 1802, at Cayuga, New York. Her father, Gideon, had been in George Washington's army. She married Hiram Winters in 1824 and bore five children.

In 1833, the Winters and Burdick families joined the Latter-day Saints and followed the religion through all its trials in Ohio, Illinois and Iowa. In September, 1846 they helped build breastworks for defense of the "City of Joseph," and Rebecca's son Oscar fought in the Battle of Nauvoo. A companion recalled the "anguish and suspense of those dreadful hours" wives and mothers spent waiting on a porch for word of the outcome. The Mormons lost and agreed to abandon the city in a few days.

The Winterses spent the next six years in Iowa and set out for Utah in 1852 with the James C. Snow party. On the way, cholera struck the wagon train. It is impossible to know the terror this mysterious disease once held: people could be healthy in the morning and dead of cholera by dark. Or they could linger for days in unrelieved misery. By most reports, Rebecca Winters selflessly nursed the sick as her party struggled up the Platte River. According to one account, after days of trying to relieve victims of the disease, she at last threw up her hands in despair, and "from that moment she was stricken down." She died on August 15, 1852.

"Dig deeper, boys," William Hawley was said to have told the men burying Winters. "No wild animal shall disturb this grave." That night, five-year-old Ellis Reynolds (who later became Utah's first female physician) held a candle while her father engraved "Rebecca Winters Aged 50 Years" on an iron wagon tire to stand as her headstone. For years the journals of overland travelers recorded seeing the marker.

According to legend, in 1902, surveyors for the Burlington Northern Railroad "stumbled into a clump of sagebrush" and found the grave. "Turn back," said the leader. "We cannot desecrate the last resting place of a pioneer mother." So they made a detour of several miles to leave the grave in its peaceful solitude." Or, as Anne McQueen versified a few years later:

Boys, said the leader, we'll turn aside
Here, close by the trail, her grave shall stay
For she came first in this desert wide
Rebecca Winters holds right of way.

The facts are more interesting. Norman DeMott homesteaded the land in 1886, and for years his family cared for the grave. The site became a local landmark and the community gave the Winters name to a creek, a voting district and a boulevard. DeMott sold the land to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in the 1890s on the condition that the line would not disturb the grave. The Burlington's tracks missed the grave, but only by fifteen feet. In 1929, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a "Real Daughter" marker at the site. (A concrete headstone replaced the bronze plaque that disappeared.)

On her 100th birthday, her family fenced her grave and raised a monument to their beloved ancestor. But here in Utah, her many descendants are Rebecca Winters' true memorial. Next week: Rebecca Winters lives.

"Pioneer Grave Is Moved But Not Forgotten"
by Will Bagley, 07/22/2001

In 1995, the Burlington-Santa Fe Railroad had a problem, a big problem. Rebecca Winters, a Mormon overland emigrant, died of cholera near Scott's Bluff in 1852. Her grave, marked by an iron wagon tire engraved with her name, had become a shrine. According to legend, the Burlington Route diverted its tracks to avoid desecrating the site, and now thousands of Nebraska schoolchildren trek to her grave by the side of the railroad tracks.

The city of Scottsbluff's historic preservation society regularly decorated the grave with flowers, as did visitors all year long. Besides her many admirers in Nebraska, Winters had thousands of descendants in Utah. Her granddaughter Hilda Augusta was the second wife of LDS President Heber J. Grant. Her family was devoted to her memory and made pilgrimages to her grave. Trouble was, the grave was on the wrong side of the tracks from the highway. Visitors to the site had to cross the tracks, creating a safety nightmare for the Burlington-Santa Fe Railroad. After a few close calls, the railroad's safety officials decided they had to take action to avoid a fatal disaster. The job fell to district safety officer Charlie Klutts. It was a challenge fraught with peril, for the solution, moving the grave to the highway side, could raise charges of desecration and stir the outrage of Winters' many descendants and admirers. The railroad ran ads in The Salt Lake Tribune to contact descendants and alert them to their plans. They asked for the family's support and advice on moving the grave to a safer and more attractive location. With the family's consent, the Burlington moved ahead.

In early September 1996, hundreds of relatives, historians, scientists and journalists witnessed the solemn moment of opening the grave. After decades of experience with pioneer burials, the local sexton knew that if the grave were undisturbed, removing the topsoil would expose the silhouette of the burial. As the crowd watched, Klutts broke the prairie, and just as the sexton predicted, the perfect outline of the grave appeared.

The iron wagon tire was still in an unbroken circle, buried so deeply that workers could not pull it out by hand. The marker and the grave had never been moved. The grave was well over six feet deep, confirming the tradition that the burial party had worked hard to ensure that no animal disturbed it. They had carved steps to let them dig the grave deeper. University of Nebraska and state archaeologists carefully brushed away the last inches of soil. Some thought none of the remains would have survived, but this careful work revealed a fully articulated skeleton in excellent condition, with Winters' arms carefully folded across her chest.

The family reverently placed the bones on a quilt in a casket provided by a local funeral home. For the Winters family, it was a profoundly spiritual and historical moment. Nathan Winters said it was like meeting her 144 years after she died. His 94-year-old father, who had talked with people who knew his great-grandmother, attended with great-grandchildren of his own. As a Christian, Klutts is a humble man, but he is an American hero. He faced a daunting challenge and pulled it off with sensitivity and courage. He recalled an especially moving moment when a six -year-old Utah girl peered into the grave. Clutching a bouquet, she said, "We love you, Grandma."

Success in Norwich, NY

by Sally Chirlin (chirlin@adelphia.net)

(Sally is a long-time contributor to this Newsletter and a superb researcher, embedded in the the heart of Burdick territory -- namely, central New York. Following are a couple success stories she has had in tracing Burdick roots. As I've said before, you all amaze me! - HB)

I should probably give you a copule of my many local success stories. One involves a former classmate whose maiden name is Crandall. She always said, as did her dad, that they weren't part of the Norwich, NY Crandalls. One day last summer when she was here visiting, I started to quiz her about her family. Seems I'd done some research on her Irish side just because many folks who live here share that lineage. Then I asked her about her Crandalls and where they'd come from. When she said, BROOKFIELD, NY, I said, "Hold on; your Crandalls ARE the same as the Norwich Crandalls; they just connect back in New England!!" So naturally I had to get into her business and, surely enough, her Crandalls are part and parcel of all those Burdick and related families who began in RI and migrated into NY and points beyond before and after the Revolutionary War.

Another acquaintance came to me with Adrian Piccollo who lives in New England, very close to where the ancestors of our Burdicks lived. He remembers coming to NY when he was young and I'm hoping that he'll plan to visit this coming year now that he's gotten interested in HIS ancestors, all of whom dovetail with ours. I've been pleased to have found many of them in central and western NY.

Another man from the midwest contacted me and I found his Burdick ancestor living right here in Chenango Co. for a time way back when. He hadn't known much about them and seemed extremely pleased to close the gap between the midwest Burdicks and those who came through NY, PA from New England as they migrated west.

A young woman from Texas wanted help with proof of her Crandalls tying into the early RI family. By the time I'd looked into her family, I found a connection on a totally different side right here in Norwich, NY!!! This was one of the most fascinating ventures yet as I'd originally figured I could make her New England connections but when it got into Hoosick Falls, NY and nearby VT where one of my sisters has lived for years, and then to find that one of her distant cousins from Hoosick Falls is living right here in Norwich and a man I know well .... this just confirms for me that there's no such thing as coincidence!!

A Dr. Thomas Holmes has become a friend over the past couple of years and I casually asked him one day if he knew much about his Holmes ancestry. (I have Holmes ancestry but have never connected it with Burdicks, etal., so wasn't looking along that line,) I was surprised when he told me that he didn't know a great deal, only that many of them had lived and were buried in the town of Brookfield, Madison Co., NY. I was stunned, really, as it was so unexpected. Any time I hear Brookfield, I think Burkick, Coon, Masxon, Clark, Crandall, etc., but never HOLMES. Well, sure enough, his ancestry ties into mine through Holmes back in New England but through Coon, Burdick, etc., right there in Brookfield. I told him I was jealous because he actually has many more families buried in Brookfield than I do! One of these days, he's promised to go the cemetery and show me where his are buried and I'll take him to where mine are as well! Perhaps we should have a spinoff group of all of us who trace our ancestry to Brookfield. We'd number into the thousands and many of us are right here but haven't figured out the connection yet!! Funny, too, as around here we make fun of Brookfield saying you have to go there on purpose because it's not on the way to anything. Little have we known that it would be a destination for so many of us.

It can be most overwhelming to find that someone you've e-mailed suddenly presents you with more family history than you were prepared for. I think my young friend in Texas has felt that way. Family mysteries come into play and we are often amazed that they get solved, at least in part, fairly easily. At any rate, this has been so rewarding for me. I've worked on both my daughter-in-law's ancestry over time as well as the parents of my son-in-law. Happily, most people take a renewed interest when they start getting the STORY with the history.

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

Mark you calendars! The Maxson 2005 Family Reunion is coming up! It will be held June 25-26 in the Kansas City area. Point your Internet browser to http://www.maxson2000.net for details. Ummm... KC barbeque...

And speaking of the Maxsons, the latest edition is here! Gary L. Portsche (gportsche@earthlink.net), who maintains the Maxson web site, is a grandfather for the second time. Meet Audrey at http://www.pbase.com/pooch/audrey.

Ron Upton (rupton@cox.net) is seeking information on HENRY BURDICK and wife SADI RUSH. Their son, LOUIS ISSAC BURDICK, is the family line I am following. There other children are Agnus, Irene and Viola. Henry died around 1959. Does anyone know more?

With all the discussion of Burdick heritage and the Mormon Church, Connie Crow (CCrow21993@aol.com) has another story to add. There is a Baby Burdick buried in the Mormon cemetery in Florence, Nebraska. A beautiful new temple has been built at the site, which Connie has toured. The baby was on that first wagon train that wintered in Omaha, and did not make it through that harsh winter.

John Pazolt (Johnnjenpazolt@aol.com) is Carol Jean Burdick's son. He and Ron Upton (rupton@cox.net) are looking for information on HENRY BURDICK and wife SADI RUSH. Their son, LOUIS ISSAC BURDICK, is the family line they are following. There were other children, Agnus, Irene and Viola. Henry died around 1959. Does anyone know this Burdick line?

Heather Meredith (Merediths3@msn.com) is looking for additional information on Albert Skinner Burdick, who is listed as #1131 in "The Descendents of Robert Burdick". Does anyone know more? Heather is also seeking information about Cynthia Burdick, supposedly born about 1807 in Albion, Orleans, NY. Her parents were Edward and Araminta (Maxon or Haxon) Burdick. Cynthia married a Caleb Case Jan. 1, 1834 in Camden, Oneida, NY.

David Vernon Burdick -- are you out there? If so, please contact Carmen DeMuria (cdemuria@snet.net). She has been researching her Burdick roots and it turns out you two are closely related.

Bill Thompson (bill.thompson@wtassoc.com) located an obitury of a Wm. Burdick, 9? - 200, at /www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/obitcemc/wlntobit.htm.

Judy Cwiklinski (JudyKCski@aol.com) reports on the passing of Winifred Burdick, 89, on Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at Highland Healthcare Center. Mrs. Burdick was born on Jan. 25, 1916 in Alfred Station to Harry and Calla (Green) Cook. She was a 1934 graduate of Alfred High School and later graduated from Geneseo Normal School. She taught five years at Withey School near Belmont and Alfred-Almond Central School. On July 3, 1943 in Alfred Station, she married Clinton Burdick, who predeceased her on March 21, 2000. Winifred was a devoted wife and homemaker. She was a member of the Alfred Station Seventh Day Baptist Church and the Union Industrial Society. Winifred is survived by a brother, Calvin Cook of Wellsville; a sister-in-law, Hazel Cook of Wellsville; seven nieces, and several grand-nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by a brother, Weldon Cook; a sister-in-law, Louise Cook; and a half-brother Richard Hooker.

Glenn Gibson (Popsgibson@aol.com) is looking for family of a deceased Howard Burdick. This Howard was married to Cora and lived on a farm in Elm Valley, NY. They had two sons, one of whom was killed in a farming accient. Howard had a brother named Carl who lived on a farm outside of Wellsville and later in Elm Valley, NY. Carl was married to Dorothy and they also had 2 sons. One died early in life & the other, Theron, lives with his family in North Carolina, last I knew. Glenn's mother was Florence Burdick, daughter of Curtiss Burdick of Andover, NY. If you know this line, please contact Glenn.

Annette Anderson (stamp24u@telus.net) appears to have uncovered an important link to our Burdick past. She descends from her grandfather's line: Alfred(9), William Seldon(8), Benjamin Franklin(7), Esq. Seldon(6), David(5), Rufus(4), Hubbard(3), Robert(2), Robert(1). Nellie Johnson's book does not list the names of Rufus'(4) children, so the line ends with him. But Nellie does link him to the Revolutionary War, which I believe makes this an important find, if accurate. I would really appreciate it if some of you researchers out there could contact Annette to verify her information. Thanks.

Scott Bill Hirst (scottbillhirst@yahoo.com), who is a top-notch genealogist, suggests that you point your Internet browser to http://www.wheretodoresearch.com/Genealogy.htm, for a list of possible sites for conducting family research. Take my word for it, Mr.Hirst's advice is worth following.

Tara Books (tbooks@lccec.com) recently purchased a beautiful painting of a jazz scene, described as Modern (1900-49) European art, which was signed "Burdick." The seller gave the name Ruth Josephine Burdick as the painter. Tara is trying to find out more about the painter. Does anyone know more? Tara would appreciate any information.

Here's another chance to own a piece of Burdick history! Kevin Burdick (kevinburdick@291Productions.com) has a new music CD out, and its getting some great airplay on the radio. You can download several free mp3's and purchae his CDs from his website, www.kevinburdick.com.

Alyce Larkin (larkin@taconic.net) is beginning a Burdick family research project. So far she has found her gg-grandfather, Isaac Burdick, born 1839, his wife Catherine, M born 1844, and children Russell, Homer and a daughter (no name). Her g-grandfather, Homer Burdick, was born 1867 in Copake, NY. His first produced children William, Everett, Eldrige and 2 daughters (no names). His second marriage to Alice Elizabeth VanTassel produced children William (another one the first must have died), Russell, Pearl and Anna May. Homer lived in Lagrange, NY, Billings, NY, Newburgh, NY and finally settled in Ancram, NY. Sounds like Alyce has a great start, does anyone know more about this line?

Michael (sirreal53@charter.net) is searching for a Burdick who does not appear in Nellie Johnson's book nor anywhere else. A "Zelock" or "Zelick" Burdick married an Amanda Hodgan (sic) in Vermont sometime around 1810. The family apparently made it's way to New York State from there and ultimately to the western portion of Wisconsin. This Zelock or Zelick had quite a few offspring, including an Ann Jenette Burdick (who married Wilbur Smith in WI). Do any of these names jog a memory out there?

They're at it again! The "Seaburds", Jane and Howard Burdick (Seaburds@aol.com) are ready to start a new voyage, starting from Stuart, FL to the Bahamas, then north to New England. They will be returning to Stuart, FL in October. Happy sailing, and keep us posted!

Jeremy Taylor (GaHag360@aol.com) is seeking information about the Burdicks in my past. His gg-grandmother was Francis "Fannie" Lake Burdick, born March 24, 1874, died Feb. 14, 1940. Her parents were Charles Edward Burdick and Sarah Burton Buss (b. April 10, 1845). Francis married William T. Hallenbeck in 1895, and among their 5 children was Jeremy's g-grandmother, Helen May Hallenbeck. Francis and William lived in Athens, NY. Jeremy has been told that Charles Edward Burdick was a paid fireman in NYC, and that he and Sarah divorced around 1880. Do you know any more about Charles Edward Burdick, his background or ancestry?

Judy Woodley (judywood@allstream.net) is searching for the parents of Dudley BURDICK, born between 1775 - 1784, possibly in Connecticut. He died between 1827 - 1830 in Voluntown, Windham Co., Connecticut. He married, possibly for the second time to a Sarah/Sally LEWIS on November 13, 1825 in Voluntown. They had two children Susan Lucretia BURDICK and Lucy Melinda BURDICK. Judy found a Dudley BURDICK in Voluntown, Windham Co. Connecticut in the 1810 census and in 1820 in Sterling, Windham Co. Connecticut, but very little else. Any help as to how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

Racheal Burdick (rburdic2@rochester.rr.com) is looking for her family connections. Her father, from Rochester, NY. is Anson Burdick. Her grandfather is also Anson Burdick, from Sodus, NY. Racheal doesn't know much of my family, having not been around them much. Can you help me out with some information?

Teri Kintigh (terik@fbcu.com) knows that her grandfather was Gilfred Burdick. Her mother was his only child, Karen Josephine Burdick, born 11/20/1948 in South Bend, Indiana. Gilfred was born in Peru but Teri is not sure what year. Teri is trying to track her family roots as she is the last in her Burdick line. Can anyone help?

Joan Burdick (joan_burdick@verizon.net) is looking for information regarding her great-grandfather, Buell Burdick, who was married to Mary Oursler. Joan's grandfather, Wendell D Burdick of Battle Creek, Michigan recently passed away (4/03/05) and she has no other infomation except that when her grandfather was young the family moved from Gotebo, Oklahoma. Does anyone know more?

I seem to remember that a branch of the Burdick family decided to spell the family name as "Burdic", without the "k". Does anyone know more? Sam Burdic (sjburdic@yahoo.com) and I would like to know the story. Thanks.

Rodney Burdick (rodneyburdick@hotmail.com) has accomplished something few genealogy researchers every will. He has meticulously transcribed the 1885 Rhode Island census. Bristol and Washington Counties have been published, Newport and Kent Counties are ready for release. What an accomplishment! For pricing and ordering information, contact Quintin Publications, 22 Delta Drive, Pawtucket, RI 0286 0-4555, or phone 401-723-6797.

Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2019. All Rights Reserved.