I am told that I made my first journey to the home of my maternal grandparents, Hugh Abram and Grace Elizabeth (Downing) Burdick in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, sleeping on a pillow in the Nash sedan my father drove from Chicago, That trip was made in August 1938 some two or three weeks after I was born on the morning of 27 July. How well I liked all that is quite unknown to me, but the visit was repeated for the entire month of August each year thereafter until we moved into the house permanently in 1946*. I can say that as early as I can remember things, and that goes back to around one year of age, I loved being at my grandparents home. The earliest I can recall with assurance being there is when I was just age two or three—1940 or 1941. In the evening I was put into a child’s crib when I wanted to be with the grownups, so in typical fashion I attempted a crib-break, lost my balance atop the bars, and hit the oak floor with a bang heard downstairs that matched the volume of my wailing. That was something I did not attempt a second time.
Whether when we spent August with my grandparents, or afterwards when each year we all lived together as an extended family until grandfather and grandmother went south to Florida or California for the cold months (mid-October through March), mealtimes at 925 Dodge Street were always special. All were in the dining room, and usually with all persons in the house present. In the summer that meant quite a crowd, as relatives from all over came to Hugh and Grace’s home for a visit. There were six upstairs bedrooms, a downstairs sewing room (formerly the maid’s room) with an oak, Mission Style daybed that Grandfather Hugh had made, and chaise lounges on the upstairs front porch and front porch. Many a time I recall all four spare bedrooms being filled, my own needed to house another relative, and thus I had the special treat of sleeping on a chaise lounge, or even the downstairs swing, on one of the porches…if all the other spaces were taken by young people up for such “roughing it.” There were many cousins and in-laws there, Burdicks and Gygaxes too, but when Great Uncles Paul and Hazen Burdick came from the West to visit their birthplace things were especially festive.
Breakfast was always quite subdued, but lunch saw more lively repartee, and conversation around the dinner table was always splendid when there was a large gathering. Tales of former days were the main subject matter such as Uncle Russell Burdick in the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment down in Baton Rouge where he was wounded, the family camping in a floored tent in Williams Bay to escape the summer’s heat, Grandfather and his brothers hunting and fishing in the wilds around and on Duck Lake (now named Lake Como and heavily populated). One of my favorite subjects was the arrival of the “Millionaire Special” train on Friday evening, when carriages drawn by splendidly matched teams of horses with liveried coachman and footmen were there to pick up their masters, the dozens of wealthy men that summered in palatial residences around the shores of Geneva Lake.
In most such accounts joviality was paramount. Of course I was usually “excused” just when the adult exchanges became especially interesting to a young lad. There are two stories I shall always remember, though likely I was just too young to hear many another great tale…I did play the part of a Little Picture with Big Ears a few times, so I managed to hear a few of those racy anecdotes, but none of them were as choice to me as these:
“Cousin Gardie” (Gardner Burdick) was often the subject of after dinner conversation. As best I recall it was he that was the most footloose of the family. His major exploit was this: One day he decided that he wished to take a little trip. So he put a few things into his canoe, launched it into the White River (the outlet of Lake Geneva) and paddled off. From the White he went on to the Des Planes, then the Fox, on to the Illinois, and then the Mississippi itself. When he got to New Orleans Cousin Gardie decided to see a bit more of the world, so he got a job as a deck hand on a banana boat and sailed off to Central or South America somewhere. Eventually he came back to Lake Geneva, presumably aboard an Illinois Central train. His return was as nonchalant as his departure…at least in his eyes.
When I learned of that I was awestruck, for Tom Sawyer was my boyhood idol, and I could only dream of such derring-do. Nothing I ever did could match his feat!
“Uncle Byron” (Byron Burdick, Grandfather Hugh’s uncle) lived at what was then the north end of Lake Geneva. He kept a cow, and some years before I was born Uncle Byron would make a daily milk delivery for my grandparents—grandfather did not believe in drinking pasteurized milk. As my mother recounted for my benefit, he would always tell some interesting story when he delivered the bucket of milk, then depart with, “More anon,” as his closing. That is not the truly interesting part, only a bit of background. Uncle Byron’s character is what was compelling, as proven by this true account as oft repeated around the dinner table:
When he was a young man Uncle Byron attended medical school. Just prior to receiving his M.D. he quit. When asked why he did such a thing, Uncle Byron said flatly: “I have come to the conclusion that men don’t give a damn about their bodies.”
He then enrolled in theology classes, spent years studying, and again, just before receiving his D.D. Uncle Byron left that school. Asked why he stated: “I have come to the conclusion that men don’t give a damn about their souls.”
Thereafter, he spent most of his time at home reading, while his wife supported the family. When one of his daughters asked what she should say when someone asked what her father did, Uncle Byron told her: “Tell them I am a seeker after truth!”
Needless to say, even a very young listener was stimulated in regards development of a sense of humor by the stories told around Grandfather Hugh Burdick’s dining table. It goes without saying that much of my desire for adventure and love of books, reading, and imaginative thinking came from that very same source. Of course, the genes I possessed were the sort that enabled those characteristics.
*My father, Ernest Gygax, owned land in La Jolla, California. When the neighborhood (on the North Side at 4113 Kenmore Avenue near Sheridan Road and Irving Park—now again an upscale locale) in which was our two-flat residence in Chicago began to go sharply downhill, he decided to retire from his salesman position at Maurice L. Rothschild’s downtown store and remove the family to La Jolla where he would have a suitable house built. Of course at age seven I hated to leave my neighborhood friends in Chicago, but as I had pals in Lake Geneva, and my best friends could visit from Chicago, I was not inconsolable. Father planned to spend one year in Lake Geneva, but as there was no work for him in the La Jolla area, and he did not wish to retire, we remained in Lake Geneva, he commuting daily via the Chicago & Northwestern Railway until 1953 when he did retire due to ill health. Of course I might have had something to do with his decision, as I begged to be left behind to live with grandfather and grandmother if he and mother did move to California…That my father decided to remain in Lake Geneva was surely a benison to my development, as growing up in an extended family certainly broadened my mind and perspectives.
To realize the value of a brother, ask someone who doesn't have one.
To realize the value of ten years, ask a newly divorced couple.
To realize the value of four years, ask a graduate.
To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a final exam.
To realize the value of nine months, ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.
To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week, ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who missed the train, bus or plane.
To realize the value of one second, ask a person who survived an accident.
To realize the value of a friend or family member... LOSE ONE.
Time waits for no one, treasure every moment you have.
One of our brave American soldiers, who happens to be a Burdick, is looking for his roots. Sgt. Burdick recently returned from Iraq and is searching for information about his grandfather, Melvin G. Burdick, who was born in 1914 in Kansas or Nebraska. Melvin was married to Rose G. in 1936 in Oregon. Sgt. Burdick's father, Glen Burdick, and his two aunts, Geri and Ann, lived in Gervis, OR and Turner, OR. Not much is known about Melvin, except that he passed away on April 8, 1978, left home at 13, and worked in the Portland shipyards during WW-II. If you know this Burdick line, please contact me, Howard Burdick (email@example.com).
Does anyone know a Joe Burdick raised in the Barnum/Moose Lake area of Minnesota? He would be in his late 40's to mid 50's. He may have moved to Alaska in the 1970s. Family is trying to make contact with him. Please drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you know more. Thanks.
Peggy Jones (email@example.com), who lives in England, is wondering if there are any descendants of her great-grandfather, Avery Burdick (8th generation in Nellie Johnson's book), still around. Her grandfather was Ralph Thurston Burdick (#3629). He was born in 1861, the middle brother of Nelson (#3628) and La Verne (#3630) in Clifford, PA. which I think is near Uniondale. Ralph died in 1910 of TB and his wife, Ruth Emma Burritt, died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Peggy's mother, Adelia, was their only child, and was born in 1904 in Clifford on the family farm which was near the little Burdick cemetery. Anyone know this family?
Karl Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) informs us that his brother, Richard Laurence Burdick, of Sun City Roseville, CA, died in his home Tuesday, December 20, 2005. Richard, 70, was a quadriplegic victim of polio since he was stricken in 1946 and recently suffered from post-polio syndrome and had difficulty breathing. Richard was the second son of Thelma (VanHorn) and Laurence D. Burdick of Jackson, Michigan and was born on January 19, 1935 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He leaves a wife, MaryKathryn and three grown children and their families.
Gwen Wood (email@example.com) sends a notice of Helen Marjorie Burdick who died December 22, 2005 at Manor Care of Lynnwood, WA after a short battle with cancer. She was born April 30, 1915 in Redmond, WA to William and Lena (Hutcheson) Fitzgerald. She was preceded in death by her husband, Floyd Burdick, and her two brothers, Alton and Richard Fitzgerald. Her sister Barbara Fitzgerald resides in Kirkland, WA. Helen graduated from Redmond High School in 1933 and was married November 2, 1935 to Floyd D. Burdick. The two were married at Helen's grandmother's home. That property was originally homesteaded in 1890 by the Hutcheson family and is now part of the Farrel-McWhirter Park in Redmond. Together they moved to Renton, WA to start their family. They raised three children, Terry D. Burdick, Yuma AZ., Floyd D. (Bud) Burdick, JR., Randle, WA, and Diana J. Sanchez, Edmonds, WA. Helen will be greatly missed by her 7 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Jane Maxson (firstname.lastname@example.org) saw the following in the Westerly Sun newspaper. George Burdick, 75, of Melbourne, FL, formerly of Stonington, CT died Dec. 28, 2005, at the Palm Bay Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was born May 7, 1930, in Westerly, the son of the late Gladys (Tucker) and George Burdick Sr.
Scott Bill Hirst (email@example.com) and Cheryl Muszynski (firstname.lastname@example.org) are seeking information about Corporal Thomas Gray who served in the Civil War. He was possibly born in Yonkers and enlisted in New York for service.
Paul Burdick (Musicpaulyb@aol.com) is seeking information about his grandfather, Harold Burdick, who was born in Ohio about 1910. Paul's gg-grandfather was Harvey Thomas Burdick. So far he's had no success. I know there are several Burdick lines in Ohio, can anyone help?
James (email@example.com) operates a company in England called BMD Certificates. They locate and obtain UK (England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) birth, marriage or death certificates. This could help in genealogy searches. Visit their web site at http://www.bmd-certificates.co.uk.
Chuck Cassidy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is seeking information on his gg-grandfather, Phineas Burdick. Chuck was adopted and recently found out about his biological relationship to the Burdicks. He is at a loss, though, on making the connection between Robert Burdick's son Thomas, his son Capt. Samuel Burdick, his son John and spouse Sybyl (they are listed as the parents of a Phineas in one area but list only a son Abel in another.) Abel settled in Allegheny, NY while Chuck's Phineas settled in St. Lawrence. Chuck can't bridge the Phineas' together. Can you?
Joe Burdick (email@example.com), our family member in Cleveland, is wondering if Clinton Dewitt Burdick is still alive. If so, where does he live? Clinton is one-half of the only father/son aces in U.S. military aviation history. He was the pilot of a P-51 Mustang during WW-II and recorded 7 kills. If you know anything about Clinton Dewitt Burdick, please contact Joe. Me too! Sounds like a great story.
Sheridan Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) istrying to find her Burdick relatives. She is the daughter of Herbert Burdick, who is the son of Ralph Burdick. Herbert had one sister, Lucille, and 3 brothers: Ralph, Paul (he died as an infant), and Alvin. Sheridan is the oldest of Herbert's 4 daughters: Sheridan, Cameran, Allisan, and Adrian. If you know this family, please contact her.
Does anyone have a copy of Frank Mueller's book, "The Burdick Family Chronology", they would like to sell? If so, drop me (email@example.com) an email and I'll put you in touch.
Did you know there is not one, but TWO "Burdick Crossing"s in upstate New York? Clark Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) does. One is near the Vermont border at Lake Champlain, the other (Burdicks Crossing Road) is near the town of Greig, where Clark's father is from. They even show up on Mapquest!
Flora Bass (email@example.com) is looking for the parents of Robert Burdett, husband of Elizabeth Cockaine, who was born in/about 1507. Any help would be appreciated.
Richard Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) is interested in making contact with anyone connected with the DeRuyter, NY Burdicks. Other family names connected to the DeRuyter Burdicks: Thompson, Hall, Coon.
Debra Lowe (email@example.com) is researching the line of Alden and Jerusha (Parks) Burdick. She is trying to find out when Jerusha and her daughter Laura Louise entered Utah and, if possible, with which pioneer company. Can you help?
Chuckie Blaney (firstname.lastname@example.org) saw the following obituary for George Enos Burdick II, 84, of Kennebunk, Maine, who died Thursday, March 16, 2006, at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was the husband of Lindsey Burdick for 57 years. Born in Camp Grant, Rockford, IL, he was the son of George Enos and Mary Ethyl Saunders Burdick. From 1935 to 1939, he attended the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. In 1940, he graduated from the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J. He attended MIT and Boston University. At MIT, he was president of the MIT Rocket Research Society. He graduated from Boston University in 1948 with a bachelor's degree. He served with the Army as a technical sergeant in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He was employed at Baldwin Lima Hamilton and the Hudson Combing Co. He taught electrical engineering at Northeastern University and was self-employed as a professional engineer. In 1969 he founded Hudson Institute, a four-year liberal arts college in Hudson. Mr. Burdick was a longtime member and former curator and trustee of the Seashore Trolley Museum, and he belonged to numerous other rail and steamship organizations. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hudson and St. David's in Kennebunk. Beside his wife, he leaves his son, George; his daughters, Carrie and Margaret; his grandson, Timothy; and step-grandchildren, Jessica, Jasmine and Joshua.
Deborah Rogness (email@example.com) has created her own blog: http://spaces.msn.com/sangelstargazer . She invites you will check it out send her any photos or stories or documentation you think appropriate. Deborah is also writing a book on her family -- can't wait to see it!