Burdick Newsletters

Fall, 2008

Capt. Christopher Burdick

(America's first frontier was not the West, it was the sea. Following are excerpts from Nathaniel Philbeck's book, "Sea of Glory", that recounts the harrowing story of a voyage of discovey called The U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838-1942 - the "Ex.Ex." Six magnificent sailing vessels and a crew of hundreds set out to map the entire Pacific Ocean and ended up naming the newly discovered contenent of Antarctica. They conducted path-breaking scientific research, and collected what would become the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution. But do you know who first perceived that Antarctica was a continent? It was Capt. Christopher Burdick in 1821. Following is that story, as well as Capt. Burdick's entry in Nellie Johnson's book, "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." -- HB)


614 Capt. Christopher Burdick of Stonington, Conn., and Nantucket, Mass., son of John 234 (Christopher 79, John 23, Benjamin 7, Robert 1) and Susan (Hiscox) Burdick ; m. (1) Nov. 27, 1806, Mary Fellows ; m. (2) Mrs. Lydia (Easton) Burdick, widow of his brother Henry (613).

Mary Fellows, d. Apr. 4, 1888 ; m. Elijah Heading Alley, b. Lynn, Mass., May 21, 1820 ; d. Feb. 15, 188.. ; no chn.

Children, by 2nd wife (1st child may have been by 2nd wife).
1506 Susan Elizabeth, b. Dec. 8, 1823 ; m. William Francis Channing.
Henry Christopher, m. Judith G. Folger ; no issue. She m. (2) June 7, 1902, Uzziel Weeks, b. West Falmouth, Mass., Jan. 3, 1826, son of Marcus ; res. 1906, Nantucket, Mass.
1507 George Washington, b. (twin) Nantucket, 3 weeks before his father's death ; m. Ellen Morse.
Martha Washington, b. (twin); d. New Bedford, Mass., Feb. 21, 1901, unm. ; buried at Nantucket.


Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842
Nathaniel Philbeck, 2003
Penguin Group, ISBN 0-670-03231-X

Most sailors did not refer to it as the Pacific Ocean. They called it the South Sea, a name that dated back to 1513 when Vasco Nunez de Balboa ventured across the sliver of mountainous jungle-choked terrain know as the Isthmus of Panama. The isthmus runs west to east so that when Balboa first glimpsed water, it appeared to extend to the south. Quite sensibly, he dubbed his discovery the Great South Sea.

Seven Years later, Ferdinand Magellan and his men, on their way to the first circumnavigation of the world, penetrated the mazelike strait at the craggy bottom of South America. After weathering the terrible gales typical of one of the most inhospitable places on earth, they found themselves in a quiet, vast ocean that Magellan called, with tearful thanks to God, the Pacific -- a name that would not catch hold until the mid-nineteeth century.

Balboa found it, Magellan names it, but for any young boy taken with tales of the South Sea... the central figure had to be James Cook. It had been Cook who first criss-crossed the Pacific, discovering islands at almost every turn. Cook had been a product of the Enlightenment's search for knowledge through the empirical observation of nature. Although not trained as a scientist, he was one of the most expert nautical surveyors in the British navy, a skill that served him well in his voyages to distant lands. First and foremost, however, Cook had been a explorer, and the Pacific had served as his route to glory.

[By the early 1800s] American commercial ambition had taken U.S. vessels to parts of the world where not even Cook and dozens of subsequent European exploring expeditions had ventured. Of all the navigators to sail from the United States, it was the sealers who pushed this form of free enterprise expedition the farthest.

Sealers, many of them from Stonington, Connecticut, were a different breed from [whalers and] sea otter traders. The otter traders never had to get their hands dirty. Sea otters were so difficult to pursue that only Native Americans in their canoes or Aleuts in their kayaks possessed the expertise to capture the fast-swimming creatures. Killing seals, on the other hand, was well within the abilites of any sailor. The rookeries in the Pacific were located on bleak, remote islands where, at least in the beginning, incredible numbers of seals were waiting to be slaughtered and skinned. It is estimated that over three million seals were exterminated on the Juan Fernandez Islands alone in just a seven-year period. In Canton a seal skin sold for in the neighborhood of a dollar, the payment often made in tea.

In the years after the War of 1812, practitioners of what was referred to as "the skinning trade" had reduced the seal population of the Pacific to disastrously low levels, forcing them to sail farther and farther south in pursuit of new rookeries. By 1820, sealers from both Britain and America had reached the South Shetland Islands -- an eerie volcanic land of fog, ice, and seals almost six hundred miles below Cape Horn. Although the British claimed the honor of the discovery, the Americans, who subscribed to a policy of secrecy since they knew how quickly an island's seal population could be exterminated, insisted that they had known about the islands all along. In 1820, Stonington sealers took 8,868 skins in the South Shetlands; the next year they returned and killed over 60,000 seals.

It was during this cruise that the twenty-one-year-old Nathaniel Palmer, captain of the forty-seven-foot tender "Hero", temporarily left the company of the Stonington fleet and headed south in search of new sealing grounds. Not far below the South Shetlands he found a peninsula of rugged land. Surrounded by icebergs and swimming schools of penguins, he followed the coastline south until dense fog -- so thick that he could not see the lookout on the forecastle -- forced him to turn back. In the early morning hours of February 6, the fog lifted, revealing a surprizing sight. On either side of the tiny tender were two Russian exploring ships under the command of Admiral Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen.

The admiral was astonded at the tiny size of the American craft, just a third of the length of his own ship. "It was with great difficulty that I could make the old admiral believe I had come from the U States in so small a vessel," Palmer later remembered. Through an interpreter, Bellinghausen told Palmer that previous to be blanketed in fog, he had assumed that he was the first to discover the lands that lay before them. But here was a vessel from America with a captain that was no more than a boy who told of lands even farther to the south. According to one account of the exchange, Bellinghausen told Palmer that "we must surrender the palm to you Americans," adding that he would name the new discovery Palmer's Land in the charts published by his government.

Not until the following century would it be established beyond question that the narrow panhandle of land Palmer had follow south was part of the Antarctic Continent. In the nineteenth century, the general assumption was that what we now call the Antarctic Pennisula was a group of islands just like the South Shetlands above it. There were at least two Americans, however, who thought differently. In February 1821, Captain John Davis from New Haven and Captain Christopher Burdick from Nantucket independently recorded in their logbooks their suspicions that what they saw to the south was something bigger than an island. On February 15, Burdick wrote, "Land from the South to ESE, which I suppose to be a continent." Eight days earlier, Davis had even gone to the trouble of rowing to shore, and his log provides the earliest documented evidence of a landing on Antarctica. But sealers were more interested in finding seals than in publicizing their navigational accomplishments. Davis's and Burdick's voyages would go unhearalded until the 1950s, when their logbooks finally came to the attention of scholars in New Haven and Nantucket.

By the mid-1820s, the South Shetlands had been stripped of seals, and commercial interest in the region waned. The question of whether a continent or group of islands existed to the south would be left unresolved for decades to come. In the meantine, the sails of American whalemen and beche-de-mar [sea cucumber] traders continued to whiten the waters of the Great South Sea. As the need for reliable charts grew stronger, communities up and down the Atlantic seaboard began to insist that it was time for the U.S. government to catch up to the achievements of its mariners. In 1828 the citizens of Nantucket drafted a memorial to the U.S. Congress: "Your petitioners consider it a matter of earnest importance that those seas should be explored; that they should be surveyed in an accurate and authentic manner, and the position of new islands, and reefs, and shoals, definitely ascertained."

In the tradition of Cook, is was time America launched an exploring expedition of its own.

History of the Airbrush

Reprinted from Airbrush Action (February 2000)

(It always amazes me as I continue to discover how our Burdick family has impacted history. Sometimes in large ways, such as in the exploration of Antarctica, sometimes in small ways. Some may think Charles L. Burdick falls into the latter category, or perhaps the former. I'll let you decide. -- HB)

The versatile tool we know as the airbrush has a pedigree that stretches back only a bit more than a century. A hundred years ago, artists were using the same combination of mixed paint and air they use today, produced by basically the same instrument.

Through the years, engineering has created better tolerances for moving parts and finer nozzles and needles, and modern materials have altered the airbrush’s feel and heft. Still an airbrusher of today, dropped magically into the late 1800s, wouldn't have much trouble picking up one of the earliest models and using it.

What many consider to be the first "airbrush" — patented in England in 1893 — was gravity-fed, with the paint cup in its body. It was double action and had a platinum, changeable nozzle with a .007 inch bore size. About the only major difference between it and today's versions was that the hose connection pushed in. Screw connections didn't arrive until sometime in the 1920s.

American Charles L. Burdick, who obtained the British patent for the airbrush, is generally viewed as its father. Burdick, who also invented coin counting and sorting machines, produced one of the first airbrush designs in 1893 when he founded the Fountain Brush Co. in London.

As a watercolor artist, Burdick was hunting for a way to apply additional coats of watercolor to paintings without using a brush, which tended to disturb and smear earlier coats. Obviously, his invention was ideal.

Burdick, however, may have actually been the second or third person to develop an airbrush. An American patent for an airbrush case was approved in 1888, but what happened to it seems lost. Some reports indicate that an American named Abner Peeler may have invented the modern airbrush in 1878, fifteen years before Burdick's patent in England. In 1881, Peeler sold his airbrush patent to Liberty Walkup, who founded the Rockford Airbrush Co. two years later.

Whether or not Peeler was really the first inventor or Walkup began the first manufacture of the airbrush a decade before Burdick in England, it's fairly well established that use of the airbrush began in the late 1800s.

Burdick called his new art tool the Aerograph, a name that became such a generic term for the airbrush by 1900 that he changed his company’s name to "The Aerograph Co."

Some people will quickly point out that spraying pigment was not exactly a new idea by the 1890s. Some early artist squatting in a smoky, fire-lit cave about 35,000 years ago sprayed an outline of his hand with pigment, probably through a reed or hollow bone.

Even though there’s evidence — the oldest piece, an image from 33,000 BC found in Lascaux and Pech-Merle, France; another dating back to 13,000 BC found in a Spanish cave — that the idea lingered for a good 20,000 years, Burdick still gets primary credit for the airbrush.

Regardless of its true parent, the airbrush was quickly adapted to photo retouching, which remained its primary use for decades, even lasting long enough to enhance the appearance of modern magazine centerfolds.

While the Aerograph was based in Britain and Europe, Americans were developing and manufacturing their own lines, and they are some of the most recognized airbrush brands today. One such innovator was a Norwegian immigrant named Jens A. Paasche.

Paasche opened a company in Chicago in 1904 and turned out his first product, one that is still around today – the demanding but highly precise Paasche AB. It is still such an engineering and mechanical marvel, it’s difficult to believe that the first one was produced 95 years ago.

Eventually, some of the airbrush developers who worked with Paasche early on went out on their own to establish other companies, like Badger. Thayer & Chandler formed a company in 1891 and displayed their products at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Also in existence by this time were manually powered compressors that called for the artist to fill a holding tank by using a foot pump. A Burdick model for non-professionals — called the "Amateur" — had a hand pump. Electric compressors became available at about the same time the modern airbrush was developed.

In the early days, the airbrushes were gravity-fed. It took a development by a physician to move the technology into suction-feed versions, an advance that came about for a reason completely unconnected to the airbrush.

In the late 1880s, Dr. Allen DeVilbiss was looking for a way to apply throat medication without causing discomfort to the patient. His device for atomizing the medicine was the familiar rubber bulb and hose, which for decades became the standard for perfume bottles. By 1890, DeVilbiss had opened his own company.

In 1931 when his friend Burdick, the granddaddy of the airbrush, wanted to return to the United States, an English branch of the DeVilbiss business merged with The Aerograph Co.

The airbrush was initially embraced by artists retouching photos. With the invention of the Daguerreotype in 1839, the need to retouch photographs quickly became obvious, but the only way to do it was by hand brushing, which was imprecise and left brush strokes. Still, by the 1860s, hand photo retouching was common.

In early days, primitive cameras and developing technology were largely to blame for the need to retouch photographs. As cameras improved, the reasons for photo retouching also evolved. It seems that even back then, photographic subjects didn't like the idea of wrinkles, warts, moles and other imperfections being preserved forever. Traditional portrait artists had simply left unsightly blemishes out of their paintings. The sometimes unflattering reality of photographed images posed a particular new problem, and the airbrush provided a useful solution.

By the late 1890s, photographs became so popular that retouching factories were needed to meet the demand, employing scores of workers to add color and improve the images, all done with the airbrush. These workshops probably lasted well into the early 1900s.

With precise masking and invisible presence, the airbrush could remove imperfections and add color, and there was a strong demand for colorizing the sepia photographs (though there was no reliable color reproduction until about 1910). The airbrush was used extensively until recently. Now, computer and darkroom technology have all but replaced the airbrush for altering photographs.

Despite its initial purpose as a tool for watercolor painters, use of the airbrush for both commercial and fine art are fairly rare during its early years. In a contest held in Paris in 1904, Sidney G. Winney won a contest for airbrushing. Work by Burdick and others still remain, including a freehand airbrush portrait of the tool's inventor.

As we sometimes find today, there was some prejudice among the upper crust of the fine art world, who considered the airbrush to be a mechanical device rather than an artist's tool. Airbrush artists were perceived as technicians because they never directly touched their work. Burdick was barred from showing his paintings at London's Royal Academy of Art because he used the airbrush.

It wasn't until after World War I that the art world (especially in Europe) and the growing advertising and publishing industries began to embrace the airbrush to produce images. In France during the 1920s, the Art Deco movement found the airbrush useful for its broad images. That, coupled with the increase in advertising, boosted the popularity of airbrush.

In the 1920s, advertising began to blossom. Some say its growth was driven by increased competition in the auto industry. Around the same time, poster art became a large force in advertising, emerging ahead of magazines that didn't hit their stride until the 1930s.

Alliance for Animals

by Sara Burdick McGuire (Alliance4Animals@aol.com)

(While Burdick family members occur throughout history, others are making it today. I'm sure you will agree with me that Sara makes us proud to have her in our family. - HB)

I think it is very interesting that others are curious as to what the family is involved in. I think that might be a Burdick trait! My late aunt, Elizabeth Burdick Mulholland, of Ithaca, New York (also of Cortland and Dryden, NY) loved to have family reunions. She always had each of us bring a little display showing our interests or what we had done or been involved in. It was a special time to browse the tables full of various items or pictures that were a part of our lives, as we shared our particular and diverse hobbies and passions. My aunt was very active in the historical museum of Ithaca, NY, and the preservation of historical buildings there. The Mulholland Wildflower Preserve in Ithaca was named after her. She and I always walked the preserve when I visited her. She was a wealth of knowledge about nature, and tended to the preserve until she passed away at the age of 89. She was married to Dr. Walter Mulholland, a professor of psychology at Ithaca College and board member of the Tompkins County Animal Shelter. They both always encouraged our interests and for us to expand our range of knowledge.

One of my interests has always been animals. "Alliance for Animals" is my small home rescue for dogs and cats. We are a small group of two, and we save animals from shelters or strays off the street. I have my own page at www.1-800-Save-A-Pet.com and I also participate in a vast online rescue effort that centers around the website www.Petfinder.com. I belong to about 40 Yahoo! groups of volunteers that involve animal rescue, and we are always networking to save animals from all over the country. Some of the groups are specific to certain states or shelters, others to a particular breed, while a few are dedicated to transporting animals to safety. We even have groups of truckers and pilots who help get animals to their new homes or rescues. While my personal rescue is non-profit, it is not an incorporated group.

If anyone, Burdick or not, remembers my family members, I would love to hear from them with information or just some old stories of long ago. My late granddaddy, John Samuel Burdick, was from Utica, NY and also lived in Hamburg, NY and North Muskegon, MI. He married Elizabeth Owen who came to America from Wales when she was five years old. They had four children, all now deceased, Elizabeth (Beth), John (Bun), George, and Robert (Bob). Their family usually included a Pointer dog named "Hosie". He had a brother named Harry, and there were twins, Margaret and Mary, in their family.

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

Sue Burdick (Susanburdickguam@gmail.com) sends greetings from Guam. She is the Assistant Superintendent for the military schools on the island. Sue is having a busy simmer since they are opening the new Commander William C. McCool Elementary Middle School this summer, named after the late astronaut "Willie" McCool who died in the space shuttle crash. Willie's dad was a Navy pilot stationed in Guam during his youth, so he attended the local Guam schools and married a local girl. Willie followed in his father's footsteps and also became a pilot and then astronaut.

Gary Coat (reallyoldman50@yahoo.com) has a problem tracing his ggg-grandmother, Ratchel Fletcher. Her parents were David and Susannah Curtis, She was born Aug. 18, 1795 and died July 31, 1878. She married Jeremiah Burdick who was born July 2, 1793 and died Nov. 20, 1873. He ran a grist mill in Bolivar, NY and they are buried in the Maple Lawn Cemetary in Bolivar. His tombstone says "Solider of 1812" but Gary cannot find any information about him being in that war. Gary has found evidence of aJeremiah Burdick who's claim was denied because the government had no record of him. Do you have information on who Jeremiah Burdick's parents were? They supposedly came from Rhode Island or Connecticut.

When some people move long distance, others TRULY move a long distance! Rodney and Dorothy Burdick (rodney.burdick@gmail.com) have left Lubbock, TX and for the small Village of Mandini in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal Province, in South Africa. Before moving, Rodney finished his six-year effort of compiling the 1885 Rhode Island State Census for Washington, Newport, and Bristol Counties. Even though he is on a different continent, he can't let go of adding to his Burdick research. I hope Rodney will provide us with periodic updates (and perhaps some pictures) of his new life. Congratulations!

In the last Newsletter, Jon Person (jperson70@bis.midco.net) was trying to make a connection to the Burdick family, without too much to go on. He now has a bit more information, so perhaps someone can now help. Sterling McGregor Burdick is the connection, and his father's name was Edson Lee Burdick (born June 3, 1863 in Rockport, Nebraska, died Nov 23, 1950 in Fargo, ND.) There is a cousin realationship in this family to the well-known Quintin Burdick (son of Usher L. Burdick) line of North Dakota. Does this trigger anyone's memory?

Mary Bahr (bahrburdick@comcast.net) is descended from the Burdick line. Her grandfather and grandmother were 1st cousins, from Alvin and Susan Burdick. Their father, Matthew Tice Burdick, is said to be a g-grandson of Robert and Ruth Hubbard Burdick (source: Northern NY Genealogy). Matthew Tice was in Columbia County and Lewis County, NY and married to Barsheba Post. He had brothers Nathan, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Edward and Calvin and a sister Syble. Nellie Johnson's book adds an extra generation between Matthew Tice and Robert. Mary has been trying to prove that Matthew Tice's father was Matthew Burdick...but which one? If you have researched this family, please contact Mary.

Malcolm Burdick (malcolmburdick@yahoo.com) passes along word that Neva Burdick, age 85, died on Sunday, July 6, 2008. She was born in Stephenson County, Ill. on July 14, 1922, the daughter of Frank and Anna Schramm. Neva was united in marriage on June 22, 1947, to David Livingston Burdick. She was employed as an x-ray technician for many years at Woodward Governor in Rockford, Ill. In 1990, she and her husband moved to Vennevoll in Stoughton. Neva was currently a member of the Stoughton United Methodist Church and a former member of Third Presbyterian Church in Rockford. She was also a former board member of the Severson Dells Environmental Education Foundation, and since moving to Stoughton, was a volunteer and promoter for the Skaalen Community. Meva is survived by many special nieces nephews, cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, David, in 1993; her sister and best friend, Evelyn Heitz and her forever friend, Faye Keister, both in 2007.

Sharon Holland (sharonholland_5@msn.com) is wondering if anyone knows her family. Her father's name is Russell Earl Burdick, born 1928 in Willow Glen, CA, and married Carmela in 1956. Russell's parents were Earl and Bonnie Hazel (Allen) Burdick. Earl had one brother names Donald. Earl died in 1972 and Donald in 1974. Bonnie died in 1992. Earl came from somewhere in the southeast, leaving his family as a teenager.

Laurie Lundin (d.lacombe@comcast.net), is another daughter of Russell Earl Burdick and adds a bit more information to Sharon's. She is pretty sure ther gg-grandfather was Francis Banes(?) Burdick who was a captain in the civil war. Her father has a journal written by him and a sword with his name engraved on it.

Barbara Bond (cbbond42@gmail.com) is researching her husband's family and stumbled upon a very major brickwall with his gg-grandfather, James E. Bond (no joke!). According to census data, James E. Bond was born ca. 1810/1811 in Vermont and sometime thereafter he or his family most likely migrated into New York state. He probably took the waterway westward at some time prior to 1839 as he was found in the 1839 City Directory of Chicago. His occupation was house painter. He married Amarilla Burdick (daughter of Lorin and Esther Bixby Burdick from Vermont) in 1845 and settled in Lockport, Will County, Illinois, where he remained, dying there in 1888, aged 78, according to a very sparse obituary. Amarilla died on 18 Febuary 1904. His children were: James E. Bond, Jr. (married Hattie ?), Timothy Bond (married Mary Martin), Charles Alden Bond (Barbara's husband's great-grandfather, married Mary Catherine Bert), William Bond (presumably died young), Lewis Bond (married Lulu Wagner), Mary E. Bond (married Thomas Picton), Harriet Bond (married William Henry Bert), Ella Susan Bond (married George Horton), and Catherine Bond (married William Sied). BarbarI has visited Vermont, Massachusetts and Illinois and has written to many historical and genealogical societes in New York as well as Vermont. She even had her husband join the Bond DNA project, but with no match! Any clues, suggestions, etc., would be very greatly appreciated.

Brenda Gaskill (brendanken@pldi.net) is looking for information on John Wesley Burdick, born 1879 to Davis and Laura Burdick. John married Coral Lucy Lamb (Brenda's gg-grandfather's sister) in 1898 and had children George, Ruth and Rence. They were married and lived in Kansas and also lived in Minnesota in 1910, then back to Kansas in 1915 and Missouri in 1920. That's all Brenda can find, do you know more?

Jane Maxson (jhm2727@cox.net) passes along word that Howard Hazard "Blondie" Burdick, 83, of Charlestown, RI, died on Aug. 16, 2008, in The Westerly Hospital. He was the husband of the late Romula (Carter) Burdick. Born in Westerly, he was a son of the late Allen and Elsie (Ennis) Burdick. He was a heating installation technician for Butler Bros. Oil Co. for many years before retiring. Howard was a U.S. Navy Veteran of World War II, honorably discharged with the rank of Gunner's Mate, First Class, and had been awarded several campaign medals, including the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal with four stars. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Quonochontaug; a member of the Franklin Lodge of Masons #20; past president and life member of the Ashaway Sportsman's Club; a member of the Dunn's Corners Fire Department; and a life member of the N.R.A. He was an avid fisherman and hunter his entire life, and he liked to cook, especially for friends and family. He also enjoyed gardening and woodworking. Surviving are two daughters, Marcia Ferretti of Wakefield, and Joy Burdick of Hope Valley; one brother, H. Gilbert Burdick of Charlestown; two sisters, Phylis Reynolds of Westerly and Jean Babcock of Charlestown; three grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews.

Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2019. All Rights Reserved.