THE OLD WESTERLY, OR THE FIRST HOPKINTON CHURCH
Prepared by Corliss F. Randolph
In 1708, the Seventh-day Baptists living in Westerly who had hitherto retained their membership at Newport, were organized into a church known as the Seventh-day Baptist Church of Westerly; but subsequently, when the town was divided and the town of Hopkinton created, the church took the name of the First Seventh-day Baptist Church of Christ in Hopkinton, the name it still retains.
From the time of its organization, the growth of the church was substantial and steady, although it was not free from trouble within and without. It ran the course of internal dissension incident to the usual colonial church, the cause of complaint being, for the most part, personal, but occasionally there were doctrinal questions such as that of close communion. Without, it was beset with the same persecution that confronted the Newport Church. The doctrinal disturbances also included the "Rogerenes," and the "New Lights."
The French and Indian, and the Revolutionary wars, both, claimed their full share of attention at the hands of the Westerly Church.
The effect of the war of the Revolution, particularly, was severely felt by this church. The zeal of Gov. Samuel Ward, whose membership of this church terminated with his death while attending the Continental Congress, at Philadelphia, on the 26th of March, 1776, had its influence with many. His son Samuel, who graduated at Brown University in 1771, partook of his father's patriotic enthusiasm, and receiving a captain's commission at the commencement of the war, organized a company from among the young men of Westerly. Some of these men fell at the storming of Quebec, and others during the war, so that few if any of them ever returned to fill their places in the town or church. Ebenezer David also joined the army as a chaplain, and died near Philadelphia. There were many members of Seventh-day Baptist families in the army, both from Rhode Island and New Jersey; and it might have been one of the motives of Ebenezer David in entering the army, that inasmuch as there were many of his own brethren and friends there exposed to the pernicious influences of army morals, he might, by his position and influence, help to mitigate them.
Capt. Ward was his intimate friend; they were in college together, where he was his senior but one year. Both stood high in their respective classes, and both graduated with the highest honors; but they soon separated to meet no more. Young Ward attained the rank of Colonel, but at the end of the war his parents, and his young associates with whom he had entered the war, were low in the dust. Others had enlisted from year to year, and on July 7, 1780, there was a general muster, for at that time a dark cloud hung over the prospects of the American cause, and the war-cry resounded among the hills of Westerly, and died away as the sound of the fife and drum receded in the distance towards the battle field.
Owing to the exposure of the seaport towns to the ravages of the British soldiery, a number of the members of the church at Newport went to places of more security in the interior, and many came to Hopkinton, for the purpose of evading the enemies of the country. John Tanner, and Col. Job Bennet were among those who came to Hopkinton. They were invited to take part in the meetings of the church as members. Mr. Bennet held no office in the church at Newport, yet he was an active member, and noted for his integrity. During their stay with the church, they were appointed, at nearly every meeting, to some public duties, and were very serviceable to the church.
But though few returned to be known as Revolutionary heroes, in after times, yet the church was awakened, and at the close of the war was made joyful in the embrace of many converts to her cause.
There were those, however, who remained at their homes at Newport to participate in the adventures of war -- adventures, in some cases, worthy of note.
While the British troops occupied Newport, and Gen. Sullivan occupied the hill towards Tiverton, the house of Rev. William Bliss being in the valley between, was occupied by the British officers, who quartered upon him. Upon the embankment on either side of the valley were seen the flags of the respective armies, floating in the breeze. It so happened, that one day, when the attention of the British was drawn off in an other direction, these daughters of William Bliss went up to the embankment, and hauling down the colors, tore the bunting into thirteen stripes, and returned it to its place. Upon the return of the officers, a great search was made for the enemy who had laid such violent hands upon the British honor; a reward was offered for the discovery of the offender; but the young ladies so managed as to elude the vigilance of the British. Had they been detected, they would likely have paid the forfeiture of their lives.
On another occasion, a younger sister, Mary, who afterward married Caleb Maxson, while the British officers were at dinner, went up stairs where the arms were deposited, and took one of the finest swords, with its scabbard, and thrusting it through a hole in the plastering, let it drop between the ceiling and clap-boarding, where it remained till after the war, when it was taken out and kept as a trophy of female valor, till it was destroyed by the conflagration of her father's house.
In the meantime the steady growth of the church continued, so that early in the nineteenth century, about the time of the organization of the Seventh-day General Conference, its membership numbered upwards of six hundred, living in Western Rhode Island, Eastern Connecticut, and the eastern end of Long Island. Long before, a tide of emigration had set in, and settlers from Westerly were forming the nuclei of new churches in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and other states, until at the present time, there is scarcely a Seventh-day Baptist Church in the United States, but is connected more or less directly with the old Westerly Church, or as it is now known, the old First Hopkinton Church.
First, I would like to thank the many of you who have visited the Burdick genealogy on-line and sent kind words of encouragement. I'd also like to thank those who have used the services of the genealogy to provide me with corrections for selected entries. I can assure you that I have each one saved and will make those corrections as time permits. As I have mentioned, my time is very limited right now so I ask for your patience -- I will eventually get to everything.
Which brings me to the matter at hand: your information about our family. I have constructed the Burdick genealogy to be extensible beyond its current size. Our family continues to grow as new dates and places of births, deaths and marriages accumulate. Unlike hardcopy genealogies, our on-line version can grow until you and I are simply historical statistics in it.
One difference between this genealogy and Nellie Johnson's book is the easy incorporation of "unregistered" Burdicks. These are Burdick lines that have not yet made a connection to the greater family tree but are, nonetheless, just as important as those who have made a connection. Actually, these unconnected lines may be more important as they may contain key information for other researchers. And, if an unconnected line does make a connection as a descendant of Robert Burdick, the entire line can be merged with the rest of us.
But I do have a few rules. First and foremost, the Burdick genealogy is NOT a repository for your entire body of research. You may have traced the lines of all 8 of your great-grandparents, but I only care about one. Namely, your Burdick line or lines (if you have more than one.) I know that many of you have performed fantastic work about numerous families, but this is not the place to record it.
Following Nellie's pattern, the Burdick genealogy contains parents of spouses but terminates at that relationship. For example, my wife's parents were Kenneth Kirk and Ella Samuels. While the Burdick genealogy contains an entry for my wife (Lois) and her parents, the Kirk and Samuels lines are not traced back any further than that. Similarly, my mother's and grandmother's families (Rasmussen and Gleichmann, respectively) do not appear in the Burdick genealogy -- just their parents.
Then, of course, there are female Burdick lines. Nellie's book traced these lines, but not to the extent they could have been recorded. The on-line Burdick genealogy changes that. Even if your Burdick connection is 10 generations back, through your mother's mother's mother, there is a place for you here.
I am trying to stay as flexible as possible regarding the format in which you send me data. I know that many people use various genealogy programs and all of them are able to export GEDCOM files. This would be a great way to send me your information. But if you use this method, please do not send me your entire database! Find the appropriate Burdick ancestor and grab all those descendants. And, as described above, collect only spouses, parents of spouses and children.
Don't send me a link to your "genealogy.com" page or any other web site. I will not be able to sift through your data, that's what I need you for. I'm here to record the Burdick information you have accumulated, so help me if you can. I hope that does not offend anyone.
If you don't use a genealogy program, I suspect you have your family information recorded in some fashion. Whether it is Word files, Excel spreadsheets or other digital information, I want it. If you have not yet entered your family information into any sort of digital format, there are lots of references that will show you how to do so. Finally, if you do not have access to a computer or cannot put the data into a digital format you can always send me copies (please, never send me any original documents) or scanned images of the pages.
The last remaining question then is, if you have a connection into the Burdick family tree, which ancestor should you use as the root of data you send to me. That's kind of tricky to answer, and it's easier to tell what NOT to do. Do not send me your entire line back to Robert Burdick. Start with where you believe your information is better than what is already recorded. In my situation, I decided to use my grandfather as the root of my immediate family's information. Even though my grandparents appear in Nellie's book, as to my father and his brother who were young children at the time, I decided to replace Nellie's records of them with my own. The information I have from my grandfather forward is, understandably, much better than what Nellie recorded.
Oh yeah, and be sure to precisely identify the ancestor who is your link into the Burdick family tree. There are a lot of James and Jonathans, so use the unique ID provided by the database to state exactly where you fit in. You would not want future historians to think you are descended from the wrong person!
So gather everything you have and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use attachments or include the data in the body of the email, whichever your prefer. If you prefer to mail me hardcopies, just drop me an email and I'll send you a physical address. And don't worry if, after you send me your information, you accumulate more. Remember, this is a database that can be modified. It is not a book where once it's in print, that's it. But for the sake of my own sanity, I would prefer that you try to complete your input to me in one pass.
I hope I have not made this difficult, that is not my intent. If you have any questions, please ask. Remember, I've never done this before so I'm learning as I go.
Finally, keep in mind that this information will outlive us all. So be as accurate and as truthful as possible. Future historians will thank you for it, as do I.
You may remember that in a previous Newsletter, Gordon Adams was looking for an old Navy buddy, Gary Burdick (email@example.com). Well, the connection was made. Shortly after the notice went out, Gary received an email from Gordon and since then they have been corresponding. Gary spent 30 unforgettable months on the destroyer USS Johnston (DD 821), from January '64 to June '66. He had a number of duties, including Communications/Crypto Officer, Electronics Officer, Navigator, with various collateral duties including A Division Officer and Postal Officer. He was qualified as Officer of the Deck and filled that role many times, when underway fueling, general quarters, and special sea and anchor detail (entering and leaving harbors and ports). Gary reported on board as an ensign and left a full lieutenant. Gary and Gordon were fellow officers but lost contact during civilian life some 40 years ago. The Johnston has, as Gary puts it, "long since been turned into razor blades" but their friendship survived.
Loretta Landerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) knows that a Burdick family lived in Vernon County Wisconsin (Forest Township) in the 1850s when her grandfather arrived there. They were neighbors, and Loretta is trying to find the names of this family, as Mrs. Burdick was her grandfather Eastman's Aunt. Do you know of any Eastman-Burdick connections? Also, Loretta would appreciate any help in finding the early Burdick settlers of Wisconsin.
Gerald Gray (email@example.com) sends word that his father, Donald E. Gray (who was born Duane E. Burdick passed away on March 17,2009. Gerald has found some of his Burdick family through this web site but there is still a lot he does not know. If you or anyone you know is a part of this Burdick line or knows this family, please contact Gerald.
Nancy Ann Norman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is seeking information about Wealthy Burdick, born Westerly, Kings Co., Rhode island on June 18, 1743. She married Jonathan NASH, Sr., of Watch Hill, Westerly, Kings Co., Rhode Island about 1763. Nancy has this Burdick line but would like to know where Jonathan Nash came from and who his parents were.
Don Larson (email@example.com) is performing an extensive study based on the Thomas Minor diary, and annotation and numerous projects based on some of the references in the diary. A number of the references deal with the extended jurisdiction dispute between Mass/Ri/Conn in the 17th century. Don knows that in 1661 Tobias Saunders and Robert Burdick's arrest and imprisonment started a long running series of "riotous acts" between the colonies across the Pawcatuck River. His goal is to tell the story from the view of the people who were actually affected by the various colonial level decisions, using all the documentary evidence he can squeeze out of the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island archives. Don has found a lot of personal detail from warrants of arrest, petition to local courts, etc. and has been working for a couple of years with Thomas Minor's diary and following leads. If you are familiar with this part of American history or can perform research in this area, please contact Don.
Barbara Watrous (firstname.lastname@example.org) is trying to document the Burdick lineage for Billings Burdick III, II and Sr, to Stephen and then back to Simeon for an application to DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). I know there are DAR members amongst us, so it you can help please contact Barbara. Thanks!
In a similar vein, SallyJo McFarland (email@example.com) is seeking information that will help her enter the Mayflower Society. No descendants of ELIZABETH BURDICK and WILLIAM A. WEST have ever become members. The key is verifying whether JOSEPH BURDICK (1712-1785) and ELIZABETH (ROSE, 1729-1785) had a daughter, ELIZABETH BURDICK, born 1762 in Westerly, RI and died in 1829, Grafton, NY. If so, did ELIZABETH BURDICK marry WILLIAM A. WEST born 1760 in Hopkinton, RI and died 1835 in Grafton, NY? SallyJo is then trying to verify that they had a son, WILLIAM P. WEST (1786-1866), born 1786 in Westerly, RI and died 1866 in Munson, Geauga, Ohio who married LUCY PARKS, and they had a daughter, MIRANDA WEST (1815-1847). According to the family bible, WILLIAM and LUCY WEST had MIRANDA WEST in NY. MIRANDA WEST married HIRAM JACOB KIRKLAND (1808-1871) and they lived in Munson, Geauga, Ohio. Miranda died after the birth of their 4th son, WILLIAM B. KIRKLAND who died at the age of 3. HIRAM moved to Pennsylvania after MIRANDA died. HIRAM KIRKLAND and his second wife, MARY SHIELDS, are found in the Elk Creek, Erie, PA census of 1850. Can you help verify these connections?
Melissa zur Loye (firstname.lastname@example.org) is searching her Burdick roots. Blanche Maud Burdick was born in 1874, probably in Haddam, CT or close to there. Her mother was Jennie A. Bailey who was born in Haddam, CT in January, 1857. Her father was Joseph Burdick, supposedly born in RI. Melissa has a photo of Jennie standing in front of a house in Westerly RI, saying it is the Family Home. Melissa found a Joseph Burdick who was born in RI in 1850 and moved to Westbrook, CT in time to be in the September 11, 1850 census. He is listed as living next door to Christopher Burdick, born RI, age 49 in 1850. Others in the house are Amelia Burdick, age 43 born in NY, Mary C. and Edwin Burdick ages 18 and 23. Christopher is listed as a farmer and Edwin as a mariner. Melissa cannot determine who Joseph's parents are.
Rikki Kurtz's (email@example.com) parents live near Plainfield, IL, which is where Lorin Burdick brought his family after leaving Vermont. Rikki did a little digging (so to speak) and found the headstones for Lorin and Esther (Bixby) Burdick, Harrison Burdick and Josiah, Ana Elisa, Alice and Henry Burdick in Plainfield Township Cemetery and wanted to share them with us. Most of the headstones are in wonderful shape, although the top of Lorin and Ester's headstone was damaged in the 1993 Plainfield tornado. There is also a picture of another headstone of a Burdick daughter named Esther (1906-1912); she is not in Rikki's immediate line but she belongs to someone. Pictures are on the Burdick Family Association web site in the "Photos" section.
Julia Bordona needs help with her Burdick family tree. It is a line that quickly comes and goes and she can only find scant information. Horace Burdick married Cynthia Holcomb (b. ca. 1800 in Columbia Co., NY) on June 8, 1823 in Gallia County, OH. There is Horace Burdick in the 1840 Chenango Co., NY census, but it is unlikely this is the same Horace, as Julia's Horace and Cynthia were married in Ohio and supposedly all her family were living. Ruth Burdick married Abner Johnson Holcomb (b. May 21, 1795, Columbia County, NY, d. Mar 1, 1844, Gallia County, Ohio) and may be Horace's sister. Abner Johnson Holcomb was the son of John Holcomb (b. 1755, Columbia Co., NY) and Chloe Mudge (b. 1775, New London, CT). She was the daughter of Daniel Mudge and Eunice Fox. The Mudge family dates back to 1638 in Boston, MA and NY. The Holcombe family dates back to 1633 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony then to Windsor, CT. Julia is also trying to determine if Cynthia Holcomb Burdick and Abner Johnson Holcomb married after both of them lost their spouses. Julia has a marriage date of April 5, 1832, Gallia County, OH. It could be that Cynthia's surname was never Holcomb at all, but perhaps she was born Cynthia Burdick. Does anyone know more? If so contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Connie Lear Wright (email@example.com) was recently elected Department President of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865. Connie's Civil War ancestor is Joshua P. Burdick of the 2nd Calv. of the Nebrsaka Volunteers. She has been traveling across Nebraska on behalf of the Daughters to promote the organization. Connie will also be attending the National Convention, August 5-10, in South Portland, MA and plans to stop and see people and places related to her Burdick line, especially around Alfred, NY. If anyone knows of cemeteries there or historical things involving the Burdick's please contact her. And, if anyone would like more information about joining the Daughters or the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, contact her and she will get you to the right person for your state.
Andi Marie Haggerty Kenyon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is researching her great-grandmother, Myrtle Burdick. Myrtle married John Keena and had 5 children, Andi's grandmother, Jeanette, is one of them. Unfortunately. Andi cannot find her connection into the Burdick family tree. Can you help?
You may remember from the last Newsletter that Gary Orr (email@example.com) did some excellent detective work tracking down the history of Abraham Baldwin Burdick (born in New Jersey, August 31, possibly in 1838, 1840 or 1842) after he came across Abe's gravesite in 1984, while hiking, near Three Rivers, CA. Gary has now found out that Abe's obituary (1935) reported that he had a daughter in Massachusetts -- but no name. Are there any Burdicks who have a connection to this family? Gary (and I) would like to know. Thanks.
Christine Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) has traced her line back to Robert and Ruth Burdick. She is now searching for information about her grandfather's brother, Webster Leslie (or Leslie Webster) Burdick. Either way he was called Leslie. He was born in 1906 and his parents were Harry Leslie and Mary A. (Clark or Howe) Burdick. He was the editor and publisher of the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina in the 1960s. He may have also been the editor and publisher of a second paper but Christine does not know the name of that one. Do you have information about this line? If so, please contact Christine.
Carolyn Elder (Carolreads@aol.com) is seeking information about Clarinda Josephine Burdick, born about 1839 in New York. She married George Henry Miller about 1855 in Brookfield, Bailes Corner, Madison Co., NY. Clark Bailey performed the ceremony. George enlisted in the Civil War, deserted, went to prison, and reentered the war, redeeming his name. The family lived in Bridgewater, NY in 1865. From there, they moved to Jefferson, Jefferson Co., WI. In August, 1870, they had moved to Jefferson, Jefferson Co., WI, where he farmed. They then moved to Luray, Russell Co., KS, where she died about 1880 (after the census recorded her alive). Does anyone have a marriage record showing Clarinda's birth date and/or parents? She had 9 children, one of whom (Hattie the First) died about 4 yrs old.
Gary Arnold (email@example.com) has provided us with a complete list of the headstones in the Clifford, PA cemetery, which includes several Burdicks. You can view the list by selecting "Burdick Cemeteries" from the "Research" section of the Burdick Family Association web site. Thanks, Gary!
Scott Bill Hirst (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports that the LDS Family History Expo will take place in Mystic (Groton), Connecticut in March, 2010. If you are a member of an historical society, hereditary society, family association, genealogical society, or simply enjoy genealogy, this is a great place to meet people with similar interests. Conact Walter Labrie (email@example.com) for more information.
Charles Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org) has a note that says his grandmother, Anna Bell Burdick, was married to and divorced from Charles Homer Wheeler. Their Children are Doris and Charles (NMI) Wheeler. Can anyone confirm this?
Michael Lambert (email@example.com) continues researching the Burdick family in Plainfield, IL, but is now searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. He has been trying to identify the lineage of Thomas J. York who married, Melissa Ingersoll, the eldest daughter of Chester and Mary Polly (Burdick) Ingersoll Converse. While searching for information on Mr. York (who reportedl hailed form New York), Michael found his first link to establish of a York and Burdick family in New York state: Madison County, New York - Military Minutes of the Council of Appointment of the State of New York (1783-1821): 1821 (p. 2293), One Hundred and Forty-third regiment of infantry: Adin Burdick, captain; Thomas York, junior, lieutenant. Michael is seeking any information about this Adin Burdick line. Can you help?
And finally, Joe Burdick (firstname.lastname@example.org) has provided us with the latest edition of his own Newsletter. You can find it on the Burdick Family Association web site by selecting the "Newsletter" button.