Burdick Newsletters

Winter, 2015


Tragic Farm House Fire

by Katherine Stevens (krstevens1@gmail.com)

(While transcribing Nellie Johnson's work for the on-line Burdick database I have come across many intriguing comments, such as this one regarding Theodore Oestrich: 'He died at Wellsville Hospital, Dec. 29, 1937, as a result of trying to rescue his children from their burning house.' Katherine is a member of this family and has kindly provided the full story of this tragic event. -- HB)

Here is a newspaper article from The Citizen-Advertiser, Auburn, N.Y., Wednesday, December 28, 1937, explaining the fire:

'A farm house fire claimed the lives of four small children and their heroic father who tried to save them early today. The father, Theodore Oestrich, 48, died in Wellsville Memorial Hospital a few hours after his son, Theodore Jr., 10, succumbed to burns. The bodies of the other three children, Lucille, six, Jack, three, and Ruth Eva, two, were recovered from the ruins of their home two miles east of here early this morning. Frank E. Martin, a neighbor, said Mrs. Florence Oestrich told him she was awakened about 1 a.m. and found the house in flames. She and her husband staggered out of the house and while Oestrich tried to fight his way back into the burning building to rescue the children Mrs. Oestrich ran to summon help.'

'Fire Chief Herbert Lelious said he found Oestrich and his son, Theodore Jr., on the ground outside the burning home critically burned. Oestrich was badly cut. He had tried to re-enter through a window. Another child, Mary, eight, also was outside the building and unharmed. She was hysterical, however, and unable to tell what happened or how she got out. Lelious said the fire started in the living room from an overheated stove. Three of the children, including Mary, were sleeping in the living room. The others were in a small bedroom directly off the living room. All of the bodies were found in the cellar directly under the living room, indicating the children had tried to escape but had been overcome before they could reach safety, the Chief said. By the time firemen arrived the entire home was afire Lelious said. The building burned to the ground and it took several hours before the ruins were cool enough so the firemen could search for the bodies.'

I've put all their headstones on Find-A-Grave. Of the children, the oldest, Theodore, got his own headstone. Lucille, John and Ruth all share a marker with their names. I don't believe Florence Katherine ever remarried as she is buried next to her husband in Woodlawn Cemetery (Wellsville, NY)

My father, Roger, is the youngest of four and has almost no memories of his first cousin, Mary Pat. She was born around 1930 (she is two months old in the 1930 census) where as my father wasn't born until 1956. In 1935 we know Mary Pat was living with her mother in Belmont, NY because I have the clipping of my grandparents wedding stating "Little Miss Mary Patricia Oestreich of Belmont, N.Y., niece of the bride groom was flower girl and was dressed in pink organdy" I have not found her or Florence in the 1940 census.

Mary Pat, from what my Uncle Ron remembers, moved to Colorado. She married Robert J Werner and had 3 children (David, Sandra, Scott) My family has no contact with them. If my uncle Robert was still alive I might have more information because he was older than Ron and may have had more memories of Mary Pat.

Florence's father, Vernon Elias Stevens killed himself on April 3, 1966. My father remembers this date because he was the one that found Vernon. Vernon refused to live in a world with the dial telephone and after the dial telephone entered Wellsville he took his own life. It was Easter Weekend and my dad, and his parents and family were visiting Vernon at his home. Dad found his grandpa dead in the house.


A Tale of Two Sisters

by Howard Burdick (howard@burdickfamily.org)

(Every once in a while I like to write something for this Newsletter. I find those opportunities to be infrequent due to my duties of updating our genealogy and, more importantly, because of the wonderful content I receive from all of you! So just to keep my writing skills up to date, I offer you this little piece of our family's history. -- HB)

As readers of this Newsletter know, I have made my way through Nellie Johnson's 1952 Supplement. While negotiating this maze of names and cryptic abbreviations some interesting tidbits of information have popped up. Following is one I thought you would enjoy hearing about.

The Supplement record for Eva (Burdick) Lyde (I1137) contained this innocuous little note: "Eva Lyde is said to have had a daughter Elsie Leslie Lyde a great actress. (Cr. G.M. Burdick)."

Nellie's original 1937 book had this to say about Eva: "Eva Burdick, dau. of Jonathan 416 (Elkanah 164, John 44, Hubbard 11, Robert 1) and ... ; living, 1902 ; m. Benjamin Lyde. Child ( Lyde ). A. Dau., living 1902; m. C. V. Fornes, who was a dealer in woolens in New York City, 1902."

Well, my inquisitive nature got the better of me (as usual!) and the next thing I knew I was Googling Elsie Leslie's name. Sure enough, we have a family member who is considered to be America's first child star, becoming a famous actress in the 1890s and into the early 20th century. She was pen-pals with many famous contemporaries such as Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Helen Keller. I won't recreate her long list of credits and accomplishment, you can find those on-line for yourself if you are interested. I was just happy that Eva Burdick's daughter finally had a name for me to enter in the genealogy.

But things didn't make sense.

Elsie Leslie's biographies (apparently she was known as Elsie Leslie) name her first husband as Jefferson Winter, an actor and son of the poet-critic William Winter, and her second husband as Edwin J. Milliken, an investment banker. So who is C.V. Fornes that Nellie named as her husband?

Back to Google.

Here's where it gets interesting. C.V. Fornes is Charles Vincent Fornes who was a New York businessman and politician. He eventually became a 3-term U.S. Congressman from the state of New York. In the 1904/1905 timeframe he was the acting Mayor of New York City and embroiled in a very messy and public divorce from his wife, Eda Olive Lyde -- better known as Dora.

Ah-ha! Eva Burdick had TWO daughters!

Dora had secretly opened a Studio in Carnegie Hall, to supposedly operate an interior decorating business. But... scandals being scandals... there were rumors and stories (in the New York Times no less!) of Dora's ongoing and unauthorized trips to Europe with her mother (remember, the year is 1904 and wives needed permission from their husbands to do just about anything.)

There were also the frequent appearance of a "tall, dark" man who went by the name of "Maurice" at Dora's studio and was seen with her about town. Again, I won't recreate the newspaper articles here, but they are very entertaining to read if you so choose.

As you can guess, Charles and Dora divorced. I could not find anything more about her, but after his Congressional career, Charles moved back to Buffalo (he was originally from that part of the state) and died there in 1929.

So a little more digging verified that Dora and Elsie Leslie were sisters. Can you imagine what those family get-togethers must have been like? Talk about power-players of their day!

Elsie's life had a much better ending. She and second husband Edwin lived a full and apparently happy life until her death in 1966 and his sometime after that.

As I started out, it is very rewarding to find these nuggets of precious stories about our families. I am sure I will find more, and will report on some of the most interesting ones. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this tale of two sisters.


French Spoliation Claims

Submitted by Howard Burdick (howard@burdickfamily.org)

(Here's another interesting comment I came across in Nellie Johnson's Supplement: "Prof. Martha B. Saunders, willed 1/2 of her library and certain French Spoliation claims, to which she was heir, to Alfred University." French Spoliation claims? What the heck is that? Thanks to the Internet it did not take long to find out. The article below appears on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) web site and explains this forgotten corner of American history. By the way, Martha Saunders (I210987) is the granddaughter of Rowland Burdick (I340). -- HB)

Prologue Magazine, Spring 1991, Vol. 23, No. 1
By Angie Spicer Vandereedt

What are French spoliation claims? I'm glad you asked. French spoliation claims are claims presented by United States citizens against France, Spain, and Holland for vessels and cargo taken by privateers prior to September 30, 1800, and condemned at ports controlled by those countries. A majority of the vessels were captured during the Quasi-War between the United States and France (1797-1801), although the French spoliation claims can include all property captured by the French at any time.

Franco-American relations became strained in the late eighteenth century for several reasons. While France was at war with Great Britain, the United States attempted to remain neutral but encountered many difficulties due to harassment of its merchant vessels by both belligerents. When Jay's Treaty was signed on November 19, 1794, in an attempt to improve Anglo-American relations, the French viewed it as a violation of earlier agreements signed with their government, as well as a violation of American neutrality. As a result, the French government passed several decrees permitting their privateers off the coasts of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the West Indies to capture American merchant vessels.

Efforts by American diplomats to persuade the French to revoke the decrees and pay for the indemnities failed. Tempers flared, both in the United States and France, but neither formally declared war. The United States formed a small navy, hired privateers, and allowed merchant vessels to arm themselves for defensive purposes. Congress also revoked the treaties signed with France in 1778 and 1788 and authorized the recruitment of a regular army to prepare for possible invasion.

The hostilities between France and the United States continued until the signing of the Convention of Mortefontaine on September 30, 1800. The final version of the convention made no provisions for the settlement of claims for indemnity, however, leaving the issue for the future. Unfortunately for the claimants, no one realized how far into the future some of the claims would be settled. Indeed, the paper trail for some claims continues well into the twentieth century.

The Louisiana Purchase treaty of April 30, 1803, was one of the first of many efforts to resolve the disputes. The second convention to the treaty states that as part of the payment for the Louisiana territory, the United States would pay the claims for which the interest could not exceed twenty million francs. The convention further provided for a three-member commission to examine and settle the claims. After the commissioners made their decisions, the claims were turned over to the French government for final approval. Under this commission, which lasted from July 5, 1803, to December 1, 1804, a total of 356 claims were allowed, and 174 were disallowed. The rejection of a claim only meant that the United States would not be held responsible for its payment. It was left to the government of France to decide its own liability in those cases.

Several more treaties and conventions followed, but none totally resolved all of the claims. Claimants then appealed to Congress for assistance with little success. Finally, on January 20, 1885, Congress passed an act (23 Stat. L. 283) empowering the United States Court of Claims to hear and examine evidence relating to outstanding French spoliation claims that originated before July 31, 1801. A total of 5,520 petitioners presented their claims to the court within the two years specified by the act. The court was to decide which claims were valid and the amount to be awarded to the victorious claimants. The court's decisions were then sent to Congress for action. Instead of submitting the decisions to the Department of the Treasury for payment, Congress referred them to committees for further review. Congress made at least four appropriations for payment of the claims allowed by the court of claims. Many claims, however, remained unsettled as late as 1924.

Several agencies gathered evidence over the years to assist Congress and the courts. It is not surprising, then, that records relating to the claims are in sixteen record groups in the National Archives. As a result, the French spoliation claims present a challenge for anyone wishing to track all of the information relating to them.

The records can be fascinating. Anyone interested in maritime history, United States trade relations with other countries, Franco-American relations, the Quasi-War, or even genealogical research, can find a wealth of material in these records. A study of the records of the French spoliation claims is a study of the complicated process of resolving international claims.

The genealogical aspect should not be underestimated. In many cases, the representatives of the original claimants were the spouses, children, or other relatives of the claimant. Such relationships are usually mentioned in the records of the claims and can prove to be very useful to those attempting to trace their family trees. They can also shed light on the business practices of an ancestor or on the abilities of a ship's master.

Unlike most genealogical records, the records relating to the French spoliation claims are dispersed among many agencies' records. The key to researching the claims for genealogical purposes is learning which cases might have involved the ancestors of the researcher. How that is determined depends upon what the researcher already knows. If there is only speculation that some family member had some interest in a claim, the search could be long and tedious. Even if the name of the person is known, there is no guarantee that the claim will be found. The first step when only a small amount of information is known is to examine the various lists of claims available in the printed archives. Most of the lists provide the names of vessels captured, masters of the vessels, and the claimant. They do not always indicate how the claimant is involved in the claim.

If the name is found in one of the lists, then it is usually a simple task to determine the claim number. If the number does not appear on the list, an archivist can be consulted for the next step. If the name is not found, then the task becomes more difficult. As with most research projects, the more you know, the better off you are.

There is no comprehensive index to the claims. Most of the claims records are organized by the vessel names, the claimants' names, or the claim number. It also helps to know when the claim was presented. Claims presented early tended to involve fewer people than those that appear later because the early claims were either bought by others or handed down through generations, with the children of the first claimants possessing the right to divide the claims among them.

If a person is not on a list, and it is not known when he or she became involved in the claims, the only recourse is to go systematically through the records. It is best to start with the Records of the United States Court of Claims (Record Group 123), then the Records of International Claims (contained in Record Group 76), and then the petitions to Congress.

Angie Spicer Vandereedt was an archivist in the Old Military and Civil Unit of the National Archives and Records Administration.


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

I wanted to start out with a special thank you to Steve Burdick (horracetrout@verizon.net). Steve presented me with a very special gift: the medical diploma and state medical license of my great-uncle, Donald Langworthy Burdick (I213851). My grandfather's brother married later in life and had no children. I met him a couple of times before his death in 1967 (my family lived in Detroit, he lived in New York City and Rockville, RI) but was never able to know him as an uncle. So this gift already has a special place in our home and heart. Thanks, Steve!

Steve is researching many aspects of the Burdick family, including trying to locate the final resting place of Robert Burdick as well as evidence of his origin. If you can help in any way, please contact him.

Sandy Bodine (smbodine1@charter.net) is seeking the elusive Almira Burdick (I120282), born 1805, who is her gg-grandmother. Almira's father is Henry Burdick (I282). Actually, there are two Henry Burdicks who had daughters named Almira who were both born in 1805! But it appears that the Henry and Almira identified here are the ones Sandy is looking for. Sandy has found some records about Almira but has not found her birth or death records but she believes Almira died in either Grant or Lafayette County, WI. Can you help identify her?

Karen Baker (ferency.baker@gmail.com) sends word that Anna Belle (Luke) Burdick, age 75, passed away Friday, October 10, 2014 in Jackson, MI after a short battle with cancer. Ann was a stay at home mom who loved gardening and canning. She was the daughter of Roy and Margret (Huhman) Luke. She was a wonderful wife to Mitchell L. Burdick for 48 years and mother to Gabrielle (Jim) Thomas, Jeff (Kathy) Burdick, and Lori (Jeff) Grantham; stepchildren, John Spaulding and Michelle. She was a wonderful and loving grandmother to Christie and Nicolace Wick, Shawn and Jaycob Avery, Trey Grantham.

Art Haynes (arthaynes@juno.com) has a question that I am interested in also. He would like to know if there are any Burdick family reunions planned for 2015. I know there are several regional get-togethers, some annual, others not so often. The organizers usually contact me about them, but it is usually just a week or two before the event so I cannot get word out. If you think it would be beneficial to have a page on the Burdick Family Association web site listing the upcoming events -- even if they are 2 or 3 years out, let me know. I'd also be happy to use the web site and Newsletter to promote the events.

Ellen Winchester (ellenbwinchester@gmail.com), one of our English Burdick relatives, wanted everyone to know about a great web site, The Lives of the First World War (https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org), which is part of the British Imperial War Museums (http://www.iwm.org.uk). Even while the First World War was still being fought, the newly-formed IWM was asking the public to help it tell the story of the war. The museum was formed not as a monument to military glory, but as a record of the toil and sacrifice of those who had served in uniform or worked on the home front. The vision is to build a record so complete that every individual, man or woman, soldier, sailor, airman and civilian from across Britain and the Commonwealth would have a record of their contribution. IWM is build a permanent memorial that currently records about 8 million lives. If you can add your family members, please do.

Wanda Henderson (donda50@verizon.net) has a mystery, and is hoping you can help. Her ggg-grandparents are K D and Hepsyba Burdick (the K could stand for Kenyon). They were married March 16, 1889 in Beloit, WI. Hepsyba died April 7, 1895 in Rockton, WI. Her obituary, in the Beloit Daily Free Press, reads: "Mrs Hepas P. Burdick, died at her home in Rockton, Sunday night, at the age of 88 years. She was an early settler of Rockton, having lived at that place 55 years. She was the mother of 15 children, seven of whom are still living. The funeral was held Monday." Wanda knows nothing more than this. Do you?

Jeanne Stodder (jeannes637@cox.net) also has a mystery involving the Burdick family. One of Jeanne's ancestors is Louis Napolean Stodder who was an on-board survivor of the USS Monitor when it sank during the Civil War. Louis had two sons with his first wife, Waite Howland Aldrich; the youngest son was born in 1865. Louis and Waite were married in Boston in 1861 but Jeanne cannot find any record of divorce. Louis’ naval records showed that she applied for his pension after his death, and she is the only wife mentioned in his naval records. Louis died in 1911 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. Also buried in this plot are Jane and Jean Burdick, a mother and daughter, who died in 1892 during a flu epidemic. Cemetery records show that the Burdicks were moved to this plot shortly after the death of Louis at the request of James Burdick and Rose (or Rosa) B. Stodder, Louis’ 2nd wife. Louis apparently had two daughters with Rosa, Bertha (1873-1931) and Gertrude (1869-?). Rosa’s daughter Bertha married John Anderson and they had a daughter, Dorothy in 1906. Jeanne has been in touch with two of Waite’s granddaughters and a nephew, but none of them has a clue regarding Louis and Rosa’s marital status. Jeanne can find no record of Rosa’s marriage to Louis nor a divorce from his first wife who was still alive when Louis passed. It is possible that Rosa may not have ever been legally married to Louis. Census records show that Rosa was born in Connecticut in 1846, died in 1931 and is buried in the same plot at Greenwood. There is a Rosalia Burdick (I2383) in the genealogy who was born March 24, 1846 (no birth place given) and died August 13, 1932 in Stormville, NY, but shows no connection to the Stodder family. Can you help solve this mystery?

Dorothy Burdick (dot-n-al@hotmail.com) reports that her family's annual Burdick Family Christmas party was a great success with about 60 family members attending. They have been having these parties for about 15 years. It started with two Burdick brothers: Leroy with eight children and Al (Dorothy's husband) with six. Each brother's family exploded and they now number close to 100 members. The second generation has now taken over the event and do a magnificent job. Some family members live out of state and so could not reach the 100 mark in attendance but all who came insisted they will be back next year. Unfortunately Leroy passed away a few years ago, but this year they remembered him by calling it "Grandpa Froggy’s Party" (that was his grandchildren’s pet name for him).

Carol A Reppard (reppardc@gmail.com) is helping to save the historic Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia. She is part of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery (http://friendsofmountmoriahcemetery.org), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the cemetery by honoring the memory of those interred here through community engagement, education, historic research, and restoration. Carol is helping to transcribe old burial cards. There are an estimated 80,000 people buried there including many veterans and famous people ranging from mayors and baseball players to entertainers and journalists. If you want to help, please contact Carol or the organization.

Carol is also busy sifting through obituaries to find Burdick family members in New York state, and will provide us with the information she comes across. I'll make it a regular feature of this Newsletter to report her findings...

Stanton Burdick, 86, died peacefully Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at his home on the hill in Grafton with his family at his side. Born in Grafton on May 3, 1928, he was the son of the late Edward and Edna Vars Burdick. A lifelong resident of Grafton, Stanton was a US Army veteran of the Korean War. Stanton worked for Perkins Tree Service, Rifenburgh Construction and was later employed by Hedley Cadillac & Oldsmobile in Troy as an auto mechanic for over 38 years before retiring in 1993. He was a lifetime member of the Grafton VFW Post #6340, member of the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department and the Odd Fellow Lodge in Brunswick. He had a love for the woods and the outdoors. Earlier in his life he enjoyed farming. He was the beloved husband of over 50 years of the late Trevah E. Yerke Burdick who died in 2010.

Genesee, PA: Beverly J. Burdick, 70, of Genesee passed away Monday (Aug 18, 2014) in Hart Comfort House, Wellsville, N.Y. Born on Dec. 30, 1943, in Blossburg, She was a daughter of John and Nellie Davey Polaski. On Dec. 4, 1964, in Bingham Center, she married Leonard D. "Butch" Burdick Jr., who survives. Surviving besides her husband are three children, Ronald (Vicki) Burdick of Ulysses, Brenda (Stephen) Heck of Genesee and Jason Burdick of Wellsville; four grandchildren, Dalton Burdick, Devin Burdick, Brooklyn Burdick and Austin Burdick; a sister, Shirley Tyler of Westfield; and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by five brothers, Loyal Easton, Clifford Easton, Albert Easton, Fordyce Easton and Edward Easton; and a sister, Margaret Finch.


Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2018. All Rights Reserved.

howard@burdickfamily.org