Ancestors of Mary Caroline Burdick

Researcher: Julie Nathanson (
Posted: January, 2017

(Usually I include people's requests for ancestor searches in the "Burdick News" section of the newsletters. But sometimes the stories surrounding those requests for assistance are compelling or really interesting. Julie's call for help with the ancestors of Mary Caroline Burdick is one of those. If you can provide guidance or help for her in her search please do. -- HB)

Mary C. Burdick (I110681) married Asa Sheldon Briggs, February 11, 1847. I found their gravestone in Oak Grove Cemetery, Hopkinton (Ashaway). Headstone lists Mary C. Burdick, wife of Asa S. Briggs.

Mary C.'s mother was Mary "Polly" Burdick (I681) (b. 1800; daughter of Thompson and Amey (Sisson) Burdick), but I don't know her father's name. "Polly" Burdick married Sands Palmer March 28, 1846, as his second wife. Susan (Crumb) Palmer (Sands first wife) who died in 1845, was b. Jan 29, 1800 - roughly the same age as Polly. Polly and Sands (and Susan Palmer) are buried next to Asa and Mary C. in Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway. I have found no other children born to Polly.

I have looked in the birth records of Hopkinton and Stonington (where Sands is from) and did not find a record of Mary C.'s birth. I found her death record and her mother is listed, but UNKNOWN under father. Death record: Mary Caroline Briggs.

An interesting aside: The undertaker was a Gavitt and her physician was her son Alexander Burdick Briggs.

in "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island" Nellie Johnson lists a first marriage of Mary “Polly” Burdick as ______Burdick. Same text claims Sands is the father of Mary Caroline (even though she was 19 when her mother married him (???). But also gives incorrect parents of Amey Sisson (correct parents found in Arnold’s VR), so what else might be in error; under the listing for Mary or Polly Burdick, it gives the marriage to Sands Palmer and says the following:

Child (Palmer), b. at Hopkinton, RI
A. Mary Caroline, b. 1827, July 8; d. 1909, Mar. 5.....

Sounds like a real life soap opera, right? Any knowledge of this family or where to look next? I think the family (Burdicks) at this time were still Seventh Day Baptists, so are there church records available somewhere?

Bottom Line: who is the father of Mary Caroline Burdick? My gut tells me she may have been an illegitimate child – either by Sand Palmer or someone else. But as I said, I have no proof of who the father is, so for now I am not attaching and branching to Sands Palmer. It just occurred to me that perhaps I should check Sands Palmer's father’s will and see if there is a mention. Or maybe Thompson Burdick’s will. I did get obituaries from the Sabbath Recorder but didn’t find anything in them.

I have not been able to find any source to “prove” Sands is the father of Mary Caroline. If you know of any living descendants of Sands Palmer thru his first wife I would welcome a contact from them. Any leads or thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated!

Copyright Howard E. Burdick 2020. All Rights Reserved.