Russell Greene Burdick was the 6th of 13 children born to Capt. James Reed Burdick (”Captain Jimmie”) and Martha Coon. James and Martha’s first five children were born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, but Russell is said to have been born in Truxton, Cortland County, New York. So Martha may have been pregnant with him on their arduous trip west: according to Nellie Johnson’s The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island, they made the last part of the trip “on a sled following a blazed trail through the woods.” If Martha was lucky, that may refer to the winter of 1803-04 instead of 1804-05.
James got his title for serving in the Rhode Island militia; I have no idea why they decided to make the move, except that a great many Rhode Island ancestors were doing the same thing at the same time. Certainly for those who wanted to farm, there was no longer room in New England for parents to accumulate enough arable land to provide for each of their many children as they grew up.
Having established their new home near a spring, Captain Jimmie had to clear land for farming. Family tradition has it that he simultaneously cleared the land and earned a little cash, by burning the trees and selling the ash to a potash manufacturer. But he didn’t dislike trees per se. “He planted an orchard, naming the trees for various members of the family.”
Russell grew up and learned the trade of shoemaker, and became a Methodist minister before converting to Seventh Day Baptist views. (This is a subject for further research: certainly his 3G grandfather Robert Burdick 1633-1692, who married Ruth Hubbard, daughter of Samuel Hubbard and Tacy Cooper, had been a committed Sabbatarian or Seventh Day Baptist in his day. Did some of the intervening generations fall away?)
Russell married Clarissa Martin on New Year’s Day 1824; he was 18, she was 23. They had four children together before she died, and he married his second (and final) wife, Adaline Campbell, in 1836, when he was 31 and she was 20. They had another nine children, so Russell all together had as many kids as his father had. The last one by several years was Rev. Clayton.
Just as Captain Jimmie had moved his family from Rhode Island to New York, Russell moved his from New York to Wisconsin. This was in the middle 1850s, and Clayton was the only one of their children born here in the far west.
Preaching didn’t pay much in those days; Russell made his living as a cobbler and not a preacher. The denominational paper, the Sabbath Recorder, noted that he supported many a “feeble” church by “preaching for a very small salary, or none at all.”
He may also have supported the feebler churches with his voice. Grandson George Shaw recalled:
“He would take me on his knee and sing the finest old hymns of the church. It is said that he was an especially good singer. I never sing ‘From Greenland’s Icy Mountains’ but what I think of Grandfather Burdick.”
RUSSELL GREENE BURDICK
born 6 April 1805 Cortland County, New York
married (1) 1 Jan 1824 Clarissa Martin -- 4 children
married (2) 20 September 1836 Adaline Campbell -- 9 children
died 22 September 1875 Utica, Wisconsin
ANCESTORS: We know all 16 of his great-grandparents and many beyond that.
COUSINS: Plenty, given that he had a dozen siblings.
DESCENDANTS: At least eight of his thirteen children had children.