This biography previously started out with the words, "Very little is known of Alden Burdick." Now, thanks to a gracious epistle from Sister Carol Ann Burdick Poulson, a third great-granddaughter of Elder Burdick, considerably more has been learned.
From the Ancestral File we learn that Alden
Burdick was born September 12, 1803 in Jamestown, Chataugua, New York,
and that he was the son of Gideon Burdick and his wife Catherine Robertson. Gideon Burdick was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. There has always been a great tradition of patriotism in this family. The Burdick family has been in America since about 1650. There is also a history of Burdick ancestors searching for religious truth in earlier generations. Alden's ancestors were founding members of the Seventh-day Baptist Church (or Sabbatarians) in Newport Rhode Island and Westerly, Rhode Island, approximately between 1665 and 1671.
Gideon Burdick and his family lived in the Chautauqua, New York area. From references in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine: "At the outlet of Lake Chautauqua, near Buffalo...the gospel message was brought,,, Gideon Burdick and family were baptized in June 1833. In November they joined the body of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio.
"Membership in the Church brought severe persecution. The saints at Kirtland were bending every effort to complete their Temple. 'The Church was in a state of poverty and distress, in consequence of which it appeared almost impossible that the commandments could be fulfilled (relative to the Kirtland Temple); at the same time our enemies were raging and threatening destruction upon us, and we had to guard ourselves night after night, and for weeks were not permitted to take off our clothes, and were obliged to lay with our fire-locks in our arms.' So writes one eye-witness of those trying days. Throughout that fall and winter Gideon Burdick and his sons labored on the temple, on short rations, by day and 'at night watching to protect the walls they had laid during the day from threatened violence.'
Alden was the fifth of seven children and the youngest of three sons. At the time of his baptism, he was already a young adult with a wife and young children. Alden and Jerusha had been married about 1825, as their first-born, Columbus Burdick, was born in 1826, presumably in New York state.
Notwithstanding wife and children, Alden volunteered, in 1834
to accompany the Prophet Joseph
Smith on Zions Camp, the venture to succor the suffering Saints in Missouri.
It seems that the religious fervor shown by Alden, his father, and earlier ancestors was a family affair, for his older brother Thomas was called as a clerk and later as a bishop. His brother Elias died
in Pleasant Grove, Utah and thus also may be assumed to have been a member.
Alden was married to Jerusha Parks but the date is somewhat
in doubt. The Ancestral File gives the date of the marriage as 1845
in Nauvoo, Illinois but Columbus, the oldest of Alden and Jerusha's eleven children
was born about 1826 with younger children being born along over the years.
Grampa Bill finds it inconcievable that Alden and Jerusha were not married all those years.
The Ancestral File may be in error or, perhaps more likely, it might be referring to sealing
in the Nauvoo Temple which took place years after their civil marriage.
As has been mentioned, Alden was a member of Zion's
Camp. A year later in February of 1835 he was called to become a Seventy
and a member of the the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was ordained unnder the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was the first Seventy to walk this earth since the days of the Savior! His brother-in-law, Hiram Winters was the second. The Lord had specifically designated the First
Quorum as a quorum having equal authority with the First Presidency and the Twelve, thus, Elder Alden Burdick cemented his position as a General Authority. There is no evidence, however, that the First Quorum ever functioned as a governing quorum in the Kirtland-Missouri-Nauvoo era.
Elder Burdick remained faithful and is not mentioned in the histories as having
participated in any apostasy or rebellion against either the Church or against the Prophet. Elder
Burdick died August 20, 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois in full company and fellowship of the Saints. Perhaps
his death at an early age was hastened by the persecutions he had endured during his tenure as a member.
If so, we may account him as a martyr for cause of the Gospel. We cite a family history (author unknown)
"Alden Burdick proved staunch to the Church of the Latter Day Saints throughout all those days of trial
and was devout in his manner of life. On his deathbed, he counseled his wife to follow the leaders of
the church wherever they went. With her family of 11 children, she emigrated to Utah about 1852. She
lived for a time in Salt Lake City and supported her family by tailoring... (then) keeping a boarding
place...(and later) gained a knowledge of medicine which she practiced as her profession in Carson City,
Nev. and in California. Later...she returned to Farmington, Utah where she died (in 1883)." Jerusha
and Alden's son Alden Jr. was a youthful companion of Joseph
F. Smith, son of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith and later President of the
Church. In fact, the younger Alden may be credited with helping to save President Smith's life while on
the trek west.
Grampa Bill is indebted to Brother Spencer Kendall for providing the picture of