The Burdick Scandal – Part I

The sordid, true tale of Edwin and Alice Burdick


Edwin and Alicia (Alice) Burdick lived in a beautiful home at 101 Ashland Avenue in Buffalo, New York, with their three daughters and Alice’s mother, Maria Hull. The Burdicks presented a polished image to the world. Outsiders had long looked at their lovely home, glamorous friends, and fashionable clothes with sighs of envy.

101 Ashland Avenue
101 Ashland Avenue

Edwin Burdick was just 40 years old, and already the president of E. L. Burdick & Co., and a partial owner of the Buffalo Envelope company. His wife Alice was a prominent socialite, and the couple were fixtures in Buffalo’s exclusive society.

The Burdicks were part of the “Elmwood Avenue set”, comprised of wealthy young couples who threw wild parties and gave rise to scandalous rumors. The Burdicks and their friends were frequently seen at the Red Jacket Golf Club or the Elmwood Dance Club.

The happy picture the Burdicks presented to the world was merely a veneer.

By the end of 1902, a divorce was imminent. While their three daughters stayed at home with Edwin and her mother, Alice Burdick left Buffalo just after Thanksgiving, with a one-way ticket to Atlantic City in her clutch.

Burdick children
(L – R) Carol, Marion, and Alice

Mrs. Burdick’s new residence was a hotel. Her only correspondence with the family was through her mother, but she was not lonely, thanks to frequent visits from her attorney Arthur Reed Pennell, a one-time close friend of her husband.

Pennell was representing Alice in the Burdicks’ divorce suit, suggesting an ethical question to the Elmwood Avenue set. Was it right, they mused, for Pennell to represent Alice in the divorce suit, given that it was his affair with her that had destroyed the marriage in the first place?

Before a consensus could be reached, something horrific happened.

Read Part II