They were also given a tour by Bill Sleeper of the Saline County Courthouse, where Ed Craddock Jr. (son of Edward and Ophelia) was custodian for over 50 years.
One highlight at the courthouse was meeting Howard and Reta Murray of Aurora, Colo., who happened to be there on the same day -- at the same time -- to share information with Marvin Wilhite and Velma Bacon about Murray's ancestor, Temple Murray.
For the past 30 years, members of the Craddock family have held a reunion in Kansas City and researched their roots back to the days of slavery in America.
In 2006, George Lee Craddock of Fort Washington, Md., a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Army, began attending his family's reunion (started by his mother in 1978). According to him, research and hard evidence of the family's past wasn't being found fast enough.
That's when his wife, Isabel "Princess Issy" Craddock, took up the torch, and in less than two years compiled hundreds of pages of verifiable information on the Craddock legacy.
As of the 2007 Craddock Family Reunion, generation one was Edward Craddock, a slave from the time of his birth around 1837 in Louisville, Ky. But Edward had to have a father, the question was, as George puts it, "who was his daddy?"
For the answer, Princess Issy turned to local genealogist Andrea Hatfield at the Marshall Public Library. She contacted Hatfield in May about the early Craddocks living in Saline County before and after the Civil War.
Hatfield's research led her to Edward's death notice, which listed his father as Paschall D. Craddock. But who was Paschall D. Craddock?
"Paschall the Rascal" Craddock was born Feb. 23, 1791, in Amelia County, Va. When he was young, he was pulled from a river by a slave boy named Harry from a neighboring plantation. Paschall's father later purchased Harry from the neighbor.
Years afterward, Paschall took Harry's 15-year-old daughter, Rachall, for his personal mistress and by her Paschall had Edward and his older sister, Serelda.
That means one member of the Craddock family was a white slave-owner.
"I couldn't believe it," said George.
But other members of the reunion chimed in their belief, knowing the gritty America into which Edward was born.
The Craddocks ended up in Saline County when Serelda Craddock was purchased by Paschall's nephew (also named Paschall), who later took his slaves and moved here. His brother, James H. Craddock, who then owned Edward, went with Paschall and the two purchased land in Saline County.
The Craddock farms in Saline County were located near the Marmaduke farm, the residence of Vincent Marmaduke, and the son of former Missouri Governor Meredith Miles Marmaduke.
Marmaduke owned a mulatto slave named Ophelia, who later married Edward Craddock. And that's how the family started.
More Saline County Craddock family
According to a 1937 Missouri slave narrative, Edward Craddock was "a school building janitor in Marshall" after the Civil War. His third child, Ed Craddock Jr., apprenticed under him and was later hired as custodian of the Saline County Courthouse, where he worked for over 50 years.
Edward's sixth child (of nine) was named Emmet P. Craddock. He was born about 1868 in Marshall. He was shot to death before his 30th birthday by a former employer.
Emmet was the porter at Ming's Hotel, which was formerly located about where Vikings Sporting Goods is now, and one of the hotel proprietors was J.W. Ming.
Ming, who reportedly had a certain relationship with alcohol and opium, was in a cankacerous mood and fired Emmet on the spot. Emmet said he wasn't going to leave the hotel until he was paid his final wages, so in turn Ming pulled out a handgun and shot Emmet in the face. He died a day or so later, on Dec. 22, 1898.
As reported by The St. Louis Republic Dec. 25, 1898, edition: "J.W. Ming was arraigned today before Justices Ferrill and Hawley on the charge of murder in the first degree."
Although he was found not guilty, Ming was ruled mentally insane, and later killed himself. The Kansas City Star reported March 26, 1899, "Ming has been in a St. Louis sanitarium most of the time since the shooting of Craddock."
Emmet and his wife, Hattie, had only one son, Merril Kenneth Craddock, who was at the time 9 years old. Merril, in turn, was the great-grandfather of George Lee Craddock.
During the Craddock's visit to Marshall, George Lee Craddock, on behalf of the Craddock family, presented a plaque of appreciation to the "Marshall Public Library Genealogy Division."
As far as the Craddock family knows, there are no relatives still living in Saline County, but anyone with information about the family may contact the Marshall Public Library Genealogy Room at 660-886-3391 or email@example.com.