For more than 20 years different members of the Craycroft/Craycraft family group or researchers had heard talk about or read about the supposed existence of what was always referred to as The Great Crayroft Book. But no one could locate it or figure out where it could be.
Then one night in November or December of 1999 Holly Pace, Dan Craycraft and I were chatting on the Internet and the subject came up once more. We compared notes about what we each had heard or read. One of them mentioned something about the idea that at some time in the past they had heard that the Book had been in California. For some reason this struck a familiar chord in me and I pulled out my copy of a family history that had been given to me by one of my father's aunts at my first wedding. The front page of the history was signed by John Wesley Craycroft whom I knew had lived the early part of his life in Vandalia, Illinois. I mentioned this Dan and Holly and told them that just perhaps that was where the Book was. At the least perhaps we could find a clue to its location.
So I began the hunt. I ran a search on the Internet for the phone numbers of Craycrofts in Vandalia. I found six or seven different numbers and I started making phone calls. On the second call I reached Geoff Craycroft. I introduced myself and told him the reason for my call. I asked if he knew anything about the mysterious book. Geoff said that he knew where it was. At the particular moment it was at his aunt's house there in Vandalia. He explained that when John Wesley Craycroft died the Book was sent back to Vandalia.
I wound up arranging to go to Vandalia in January of 2000 to meet Geoff and his family and to see the Book. Geoff and I talked at great length about our family and I got to read the Book. Then when I left I asked Goeff if I could borrow the Book long enough to take it back to Chicago and make copies for anyone in the family group who would like a copy. That is exactly what I did. I then set about researching the information in the Book to see what I could verify.
Now I've transcribed the Book, adding the results of my research and my own thoughts on the accuracy of the information it contains. During the course of my research I found many glaring errors and apparent fabrications. It is my conclusion that most if not everything prior to about 1780 is false information. I'm presenting this revised history to show as an example of the pitfalls we family historians encounter when we accept something at face value without research and verification.
I've attached it here in PDF format to make it easier for anyone to download and read it. I hope that this new version of the Cracycroft Family History will survive the coming decades and be passed on to future generations.
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