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November 28, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

William Emmett McCraw

Enon Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham

Enon Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham

For fifty-six years William Emmett McCraw (1846-1920) was a deeply involved member of Enon Baptist Church, long-time superintendent of the Sunday School, and for forty years Clerk of the church.  He died on May 23, 1920.

On May 29th, the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a lengthy obituary for Emmett McCraw of Buckingham County, a rare tribute to a man from a rural county.  It read, in part:

William Emmett McCraw, the youngest son of Cary Harrison McCraw and Mary Gilliam, was born at “Elysian Grove,” in Buckingham County, on April 20, 1846. At the age of 16 he became a volunteer in the Confederate army, serving with Company K, Fourth Virginia Calvary, and although a mere boy, he was known among his comrades as one of the bravest and most daring of Stuart’s men. He was twice wounded, but as soon as he could lay aside his crutches he set out to fill again his place in the ranks, only to be turned back by the news of Lee’s surrender. During the dark days of Reconstruction he met his difficulties like the soldier that he was and began to build a bright future on the saddened past.

In his early twenties he was married to his boyhood sweetheart, Miss Bettie Gilliam, of Buckingham also, and through the years of the their long and happy life the love which began in school days seemed only to grow and ripen as they fought the battle of life together. Before the end came this mutual affection had approximated perfection as nearly as is possible for a human emotion. Upon his children he lavished the love and devotion of which only a self-sacrificing nature, such as his, is capable. To the guest in his home he displayed always the hospitality of an old Virginia gentleman. Besides his widow he is survived by five children, Richard Miller McCraw, Edward Cary McCraw, Mrs. N. W. Kuykendall and Misses Bessie Edmonia and Louise Harrison McCraw. . . .

But it was in his church associations that he was able to render his most definite service to the God to whom he had consecrated his life. For fifty-six years he was a member of Enon Baptist Church, for a long period superintendent of the Sunday school, and for forty years clerk of the church. Always willing to bear more than his share of the burdens, and in every other way living the faith which he professed he set an example for his associates of Christian purity and fidelity. It was not strange that as he was nearing the end he should have had no fear of death. . . .

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