William Henry Craddock. As the greatest calamity ever suffered by Kansas City, Kansas, was probably the flood of 1903, that year will always be memorable in the city’s history. Another event associated with that year was the death of William Henry Craddock, who had just completed a service of two years in the office of mayor. Mr. Craddock was stricken on March 2, 1903, and his death occurred on the 4th of the same month at the Savoy Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. He was mourned by the entire city, and never any similar occasion in the city had brought out such a tremendous concourse of citizens of all classes to pay respect to one who was taken away from the midst of a valuable service and position of influence. He was a man of rare ability, was a splendid type of business man, and had a bigness of heart and soul commensurate with his material activities.
His birth occurred on a farm near Louisville, Kentucky, December 25, 1851. His parents were William W. and Edna (Smith) McGaryhill Craddock. Edna Smith McGaryhill was the granddaughter of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and a leading figure in the revolutionary period of American history. Mr. Craddock’s father and grandfather bore the name William W., both were successful lawyers, and they also rendered distinguished service on the bench. Mayor Craddock’s father was for some years a law partner with the famous Joe Cannon of Illinois.
When William H. Craddock was ten years of age his parents removed to the Craddock settlement at Mattoon, Illinois. They made the journey on a river boat, the steamship Starlight, which sank in the middle of the Mississippi River, and the family had a very narrow escape from death.
Mr. Craddock was educated in the public schools of Mattoon and also attended a college in Illinois. In 1870, when nineteen years of age, he accompanied his four brothers out to Wichita, Kansas. He soon secured a clerkship in the courthouse of Sedgwick County, and was the youngest employe of the county government. Mayor Craddock’s father had seen active service in the Mexican war as adjutant general.
William Henry Craddock came to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1880, six years before the city of that name was incorporated. At 200 North James Street he established the Craddock Mercantile Company, and thus founded a business which until 1903 was one of the largest of its kind in either of the two adjoining cities. He subsequently brought his brothers into the business and he himself removed to Aurora, Illinois, where he bought a large ranch of 2,700 acres. There he found profit and pleasure in the management of his farm and in the raising of fine livestock.
Returning to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1896, Mr. Craddock became president of the Western Realty Company, an office he retained until his death. In all his work he was characterized by large ideas, a practical efficiency in carrying out his plans, and he brought about some of the largest real estate deals in both the Kansas cities. At one time he owned all the property from Twelfth to Eighteenth streets on the right side of Grand Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, but this was lost through litigation.
On December 20, 1881, he married Mary Elizabeth Cuthbert. They were married in Wisconsin, but Mrs. Craddock was born in Ohio and her parents were farmers in that state and later in Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Craddock had three children: Harry Hubert, William Henry, Jr., and Laura Cuthbert.
Politically Mr. Craddock was a democrat. When he was elected mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, in 1901, he was given the compliment of the largest majority ever given a candidate for that office. The choice was well justified, for he distinguished himself by the rare executive ability in which he handled the administration of the municipality, during the next two years. In 1902 Mr. Craddock was an unsuccessful candidate on the democratic ticket for the office of governor of Kansas. His name was again discussed at a later time for the same office, but he refused to allow it to be considered. He had attained Supreme Honorary Thirty-third degree in Scottish Rite Masonry and was a member of many orders and organizations. He was also a member and officer in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and one of the liberal contributors to its support.