The Craycrofts reveals that Craycroft ancestries trace back to Edward I, Henry III, King John, Charlemagne and Hildegard. As the brilliant historian Jean Craycroft cautioned, know the history of your family for it informs you of your meanings, attitudes and possibilities. Forget it and focus on your actions

for it is alone by them  that you will prove your worth and will, in truth be judged.

Craycroft array of impressive pioneer progenitors with some notable missteps.

Charles Burr Craycroft

Jean Hemphill Craycroft

Marian Craycroft Rude was born in 1912, 

in Fresno, California


             John Craycroft Rude, Grace Shaver Craycroft, Carolyn Jean Craycroft and Sally Rude

Sally Rude with Harold and LeRoy Christiansen



a memoir

August 13, 1943

Grandmother decided to pack all of us into the car for a day at the lake named for her father. I was too young to remember the sights and scents of the drive, but I’ve negotiated the four and a half miles of curves many times since, and now, with little effort, can see and smell the majestic sugar pines that lined the road to the lake. A short drive past Eckert’s and Ken’s Market, we had our first sight of Shaver Lake—one of the Sierra’s most accessible blue playgrounds, promising cool relief on a hot August day. Grace’s footsteps were as carefree as those of the children who followed her along the familiar path to the beach. She had invited along two twelve year-old twins, Harold and LeRoy Christiansen, boys from a Fresno working-class family who rarely had the opportunity for such excursions. As Sally and I splashed at the edge of the water, the boys changed into their swimming trunks, and then joined us under Grace’s watchful eye. The lake, which served as a reservoir for Southern California Edison’s hydroelectric power, was full this summer due to heavy Spring rains and late snowmelt. What Grace knew, but LeRoy and Harold could not be aware of, was that the shallow bench of beach dropped off steeply just fifteen feet out from the water’s edge. Grace knew the boys could not swim and warned them to stay close by. LeRoy was the first to step over the hidden precipice, panic rising in his throat as he screamed for help. His twin was closer, but Grace leaped up and covered the distance to Le Roy in seconds. She struggled to subdue his strong flailing arms, but managed to drag him back to the beach with a length of rope, and calm him. As my grandmother struggled to recover her own breath, an identical cry for help came from the lake. Harold, stumbling to help his brother, had stepped over the edge. He was struggling to find solid ground beneath his feet. Grace ran, then swam to rescue the second twin. He put up an even fiercer struggle than his brother, and then sank to the bottom, his lungs filled with water. Once, twice Grace dove into the deep, groping for an arm or chin or hank of hair. Then everything, unaccountably, came to a stop. Grace floated face down on the water.

She was close enough to LeRoy and Sally for them to pull her to shore and turn her over. Sally enjoyed a special game she played with her grandmother almost every afternoon. Grace would read my sister a story, then pretend to go to sleep. 

Sally would reach over to pry open her grandmother’s eyelid; Grace would erupt with laughter and tickles, filling Sally with delight. Sally opened her grandmother’s eyes again at the edge of the lake. Grace’s eyes stared back at her lifelessly. Delight was replaced with an image that would remain with my sister forever: the cold glare of death. The three children stood on an isolated stretch of Shaver Lake’s beach, wondering what to do next. LeRoy was shivering with panic, wondering why his twin wouldn’t just come back to him from the deep water. Sally knew that someone had to run for help, but could not imagine carrying her chunky two and half year old brother all the way back on the path and another quarter mile along the side of the lake. Neither could she send the distraught LeRoy, who sat on a log, crying. Shemade a precocious decision: to tie me to a tree (Grace had used this technique to control my meanderings at Pine Ridge) and run for help. For Sally the next hour was a blur of breathless running, begging strangers for help, answering questions, watching men struggle and fail to resuscitate Grace. A sheriff arrived; Sally remembers LeRoy and the strangers giving confused accounts of what happened, and my sister tugging on the big man’s sleeve. “No, it really happened this way....” She fell silent when she realized that no one was going to believe a little girl, even

if she was the only one who saw it all. An ambulance took Grace’s body away to Fresno, and strangers drove the children back to Pine Ridge. The caretaker, Mr. Bunn, knew exactly whom to call and how to comfortthe children until relatives arrived. Sally and I were taken to Fresno to stay with friends. In another day or so, my mother and father arrived from New Orleans to make arrangements for the funeral. My grandmother’s heroic efforts to save Harry Christiansen were noted at the funeral and in the press. Grace’s autopsy indicated that she had suffered a heart attack from the effort, possibly because she was fully clothed while attempting both rescues.

    None of these facts were consoling to my mother. Marian had lost her most constant supporter and friend, her best (possibly only) defense against the inner demons of her anxiety. Sally and my mother’s friends all have told me in different ways that for the rest of her life, Marian never recovered from her mother’s death. It is quite possible, in fact, that August 13, 1943, the day of Grace’s drowning, stands as the fulcrum for each of the lives of her survivors. I was too young to remember any of these vivid events, but I had to be deeply affected by my mother’s grief, as well as the choices that cascaded from her grief in the years that followed.

                                                     Posted 15th December 2013 by John Rude                                                   

Charles Burr Craycroft at Badger Flats

John Shaver Craycroft, Peter Burr Craycroft and Robert Amerian