Secret Family History - Unraveling the Past

Throughout Sudie’s early life was a horrendous feud between two families, Sudie’s grandparents’ families. Her uncle Bob Craddock killed Sheriff A.J. Collinsworth by hitting him with a grubbing hoe. The sheriff was his uncle and Sudie’s great-uncle through her father’s mother, Susan Jane Collinsworth Craddock. He got off on the murder charge by proving he was defending his brother Jim from an attack by the sheriff. 

The death of A.J. Collinsworth happened on November 1, 1906. Sudie was born October 25, 1906, just one week prior, possibly on the day the incident happened.

The feud went on back and forth between the families. Two of the sheriff’s sons two years later on September 3, 1908 ambushed Bob Craddock on the Collinsworth Levee, shooting him multiple times, even in the back, killing him on the spot in retaliation for their father’s killing. The two sons, Ladd and Frank, painted their faces black to make it appear that negroes had attacked Bob, in case there were any witnesses to show up.

Without telling the entire story, Bob’s murder was avenged by his brother Jim Craddock, the one he defended from the sheriff years before. He went after Frank Collinsworth who had a hand in killing Bob, though both Collinsworth brothers eventually got off on appeal. Frank died on March 10, 1910 and was the last killing between the families.

Imagine Sudie being a little girl during all this time. She was only 3 ½ years old by the time of the final killing, and everyone was hush-hush about family tragedies back in the day. It had to be pieced together by a few newspaper clippings and family letters passed down generation after generation.

And time marches on leaving behind hidden memories and forgotten stories.

In Humble Pie, my pending historical fiction novel, I refer to this piece of history as it was happening around my own grandmother’s young life. Children were kept away from stories like this, but the black families knew everything that was going on. They had to know and to share stories with each other as a means of survival. 

Knowledge is power, and secrets are plentiful. Not all of them stay buried forever.

Sally Hendrick is the daughter of the author of The Collinsworth-Craddock Feud, Kimbrough Dunlap. His book will be published soon to accompany the historical fiction novel, Humble Pie, that Sally is writing on life from a child’s perspective around the same time in history. Kimbrough’s mother was Anna Sue (Sudie) Craddock Dunlap, Sally’s grandmother.


What you don't know about Jim Crow

by Sally Hendrick

Two little girls in rural West Tennessee are best friends but only in secret. Separated by a cotton field, their lives couldn't be any more different. Sudie's and Mabie's friendship, beautiful yet tragic, leaves a mark for generations to come.

Sally takes you on a journey back in time to the early 1900's Jim Crow South, as she imagines what life was like for her grandmother, Sudie, weaving together memories from her own childhood and stories from her family, even the black women who raised her.

Coming someday soon. Please enjoy this chapter for now.

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