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Carver Trail Virtual Tour

About GWC: A Tour of His Life
taken from "The Gentle Genius," an article by Peggy Robbins

Born out of slavery and reared in Reconstruction, this humble man emerged to become a great benefactor to his people and his section.
        George Washington Carver was born into slavery during the Civil War, in the midst of bloody guerrilla warfare in Missouri . A tiny, sickly baby, he was soon orphaned, and his very survival beyond infancy was against the laws of nature.
        That he, a Negro, became the first and greatest chemurgist, almost single-handedly revolutionized Southern agriculture, and received world acclaim for his contributions to agricultural chemistry was against all accepted patterns. But, seen from today's distance, possibly the most amazing facet of the life of this gentle genius is the manner in which he overcame enormous prejudices and poverty in his struggle from nameless black boy to George Washington Carver, B.S., M.S., D.Sc., Ph.D., Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, and Director of Research and Experiment at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama -- all without a trace of bitterness, with total indifference to personal fortune, and thought only to make the world, and America in particular, a better place for all mankind.
        George Washington Carver did not know the exact date of his birth, but he thought it was in January, 1864 (some evidence indicates July, 1861, but not conclusively). He knew it was sometime before slavery was abolished in Missouri , which occurred in January, 1865. (The Emancipation Proclamation freed only those slaves whose masters were "in rebellion against the United States ," which was not the case in Missouri , where slaves were finally freed by state action.)
        George grew up on the farmlands of Missouri , reared by his mother until her seizure by a band of raiders; and then by Moses and Susan Carver , his mother's former owners, who had a homestead near Diamond Grove. Because the frail little boy was not required to help with the heavy farm chores, he had many free daylight hours in which to do exactly as he chose, and he chose to explore the wonders of nature. He talked to the wildflowers, asking why some of them required sunlight and some didn't, and how roots that looked exactly alike produced different-colored blossoms, and, he said many years later, the flowers answered him as best they could. He investigated insects, tree bark, leaves, ferns, seeds, and the like and made all of them his precious playthings. He tended the roses, sweet peas, and geraniums around the Carver house, and they flourished so strikingly a visitor asked him what she might do to make her flowers prettier. "Love them" the boy answered.
        Word spread around Diamond Grove that "Carver's George " had a magic way with growing things, and people began calling him the Plant Doctor. He made house calls, either prescribing remedies for ailing plants or taking them to his secret garden in the woods where he tenderly nursed them. His "magic" with growing things was largely the result of his patient testing of different combinations of sand, loam and clay as potting soil for various plants, his experimentation with different amounts of sunlight and water, and his tracking down of damaging insects and the like. When the Carver's finest apple tree began withering, George crawled along its limbs until he found some on which colonies of codling moths had taken up residence. "Saw off those branches," he told Moses Carver , "and the tree will get well." And it did.


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