George Washington Carver: More Than Just The Peanut Man

By | February 21, 2019

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George Washington Carver Conducts Experiments. (Original Caption) 1/25/1921. Source: (

His Early Life

The best guess of Carver’s birthday is January of 1864. No one knows his exact birthday as he was born a slave on the farm of Moses Carver in Missouri. His father is also unknown. George’s mother was named Mary. He had several sisters and one brother named James. When George was an infant, Confederate soldiers raided the farm and took George along with his mother and one of his sisters. They were sold in Kentucky. Moses Carver sent one of his people to look for them and only George was found. He returned to the Carver farm where Carver and his wife raised George and his brother James educating them at home. James preferred working in the fields however, George was a bit sickly as a child and could not work in the fields for very long. Susan, his foster mother, taught him gardening and how to make herbal medicines. George became fascinated with plants and was known locally as the “plant doctor.”

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Neosho Colored School, where George Washington Carver had his education start. Source: (

His Education

George Washington Carver was a brilliant child. His foster mother, Susan insisted to her husband that he find a school that would allow George to attend. George ended up going to the ‘School For African American Children’ in Neosho, Kansas. He had to walk ten miles to school five days a week! In his early teens, George left the farm and moved closer to his school. He had to pay tuition so to earn money he worked in the kitchen of a hotel. He had a talent for creating new recipes and entered baking contests often. He graduated from high school in 1880 and decided to go to college. George applied and was accepted to Highland Presbyterian College and the school granted him a full scholarship based on his impressive essay and grades. When he showed up he was turned away as they did not know he was black. This did not deter George from his college dream. He spent the next few years working and saving money. In 1888, he was accepted at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. He was the first black student in the history of the college. He took many art and music classes, intending on becoming a teacher. When speaking of his experience at Simpson College he said, “The kind of people at Simpson College made me believe I was a human being.” His art instructor, Etta Budd, encouraged him to apply to Iowa State Agricultural School to study botany after seeing his very detailed paintings of plants and flowers.