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"The Peanut Man": The Story of George Washington Carver

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 3, 2022 3:03 am

"The Peanut Man": The Story of George Washington Carver

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 3, 2022 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, chances are that you've heard of George Washington Carver before, or that he invented peanut butter. While you might be surprised to find out that he didn't invent it (that honor goes to Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson), that doesn't make him any less remarkable a figure in American history. Here to tell his story is National Park Service ranger Curtis Gregory at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri. 

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Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. This is Lee Habeeb and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Up next, a story about a man you've likely heard about in elementary school and remember as the peanut guy. His name, George Washington Carver, and he didn't invent peanut butter, or much of anything at all. Rather, throughout his life, he worked to improve the lives of the farmers and students around him.

Here's National Park Service Ranger Curtis Gregory at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri with a story of this remarkable man. Well Moses and Susan Carver were originally from Illinois and they came here between 1830, 1835, probably closer to 1835, and they came out here like a lot of people at that time period that started a new life. Moses farmed about 100 acres and he grew corn, wheat, potatoes, and all sorts of different crops to make a living.

He had a lot of work farm animals on the property, so it was a working farm. And so Moses would take his crops or so or products into town to sell them, so that's how Moses kind of made a living. And Moses and Susan did that for about 20 years or so by themselves. And then in 1855, Moses purchased one enslaved girl by the name of Mary. We believe that in 1855 is when she had her first son James, they called him Jim, and then between 1860 to 1864, probably closer to 1864, is when we believe that George was born. Now there's not an exact birth date on George, but we believe he was born about 1864. We also believe that George's father was another enslaved individual on a neighboring farm who died in an accident before George was born. So George would have never known his father and he would have barely known his mother because at the end of the Civil War or so, after George was born, George and his mother were abducted or kidnapped here.

Here in Southwest Missouri at the near the end of the Civil War, so it was kind of a dangerous unrest place. Bushwhackers, slave raiders, Jayhawkers, all these groups of individuals were located in this area. And someone or a group of individuals came on the Moses Carver farm and took Mary and George would have been a small baby. Moses Carver, of course the enslaver wanted to get him back, so he hired a man to go out to you know to retrieve basically his property. And so the story goes that this John Bentley went down in Arkansas, 40 miles south of here, and that's where George was found.

But Mary was never ever found. So George was brought back here and Mr. and Mrs. Carver took the two boys in and George would have stayed here until he was about maybe about 12 or so. So the Civil War ends, slavery ends, and so George and Jim are kind of boys growing up on a rural Missouri farm. The story goes that George was kind of sickly as a boy here, so he would help around the cabin with some of the chores like washing clothes, which we do know that was one of his chores.

He made it into a business later when he went off to one of his colleges. Jim was a stronger little kid, so he would help Moses around the farm with you know milking cows, collecting eggs, and those type of chores. When George had free time, he would go down in the wooded area where he began to learn about flowers and trees and birds and all sorts of things to deal with the natural world. And this is where we believe it started at his formative years on the Carver farm where he began to learn about all sorts of things to deal with nature. And he would go down in the woods and he would play and he would explore and he was very curious about how trees would grow, how flowers would grow, all sorts of things to deal with the natural world. He collected rocks in the woods and he had a very very special place that he called his secret garden and he wouldn't tell anyone where his secret garden was located. And while he was here, this is where he got dubbed the plant doctor because George supposedly George was able to take little thick plants and heal them and supposedly all the neighbors around in the area would bring their plants that George could heal their little plants.

So he was known as the plant doctor while while he was here. And also on the on the farm is where he learned art and that was George's first love was art when he was a kid here. There's a wonderful story that goes that he was supposed to run an errand from Mrs Carver from one of the neighbors and was supposedly only able to go to the kitchen but he went into the parlor or living room where he saw paintings for the first time, fell in love with paintings and went back into the wooded area and started making his own paints out of mud, out of flowers, out of berries and started painting little nature scenes and stuff. He's a little kid. He didn't know much about science.

He's curious about the natural world but his first love was art and that's where it all started at here. And while he was here he was also curious about learning, learning as much as he could and he wanted to go to school. Well this is right after the Civil War in Missouri and Missouri changed its constitution to allow for black education. And so there was a school that was located not too far from here about a mile or so down on Carver Road and it was it was a church, it was the Locust Grove Church, but during the week it was the school for all the kids in this area. So George wanted to go to that school but George and Jim were not allowed to go to that school because they were black. Now there is a possibility we believe that Moses Carver tried to get the boys admitted into the school but we believe it was the town's people that would not allow this. So he really wanted to go to school so he found out in the nearby town of Neosho there was a school for black kids in Neosho and he said he was leaving. He told Moses and Susan Carver that he was going to go to that school in Neosho and from the age of 12 or so he was on his own.

Moses didn't give him anything as far as we know no money he didn't even give him a ride so he walked the eight to ten miles into the little town of Neosho. And when we come back more of the story of George Washington Carver here on Our American Story. Here at Our American Stories we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

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To learn more visit Bose.com. What up it's dramas you may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast Life as a Gringo coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fitting.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. And we're back with our American stories and the story of George Washington Carver as told by National Park Service Ranger Curtis Gregory. When we last left off George Washington Carver had decided to walk several miles to go to school in Neosha, Missouri leaving behind his former enslavers.

Let's continue with the story. So the story goes that he got to Neosha he found the black section of town and this school and nearby the school there was a house and supposedly behind this house was a barn or shed and the story goes that George went to this barn or shed to spend the night or so spend the night and the next day a lady came out to find him in this barn sleeping. She wanted to know why he was there and Mariah Watkins, Mariah and Andrew Watkins who lived next door to the school took him in for about a year and so he did chores around the house and Mariah Andrews house for his room and board. So when he goes to live with Mariah and Andrew Watkins, Andrew and Mariah were a black couple next door to the school they didn't have any children of their own and so he stayed with them and he thought a lot about of Andrew and Mariah. It seemed to be like kind of like the first like set of black parents that he had he didn't you know he didn't know his mother he didn't know his father so this is the first really time that he has interaction with an African-American couple and so he lives with them.

Mariah was also a midwife she also dabbled in herbs and plants and she taught him about herbs and plants and Mariah was also very religious very spiritual and so she George would go to church with her and this is where we believe a lot of George's his faith comes from and so his relationship with the walk and seemed to be seemed to be very strong and he seemed to keep in touch with them for the for the rest of at least for the rest of her life. So he's in the El Show and he finds the school to be very good he forms friends in the El Show but he thinks that he's he learned as much as he could from the little school in the El Show. He thought he could do better so there was a family that was moving to Fort Scott Kansas and George asked the family if he could go with them they said sure you can go so he left the El Show for about 75 miles away to Fort Scott Kansas claiming that he walked most of the way I'm not sure how true that is but he said he walked most the way he found a job and thought the job was a pretty good job and thought the school was a lot better so life seemed to be pretty good for him in Fort Scott until March of 1879. There was an incident that took place that I think changed his early life there was a black man that was had allegedly committed a crime and the man was in jail but some of the townspeople thought the legal process was taking a little too slow so this group of individuals supposedly went to the jail they overtook the sheriff beat the sheriff up overtook the um the jail house took the man out of jail and George said they brought the man dragged the man past where he was living at and then they hung him from the lamp post and then set him on fire and it was a pretty horrific incident that you know that took place supposedly there was several hundred people or so that were involved in this and it really frightened George whatever happened either George was involved or he witnessed this it really frightened him but he's about 14 or 15 and it was frightening anyone so the next day or so in a few days or so he immediately leaves Fort Scott he leaves Fort Scott because of the incident and the story seemed to stay with him a lot in his life because in the 1930s someone was asking him about that incident and he said in the 1930s that it still frightened him so from there from from Fort Scott he drifted from town to town he um went to Kansas City and took a typing course or some sort of business course and then from Kansas City he went to um he went he went to Highland, Kansas. Highland, Kansas was a small town but had a college so he applies to Highland College on paper he gets a letter back that he's accepted very excited but then when he showed up at Highland College for his first day they wanted to know why he was there and George explained why he was there and he said well we can't take you because you're black we did not know that you were black and he homesteaded for a little while he had a claim but he wasn't very successful as a as a as a homesteader at all and it was rough the winters were rough out there it was a it was a rough environment so for some odd reason around 18 around 1889 or so he left there and went to Iowa and really no one knows why he went to Iowa but it was a good choice to go to Iowa because he found a job working in a hotel and while he was going to he was attending a church he met a doctor and Mrs. Mill Harlan and Dr. and Mrs. Mill Harlan also had a huge huge effect on his life they became instant friends and George stayed friends with them for the rest of their lives and the Mill Harlan's encouraged them a lot he encouraged them not to give up his love of going to college and so during winter said Iowa about 20 miles or so away in Indianola Simpson College. Simpson College is still open today George applied to Simpson College he was accepted and when he showed up they welcomed him with open arms. Now while he was at Simpson College he originally took a bunch of art courses because that was his first love was art and he wanted to be an artist but there was a teacher that really showed some interest in George and she said you know you're a good artist George but I'm not really sure if you can make it as an artist so maybe you should think about some other career paths well she noticed that he was a good drawers of flowers and plants so this teacher said maybe you should think about a career in botany and so what's interesting is this teacher's father happened to be a professor of horticulture at Iowa agricultural school what is now Iowa State University so George transfers to what is now Iowa State University he was the first black person to be admitted at Iowa State University so he arrives on campus on his first day he's the only black student on the entire campus he gets caught a lot of derogatory names and then Iowa didn't provide any provisions for him they didn't provide a dormitory for him a teacher gave him an office space for him to live and at first when he arrived there he couldn't eat in the cafeteria he had to eat in the basement with the with the help with the kitchen help but he never gave up he graduated the first block to graduate from Iowa agricultural school with a degree in scientific agriculture stayed at Iowa and got a master's degree in 1896 in agriculture as well so they wanted him to stay there but Booker T Washington and the Booker T Washington was one of the founders of Tuskegee and Tuskegee Alabama he invites Carver to come start the agriculture department at Tuskegee and you've been listening to Curtis Gregory talking about the life of George Washington Carver and there was a lot of meandering until there wasn't and it was at Iowa State that he found his bearings found his calling and most important found his mentors and the training he needed to get where he needed to get next and of course he made history even as a college student being the first African-American to ever graduate from what is now Iowa State University when we come back more of the life of George Washington Carver here on Our American Story This is one way to pass the ball and this is another the Frito-Lay Pass the Ball Challenge Frito-Lay the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is giving you the chance to win two tickets to the FIFA World Cup 2022 final and make history by joining their pass the ball challenge to enter just scan the QR code on specially marked bags of lays cheetos and doritos and look for the golden world soccer ball explore the ever-growing community then pass the ball to other soccer fans and play daily games to score additional entries and a chance to win custom swag and awesome prizes so grab a specially marked bag of lays cheetos or doritos or visit frito-lay score.com and pass the ball now for your chance to win two tickets to the FIFA World Cup 2022 final in Qatar no purchase necessary open to legal 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state farm like a good neighbor state farm is there and we're back with our american stories and the story of george washington carver as told by national park service ranger curtis gregory when we last left off george washington carver who had been the first black student at iowa state university to graduate had just been extended an invitation to join the faculty at the tuskegee institute founded by none other than booker t washington he was to start the agricultural institute there let's continue with the story george washington carver in 1896 graduated from iowa state at that time was iowa agricultural school with a master's degree in scientific agriculture booker t washington found out about this young black student and offered him a position at tuskegee institute to start the agriculture department well he went there and he found a school that was kind of starting out didn't have a money for a laboratory for him so what he did what carver did was he and some of his students went to the junk piles around tuskegee for his very first laboratory you know he was there for 47 years he did quite a bit in agriculture mainly for the peanut because the peanut was so he was so well known for because i don't know i think it was because of that testimony in 1921 when he went before the house ways and means committee is when carver became well known as the peanut guy there was a peanut association group that wanted him to speak on behalf of a peanut tariff and so carver agreed and so he went to washington and he spoke before the the house ways and means committee when he got there to the room the committee members were very rude they made several racial comments about him they weren't weren't very nice and carver just kind of blew some of those comments off and so they gave him they said you know you have 10 minutes to speak and so what carver did was he he walked up to the the head of the room and he had a box and he put the box on the table and he started pulling these things out of the box that he had produced from peanuts and the committee was so amazed by his presentation and what he was presenting the committee chairman said you have unlimited amount of time brother that's when he became known as this peanut person peanut got mad because it was written the next day or so was written in newspapers all across the country about his presentation he earned their respect but carver's whole goal to me was that he wanted to help the man furthest down and carver would often use this term where he would often say i want to help my people as much as possible and he would use that term most of his life he wanted to help where students were learning agricultural techniques in the school carver and his staff will go out into the rural communities to help farmers and farming families as much as they could now a lot of the things that carver did were not new techniques at all but they were definitely new to these mostly rural black farmers he would write these agriculture bulletins that would encourage farmers and farming families how they could improve their lives and improve their land and such crop rotation and diversifying their crops and things like that now usda agriculture bulletins were written on a scientific level but what carver did with his bulletins were he wrote him for the simple man in basic terms there are about 43 different agricultural bulletins that he wrote and carver also came up with a really really neat idea early on when he was at tuskegee where he would outfit a movable school on wheels booker t washington secured funding from a wealthy new york banker by the name of morris jessup and it became known as the jessup agriculture wagon and they would take this wagon out and set it up at a church or at someone's farm and they would teach farmers besides teaching agriculture and stuff carver did so much more he was a pretty good spokesperson for interracial cooperation he would go out to white colleges and universities oftentimes at first kind of rejected somewhat but he would go and speak to white colleges and universities never using race but he would show examples of what he was able to do in his laboratory and it was what was interesting about that was a lot of these young people white college students would keep in touch with him for the rest of his life there was a group of young men called that was known as the known as the carvers his boys young white college students carver made such an impression on them they would often come and visit him at tuskegee and they a lot of times they would accompany him on some of his speaking engagements and such as well besides that as well his love was art he never gave up his love of art he painted for the rest of his life and what he would often use for his paints was clay and he called it rich alabama clay and he would make paintings out he would use this rich alabama clay to to create his his his paintings carver would often give these paintings away as gifts he also did needlework and crocheting but in those 47 years at tuskegee he dedicated himself to service and he said service is the only thing that counts to service service to others carver lived a very very simple life he never moved off of the campus of tuskegee he lived in two dormitory rooms his entire life you know if we would see carver today some would think he would be you know he would maybe resemble a homeless person as such because he wasn't interested really in material wealth the only thing that was recognizable about carver every day was that he had a fresh flower or weed in his lapel it seemed that carver wasn't interested in as i said it wasn't interested in a lot of material wealth but he did have three patents from peanuts on one on a lady's facial cream from peanuts and two on them from paint stains he never married he came close one time to lady at tuskegee but things didn't work out too much he had an assistant that he took in 1935 and this assistant his name is austin kurtis and he was often called baby carver and they're very good friends he was kind of like his like a son too like a son to carver and then later on he just seemed to be he just seemed to have have a lot of different just health problems george washington carver died on january 5th 1943 six months later congress established george washington carver national monument six months after his death the first national monument dedicated to an african-american in the national park service was established he still has a huge influence and a lot of our visitors that will come here will say oh i read a story i read a biography on when i was a little kid and i remember george washington carver and that's what brought me to your national monument we can continue that legacy every day with students that come here and they can remember and tell others and bring their parents here and bring others here and where they can you know fulfill that legacy of about george washington carver and a terrific job on the production by monty montgomery and a special thanks to katrina hine on the assist on the audio and storytelling and most important a special thanks to national park service ranger herness gregory at george washington carver national monument in diamond missouri the story of george washington carver the peanut guy here on our american story cheer your team on live at the fifa world cup 2022 final in katar frito lay is giving you the chance to win two tickets by joining their pass the ball challenge look for the golden world soccer ball then find friends and score daily entries every time you pass the ball scan the qr code on specially marked bags of lays cheetos or doritos or visit frito lay score.com no purchase necessary open to legal resonance of 50 usdc 18 plus grand prize entry deadline 11 10 22 entries received after 11 10 22 are only eligible for secondary prizes sea rules at frito lay score.com when the world gets in the way of your music try the new bose quiet comfort earbuds too next gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears they use exclusive bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love bose quiet comfort earbuds too sound shape to you to learn more visit bose.com i'm ty montague and i'm the host of calling the first podcast about purpose washing where we dig into the difference between what companies say they stand for and the actions that they're taking join us as we investigate organizations like noom and spotify let's call bs on companies that deserve it but also make some suggestions for cleaning that bs up listen to the calling bullsh** podcast on the iheart radio app or wherever you get your podcasts
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-07 14:28:37 / 2022-11-07 14:35:08 / 7

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