George Washington Carver National Monument - History
By National Park Service
Jan 28, 2005, 09:23

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George Washington Carver National Monument - Missouri

The park consists of 210 acres of the original 240-acre Moses Carver homestead. The visitor center includes a museum with exhibits that trace George W. Carver's life from his birth through his youth at the Carver farm, to his role as an artist, educator and humanitarian, as well as his world renowned work as a scientist. The 3/4-mile walking trail winds its way through the woodland and tallgrass prairie. Included at the monument are the Carver bust, birthplace site, boyhood statue, William's Pond, 1881 Moses Carver dwelling and Carver family cemetery.
Carver's Boyhood Years

The Civil War brought devastation to southwest Missouri. Born on the Moses Carver farm in the early 1860s, George Washington Carver was caught up in the turmoil. Shortly after his birth, he and his mother were kidnapped by Confederate bushwhackers. He was found in Arkansas and returned to the Carvers, but his mother was never seen again. The identity of his father remain unknown, although Carver believed he was a slave on a neighboring farm. George and his brother were reared by Moses and Susan Carver as their own children. Carver often recalled in later years the love and guidance they showed him.

Carver's imagination had room to expand on the Moses Carver farm. His frail health freed him from many daily chores, and he had time to wander, spending "day after day . . . in the woods alone in order to collect my floral beauties and put them in my little garden I had hidden in brush . . . ." The flowers thrived under his care, and George acquired the nickname "the Plant Doctor" in his community. The rocks he collected from the woods and streams were "treasures" he kept throughout his life.

Carver's desire to understand his natural surroundings was more than a childhood fancy. He left the farm with the perceptions of a naturalist and the inquiring spirit of a scientist. Barred from the local church school at the age of 12, he moved to a nearby town to attend a school for blacks - the beginning of a 20-year struggle for an education. He never again lived with the Carvers, but many of his values and belief were shaped during his years with them. His contributions as a man was rooted in his ability to retain a child's wonder before nature: "My work, my life, must be in the spirit of a little child seeking only to know the truth and follow it."
The George Washington Carver National Monument was established by an act of Congress in July of 1943. The National Park Service maintains 210 acres of the original 240 acre Moses Carver Farm.

For more information visit our resource section.

Source: National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior

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