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George Washington Carver AGRICULTURAL SCIENTIST . TUSKEGEE . 1864-1943 By all accounts George Washington Carver was a man of many tal-

al talents and referred him to what is now Iowa State University to

ents. He had a thirst for knowledge from a very young age and, as a

study Agriculture. In 1891 he became the school’s first African-

young African-American man, had a hard time finding an educational

American student.

environment that would challenge him. Born close to 1864 – his

Carver excelled at what was then The Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and not only graduated with honors, but saw his paintings hang in the Worlds Fair and had some of his poetry published. Still, he stayed on as a graduate student and became the school’s first African-American faculty member. After having several academic papers published, Carver started to receive national attention, and in 1897, Booker T. Washington, wrote to Carver and convinced him to come to the South and serve as the Director of Agriculture at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes – the school Washington founded which is now known as Tuskegee University.

Through agricultural chemistry, he discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds others for pecans, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. SAVING THE SOUTH It was during his time in Tuskegee that Carver developed his crop rotation method. He educated farmers how to rotate their cotton crops with soil enriching crops of peanuts, peas, pecans, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. It was his work at Tuskegee that helped the region rebuild from the devastation of the Civil War and dependence on a failing cottonbased economy. He gave farmers not only more types of crops to grow, but hundreds of more ways to market them – due to his hundreds of discoveries of uses from many different plants. By 1938, peanuts had become the chief product of Alabama and had soared to a $200 million industry. A seemingly self-effacing man, he only applied and received three exact birth date is unknown – his early life was filled with tragedies

patents during his lifetime. He donated most of his life’s savings in

that may have brought a lesser man down. His father died prior to his

1940 to the George Washington Carver Foundation and willed his

birth in Diamond Grove, Missouri, and as an infant, his mother was

estate to the organization so that his work would be continued.

kidnapped by people involved in the slave trade and was never heard

HONORS AND AWARDS Carver received many more awards and

from again. His quest for knowledge reportedly started at age 10,

honors that there is room here to list. Among the most notable are:

and he could have been known as an expert in many fields. However,

two honorary Doctor of Science degrees – the first from Simpson

the Library of Congress lists George Washington Carver as an

College in Indianola, Iowa, and the second from Selma University,

Agricultural Scientist. Through agricultural chemistry, he discovered

Alabama; the Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contributions to

three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds others for pecans,

Southern Agriculture; the first monument dedicated to an African-

soybeans, and sweet potatoes.

American was erected in his honor at his Missouri birthplace, and

EDUCATIONAL LIFE Tremendously gifted in both art and music, after trying several educational communities across the Midwest, he

after his death his image graced both a stamp and a half dollar coin. George Washington Carver began his life as an orphaned slave in

entered Simpson, a small college in Indinaola, Iowa, to study paint-

Alabama. Yet, due to his life’s work and ingenuity; he left this world a

ing and piano. His art instructor somehow recognized his horticultur-

much better place for all of us. I

46 |

Alabama


George Washington Carver AGRICULTURAL SCIENTIST . TUSKEGEE . 1864-1943 By all accounts George Washington Carver was a man of many tal-

al talents and referred him to what is now Iowa State University to

ents. He had a thirst for knowledge from a very young age and, as a

study Agriculture. In 1891 he became the school’s first African-

young African-American man, had a hard time finding an educational

American student.

environment that would challenge him. Born close to 1864 – his

Carver excelled at what was then The Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and not only graduated with honors, but saw his paintings hang in the Worlds Fair and had some of his poetry published. Still, he stayed on as a graduate student and became the school’s first African-American faculty member. After having several academic papers published, Carver started to receive national attention, and in 1897, Booker T. Washington, wrote to Carver and convinced him to come to the South and serve as the Director of Agriculture at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes – the school Washington founded which is now known as Tuskegee University.

Through agricultural chemistry, he discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds others for pecans, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. SAVING THE SOUTH It was during his time in Tuskegee that Carver developed his crop rotation method. He educated farmers how to rotate their cotton crops with soil enriching crops of peanuts, peas, pecans, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. It was his work at Tuskegee that helped the region rebuild from the devastation of the Civil War and dependence on a failing cottonbased economy. He gave farmers not only more types of crops to grow, but hundreds of more ways to market them – due to his hundreds of discoveries of uses from many different plants. By 1938, peanuts had become the chief product of Alabama and had soared to a $200 million industry. A seemingly self-effacing man, he only applied and received three exact birth date is unknown – his early life was filled with tragedies

patents during his lifetime. He donated most of his life’s savings in

that may have brought a lesser man down. His father died prior to his

1940 to the George Washington Carver Foundation and willed his

birth in Diamond Grove, Missouri, and as an infant, his mother was

estate to the organization so that his work would be continued.

kidnapped by people involved in the slave trade and was never heard

HONORS AND AWARDS Carver received many more awards and

from again. His quest for knowledge reportedly started at age 10,

honors that there is room here to list. Among the most notable are:

and he could have been known as an expert in many fields. However,

two honorary Doctor of Science degrees – the first from Simpson

the Library of Congress lists George Washington Carver as an

College in Indianola, Iowa, and the second from Selma University,

Agricultural Scientist. Through agricultural chemistry, he discovered

Alabama; the Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contributions to

three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds others for pecans,

Southern Agriculture; the first monument dedicated to an African-

soybeans, and sweet potatoes.

American was erected in his honor at his Missouri birthplace, and

EDUCATIONAL LIFE Tremendously gifted in both art and music, after trying several educational communities across the Midwest, he

after his death his image graced both a stamp and a half dollar coin. George Washington Carver began his life as an orphaned slave in

entered Simpson, a small college in Indinaola, Iowa, to study paint-

Alabama. Yet, due to his life’s work and ingenuity; he left this world a

ing and piano. His art instructor somehow recognized his horticultur-

much better place for all of us. I

46 |

Alabama


Alabama

HOME SWEET HOME

John Croyle FOOTBALL PLAYER/HUMANITARIAN . GADSDEN John Croyle seems to have always been a man on a mission. He

Boys. He would become more famous for his humanitarian efforts

was born in Gadsden, Alabama, on March 9, 1951. At Gadsden

than his athletic success.

High School he was a prep All-America in football and basketball.

On March 6, 1974, at John Croyle Day in Gadsden, he received a

At the University of Alabama he played on a national championship

check from the Alabama Alumni Association for $5,000 toward his

team, and after college he dedicated his life to helping kids in des-

dream. A Birmingham businessman followed with a $15,000 dona-

perate circumstances.

tion, but Croyle was well short of the funds needed. Then former

FOOTBALL DAYS John Croyle played football at the University of

Tide teammate and first round draft pick of the New England

Alabama under Paul “Bear “Bryant. When Bryant talked, people lis-

Patriots, John Hannah, stepped up. He pledged his $30,000 signing

tened. Croyle listened and the words of wisdom not only paid divi-

bonus and the ranch opened its doors to four boys. Since then, sev-

dends for John but for hundreds of children.

eral new houses designed to be homes to eight boys and house

Standing six feet six inches and weighing 210 pounds Croyle

parents have been constructed with the first new structure named

looked more like a basketball star than a football standout. However,

the John Hannah House. Among the many other homes honoring

he excelled as a defensive end in the tough Southeastern

ranch supporters are the Paul Bryant House, the Gaylon McCollough

Conference. During a knee injury plagued tenure at the Capstone, he

House, and the Ray Perkins House.

garnered second team All-SEC honors in 1972 and won the “Jerry

Through the years, children who have suffered from every form of

Duncan-I Like to Practice Award” in 1973. Versus Mississippi State

abuse imaginable have found shelter – and a chance at Big Oak

in 1973 he recorded 11 tackles including a quarterback sack for a

Ranch. By his side has been his wife, Teresa. They raised daughter,

32 yard loss. To cap off a stellar performance that day he blocked a

Reagan, and son, Brodie, at the ranch. Reagan played basketball at

field goal attempt and returned it 40 yards.

the University of Alabama where she was crowned Homecoming

HELPING OTHERS IN NEED Croyle visited with Bryant to discuss the career path he had contemplating and if playing in the NFL could help fund his plan. Bryant said, “Don’t play professional ball

Queen and married a Tide quarterback. Brodie starred as quarterback at Alabama and plays with the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. The Big Oak Ranch has been featured in many publications,

unless you’re willing to marry it.” Right then the seed that had been

including Time and Reader’s Digest. The ministry has expanded over

planted during a summer job began to take root. At the age of 19,

the years to include the Big Oak Girls Ranch and Westbrook

Croyle worked in Lumberton, Mississippi, at the King’s Arrow Ranch

Christian School.

for boys. He saw the need and realized he could be a ray of hope

John Croyle has been quoted as saying, “I tell new kids three

for boys in bad situations. He decided to forgo professional football

things. First, I love you. Second, I will never lie to you. Third, I will

and started work on what would become the Big Oak Ranch for

stick with you until you are grown.” I

This is just to show the point size and placement of the photo caption. This text is not actual photo caption text.

ALABAMA VISIONARY | 47


carver