Carver was born a slave and his mother/sister were kidnapped. No one is exactly sure when he was born, but he was most certainly born before 1964. He was raised by his "master" and wife as their children after slavery was abolished. But he never saw his birth mother or sister again. It seems when he was 11/12 years old, he ventured out on his own to attend a school in another county. Because "Black" schools were outlawed where he grew up. He was kind of semi-adopted by a "Black" couple in Neosho where he went to school. Later, he hitched a ride to Fort Scott and had settled there for a while until he saw a lynching. He fled to Kansas and was finally able to finish high school.
He tried to attend college in Kansas but was rejected when he showed up because he was "Black". So for a few years, he worked odd jobs and worked a claim. Later, he applied for a loan to attend college. He took up the study of botany and caught the notice of the famous Dr. Louis Pammel.
Pammel encouraged Carver to continue in his studies and to pursue his Masters in Botany. Under Pammel's tutelage Carver blossomed and became recognized for his work. He also became the first "Black" instructor at Iowa State.
Later he was appointed to direct the Tuskegee Agricultural Department by Booker T. Washington who was already a legend of the times. He and Booker T. famously clashed many times in epic debates and power struggles at the Institute.
Carver began to build his reputation during this time period. He concentrated on researching and experimenting with new uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans, pecans, and other crops, as well as having his assistants research and compile existing uses. He won national fame with his testimony before Congress supporting tariffs for peanuts. He was nicknamed the Peanut man or the Peanut doctor because of that testimony. Few really understand how famous Dr. Carver was at the time of the real reason why he became famous in the first place.
Simply put, he found a way to improve soil quality by rotating crops. He instructed farmers to alternate using soybeans, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Using his methods, farmers could restore soil quality and have an alternate source of income besides cotton. He focused on the peanut because he saw so many uses for the peanut in cooking, but also in making soaps, wood stains, shampoos, axle grease, etc. At the time, farmers just did not see the peanut as a money making crop. Carver tried to make the case for crop rotation to help poor farmers recover economically.
But let us be clear on one specific point. George Washington Carver invented hundreds of uses for the peanut and he was one of the greatest inventors of his generation.
BUT HE DID NOT INVENT PEANUT BUTTER!
The credit for that goes to John Kellogg. Who also invented "corn flakes".