George Washington Largent, Arkansas Farmer

George Washington Largent, August 15, 1855-Feb. 26, 1924

George Washington Largent’s life has a bit of mystery about it. His gravestone lists his birth date as August 15, 1859. The month and day are probably correct, though the year of his birth was probably 1855 or 1856 rather than 1859. According to the 1860 U. S. Census, the family of Thomas Largent, in Macoupin Co., Illinois, was comprised of four children, including five-year old George Washington. He could not have been born in 1859, as he had two younger siblings, Lauretta, two, and Charles, four months. His mother, Narcissa Ann Hayes, died with the birth of Charles. So George Washington was five-years old when his mother died. (However, the 1870 census lists him as 14—so he must have been born in 1855 or 1856.)

When George was 10 or 11, his father married a 19-year-old, Lydia Stout. They moved from Illinois to Missouri at some point. In the 1870 federal census, Thomas farms in Deer Creek township, Bates, Missouri. He and his wife Lydia can read but not write, but his son George Washington was completely illiterate, and apparently remained so his entire life.

George had four wives during his life, outliving at least three. He was married to Armenty Dunagan, Sarah Bryant, Mary Lue Smith, and Annie Pool. George’s first child was born to Armenty–Rosettie, born in 1859. The rest of his children were born to Mary Lue Smith, who was, according to family tradition, ½ American Indian, tribe unknown. George and Mary conceived their first child, Claude, out of wedlock, as they were not married until July 25, 1888, and Claude was born on July 2, three weeks earlier. George was about 33, Mary was 17. Overall, they had 13 largent    George Washington Largent

GW and Mary Lue

(The above photo shows GW and Mary Lue Largent, date unknown)

George Washington’s namesake, born in 1889, died in infancy; GW and Mary Lue’s third child, Norris, seems to have been favored over their first born, Claude. In the 1920 federal census, Norris and his family lived next door to GW and Mary Lue; meanwhile Claude and his family lived in a shack on GW’s land. In 1920, GW is 60, Mary L is 50; four daughters live at home. He is a general farmer, owns his land. He and Mary L are illiterate. He is born in Illinois, his parents also. She is born in Arkansas, her father in Missouri, mother in Arkansas.

According to family traditions,  GW left “Illinois under some kind of trouble.” Also, Mary Lue stood up for Claude when he wanted to go to school, and GW would lock the gate to keep suitors from courting his granddaughter Marie.

In the 1930 federal census GW owns his house, farms, is 71, cannot read or write, has no schooling. He is remarried to Annie Pool.

GW and Mary Lue were buried side by side in Ferguson Cemetery, Chismville, Logan Co., Arkansas. His epitaph reads: “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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