Booker T. Washington was born to Jane Ferguson, slave and cook on the James Burroughs plantation, in Hardy, Virginia, in 1856. Beneath the trees of a local park, a group of slaves, including 9-year-old Washington, learned of their freedom when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to them. After emancipation, the family moved to West Virginia, where Booker worked at a salt furnace and in cool mines. As an adult he gained national prominence as an author and in the field of education. This tree grew from a seed handpicked from the Booker T. Washington Sycamore.