Robinson Crusoe Buck
The very distinguished looking Robinson Crusoe Buck (age unknown in this picture) was 109 years old when he died. His home where he lived out the last several years of his life was located on North Church Street in Livingston. Photograph courtsey of Ronald Dishman.
How many different reasons are there for choosing certain names for babies? Are those reasons the same today as they were in 1844? These are questions that came to my mind when I began to put this story together.
To find out why a certain name was given to a black baby boy born way
back in 1844, I suppose I would need to ask either his mother, or
possibly his father, or that person himself. Since that's impossible,
we’re left to only wonder. Information I came across while preparing
this story says that one reason often used in the choosing of a baby's
name is to greatly influence that child's future accomplishments, but
then goes on to say that a name itself isn't likely to make a shred of
difference. So just exactly what was the reason Robinson Crusoe Buck was
given that name at his birth on November 15, 1844, in what was Putnam
County, Tennessee at that time? We'll never know, but that doesn't keep
me from wondering about it. To refresh my memory about the fictional
character Robinson Crusoe, I looked up some information about that
particular book. A summary of what I found says that was the title of a
novel written by Daniel Defoe and was first published in 1719. That book
is sometimes regarded as the first novel in English. The character in
that story spends 28 years on a remote tropical island, encountering
natives, captives, and mutineers before being rescued. That brings my
next question. What did the person who gave Robinson Crusoe Buck that
name know about the fictional character that was obviously chosen for
the baby's name? Was it a favorite book that had been shared by someone?
I could go on and on with these questions, but to no avail. So I'll
switch gears and include what information I've found about Robinson
Crusoe Buck from old issues of The Livingston Enterprise. Here is
information from some articles in the 50's:
Regardless of how and why the name Robinson Crusoe Buck was chosen, we can be certain his parents would definitely have been very proud of their son, not only for the good, long life he lived, but included in those years was the fact that he was able to travel to Washington, D.C. and stand beside President Franklin D. Roosevelt to have his picture made. That was quite an accomplishment for someone born into slavery. It would have been interesting to have heard the interview he did on the radio while in Washington. The wonderful stories he had to tell would be priceless treasures today.
The home where Robinson Crusoe Buck lived here in Livingston has long been torn down, but it once stood across from Tom’s Welding on North Church Street. If it had been preserved, it would surely qualify to be placed on a list of historic sites for Livingston and Overton County. Maybe the words on a sign that might have been placed out in front of the house would read: "Home of Robinson Crusoe Buck, born into slavery on November 15, 1844; died September 14, 1954; at age 109 years. While living a good, long life, he once traveled to Washington, D.C. where he stood beside President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be photographed. The Town of Livingston is proud to have had Mr. Buck make his home here for the last several years of his life."