many American pioneers are remembered for wearing tin pots on their
heads, traveling barefoot, and scattering seeds? Only one springs to my
The story of Johnny Appleseed is larger than
exploits, the stuff of folklore. Biographical information is sketchy,
nevertheless, this American legend was a real man known as . . .
Appleseed's given name is John Chapman. He was born in
Leominster, Massachusetts, two years before the American Colonies
declared their independence from England. His dad, in fact, was a
Minuteman in the Continental Army.
As a citizen of our young nation,
Chapman enjoyed the fruit of the apple trees brought to America by earlier
colonists. He foresaw the need for apple trees in the west as
Americans moved well beyond the boundaries of eastern towns to settle
the wilderness that would become Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.
turn of the century, Chapman ventured beyond the borders of established
towns carrying apple
from Pennsylvania cider presses to create nurseries in the wilderness. Fellow
frontiersmen dubbed him Johnny Appleseed.
his legendary travels, he negotiated disputes between pioneer settlers and
American Indians and shared his religious beliefs with anyone who
wished to listen. His purpose was not material
gain. He often gave away his trees, and his peers painted a picture of
The picture of
a raggedy man with a pot on his head walking barefoot as he scattered
seeds may first spring to mind at the mention of Johnny Appleseed. Yet
Johnny Appleseed is also remembered for his gentle nature and generous
When Chapman died in 1845 in Fort
Wayne, Indiana, his name and reputation had spread far and wide.
Chapman packed a horse load of apple seed from Pennsylvania cider
presses into the Territory of Ohio in 1801, according to a magazine
article written in 1871. He planted his first orchard** there near Licking
Creek. According to the author, Chapman
was again spotted carrying apple seeds to the frontier by way of the Ohio River
was "Johnny Appleseed," by which name Jonathan Chapman was
afterward known in every log cabin from the Ohio River to the Northern
lakes, and westward to the prairies of what is now the state of Indiana.
article is unique because it is from a per-
spective of only 70 years
removed from Chapman’s
maiden travels into the
years removed from the time of John Chapman's death.
a readable photocopy of the Harper’s New Monthly Magazine
been published on the Net.
a Sheffield, Pennsylvania, newspaper article, Johnny's
first nursery was in Warren County, Pennsylvania, about 1796.
Specifically, it was located at Brokenstraw Creek.
you know that Johnny Appleseed was a hero?
While the War of 1812 was still being
waged, folks in Ohio were alarmed about
a possible Indian attack following the murder of a local shopkeeper on
August 9, 1813. Johnny ran for help from what is now known as Mansfield,
Ohio, to Mt. Vernon, Ohio, which is about 26 miles. And he didn't have
commemorative markers highlighting Johnny Appleseed's heroic run for help
were placed, one in
and one in Mt. Vernon in 1999, the year of Johnny's 225 birthday, according to THE OHIO BICENTENNIAL press release.
Of course, there are those who say that his heroism was not confined to
one incident in time but of a way of life and dedication.
picture of a Johnny Appleseed postcard can be found at several web
sites. However, you can read the description on the back of the card (as
well as see the picture of the statue, below) at this Johnny
Appleseed web site.
1923, poet Vachel Lindsay wrote in
praise of Johnny Appleseed. Springfield students have transcribed
the first of the three stanzas of In
Praise of Johnny Appleseed at their web site. The following excerpt
can be found there:
Appleseed swept on,
Every shackle gone,
Loving every sloshy brake,
Loving every skunk and snake,
Loving every leathery weed,
Johnny Appleseed, Johnny Appleseed...
you like to have a Johnny Appleseed tree? Since 1976, American
Forests Famous & Historic Trees Project preserves and propagates
trees that are a part of human history in 1976. Because of this project,
John Chapman's legacy lives on. According to their catalog, the group
has now grafted buds to a semi-dwarf root stock, so that trees are
available in dwarf as well as semi dwarf.
you are probably wondering what type of apple tree did Johnny Appleseed
plant. It is a tart,
green apple called Rambo. This picture of a surviving Chapman planting
in Ohio appeared in American Forests' catalog. A picture of the tree is
also on the organization's web site. Their succinct description of
Johnny Appleseed is also worth the visit.
number of states along the wilderness roads Johnny Appleseed traveled
claim him as their own today with festivals, plaques, markers, and
statues. The beginning of that road was Leominster, Massachusetts.
Appleseed was born in Leominster, and Leominster figures prominently in
Appleseed celebrations. There is, for example, an annual parade and an
annual festival. The Leominster
web site has a community calendar.
Leominster resident and Johnny Appleseed enthusiast created a Johnny
Appleseed web site with lots of Appleseed information and Appleseed
is near the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center in Lancaster where a statue
of Johnny Appleseed as a young boy, pictured at left, graces "the
gateway to the The Johnny Appleseed Trail."
The nonprofit, educational The
Johnny Appleseed Trail Association, maintains the site. The association's
web site includes a calendar of events.
you plan to be in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area the third full weekend
you'll have an opportunity to contemplate pioneer life, as John Chapman
annual Fort Wayne Johnny Appleseed Festival in "Celebrating the
life and times of John Chapman" is a nonprofit educational effort
sponsored, in part, by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.
The emphasis of this annual, two-day gathering is free family fun,
according to their web site.
Appleseed's adult life was spent in the American frontier. As Americans
moved west, Johnny Appleseed expanded his apple orchards further west.
He was planting trees in the Fort Wayne area when he died in 1845, and
his mortal remains rest at what is now Archer Park.
This gravestone at Archer Park is at what was part of the Archer Family
Cemetery and is a historic landmark.
picture is part of the Johnny Appleseed Festival web site as is this
shiny apple. Isn't cute.