How many American pioneers are remembered for wearing tin pots on their heads, traveling barefoot, and scattering seeds? Only one springs to my mind—Johnny Appleseed. 

The story of Johnny Appleseed is larger than life, his exploits, the stuff of folklore. Biographical information is sketchy, nevertheless, this American legend was a real man known as . . .   

Profile More Details Hero Poetry & Praise In Celebration

Profile

 Johnny 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.

At the turn of the century, Chapman ventured beyond the borders of established towns carrying apple 

seeds from Pennsylvania cider presses to create nurseries in the wilderness. Fellow frontiersmen dubbed him Johnny Appleseed. 

In 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 austerity.

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 spirit.

When Chapman died in 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, his name and reputation had spread far and wide.


More Details

John 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 in 1806:

It 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.

This article is unique because it is from a per-
 spective of only 70 years removed from Chapman’s 

maiden travels into the wilderness—only 26 years removed from the time of John Chapman's death.

Fortunately, a readable photocopy of the Harper’s New Monthly Magazine article has been published on the Net.

_____________________

 

**According to a Sheffield, Pennsylvania, newspaper article, Johnny's first nursery was in Warren County, Pennsylvania, about 1796. Specifically, it was located at Brokenstraw Creek.


Hero

Did 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 any Nikes.

Two commemorative markers highlighting Johnny Appleseed's heroic run for help were placed, one in

Mansfield 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.


Poetry and Praise

Johnny Appleseed 1972 post card.jpg (136046 bytes)This 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.

 

In 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:

...Johnny Appleseed swept on,
Every shackle gone,
Loving every sloshy brake,
Loving every skunk and snake,
Loving every leathery weed,
Johnny Appleseed, Johnny Appleseed...

Would 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.

Rambo.jpg (27479 bytes)Now 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.


In Celebration

A 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.

 

Johnny 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.

 

A Leominster resident and Johnny Appleseed enthusiast created a Johnny Appleseed web site with lots of Appleseed information and Appleseed pictures.

 

Leominster 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.

 

 

 If you plan to be in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area the third full weekend of September, you'll have an opportunity to contemplate pioneer life, as John Chapman knew it.

The 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.

Johnny 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.

This picture is part of the Johnny Appleseed Festival web site as is this shiny apple. Isn't cute.