Johnny Appleseed

John Chapman was an itinerant agriculturalist and missionary who became known as “Johnny Appleseed,” a folk hero of the 19th century American frontier. He showed up in the Ohio River Valley sometime around 1800 and spent the next half-century planting and tending apple orchards as far west as Indiana, usually ahead of the oncoming settlers. He is said to have also been a missionary, occasionally preaching the Christian teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1774. He loved his father’s apple orchard, and foresaw the need for apple trees as American’s moved west, because apples (and hard cider) were a staple of the colonists. 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. When we hear the folktale, we may imagine a barefoot man in rags, with a pot on his head, throwing seeds here and there in the woods. However, Johnny Appleseed, as he was dubbed by frontiersmen, set up actual nurseries, leaving them in the care of managers who sold fruit and trees for him. He would accept a variety of things in payment, including cornmeal and used clothing. He was known to be good natured and gentle in spirit, and by the time of his death, his reputation was settled.

Johnny Appleseed planted millions of apple trees during his lifetime. The trees produced a tart green apple called Rambo. The last know living apple tree planted by Johnny grows today on a farm in Nova, Ohio. Would you like to have a Johnny Appleseed tree? Historic Trees takes soft bud cuttings from the tree in Ohio, and grafts them to root stock, making these trees available on their website. If you so desire, you can bring home Johnny Appleseed and grow a little Americana right in your own backyard.





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