About Johnny Appleseed
Jonathan Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), also known as Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
John Chapman was born in Leominster, Massachusetts to Elizabeth (née Simonds) and Nathaniel Chapman. His birthplace is now marked by a granite marker, and the street is called Johnny Appleseed Lane. Chapman's father fought at Concord as a Minuteman as early as April 19, 1775, and later served in the Continental Army with General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. While his father was in military service, his mother died, shortly after giving birth to a second son, named Nathaniel (born July 18, 1776). The child died about two weeks after his mother. Upon returning from military service in 1780, his father married Lucy Cooley and they had 10 children.
John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), often called Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as the northern counties of present-day West Virginia. He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. He was also a missionary for The New Church (Swedenborgian) and the inspiration for many museums and historical sites such as the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio, and the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center in between Lucas, Ohio, and Mifflin, Ohio.
According to some accounts, an 18-year-old John persuaded his 11-year-old half-brother Nathaniel to go west with him in 1792. The duo apparently lived a nomadic life until their father brought his large family west in 1805 and met up with them in Ohio. The younger Nathaniel decided to stay and help their father farm the land.
Shortly after the brothers parted ways, John began his apprenticeship as an orchardist under a Mr. Crawford, who had apple orchards, thus inspiring his life's journey of planting apple trees.
There are stories of Johnny Appleseed practicing his nurseryman craft in the area of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and of picking seeds from the pomace at Potomac cider mills in the late 1790s. Another story has Chapman living in Pittsburgh on Grant's Hill in 1794 at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion.
The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery. His first nursery was planted on the bank of Brokenstraw Creek, south of Warren, Pennsylvania. Next, he seems to have moved to Venango County along the shore of French Creek, but many of these nurseries were located in the Mohican area of north-central Ohio. This area included the towns of Mansfield, Lisbon, Lucas, Perrysville, and Loudonville.
According to Harper's New Monthly Magazine, toward the end of his career, he was present when an itinerant missionary was exhorting an open-air congregation in Mansfield, Ohio. The sermon was long and severe on the topic of extravagance, because the pioneers were buying such indulgences as calico and imported tea. "Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to heaven barefooted and clad in coarse raiment?" the preacher repeatedly asked until Johnny Appleseed, his endurance worn out, walked up to the preacher, put his bare foot on the stump that had served as a podium, and said, "Here's your primitive Christian!" The flummoxed sermonizer dismissed the congregation.
He would tell stories to children and spread The New Church gospel to the adults, receiving a floor to sleep on for the night, and sometimes supper, in return. "We can hear him read now, just as he did that summer day, when we were busy quilting upstairs, and he lay near the door, his voice rising denunciatory and thrillin—strong and loud as the roar of wind and waves, then soft and soothing as the balmy airs that quivered the morning-glory leaves about his gray beard. His was a strange eloquence at times, and he was undoubtedly a man of genius," reported a lady who knew him in his later years. He made several trips back east, both to visit his sister and to replenish his supply of Swedenborgian literature.
He preached the gospel as he traveled, and during his travels he converted many Native Americans, whom he admired. The Native Americans regarded him as someone who had been touched by the Great Spirit, and even hostile tribes left him strictly alone.
He cared very deeply about animals, including insects. Henry Howe visited all the counties in Ohio in the early nineteenth century and collected several stories from the 1830s, when Johnny Appleseed was still alive:
One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burned. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, "God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures."
Another time, he allegedly made a camp-fire in a snowstorm at the end of a hollow log in which he intended to pass the night but found it occupied by a bear and cubs, so he removed his fire to the other end and slept on the snow in the open air, rather than disturb the bear.
According to another story, he heard that a horse was to be put down, so he bought the horse, bought a few grassy acres nearby, and turned it out to recover. When it did, he gave the horse to someone needy, exacting a promise to treat it humanely.
During his later life, he was a vegetarian. He never married. He thought he would be rewarded in heaven for not doing so.
Different dates are listed for his death. Harper's New Monthly Magazine of November 1871 was apparently incorrect in saying that he died in mid 1847, though this is taken by many as the primary source of information about John Chapman. Multiple Indiana newspapers reported his death date as March 18, 1845. The Goshen Democrat published a death notice for him in its March 27, 1845, edition, citing the day of death as March 18 of that year. The paper's death notice read:
"In Fort Wayne, on Tuesday, 18th, inst John Chapman, commonly known by the name of Johnny Appleseed, about 70 years of age. Many of our citizens will remember this eccentric individual, as he sauntered through town eating his dry rusk and cold meat, and freely conversing on the mysteries of his religious faith. He was a devoted follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, and notwithstanding his apparent poverty, was reputed to be in good circumstances.
The Fort Wayne Sentinel printed his obituary on March 22, 1845, saying that he died on March 18:
"On the same day in this neighborhood, at an advanced age, Mr. John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed).
The deceased was well known through this region by his eccentricity, and the strange garb he usually wore. He followed the occupation of a nurseryman, and has been a regular visitor here upwards of 10 years. He was a native of Pennsylvania we understand but his home—if home he had—for some years past was in the neighborhood of Cleveland, where he has relatives living. He is supposed to have considerable property, yet denied himself almost the common necessities of life—not so much perhaps for avarice as from his peculiar notions on religious subjects. He was a follower of Swedenborg and devoutly believed that the more he endured in this world the less he would have to suffer and the greater would be his happiness hereafter—he submitted to every privation with cheerfulness and content, believing that in so doing he was securing snug quarters hereafter.
In the most inclement weather he might be seen barefooted and almost naked except when he chanced to pick up articles of old clothing. Notwithstanding the privations and exposure he endured, he lived to an extreme old age, not less than 80 years at the time of his death—though no person would have judged from his appearance that he was 60. "He always carried with him some work on the doctrines of Swedenborg with which he was perfectly familiar, and would readily converse and argue on his tenets, using much shrewdness and penetration.
His death was quite sudden. He was seen on our streets a day or two previous."
The site of his grave is also disputed. Developers of the Canterbury Green apartment complex and golf course in Fort Wayne, Indiana, claim that his grave is there, marked by a rock. That is where the Worth cabin sat in which he died.41°6′36″N 85°7′25″W
Steven Fortriede, director of the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) and author of the 1978 Johnny Appleseed, believes that another gravesite is the correct site, located in Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne,. Johnny Appleseed Park is a Fort Wayne city park that adjoins Archer Park, an Allen County park. Archer Park is the site of John Chapman's grave marker and used to be a part of the Archer family farm.
The Worth family attended First Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, according to records at ACPL, which has one of the nation's top genealogy collections. According to an 1858 interview with Richard Worth Jr., Chapman was buried "respectably" in the Archer cemetery, and Fortriede believes that use of the term "respectably" indicates that Chapman was buried in the hallowed ground of Archer cemetery instead of near the cabin where he died.
John H. Archer, grandson of David Archer, wrote in a letter dated October 4, 1900:
The historical account of his death and burial by the Worths and their neighbors, the Pettits, Goinges, Porters, Notestems, Parkers, Beckets, Whitesides, Pechons, Hatfields, Parrants, Ballards, Randsells, and the Archers in David Archer's private burial grounds is substantially correct. The grave, more especially the common head-boards used in those days, have long since decayed and become entirely obliterated, and at this time I do not think that any person could with any degree of certainty come within fifty feet of pointing out the location of his grave. Suffice it to say that he has been gathered in with his neighbors and friends, as I have enumerated, for the majority of them lie in David Archer's graveyard with him.
The Johnny Appleseed Commission Council of the City of Fort Wayne reported, "[A]s a part of the celebration of Indiana's 100th birthday in 1916 an iron fence was placed in the Archer graveyard by the Horticulture Society of Indiana setting off the grave of Johnny Appleseed. At that time, there were men living who had attended the funeral of Johnny Appleseed. Direct and accurate evidence was available then. There was little or no reason for them to make a mistake about the location of this grave. They located the grave in the Archer burying ground."
Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed