How Bout Them Apples

So, you think you know the legend of Johnny Appleseed? Well, he’s a real-life historical figure whose given name is Johnny Chapman, and whose birthday is celebrated on September 26th! Far from being simply the stuff of folklore, Appleseed was an American nurseryman who introduced apple trees to the Midwest, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. He was also a conservationist and missionary during the earliest days of the United States. “Go West, Young Man!” And indeed, he did. In 1792, Appleseed headed west out of Massachusetts to begin his iconic nomadic life. He planted his first nursery near Warren, Pennsylvania a few years later. After a life of travel, religious devotion and conservation, Appleseed died in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1845. He left behind his fabled story and an estate of more than 1,200 acres.

Here are a few tasty Johnny Appleseed bites:

  • Johnny Appleseed’s birthplace – Leominster, Massachusetts, and the home to the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, the Johnny Appleseed Arts & Culture Festival andJohnny Appleseed Lane (actual birthplace).
  • He spread the Gospel – Appleseed was a religious man of peace — a “primitive Christian” — whom American Indians regarded as having been touched by the “Great Spirit.”
  • He wouldn’t hurt a fly – Legend has it that Appleseed doused his campfire rather than have mosquitoes perish in its flame. He is said to have remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures.”
  • He was an unmarried vegetarian – He used to tell folks that he would meet his true love in heaven if one wasn’t provided to him on Earth.
  • We’re not sure where he’s buried – Appleseed is almost certainly buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but the exact location is still very much up for debate.
  • He helped American expansion – Land claims during American westward expansion often required plantings. Appleseed sold seedlings to pioneers, making the creation of an orchard and verifiable land claim much easier.
  • Appleseed’s traveling hymn – Lyrics went something like this: “I thank the Lord For giving me the things I need: the sun and rain and apple seed.”

So, the next time you reach for that red, juicy apple or a slice of American pie, you can thank Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. Check out the Lifestyle section for apple-inspired recipes in observance of Chapman’s birthday.

Reference material taken in part from the following sources: National Today
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