Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day – September 26

The Story of Johnny Appleseed

 

Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting apple seeds. Johnny Appleseed’s real name was John Chapman. He was born September 26, 1774 in Massachusetts. He created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. After 200 years, some of those trees still bear apples.

Apple Tree Johnny Appleseed’s dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere and no one was hungry. A gentle and kind man, he slept outdoors and walked barefoot around the country planting apple seeds everywhere he went. It is even told that he made his drinking water from snow by melting it with his feet.

Johnny was a friend to everyone he met. Indians and settlers — even the animals — liked Johnny Appleseed. His clothes were made from sacks and his hat was a tin pot. He also used his hat for cooking. His favorite book was the Bible.

cooking pot There are many tales about Johnny Appleseed. It is said that once Johnny fell asleep and a rattlesnake tried to bite him, but the fangs would not go into his foot because his skin was as tough as an elephant’s hide. Another tale describes him playing with a bear family.

Johnny Appleseed died in 1845.

It was the only time he had been sick -

- in over 70 years!!!

 Some History

Family

John Chapman was the second child of Nathaniel Chapman and Elizabeth (née Simonds) (who married February 8, 1770) of Leominster, Massachusetts. Tradition holds that Nathaniel lost two good farms during the American Revolution, but in fact Johnny’s father was a farmer of little means, and there is no deed record of either property.Nathaniel started John Chapman on a career as an orchardist by apprenticing him to a Mr. Crawford, who had apple orchards.

A third child, Nathaniel Jr. was born on June 26, 1776 while Nathaniel was an officer leading a company of carpenters attached to General George Washington’s forces in New York City.[Elizabeth, however, was ill (probably with tuberculosis) and both mother and child died in July, leaving John and his older sister, also named Elizabeth, to be raised by relatives. After being honorably discharged in 1780, Nathaniel married Lucy Cooley, with whom he had ten more children. Around 1803, John’s sister Elizabeth married Nathaniel Rudd.

He was raised on a small farm in Massachusetts. His favorite place was his father’s apple orchard, as he loved apples. Whenever settlers passed by, he heard of fertile soils, and that inspired him to plant apple seeds through the frontier. 

A Celebration of Women suggests to all the Women of our World, in North America anyway, that is is a wonderful Story in History to share with the Children of Your Life. This Day Celebrates the reason that the APPLE is one of North America’s favorite past-times: Apple picking, Apple Pie, Applesauce, Apple Fritters,  Candy Apple,  Applecake,  Apples, Apples, Apples……

“If you had stood, on a bright day some one hundred years ago, by the banks of the Ohio River, you might have seen a strange procession coming down stream. You would have seen two birch-bark canoes securely lashed together and piled high with leathern bags brimming full of appleseeds, and in the midst of the strange craft a small, wiry man with long, dark hair, keen black eyes, and a scanty beard that had never known the razor. On his head rested a tin dipper, while his body was clad in tattered garments that had once done duty as coffee-sacks.”

Whenever the children in front of some lone frontier cabin glimpsed this queer sight they rushed inside and announced with glee:

“Oh, mother, Johnny Appleseed’s coming; may we go down to the river and meet him when he lands?”

Although the visitor was as odd a specimen of humanity as the wilderness afforded, he was known as one of the kindliest of men, and no one was afraid of him.

When Johnny came ashore he would look about him for soil that was rich and loamy, and then he would begin to plant his appleseeds. Sometimes he would cover considerable tracts with his plantings, putting in as many as sixteen bushels of seeds to the acre. He would stay as long as his stock of seed held out, and then would disappear as unceremoniously as he had come, only to return after a few weeks or months with another load.

He never forgot the orchards he had planted. When the trees were partly grown, he returned to prune them year after year, and to repair the slight brush fences he had built to keep out the deer and other animals that might nip the tender sprouts. Many of the trees he disposed of to farmers for transplanting, and in some cases he would sell an entire orchard on the spot he had originally chosen. If the customer was poor, as most of the pioneers were, he could have the trees for nothing, or Johnny would take any old piece of clothing in exchange. If a customer wanted to buy, the price of each tree was invariably a “fippenny-bit,” and immediate payment was never required. Johnny usually took a note from the customer, and of such promises-to-pay he collected a goodly number during his career, but it is not on record that he ever tried to collect any of them, apparently considering, like Mr. Micawber, that the transaction was completed when the note was written.

When he could not travel by water he went on foot, carrying his precious seeds in leathern bags slung across his back. Occasionally he would press into service some decrepit horse that he had saved from cruel treatment by purchasing it with his slender income. Every autumn he would start out in a diligent search of the woods and clearings of such strays or cast-offs, that he might care for them till they died of old age, or he could transfer them to some new owner, the sole condition of the transfer being humane treatment. Johnny never sold any of the poor old nags he had collected.

Besides appleseed, Johnny planted seeds of many medicinal herbs in the woods through which he traveled. Doctors were few and far between in the wilderness, and Johnny wished to make up for this lack as far as he could. By his efforts hundreds of miles of forests were carpeted with fennel, catnip, horehound, pennyroyal, rattlesnake root, and other of the “simples” that our ancestors used in sickness.

Johnny was fervently religious, and was always ready to talk with friends or strangers on high themes. His own little library of religious books, purchased with that part of his income not given away or used to relieve suffering, was freely lent to all who would take the books and read them.

When his supply of whole books gave out, he would divide two or three of them into pieces and leave one chapter at each farm, to remain till his next visit, when he would exchange it for another chapter. The only difficulty with the scheme was that the readers rarely got the chapters in their proper order, but that troubled neither them nor their queer librarian. 

His Love of Nature 

No one could have been more tender to all forms of animal life than was Johnny Appleseed. In this respect he reminds us of good Saint Francis of Assisi, with his appreciation of all nature as God’s worlds, and the birds as man’s little brothers. On one occasion he even put out his campfire that the smoke might not destroy the myriads of mosquitoes who hovered near it. Another time he found that a bear and her cubs were asleep in a hollow log against which he had built his fire, so, not wishing to disturb them, he quenched the flame and slept that night in the snow. A rattlesnake once bit him, and he killed the venomous creature, an action he always after regretted. “Poor fellow,” said Johnny, “He only touched me, while I, in an ungodly passion, put the heel of my scythe in him and went home.” Surely a kind heart beat beneath this man’s coffee-sacks; if he had lived in the early centuries, the painters would have drawn the tin dipper on his head as a halo.

His journeyings over Ohio and Indiana, carrying his bags of appleseed and his tattered books, continued till the very week of his death. When he was taken sick in the home of a settler at Fort Wayne, he was on his way to repair the fence about an orchard he had set out some years before near the western frontier of the state. The pioneers in a large section of the Middle West mourned him as one of the strangest but one of the best friends they had. It was estimated that he had left behind fully one hundred thousand acres of orchards planted as a testimony to his love for nature and for his fellowman.

Who Was He? Who was Johnny Appleseed? His real name was Jonathan Chapman, and he was born in Boston, in 1775. He had followed the Revolutionary veterans over the Alleghenies, and conceiving his life mission to be the planting of apple trees, as theirs was the wielding of the ax or the guiding of the plow, he served a great and useful purpose in making men and women contented in their new homes on the frontier. No one knows just where his body is buried, but no one doubts that it is somewhere in the woods he loved, where the birds sing and the squirrels play, and where the breezes of spring waft the sweet odors of blossoming branches.

 

There is an old poem that some children still learn, one verse of which runs:

And if they inquire whence came such trees, Where not a bough once swayed in the breeze.  

The reply still comes as they travel on,

Those trees were planted by Appleseed John.” 

 

Go Apple Picking with the Children in Your Life…..! 

 

 

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