Johnny Applseed (John Chapman) was born on the 26th of September, 1774 in Leominster (pronounced lemonster), Massachusetts. Not much is known about his early life except that his mom died when we was two. His father, then, packed up the family and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a minuteman and fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1797, Chapman shows up in northwestern Pennsylvania propagating his apple seeds and working his way into the frontier of West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and, eventually,as far west as Illinois and Iowa, and as far north as Michigan and Wisconsin.
Throughout his travels, he planted his seeds and seedlings for free. He was a devoted follower of Emanuel Swdenborg, a spiritual leader "whose books he would buy with whatever payment he might receive for his labors. In return, Johnny would give away the books as he traveled. Johnny Appleseed Chapman was also an animal lover and once, so the story goes, bought a horse that was scheduled to be put down. He acquired a couple of acres of land, nursed the horse back to health, then gave the horse away with the promise that it would always be treated humanely.
Mostly, though, he planted his seeds and seedlings for free. He was well-known for wearing a large pasteboard hat to shield his eyes from the sun. He traveled by foot, often without shoes. Occasionally, he'd travel by horse or canoe, and was known as much for his appearance and kindness, as he was for his planting. Known and loved by everyone, there was always a place set at the kitchen table when Johnny came to visit.
There are stories that Johnny would travel for miles to nurse an ailing orchard back to health. His chief endeavor was bringing the trees back to life, all while dispersing, wisdom, caring, and kindness to all.
Throughout the Midwest, there are landmarks honoring John Chapman. Warren County, Pennsylvania lays claim to the first Johnny Appleseed nursery. The last known tree planted by Chapman himself, is still alive! Located in Ashland County, Ohio, the tree struggles to survive but every spring, half of it manages to bloom. In his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, there is an entire park named for him
It is not known exactly when Mr. Chapman died, but it is known that he became ill in March (either 1871 or 1874) and passed away shortly after. So how to honor this wonderful man? By eating a an apple! Or, perhaps, planting an apple tree (or two) of your own. Too, you can use #JohnnyAppleseeDay on all your social media.
Thank you, Mr. Appleseeed.