Johnny Appleseed was a pioneering American nurseryman best known for introducing apple trees to many states in the United States. On September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts, he was born John Chapman to Elizabeth and Nathaniel Chapman. A few years later, his mother died while giving birth to his brother. Johnny left home with his younger brother when he was 18 to travel west. Johnny’s father purchased land in Ohio in 1805, but Johnny chose to remain on the move. Soon after, Johnny chose to work as an orchardist’s apprentice and began learning about apples.
Some folklore has it that Johnny Appleseed planted seeds wherever he went, but this was not the case. He established nurseries.
Johnny Appleseed purchased land on the wild frontier and began planting apple orchards. He did this as an investment, returning every few years to tend to the trees and eventually selling the orchards as people moved in.
Johnny Appleseed grew apples for distilleries rather than eating. These apples were used in the production of apple brandy or hard cider. At the time, these were popular alcoholic beverages.
Johnny Appleseed collected apple seeds from cider mills and labeled them with the date and location where he collected them. He then transported them in a leather satchel. When he planted the seeds, he was able to make notes about which trees grew well and which sprouted quickly.
Johnny Appleseed eventually became a vegetarian because he didn’t want to harm living things in order to eat.
Johnny Appleseed’s orchard planting made him wealthy, but he never showed it. According to legend, he wore potato sacks, but this was not the case. He frequently wore short pants and wore no shoes.
Johnny Appleseed was a missionary for a church that believed God and nature were inextricably linked. He tried to spread these ideas everywhere he planted trees.
Many depictions of Johnny Appleseed feature him wearing a tin pot on his head. He liked wearing a tin hat but not a pot. He was also known to eat from his tin hat.
Johnny Appleseed would also bring medicinal plant seeds with him and give them to Native Americans. He got along well with the majority of the Native Americans he met.
The legend of Johnny Appleseed’s travels did not gain popularity until a year after his death.
After Johnny Appleseed died, there were stories written about him and festivals held in his honor across the country.
Johnny Appleseed’s estate contained over 1,200 acres of apple nurseries. As he never married, he left this to his sister. Due to taxes and litigation, much of his land was lost after his death.
Swinney Park in Fort Wayne has a Johnny Appleseed memorial.
The United States created a stamp. In 1966, a postage stamp was issued in honor of Johnny Appleseed.