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#OTD 1775: John Chapman, born in Leominster, Massachusetts, came to be known as “Johnny Appleseed.” as a Nurseryman who planted Apple Trees

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#AceHistoryDesk – Today in History – John Chapman, born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1775, came to be known as “Johnny Appleseed.” Chapman earned his nickname because he planted nurseries and individual apple trees across 100,000 square miles of midwestern wilderness and prairie—resulting in settlers’ planting their own orchards.

Johnny Appleseed]. William Gropper, artist, 1941. Fine Prints. Prints & Photograph Division

Johnny Appleseed

The first record of Chapman’s presence in the Midwest dates to 1801 when he was known to be on the Ohio River transporting bushels of apple seeds from western Pennsylvania for his nurseries. Chapman’s first apple-tree nursery was along the Allegheny Valley in northwestern Pennsylvania; he then ventured into central and northwestern Ohio and to eastern Indiana. Chapman scouted routes that he thought pioneers would settle and planted his seedlings ahead of the new settlements.

Apples for Sale at Roadside Stand, near Berlin, Connecticut. Russell Lee, photographer, Oct. 1939. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division

Chapman lived in Mansfield, Ohio, for about twenty years. Years before the Homestead Act he acquired about 1,000 acres of farmland in Mansfield through a local homestead arrangement. Chapman used the land to develop apple-tree nurseries. His reputation as a conservationist, a brave frontiersman, and as an eccentric (in dress as well as mannerisms) grew, as did stories of his kindness to animals and his heroic exploits.

Chapman was an ambulant man. Each year he traveled hundreds of miles on foot—wearing clothing made from sack cloth and carrying a cooking pot that he is said to have worn like a cap. His travels took him through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana.

As a member of the New Church, or, Church of the New Jerusalem, (Swedenborgian), he left sections of Swedenborgian tracts at cabins that he visited and preached “God has made all things for good.”

In about 1830, Chapman also acquired land in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he planted a nursery that produced thousands of seedling apple trees that he sold, traded, and planted elsewhere. Chapman passed away at the age of seventy. Every September, when apples are ripe, Fort Wayne hosts an annual festival to commemorate the life of Johnny Appleseed.

Legend and folklore has transformed Johnny Appleseed into a folk hero—the patron saint of horticulture.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana 1868. Drawn by A. Ruger; Chicago Lithographing Co., 1868. Cities and Towns. Geography & Map Division“
Eve Wasn’t Modest till She Ate that Apple; We’ll Have to Pass the Apples Again.” Words by Charles McCarron; music by Albert von Tilzer; New York: Broadway Music, 1917. Historic American Sheet Music. Duke University Libraries

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#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.25: 2022:

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