Site hosted by Build your free website today!


The name given to Johnny Appleseed at birth, was John Chapman. He was born on September 26,1774 near Leominster, Massachusetts. The Chapman family were descendentants of Edward Chapman, who emigrated from Yorkshire, England, to Boston in the 1640s, where he became a prosperous farmer and miller in Ipswich. John Chapman was of the sixth generation from Edward.

His father, Nathaniel Chapman, was one of the Minutemen who fought at Concord on April 19, 1775, and later in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. His mother, Elizabeth Symond Chapman, gave birth to three children, whose names were: Elizabeth, born in 1770, John, and Nathaniel Jr. His mother and baby brother died before he was two years old.

There is not much known about his early years, but he appears to have attended school, like boys of that era. When he was 25 years old, he worked as a nursery man and planted apple trees in the western portions of New York, and apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He would ask permission to use a small patch of ground to plant his seed. At a later date, Johnny would return, and give some of the new trees to the owner of the property and then distribute the rest to other settlers. There are orchards in existence today which boast of having originated with his apple trees.

For nearly half 50 years, Johnny Appleseed roamed the territory, south of the Great Lakes and west of the Ohio river. When settlers arrived, John Chapman's young apple trees were ready for them to purchase. The settlers began calling him the Apple Tree Man, or Johnny Appleseed. His love for his neighbor and Christian kindness, caused settlers to make a special place in their hearts for him. He visited every cabin and would say: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to blow the trumpet in the wilderness and sound the alarm in the forest." He was a peacemaker between the Indians and the settlers.

Johnny walked everywhere, carrying his leather bags of apple seeds and a few basic necessities on his back. The seeds were at times transported on the backs of horses, or frequently on his own shoulders. Sometimes when larger loads of seeds were available, he'd transport them by canoe, along the waterways, as he did on one particular journey in 1806. In the autumn, he'd obtain seed from the settlers who owned cider presses in western Pennsylvania. Then he'd wash the cider pressings that they gave him, carefully packing them for his spring planting. As Johnny grew older, he gathered his seeds closer to home.

He never carried a gun or weapon of any kind, when he went into the wilderness with a bag of apple seeds to plant trees. He cleared the land by cutting the brush by hand, and planted his apple seeds in rows, building a fence to surround the seedlings and to protect them from animals. His orchards varied from an acre to many acres.

Johnny was a deeply religious man who did the work of a missionary or evangelist. He always carried his bible. Johnny was small of stature, his skin weathered from exposure to the sun, and he had a scanty beard which he never shaved. His eyes were impressionable, and people would often remark about his bright, piercing, dark eyes which seemed as though he could "read the very thoughts of a man's soul." He always had a word of faith, hope, or encouragment, for those in need." His expenses were so limited that he was frequently in possession of more money than he cared to keep. But he'd spend it for the care of infirm horses, or he give it to some poor family.

Johnny went barefoot till winter came, because shoes were expensive. His first hat was a cooking pot, which he decided did not afford his eyes the proper protection from the sun. So he carried the pot, so that he could gather carry water, nuts, berries, or cook his food, through he is still frequently depicted wearing his pot on his head as his headgear. But he made for himself a different hat from pasteboard with an enormous peak in the front. His clothing consisted of a cloak made from a coffee sack, with holes cut for his head and arms, and he was often seen in late November trekking about in the mud and snow. He would wrap dried grass around his buckskin leggings and moccasins for protection from poisonous snakes.

A story is told of a preacher who was preaching a sermon near the village of Mansfield. His fiery discourse had been a severe and scathing denunciation of extravagance, condemning the vanity of fineries such as calico and store bought tea," when he suddenly cried out: "Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to Heaven barefooted and clad in coarse raiment?" Johnny Appleseed stepped forward to the altar and putting his bare foot down, he declared "Here's your primitive Christian." The well-clothed minister hesitated for a moment, and then dismissed the congregation. He always lived by the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you." The native Indians befriended him and it is said that he was so gentle and kind, that even the forest animals were not afraid of him. Whenever he saw an animal being abused or mistreated, he would purchase it, and then give it to a settler that would care for it properly.

John Chapman endured many hardships during his wilderness life, as he labored to make the wilderness blossom like a rose. His fruit trees helped to provide a source of food for the settlers struggling to make a life for themselves on the rugged frontier. Sometimes when the settlers were short on cash, Johnny would extend credit to them for apple seeds or apple trees on a handshake and a promise that they'd make it right, and he was almost always repaid.

Besides appleseeds, Johnny planted the seeds of many medicinal herbs in the woods through which he traveled. The Indians as well as the settlers revered him for his knowledge of herbal lore or medicine. There weren't many doctors in those days living out there in the wilderness, so Johnny made up for the lack, by sharing his skills of natural medicine. He planted literally hundreds of miles of forest with fennel, catnip, horehound, pennyroyal, rattlesnake root, and other of the "simples" that our ancestors used in sickness.

John "Appleseed" Chapman never married, but loved people and especially children. He would tell the children stories or read to them from his Bible. In the summer of 1847, he entered the home of a settler in Indiana and was warmly welcomed as usual. He declined the meal with the family, but accepted some bread and milk which he ate on the doorstep. He read the Beatitudes. Declining other accomodations, he slept on the floor. In the morning he was found near death from a serious illness, and he died just short of his seventy-fifth birthday. The attending physician who was hastily called, said that he'd never seen a man in so placid a state at the approach of death. He was called a laboring, self denying benefactor of his race, homeless, solitary. The date of his death was March 18, 1845. He was laid to rest in the Archer Graveyard, at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Each year the people of Fort Wayne invite visitors from throughout the nation to celebrate the pioneer spirit of John Chapman, better known as "Johnny Appleseed," the colorful character of the Indiana frontier that lived in the early 1800's.

Tom & Alana Campbell 5214 South Avenue, Everett, Washington 98203-4113

Page 9