Johnny Appleseed was the name given to John Chapman, an American pioneer who planted large
numbers of apple trees along the early frontier. He became a folk hero as the result of many novels,
short stories, and poems about his deeds. However, most of these deeds were probably imaginary.
Chapman was born on Sept. 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts. Nothing is known about his
childhood. From 1797 until his death on March 10, 1845, he traveled alone through Ohio and Indiana,
planting orchards as the settlers moved westward. Chapman eventually owned about 1,200 acres
(490 hectares) of orchards.
In Pennsylvania, Chapman lived along the French Creek in Venango County between 1797 and 1804.
Records indicate he had a nursery there and one near Warren, Pa., before moving to Ohio. The
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has a historical marker at 13th and Franklin Ave. in
Franklin to commemorate the time Chapman spent in Pennsylvania.
The most famous story about Chapman tells of his giving apple seeds and apple saplings to everyone
he met. He supposedly traveled hundreds of miles to tend one of his orchards. Some people said
Chapman wore a tin pot as a hat, a coffee sack as a shirt, and no shoes. Various tales describe him as
a medicine man to the Indians.
None of the folk stories about Chapman has ever been proved true. The tales became widely known
after an article describing his deeds appeared in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1871. The article,
called "Johnny Appleseed, a Pioneer Hero," was written by an author named W. D. Haley.
Sources: World Book Encylopedia, Pennsylvania
Historical Museum Commission.
John Chapman—Johnny Appleseed
1774–1845, American pioneer, more
familiarly known as Johnny Appleseed, b.
Massachusetts. From Pennsylvania—where he had
sold or given saplings and apple seeds to
families migrating westward—he traveled c.1800
to present-day Ohio, sowing apple seeds as he
went. For over 40 years Johnny Appleseed
continued to wander up and down Ohio, Indiana,
and W Pennsylvania, visiting his forest
nurseries to prune and care for them and helping
hundreds of settlers to establish orchards of
their own. His ragged dress, eccentric ways, and
religious turn of mind attracted attention, and
he became a familiar figure to settlers. Scores
of legends were told of him after he died.
However, it was verified that in the War of 1812
he traveled 30 mi (48 km) to summon American
troops to Mansfield, Ohio, thus forestalling a
raid by Native Americans who were allied with
the British. He died near Fort Wayne, Ind.
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.
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.
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!!!