Monday, January 4, 2016

Better Known as Johnny Appleseed, by Mabel Leigh Hunt

Yet another historical figure I knew little to nothing about!  I'm going to admit my ignorance.  Here's what I thought I knew about Johnny Appleseed: I envisioned him as a stereotypical Appalachian man- worn pants with a frayed rope belt, bare feet, straw hat, walking around the country tossing apple seeds as he went.  Thanks, children's picture books, for making that kind of impression on me.  I'd also assumed he was a folk tale character, not an actual human being.  Color me corrected.

Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman) was, to be fair, shoddily dressed in his adult years.  He took only what he needed, and when given more he would cheerfully give it to some one else.  He wore no shoes, and traveled everywhere by foot.  Johnny made numerous friends on his travels, largely in Ohio and Indiana.  He collected seeds whenever possible, and kept them (with saplings) in the bag he always carried with him.

Johnny's dream was to create orchards of apples in territory yet to be settled, so that new homesteaders would have food waiting for them.  He would often sow orchards on occupied land for the owners as well, with a portion set aside for people he would send to collect trees later.  If people were willing to pay for the trees, he would accept the money and put most of it toward publishing tracts and literature about the Swedenborgians, a small Christian sect that he wholeheartedly followed.

I was glad to have had the opportunity to have my history corrected with regard to this fascinating figure.

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