51 Facts About Johnny Appleseed


If you’re not familiar with John Chapman, more famously known as Johnny Appleseed, then you’ve come to the right place. Appleseed was an eccentric and kind nurseryman who traveled all over America planting apple seeds and establishing nurseries throughout Midwest America. He was a real person, although some aspects of his life have been mythologized over time. Keep on reading to learn 51 seedy-good facts about Johnny Appleseed. 

Fact 1: Johnny Appleseed was born on September 26, 1774. 

Fact 2: Although Johnny is best known for being called Johnny Appleseed, his real name was actually John Chapman. 

Fact 3: Appleseed was an American nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as in some of the northern counties of present-day West Virginia. A ‘nursery’ is a place where plants are propagated and grown. 

Fact 4: Chapman was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. Interestingly, Leominster is known for its wool, or more commonly known as ‘Lemster ore’. 

Fact 5: Little is known about Chapman’s early life except that his mother died when he was young 

Fact 6: His first apple tree nursery was in Brokenstraw Creek, which was in Warren, Pennsylvania. The city is best known for being the major gateway into Allegheny National Forest.  

Fact 7: Appelseed’s Father fought in the American Revolutionary War. This was is more commonly known as the American War of Independence. 

Fact 8: In the location where Johhny was born there now lays a granite marker to mark his birthplace. 

Fact 9: Johnny planted his first apple tree nursery in the Allegheny Valley in Pennsylvania in 1798.

Fact 10: Appleseed is thought to have traveled west through Ohio after planting some apple trees in Allegheny Valley in 1798. Some say he planted apple trees as he went about finding the best location to set up his other apple tree nurseries, he, of course, traveled on foot on these journeys around America. 

Fact 11: Appleseed was said to walk for miles every day and even slept outdoors, when he was picking the best nursery spots, he wanted to be ahead of other nursery pioneers.   

Fact 12: The apple trees Chapman planted produced mostly cider apples.

Fact 13: Appleseed’s birthplace is now known as ‘Johnny Appleseed Lane’ to commemorate him. 

Fact 14: Cider apples are small and don’t taste very sweet, but they can be used to produce hard cider, an alcoholic beverage that was, and still is, a staple of the American people’s diet. This was a special drink for pioneers who didn’t always have access to sanitary drinking water.   

Fact 15: Chapman was also memorable for his eccentric clothing. Instead of a shirt, he usually wore a sack with holes for his head and arms, and on his feet, he wore worn-out shoes or no shoes at all. True to his nickname (which seems to have emerged late in his lifetime), he carried a bag of apple seeds.

Fact 16: Alice Hoffman’s novel ‘The Red Garden’ features Johnny and his brother, Nathaniel. The book sees the characters travel through a town called Blackwell, and plant trees on their way through. 

Fact 17: It was Mr Crawford, an orchardist, who inspired a young Johnny Appleseed to go on to become a great apple tree grower. 

Fact 18: In 1948, Walt Disney Productions produced an animated film based on the life of Johnny Appleseed. The Disney version emphasized his Christian faith, depicting him as striking out into the wilderness armed only with his Bible and a bag of apple seeds.

Fact 19: Chapman was a follower of the New Church, also known as the Church of Swedenborg. 

Fact 20: Some say that planting trees and growing plants was in his blood from a young age, as a young Appleseed was often seen trying to plant new trees.

Fact 21: Johnny spread his faith while traveling around trying to establish orchards, he would preach to both Anglo-American and indigenous people he encountered along the way.

Fact 22: Chapman’s mother, Elizabeth, died in 1776 shortly after giving birth to a second son, Nathaniel Jr., who died a few days later.

Fact 23: Johny’s Father, Nathaniel, who was in the military, returned in 1780 to Longmeadow, Massachusetts where, in the summer of 1780, he married Lucy Cooley. Not much is actually known about Johnny’s relationship with his father’s second wife.

Fact 24: According to some accounts, an 18-year-old John persuaded his 11-year-old brother Nathaniel Cooley Chapman to go west with him in 1792. The duo apparently lived a nomadic life until their father brought his large family west in 1805 and met up with them in Ohio.

Fact 25: Nova, Ohio, is home to a 176-year-old tree, which is apparently the last known apple tree to have been planted by Johnny Appleseed himself.

Fact 26: Johnny was a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, this gentleman his best known for teachings on the afterlife, and for his published book, ‘Heaven and Hell’ (1758). 

Fact 27: A common misconception is that Appleseed created and maintained orchards, this is not the case. While he did grow plenty of trees and planted many more of them, he opened nurseries and then left them with neighbors for long periods of time when he went off to seek out new potential planting spots!

Fact 28: The 176-year-old, last planted apple tree by Appleseed is said to still grow tart green apples, which are now used for applesauce and baking in addition to cider making. 

Fact 29: Johnny Appleseed left an estate of over 1,200 acres of valuable nurseries to his sister.

Fact 30: Johnny also owned four plots in Allen County, Indiana, including a nursery in Milan Township with 15,000 trees, and two plots in Mount Vernon, Ohio. 

Fact 31: John thought that if he wasn’t lucky to find a wife, or a soulmate, on Earth then he would find his soulmate in heaven. He was very religious, so he had complete faith in the idea of heaven, which, in a way, makes this a sweet romantic story. 

Fact 32: In Fort Wayne, since 1975, the Johnny Appleseed Festival has been held on the third full weekend in September. The festival is held in Johnny Appleseed Park and Archer Park. Musicians, demonstrators, and vendors dress in early-19th-century attire and offer food and beverages that would have been available in Johnny’s time. 

Fact 33: A memorial has been placed in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, to commemorate Johhny. Here a large bronze statue of Chapman stands, face looking skywards, holding an apple seedling tree in one hand and a book in the other. A bronze cenotaph identifies him as Johnny Appleseed with a brief biography and eulogy.

Fact 34: When Appleseed sold apple trees he usually made about six and a quarter cents per tree. 

Fact 35: A large terracotta sculpture of Johnny Appleseed, created by Viktor Schreckengost, decorates the front of the Lakewood High School Civic Auditorium in Lakewood, Ohio.  Although some of the members on the local board of education deemed Appleseed too ‘eccentric’ to be at the front of the building, so they suggested renaming the sculpture to an ‘Early Settler,’ students, teachers, and parents alike still call the sculpture by its intended name, ‘Johnny Appleseed.’

Fact 36: Urbana University, in Urbana, Ohio, maintains one of two Johnny Appleseed Museums in the world, which is open to the public. 

Fact 37: Appleseed became a vegetarian in later life, this isn’t surprising because he had a huge love for all animals! 

Fact 38: The Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum is host to a number of artifacts, including a tree that is believed to have been planted by Johnny Appleseed.

Fact 39: The village of Lisbon, Ohio, hosts an annual Johnny Appleseed Festival in September, from the 18–19. The festival honors the nurseryman, who provided much of middle America with apple seeds and trees during the 18th century. 

Fact 40: In 1966, the U.S. Postal Services issued a 5-cent stamp to commemorate the outdoorsman Johnny Appleseed.

Fact 41: From 1962 to 1980, a high school athletic league was named ‘Johnny Appleseed Conference’. It was made up of schools from around the Mansfield, Ohio. 

Fact 42: John loved animals! He thought highly of all animals regardless of how big or small they were. He showed all animals respect and love. So the story goes, he was once caught out in a snowstorm when he found a place to hide, he was about to start a fire there, but then he saw a bear with cubs in the same location. He got to his feet and moved to another location, so he didn’t disturb the family of bears. How cute is this story?!  

Fact 43: In 2003, North Carolina playwright Keith Smith wrote a one-act musical play titled “My Name is Johnny Appleseed”. It was presented to schoolchildren to show that the true story of John Chapman is just as interesting as a mythical figure, who is shrouded in legend and fable.

Fact 44: Good old Johnny once threw a bucket of water of a fire that was keeping him warm, just because a mosquito flew into the fire. Apparently, he was so upset he couldn’t bare to think of him being warm at the expense of creatures suffering. Isn’t that just lovely! 

Fact 45: According to Eric Braun, Johhny was once friends with a wolf. The story goes like this, Johhny helped a wolf when he had hurt his leg, and so the wolf repaid him by becoming his loyal and faithful companion while he traveled around the country looking for areas worthy of his apple tree nurseries.

Fact 46: He was never married. Although he was quite a friendly person and liked being on his own and exploring, so it probably worked out well for him. 

Fact 47: Although he was largely only planting apple trees, some people think that Appleseed was also planting ‘dogfennel’ while on his travels. People think that Appleseed might’ve thought that this plant had medicinal properties, but as we know now it doesn’t!

Fact 48: There are 2 ‘Johnny Appleseed Days’. One is in March, usually the 11th, and the second is the 26th of September. The September date is Johnny’s birthday! 

Fact 49: Chapman died in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1845.

Fact 50: In 2008 the Fort Wayne Wizards, a minor league baseball club, changed their name to the Fort Wayne TinCaps to commemorate Johnny. 

Fact 51: Johnny Appleseed was 70 years of age when he passed away. This is an incredible age given the time period he was from! It’s likely that all the fresh air and walking kept him fit and healthy. 

References:

Link 1, Link 2, link 3

Kevin M. Brooks.
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