Johnny Appleseed - Reality or Myth? Researchers Try To Decide
Hard Cider Only
Just when we are celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, most of us finally satisfied that the event was real, we hear on the evening news that Johnny Appleseed is not what he seemed. In the 21st century, it is a proverb that heroes are attacked until they crumble into dust.
In Ohio, Johnny Appleseed is a folk hero to every 4th grader who has studied that year's Ohio History. Some children try to count the number of new apples he developed in his lifetime and how many new varieties have appeared from the founding of America to the 2010s.
However, the 2001 book called The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan snaps our eyes wide open with the statement that the apple seeds Chapman planted and left with settlers were good only for making hard cider. Pollan traveled the water routes fro Pennsylvania through Ohio and into Indiana in order to learn more about John Chapman and wrote a comprehensive chapter on apples and Chapman.
Professor Pollan explains that apples for all other purposes are all hybrids, many made by grafting the branch of one variety of apple tree to the trunk of another variety. At the same time, the seedlings from the last surviving apple tree that John Chapman planted were transplanted into the courtyard of the museum that honors him in Urbana, Ohio today. You can see them and decide for yourself.
Johnny Appleseed was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier. That’s why he was so popular. That’s why he was welcome in every cabin in Ohio.— Michael Pollan, Morning Edition (NPR), June 5, 2001
Johnny Appleseed is Examined
An Exhibit Attempts to Explain it All
In Northwestern Ohio north of Dayton, an anonymous donor gave $30,000 to Urbana University's Johnny Appleseed Educational Center & Museum to spread the down-to-earth truth about John Chapman and produce an interactive exhibit to travel across American states beginning in the late summer and autumn of 2015.
The first stop on the exhibit's tour September 2015 at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery’s branch that is housed at the Upper Valley Mall in Springfield, Ohio. That city has experienced a resurgence since the 1990s, when the downtown area was filled with abandoned properties. The opening of a spectacular new hospital in that area of town increased jobs and the demand for new businesses as well as providing the spark that ignited new highway construction.
More About Johnny Appleseed
- Johnny Appleseed and Apple Recipes
John Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed spread apple seeds in Southern Ohio, Kentucky, back up to Northern Ohio and then over to Indiana. He planted nurseries and gave authority over them to local residents to sell the trees. So many apple varieties...
The Johnny Appleseed Society and Museum
Urbana University "Firsts"
Urbana University began as the first college in Ohio to provide a nontraditional degree program and the second Ohio postsecondary school in the state to admit women.
The university was founded by Swedenborgian friends of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) and it is fitting that the museum honoring his life is located here. The museum includes personal items that are found nowhere else in the world.
Another anonymous gift of $70,000 was provided to enhance the Swedenborg Memorial Library. The national traveling exhibit Abraham Lincoln: The Civil War and the Constitution has been displayed here.
During the spring of 2014, the university officially joined Columbus Ohio's Franklin University. Franklin is a well known and popular business university in Central Ohio that has found a niche also in educating working adults to further their employment opportunities. Both universities will continue to offer their current course and degree offerings, with some new ones in the future.
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Upper Valley Mall
Important Appleseed Links
- Johnny Appleseed Education Center & Museum
The Center at Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio holds the largest collection of memorabilia and written information about the life of John "Appleseed" Chapman. A National Registry of Johnny Appleseed's relatives has also been established
- National Apple Museum - Biglerville, Pennsylvania
The National Apple Museum in Biglerville PA
A Few Appleseed Facts
John Chapman was born in Massachusetts Colony on September 26, 1774 and lived until March 18, 1845, dying in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He left an estate that included 1,200 acres of expensive real estate.
Bailey Hall, which houses the museum in Urbana, was named after a printer, Francis Bailey. Bailey was an earlier convert to Chapman's faith in America and the official printer of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
Bailey convinced Chapman to join the Swedenborgian faith while Johnny was planting an orchard for him. The printer also produced the religious tracts that Johnny distributed as he was passing out apple seedlings as well. Barclay Hall, next to Bailey Hall, is named after a young ward of Francis Bailey.
Johnny saw a lot of settlers move into Native American territories and felt bad about this, since he had a good relationship with Indigenous Peoples. The War of 1812 - 1814 caused him great sorrow. The Urbana museum exhibits tell us that Johnny rode a horse from Mansfield to Mt. Vernon OH to secure help from the state and local militias to save trapped settlers and help them avoid death or imprisonment with 10,000 other Americans in England's dreaded Dartmoor Prison.
Man of Many Careers
Evidence exists in the museum that John Chapman was more than an apple planter and evangelist.
He was also a librarian, an herbalist, and practiced medicine on the frontier. Researchers feel that he did not give many of his seedlings away, but made a good amount of money selling them and selling whole orchards to settlers whose move into the lands of the Northwest Territory he anticipated.
Researchers feel that the orchards were full of cider apples and that settlers made hard cider, as well as apple cider vinegar for preserving meats and vegetables and pickling fruits like peaches.
Another report from investigators says that Chapman only went barefoot when he gave shoes away to people who needed them. He may have done this often, since many portraits of him show him unshod.
Annual Johnny Appleseed Festival - Fort Wayne
Johnny Appleseed Festival - Celebrating the life and times of Johnny Appleseed in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this Apple Fest is an 1800s-era style festival. Civil War re-enacting, Abraham Lincoln, crafts, food, and complete family safe fun. Free Admission.
© 2014 Patty Inglish MS