Johnny Appleseed
the name given to John Chapman

1774 - 1845

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 in Leominster, Massachusetts. Nothing is known about his childhood. From 1797 until his death, he traveled alone through Ohio and Indiana, planting orchards as the settlers moved westward. Chapman eventually owned about 1,200 acres of orchards.

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.

Contributor: Harry Oster, Ph.D., Former Prof. of English, Univ. of Iowa.


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