Johnny Appleseed is one of those names like Paul Bunyan that stay in our mind yet register as fiction or folklore.
In fact, Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman who was born in Massachusetts in 1774 (around the time of the Battle of Bunker Hill). His father, Nathaniel, fought in the battle of Concord in 1775.
When John Chapman began his first trek through a number of states, he was 18 years old. He was headed west and had with him his brother, Nathaniel, who was eleven. When they met up with their father and the rest of the family in Ohio in 1804, Nathaniel Jr. had had enough of wandering and went to work on the family farm. Not so for John… he spent the rest of his life wandering and planting apple orchards. There was a method to his madness in that he planted carefully and made arrangements with farmers or landowners for a share in the sale of crops.
John was very religious and studied the Bible and the writings of Swedenborg. He often gave away tracts along with seedlings. He wanted to see America healthy in spirit as well as body. He saw the apple as the healthiest of food crops, and one that could, and should, be available to all.
John was brave and made a trek on foot during the War of 1812 to bring aid to a blockhouse soon to be under attack. He was generous and when given clothes would keep only the most worn for himself and give the best to needy settlers.
Though he travelled on foot with a pack mule and wore only threadbare clothes, he was healthy and hearty living well into old age. It was said that his last illness was the only illness of his life.
He was a good living example of the person who “brightens the corner” where he was. And he carried that brightness wherever he went.
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