Johnny Appleseed, born September 26, 1774, was responsible for introducing apple trees to many states and counties in the U.S. While he was still alive, he was renowned for his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. He also spent time as a missionary for The New Church. He is the inspiration for many museums and historical sites, such as the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio. If you want to celebrate this legendary man’s special day, you’re in the right place.
You may know Johnny Appleseed as a character in fiction, but he was very much a real man who made a historical impact. His love for apples and the importance he attributed to them live on through his legacy. Appleseed was born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts, in what was then British America. He was the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Chapman, and records show he had many siblings.
In 1792, when he was 18 years old, he headed west along with his younger half-brother Nathaniel, following the steady stream of immigrants. In his early twenties, Appleseed began traveling alone, which is how he spent the rest of his life. Through his journey, he moved ahead of settlements and kept planting seeds. It is said that he always carried a leather bag filled with apple seeds that he obtained from cider mills for free, constantly planting them by streams, in open places in forests, and along roadways. Soon, he was known as the “apple seed man,” which later lead to his final nickname and the way we know him today, “Johnny Appleseed.” Appleseed was also very religious and preached to people along the way. His favorite book was his Bible. He was known to give the best of his clothing to people he felt needed it more than he did. Appleseed also seldom wore shoes.
Appleseed made his last trip back to Ohio in 1842, after spending five decades walking throughout the countryside. There, he moved in with his half-brother Nathaniel and sadly passed away three years later, on March 18, 1845. He died of pneumonia at the age of seventy, while visiting his friend, William Worth, in Indiana. It is said that was the only time he was ever sick. Although there are various theories and hypotheses as to his final resting place, the exact location of John Chapman’s grave remains a mystery.
At the age of 18, he begins his journey by traveling west with his half-brother Nathaniel.
Stories say that Appleseed practiced his nurseryman craft in Pennsylvania and picked seeds from cider mills near the Potomac River.
Appleseed begins planting nurseries in various places in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Appleseed succumbs to pneumonia at the age of 70.
Why We Love Johnny Appleseed
Appleseed contributed to the spread of healthy fruit
Thanks to him, big parts of the Midwest had access to apples. The fruit is incredibly beneficial to our bodies as it provides us with fiber, vitamins C and K, as well as potassium. And, of course, they’re delicious!
He was kind and generous
Appleseed always sought to give to those who had less. He donated all he could, and he was also an advocate for the conservation of nature.
Appleseed’s legacy lives on to this day
His life’s work continues to be admired all across the U.S., especially in his hometown and the places where he planted trees. You can find a granite marker in his birthplace at Johnny Appleseed Lane, and there’s also The Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum, among many other tributes.
5 Surprising Facts
Johnny Appleseed never married
Not finding his soulmate on earth, he hoped to find her in heaven.
He loved animals
Appleseed cared for every animal, including insects, very deeply, and he ceased any activity that would bring them harm, even if it was beneficial to him.
Appleseed was a vegetarian
Because of his aforementioned love for animals, he refused to eat them.
Gospel in exchange for food and sleep
Appleseed would spread The New Church gospel to adults and tell stories to children so that he could have supper and a place to sleep.
Appleseed almost died 26 years earlier
While picking hops in a tree in 1819, he fell and caught his neck on the fork of the tree, he was later saved by one of his helpers cutting the tree down.
Johnny Appleseed FAQs
Is the story of Johnny Appleseed true?
While we are missing many details of his life, and there’s a lot we can’t confirm, Appleseed and his story are indeed real.
Why is Johnny Appleseed a hero?
Appleseed is admired for his work on growing trees and spreading apple seeds among settlers in the Midwest, as well as for his kind and generous ways.
Did Johnny Appleseed have a pet wolf?
While we can’t know for sure, there is a story about a wolf following Appleseed after he healed its injured leg.
Johnny Appleseed’s birthday dates