Friday, September 26, 2008
Johnny Appleseed Day
Many people believe that the legend of Johnny Appleseed is an American myth, but he truly did exist. The man who was called Johnny Appleseed was actually named John Chapman and was born in Massachusetts on September 26, 1774. He served as an apprentice to an orchardist in his youth, learning a skill that would become his life.
When he was 18, Johnny headed west to the fertile ground of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He was a kind and generous man, although a bit eccentric. He never had a home, preferring instead to sleep on the floor of a generous settler. He told stories to the children and preached to the adults. He was a fervent follower of the Swedenborg Church- a religious that espoused self-deprivation as a way to ensure a happy hereafter. When people gave him clothing or shoes, he always chose to wear the most ragged garments and would use the better garments and shoes to use for bartering or to give to people that he considered more needy then himself. He wore a metal pot on his head that served dual purpose as a hat and a mush pot and he went barefoot throughout all seasons.
Johnny collected appleseeds from the cider mills which he then used to plant tracts of land as a nursery. He built fences around the nurseries to keep the livestock out, and then he would leave the nursery in the hands of a nearby farmer as a manager. The trees were sold on credit, although barters were accepted. Every year or two Johnny would visit these orchards and collect his earnings, but if someone couldn’t or didn’t pay, he never attempted to collect the debt.
Today we celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day. Enjoy a fresh, American-grown apple or bake up a yummy apple crisp! Even better? Share one with a neighbor!