6 Johnny Appleseed Facts for Kids
Sometimes the legend really does become bigger than the man and trying to dissect the fact from the fiction is impossible. Johnny Appleseed was a real live person and he was an apple farmer. The legend says that Johnny Appleseed was sort of a carefree fellow that traveled through the country side planting apple trees. Images often depict him as a young man carrying a leather satchel that is filled with apple seeds.
This is a half-truth. He did move around quite a bit and he did actually have a leather pouch but as far as being carefree and simply spreading apple seeds everywhere is not necessarily a truth.
Johnny Appleseed was a young man with a purpose. He was calculated in his travels and his goal was to grow enough apple trees so that he could help to fight hunger. That may seem like a surprise to hear that in the late 1700′s someone was worried about growing enough food for everyone.
Evidently hunger was as much of an issue in Johnny’s day as it is today. John Chapman was born in Leominster Massachusetts in 1774. You didn’t really think his last name was Appleseed? He lived an ordinary life up until his 18th birthday when he set out on his soon to be legendary travels.
His first order of business was to move west to Pennsylvania. He took his younger brother Nathaniel with him. The colonies were populating everywhere and he wanted to find a wide open space to get his trees planted. It is said that he walked from Pennsylvania to Ohio and started orchards everywhere in between. He walked all over the country side of what is now known as the eastern United States. He would stay for a few years in a location begin an orchard see it to success and then move on to the next stop.
Legend says that Johnny Appleseed planted his free seeds on the sides of roads by streams and everywhere else he could. The reality is he was much more calculating with his seeds and set up little nurseries to grow them. They may have been in different areas like the sides of roads and near rivers and creeks but according to his journals this was done to test soil types.
He never paid for an apple seed.
That leather satchel that he carried everywhere did actually hold apple seeds. He would go to cider mills and collect up all the seeds. He would wrap his seeds in parchment paper and mark them with the date and where he retrieved them from. He would keep a record of which seeds grew the fastest and which seeds did not sprout as quickly.
He kept meticulous notes about the seeds.
How He Became the Legend
Johnny was an average guy with a desire to learn all he could about planting trees and growing the tastiest apples because he really believed that apples were the perfect food. They could be used to eat off the tree, they could be baked. The wood from the tree can be used for smoking food.
His legendary status started because of his happy go lucky personality and his willingness to share his apples. He would sell the baby trees to people in the surrounding colonies and bring free apples. He was looked at as a news courier by the adults and as a playmate by the children. He was helpful and loved to talk about his plans for his apple orchards. His trees were known as good stock that grew quickly and that were disease free.
Little Known Facts
1. Johnny Appleseed was friends with everyone he came across whether it was Native Americans or settlers. He spoke to everyone and spent plenty of time having in depth conversations with both Native American tribes and settlers about agriculture and preserving the earth.
2. He was a vegetarian. He never ate animals nor used their skins. He did not hunt at all which was very unusual for the time.
3. He was very wealthy although he did not flaunt his wealth. He dressed very modestly and often wore the same short pants year round. Legend has described him as being a small funny looking man that wore only potato sacks. He may have been small in stature but he did not wear potato sacks. He never wore shoes but was well known for giving shoes away to children.
4. He was very charitable and while he wore tattered clothing and walked shoeless wherever he went he gave away good clothing and shoes to complete strangers.
5. He reported that his favorite book was the bible and often carried one in his leather satchel protected by parchment paper.
6. He walked the countryside for 50 years between Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He died from pneumonia at his Brother Nathaniel’s home in Ohio in 1845.