Happy Birthday Johnny
Jonathan Chapman, born in Massachusetts on September 26, 1775, came to be known as "Johnny Appleseed." Chapman earned his nickname because he planted small orchards and individual apple trees across 100,000 square miles of Midwestern wilderness and prairie.
The first record of Chapman's presence in the Midwest dates back to 1801 when he was known to be on the Ohio River transporting 16 bushels of apple seeds from western Pennsylvania in order to plant nurseries. For about 20 years Chapman lived in Mansfield, Ohio. Years before the Homestead Act, Chapman acquired 1,000 acres of farm land through a local homestead arrangement and used the land to develop apple orchards and nurseries.
Chapman, sometimes referred to as an American St. Francis of Assisi, was an ambulant man. As a member of the first New-Church (Swedenborgian), his work resembled that of a missionary. Each year he traveled hundreds of miles on foot, wearing clothing made from sacks, and carrying a cooking pot which he is said to have worn like a cap. His travels took him through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.
About 1830, Chapman also acquired land in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There, he planted a nursery which produced thousands of seedling apple trees which Chapman sold, traded and planted elsewhere. He passed away at the age of 70 and each September, when apples are ripe, Fort Wayne hosts a festival to commemorate the life of "Johnny Appleseed."