Many people think that Johnny Appleseed was a fictional character, but he was a real person. John Chapman, was born on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts, He became the basis of the American Folktale, Johnny Appleseed. Who has been the subject of countless stories. Chapman died on March 18, 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
His father, Nathaniel Chapman, fought as a minuteman at the Battle of Concord, and later served in the Continental Army under General George Washington. A limited amount is known about Chapman's early life. It is likely that his father, a farmer, encouraged his son to become an orchardist, setting him up with a job. By 1812, John Chapman was working independently as an orchardist and nurseryman. John Chapman traveled widely, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio, pursuing his profession. While the legend of Johnny Appleseed suggests that his planting was random, there was actually a firm economic basis for Chapman's behavior. He established nurseries and returned, after several years, to sell off the orchard and the surrounding land.
The trees that Chapman planted had multiple purposes, although they did not yield edible fruit. The small, tart apples his orchards produced were useful primarily to make hard cider and applejack. Orchards also served the critical legal purpose of establishing land claims along the frontier. As a consequence, Chapman owned around 1,200 acres of valuable land at the time of his death.
Chapman was a follower of the Church of Swedenborg. He spread his faith while traveling to establish orchards. Among Chapman's singularity was a threadbare wardrobe, a tin hat but no shoes. He was a strong believer in animal rights and denounced cruelty towards all living things. He was a practicing vegetarian in his later years. Chapman did not believe in marriage and expected to be rewarded in heaven for his abstinence.
Johnny Appleseed festivals and statues dot the Northeastern and Midwestern United States to this day, and Appleseed is the official folk hero of Massachusetts. The character has served as the focus of countless children's books, movies and stories since the Civil War period. The legend of Johnny Appleseed differs from the life of the historical John Chapman in several key respects. While Chapman planted strategically, for profit, the Johnny Appleseed character sowed seeds at random and without commercial interest. The fact that Chapman's crops were typically used to make alcohol was also excluded from the Appleseed legend. Despite these discrepancies from the historical record, the Johnny Appleseed character reflects an interest in frontier settlement during a period of expansion in the far western portion of the continent.
Works Cited Biography.com. A&E Television Networks, 2 Feb. 2015, www.biography.com/people/johnny-appleseed-38103. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.