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Dearborn independent. (Dearborn, Mich.) 1901-1927, October 22, 1921, Image 10

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/2013218776/1921-10-22/ed-1/seq-10/

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The First Orchardist in the Ohio River Valley
MOST of us cat apples in one form or an
other, but how many ot us have any thought
whatsoever for that quaint figure of the
pkMWtr Period, Johnny Appleseed. who would rather
go barefooted and in rags to serve his fellow man
than to wear fine raiment and ret in perfect case?
Hs name was John Chapman, born in Mass.t
chusetts the same year that the colonies declared
their independence. a hoy, the neighbors bc1ie!
him rather shiftless; but he was only trying to find
himself and discover the line oi work he mould do
Like any Otfcef young man he visited around with nil
cousins. hi aunts, uncles, and friends. Then one day
he heard the call ot the wild West. What did he
do? Well. Johnny went to a cider mill, loaded his
boat with apple seeds, and floated down the Ohio
River with Ins strange cargo of waste from the
That young man was the first economist the Ohio
River country ever had; likewise he was its first
philanthr. pit. also its first and most ex
tensive nurseryman. He went in advance
ot the hardy pioneers, made friends with
the Indians, itopped frequently, cleared
ground, and planted some of the seeds
thereon. He would do this over and over,
Igain and again He would return to
the null for more seeds. look after the
seedlings, and put out new apple orchards.
h n the settlers arrived, 'hey were sur
prised to Rnd that somebody had preceded
them and lessened the asperity of their
gh and reads existence. Sometimes they
never knew tin identity of the Good Sa
Johnny was a oncer sort. He can to
the settlement of Mansfield ill the territory
that is now the state oi Ohio. The villas r
greeted hnn with .trying comments. His
.(ld dr and his g- neral dowdy apptMr.mce
excited even in that uncouth outpost of
civilization, belittling stares, frowns, and
ridicule Hut Johnny cared not. Hi osed
. meld -is his headquarters for a time,
rent about his business, cleared more
around, planted more seeds, and replenished
his supply from the Pennsylvania eider
While Johnny remained in the Mansfield
neighborhood, a traveling aiissionarv came
to spread the gospel in this unrestricted field
Oi labor ( ' e day a motley crowd, with
Johnny included therein, clustered around
the stump pulpit oi the missionary. In the
course Of his sermon the preacher forcefully
propounded the rhetorical question:
"Where now i- there a man who. like
the primitive Christians, is traveling to
haavca barefooted and clad in coarse rai
ment ?"
Johnnj looked down on his bare feet and
the old coffee sack of burlap which served
as hi coal Though ne aid nothing at that
moment, he did not relax his steadfast at
tention Presently the orator paused, and
again flung forth his challenge:
"Where now is there a man who, like
the primitive Christians, is traveling to
heaven barefooted and clad in coarse
The first orchardist of the Ohio River alley arose
from the l g on which he had been reclining. He
made his w.i t rw.ird. he placed a bare foot on the
stump pulpit, pointed toward his rude coffee sack gar
ment, and announced in a clear firm voice:
Here's your primitive Christian.
t this unexpected answer to his question the
preaeher seemed flustered, and soon he pronounced
the benediction He had nut been prepared for the oc
currence. Hut Johnny was as much surprised at the
abrupt ending Of the dis. urse as the itinerant preacher
had been at receiving an answer to his question.
The settlers of Mansfield learned to revere the
rust c, eccentric fellow. They bestowed on him the
nickname of Johnny Appleseed. They traded him
old clothing for yOUtlg trees or merely thanked him
heartily; but certainly the old-time orchards were
thus started and the fruit provided sustenance for
their i hildren and their children's children. The pres
ent generation so highly reveres his memory that
monuments have been placed in three cities, first in a
public park of Mansfield, in 1900; in Ashland. Ohio. 15
years later, and in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the nct
war after the Ashland event.
"What was it." asked Dr. Alfred Vivian, of the
Ohio State Agricultural College, in making the main
address at Fort Wayne, "that took him from Western
Pennsylvania, where he might have lived a comfortable
as a nurseryman and sent him forth with his
apple seeds to the ever-receding frontier? What power
led him to spend those long years journeying on the
Wller Itayi of Ohio through the trackles forest plant
ing e ds? Wh.it was the motive that sent him back
year after year to see that his brush fences were in
tact, to dress his trees, to bud and Kraft with stock
from the choicest varieties of the Fast '
"It could not have been for gain, for he seldom
accepted money for his trees and every one was i 1
come to the trees even though he gave nothing in
exchange Was it pure love of the apple tree that
prompted him to carry it into the wilderness? Some
one has said that no one really appreciates a tree until
he feels impelled to put his arms around it and with
his ringers lovingly explone every seam and crevice of
the bark. Tradition tells us that Johnny Appleseed
so loved his apple trees. Was his a divine call? Did
Ins great love of children prompt him to have ready
for the children of the pioneers that great blessing of
childhood the apple?"
Young 1 hapraan grew up with the wanderlust within
hnn. He was 20 years of age when he disappeared
from BOOM and went west to work at odd jobs and
make his way as an interpreter He met the Indians
without fear, lived with them or near them, carried
no guns of any sort, gained their friendship, and was
accorded their confidence
The precise time of Johnny's decision to become
an itinerant nurseryman is not known . hut there is I
Mcord that in 1800 he went down the Ohio with two
canoes of apple seeds. He stopped opposite what i
now W'cllsburg. West Virginia, cleared a noftiottoi the
wilderness, and started there his first nursery. A few
was polite and attentive in manner and cha
conversation." It is an established fad iW 5
c : - . . u'dt hf
iiiusi i aiw a- .i jmoiivvi iwuuiansi, also that h ' h I
all the mercy and kindness which one most
to study life in the forest.
; . 4,,,,,v ,v long grass on a tk
he had selected tor an apple orchard when a sink h'
his hare foot. Johnny wielded the scythe andStuS
the reptile, nut he afterward regretted his
ti 1 1 M t. ...
i ooi ie.iow. ne sorrowed, he on v nut .
me when L in the heat of my ongodl) passion
, - im wnu .IW.tV Sotn
innv '. n,uu i ua.i, aim mere lay the
fellow dead "
II r v - rsasaea ;jtta ttaaqaj;
sLE aja saw aMMAgLMaaiv
ftHpipFrHK IsSkHaVr BaT bhh mw v w
taafivavV aV . M BftaHg swv s JV!
aaV aValfV ssswsww wnHpnsHT a !Lnww
nLwaSL nVAnwhwnwAkwInWinwInV wnwBv swnwnw nwaKflnw)nw)nS LV 'nV
gwwHwewnnwnrALwj. 9HakafiaiMJAkfMn1
HBawSHaaaisa. awawawawaasaMiSMSr'PM
m nwm.. tj n me
LBwR,' r7 ip sswB
JPKV v wji- "mm
raiment ?"
Upper - c.ocup o the plate on the Johnn Applrtecd
monumrni in Swinney Perk. Fort Wayne, Indiana
I wer The whole monument.
years later he returned to the spot and Kavc or bartered
the fptaaa traWJ to the few settler that had come
The odd man never waited for the settlers to show
him a location Vlwayi he went ahead and ch wj th
sites on which Mother Nature had bestowed particular
care; with uncanny precision he seemed able to select
those where towns would be founded. When th slender
trees were ready for planting, the people had arrived
and were read for them.
The l rontierstnen looked on Johnny AppttSCld with
a kind of superstitious awe. Though he has been
designated as ignorant, he was really a reader and
thinker of more than ordinary ability. He km a phi
losophy, he often preached from the Bible; on one oc
casion, at least, he rved as a Fourth of Julv orator.
This occurred at N rwalk. Ohio, in 1816. th year that
the sister state of Indiana gained admittance into the
nation. Johnny had been described as WWJI Hid and
If this man could be merciful to a treacherous
snake, what would be the extent of his kindness to
i n aturcs less obnoxious ?
lew fears later he haloed sosnc strderi make
road, but during the process they accidentally en
countered a hornets nest, about the last thins a wise
person wants to find One of the issech
crept under Johnny's cotfec lack ctmi i
stnni repeatedly while Johnny slowly saDoJ
it out. The men laWfhed, but ohntn re
buked them h laytnsj
'it would not be right to kill the poor
thing, for it did not intend to hurt me."
lo consider the motive was thorowjhh
characteristic oi the man. The average per-
son notes the act. judges D) it alone, gj
then strikes without further thought often
deliberated while he endured the pattl, and
then tort bore to take revenue. An attitude
of this sort has been called the measart oi
true greatness
Johnny often stayed all night in the
forest with a hollow log as his only shelter,
though sometimes he would rest in a
settler's cabin with the hard BOOT ai his bed.
He would never remain in any Io already
OCCUpied; for he was scrupulously careful
BOt to disturb any of the wild folk of the
bitf woods. He considered it sinful to kill
creatures for food, and believed that the
soil provided all that was n&essary for
human subsistence.
This strange odd-acting bachelor was a
preacher with deeds instead ol words as a
saedtuni ol expression He most strenu
oush followed the ideal ot frugality and
abstinence. Perhaps .ts ardent . of
our present-day conservationists he opposed
waste of food and waste of any kind The
many old-time apple orchards scattered
through Pennsylvania. Ohio and Indiana,
long liaCC dead, were each a StflUOU of his
On the sixteenth day ol August, 1812.
General William Hull and his American
army surrendered at Detroit to the British
and Indians. Johnny Appleseed was one of
the first persons to hear of the mbfortaat
With the Indians emboldened by the cap
ture, he feared outbreaks ; so he traveled day
and nifiht to warn the Settlers of the danger
of massacre so that they might escape. Some
times in the dead of night he would arouse
a frontier family and in a piercing voice
deliver this nsrssagf ' "The Spirit of the brd is upon
He hath annointed me to blow th trumpet in
tlie wilderness and sound an alarm in the forest; for,
behold, the tribes of the heathen are round about your
doors and a devouring flame followeth after them.
The number of lives that Johnny Appleseed saved
by his sjectacular warnings cannot be definitely known,
lint the act itself was heroic and typical of the lua'nt
traveling nurseryman, also a strong illustration of his
creed of doing the greatest possible good for as many
people as he could.
johnny Appleseed was a picturesque character, SWaD,
wiry, restless, possessing keen black eyes, long dark
hair, and a scanty beard which nerer made any ac
quaintance with a pair of shears Occasionally he
would wear home-made sandals to protect h's tect
when setting out on a long journey; and often he
would present a striking appearance with a boot on
one foot and a cast-off moccasin on the other in
summer and during a mild winter he would have nis
it et bare.
The headgear of this eccentric traveler was unique
He had a tin vessel that served the double P"rP5C.v
cooking utensil and cap. However, he found tnaMiw
would not protect his eves from the sun. u W 'l1
a hat of pasteboard with a broad visor A T
both useful and ornamental he adopted it as .
permanent fashion. He wore second-hand clowns
he had received for hi apple trees; but in later
In eut holes in a coffee sack for his hd and arnr
and got along very well with it as a three-m-shirt-coat.
. . ft.
It is a very serviceable cloak," he patiently r
plained to questioners. "It is as good clothing as
man need wear." ornt
When almost every man carried a weapon ioi
sort, usuallv a s,uirrcl rifle, Johnny earned none.
Indians considered him a great medicine man,
trusted him. and he trusted them. ,
Johnny's mission was one of peace and gj ,$
Kvery seed that grew into a tree that adorned j f
rude home was a living testament of scrvue an
hood. Whenever and wherever the stor o j
Appleseed and his work has been told, tnjn hip
were higher ideal, born and better American c.ti

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