In 1871, W.D. Haley, a writer for Harper's New Monthly Magazine, wrote a biographical essay about a pioneer named John Chapman.  Born in Massachusetts in the late 1700s, Chapman moved to the Ohio River Valley as a young man and began planting apple orchards in the wildernesses of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  People throughout America heard tales of this barefoot, seed-sowing wanderer.  When John Chapman died in 1845, General Sam Houston, standing before Congress, said, "Farewell, dear old eccentric heart.  Your labor has been a labor of love, and generations yet unborn will rise up and call you blessed."

Over the years, as legendary details grew out of sketchy historical fact, "Johnny Appleseed," as Chapman came to be called, became an American folk character.  Poems, plays, and novels about him proliferated, and monuments were built to honor his memory.

Perhaps Johnny Appleseed represents the immigrants who made amazing contributions to North America by introducing and growing new crops.  Certainly it can be said that all of us, including those Johnny Appleseeds of early America, have been inheritors of an even older tradition - the Native Americans' domestication and breeding of wild plants, which first caused our wilderness to flower like a garden.
                                                --American Tall Tales, by Mary Pope Osborne, 1991.

"Johnny Appleseed" by Rosemary Carr Benet describes the life of folk hero John Chapman, who spent over fifty years traveling in the Ohio River valley planting and tending apple orchards for other people to enjoy.
                --Prentice Hall Summary, "Johnny Appleseed," by Rosemary Carr Benet

 

Johnny Appleseed (1174-1845) was a frontiersman whose real name was John Chapman.  Born in Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapman's life was so extraordinary that he became a folk hero.  In stories about him, which blend truth and fantasy, he collected apple seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and planted them in fertile spots throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  He received no pay for his work, but he was often given a meal or a cast-off piece of clothing by those who appreciated his efforts. 
                                                --Prentice Hall Literature: Silver, Prentice Hall, 2000.

 

Johnny Appleseed, part legend and part history, was a real man who lived in the 1700s. Born in Massachusetts under the name of John Chapman, he became restless to see more and go beyond the territory that he knew. Therefore, he set out by himself on a journey west. Along the way, he grew to appreciate the apple tree and began planting it everywhere. Pretty soon, he became known as Johnny Appleseed by the many settlers he met who were heading west to make a claim on the free land that the government was offering. These same settlers began to tell stories about Johnny, many of which became tall tales, and it was not long before the lines between fact and fiction became blurred.
                                                                                       --www.childrenslit.com, 2005.

 

When Johnny grows older, he begins to travel around the country with a cooking pot on his head and a sack of apple seeds around his neck. Johnny's mission is to plant seeds in good places so everyone can enjoy apples. His trees grow big and strong. Johnny makes friends with animals and people as he travels around the country. He is a good story teller and has lots of tales to tell. The years pass by and Johnny Appleseed grows old, but he still travels to far-off places wearing his cooking pot hat and planting apple seeds so that others can enjoy the taste of a juicy, red apple.
                                                                                         www.childrenslit.com, 2005.

 

Helpful Links 

Wikipedia - Johnny Appleseed 

Vermont Weathervane 

The Point 

Apple Appetite 

America's Library 

Apple Juice Appleseed 

American Tall Tales 

Appleseed 

Johnny's Grave 

Commemorative Stamps 

Hidden Pictures 

Think Questions

*Do you think Johnny Chapman actually wore a tin pan as a hat?

*How does Johnny feel about nature?

*What areas in today's world would benefit from having someone provide help in growing food?  

*What modern figures remind you of Johnny Appleseed?

*What heroic qualities does Johnny Appleseed display?

*Would the work of Johnny Appleseed by appreciated today?  Why or why not?

*Explain how Johnny could be considered an apple missionary.