NPR : News

Filed Under:

The Strangely True Tale Of Johnny Appleseed

Apples — right off the tree, baked in a pie, pressed into cider or mashed into sauce — are a basic element of American culture. October is the month to celebrate them, thanks, in part, to Johnny Appleseed.

You've probably heard of the legendary character who traveled the Midwest planting trees, but he's not a myth. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman, and he was born in Massachusetts in either 1774 or 1775.

He was first noticed by history in 1801 when he arrived on horseback at the farm of John Stedden in Licking Creek, Ohio. Stedden thought Chapman was rather eccentric, but he listened to the man's plans to head west and plant apple seeds along the way for future settlers.

Five years later, another Ohio settler encountered Johnny Appleseed. Chapman had lashed two canoes together, filled one with apple seeds and was paddling along the Ohio River. He was barefoot, dressed in rags, and wore a tin pot on his head as a hat. Chapman was doing what he had told Stedden he would, traversing the country, pushing farther west each year. Wherever he found a suitable spot, he planted apple seeds and educated farmers about nurseries and orchards.

Chapman was a vegetarian and, by all accounts, a caring and compassionate — if somewhat odd — man. For more than 40 years, he traipsed the fields and forests from Pennsylvania to Illinois, spreading the word about apples until his death in 1845. A memorial grave site in Fort Wayne, Ind., has a stone marker bearing the motto, "He lived for others."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Aug. 4, 2015

You can see two exhibits and rub elbows with the artists behind the work.
WAMU 88.5

The Surprising Roots of Barbecue

We speak with culinary historian Michael Twitty about the roots of familiar southern dishes in African and Native American food traditions.

WAMU 88.5

President Obama's Iran Speech

Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb joins us to discuss the parallels between JFK's nuclear disarmament speech fifty years ago and President Obama's speech on the nuclear deal with Iran.

NPR

Sexist Reactions To An Ad Spark #ILookLikeAnEngineer Campaign

After being surprised by online responses to her appearance in a recruiting ad, engineer Isis Wenger wanted to see if anyone else felt like they didn't fit a "cookie-cutter mold."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.