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/.

NPR

Franzen's Latest Novel: An Ambitious But Tarnished 'Purity'

Jonathan Franzen weaves together a cavalcade of stories and characters in his latest novel. Critic Maureen Corrigan says that despite its breadth, Purity fails to "emotionally move the reader."
WAMU 88.5

The Democracy Of The Diner (Rebroadcast)

Whether the decor is faux '50s silver and neon or authentic greasy spoon, diners are classic Americana, down to the familiar menu items. Rich, poor, black, white--all rub shoulders in the vinyl booths and at formica counters. We explore the enduring appeal and nostalgia of the diner.

NPR

Is Marco Rubio The Candidate Republicans Date But Don't Marry?

Polls suggest GOP primary voters really like Rubio, but when it comes to casting a vote they seem less sure. Time might tell whether he can turn his paper appeal into real appeal.
WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: How To Build Smarter Transportation And More Livable Cities

A new report says traffic in the U.S. is worse than it's been in years. But some say there are reasons to be optimistic. For this month's Environmental Outlook: How revitalized urban centers and new modes of transportation are changing how we get around our cities.

Leave a Comment

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