Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed burial site

John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman
26 September 1774 – 18 March 1845

Johnny Appleseed gravesiteJohnny Appleseed was a folk figure from the early days of the United States, famed for roaming the wilderness frontier that later became Ohio, Indiana and other parts of the Midwest and Canada, often shoeless, and usually carrying a bag of appleseeds he sowed far and wide.

Today is the 177th anniversary of his death which took place in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Because of that, he was probably celebrated more in my hometown (and continues to be) than many other places, especially as time passed and the old folktales faded from children’s storytimes. Disney made a very Disney animated short about him in 1948 which was shown in schools and occasionally on TV but which you’d probably have to go looking for these days.

There’s a little park right on the St. Joseph River where it runs across the near north end of town which contains his burial site and around which is held an annual festival in his honor (see stories), also celebrating the early frontier days of Fort Wayne. It is one of my favorite hometown things, and I try to get back there to attend every few years. If you go, get the cornbread. It is the best.

There are a lot of apple-themed things in town (or there were; not sure if that tradition has continued since I moved away), and I think that’s cool. It’s charming to honor something so completely quirky as a barefoot low-key preacher who planted apple trees.

RIP Johnny

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