The Legend of Johnny Appleseed - Fun Apple Facts | Apple Holler (2023)

If you have visited Apple Holler Farm Park recently, you will have seen and perhaps taken part in the Johnny Appleseed History Walk. We thought we would go a bit deeper into The Legend of Johnny Appleseed and give you a peek into who the real man was.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed - Fun Apple Facts | Apple Holler (1)

If you ask someone to describe Johnny Appleseed and his legacy, chances are good that you will hear the following “ he was a man who wore tattered clothing, wore a tin pot on his head, skipped through fields, sprinkling apple seeds almost like they were fairy dust, leaving behind in his wakefields of apple trees.

Not quite…

Let’s begin with his real name, which was John Chapman. John was born in Massachusetts on September 26, 1774. He grew up during the midst of the Revolutionary War; in fact, his father served as a minuteman at the Battle of Bunker Hill and helped construct the defenses of New York again the British with George Washington. His father would go on to survive the war (John’s mother had died when he was only 2 years old) and return home in 1780, where he began to teach his son the trade of farming.

By the early 1800s, John had developed into quite a proficient orchardist and nurseryman and began to work on his own. In the early 1800s land was relatively easy to own, especially with the passage of the 1801 Act, which let settlers lay claim to the land they had settled on, by planting apple or pear trees. In fact, a claim could be made by simply planting 50 apple trees.

Now Johnny Appleseed may be depicted in books and in cartoons as a barefoot wanderer who seems to just skip through life without a care planting apple seeds, but he was quite the businessman. In fact, during his travels through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, John would plant enough seeds to begin an orchard and then sell that orchard to the settlers once the trees had grown plentiful, which meant that the settlers could then lay claim to the land they were on.

In reality, instead of being a poor wanderer, with no home to call his own, he was in reality a land baron, especially since he traveled about 100,000 miles through both the Midwest and Prairie. When John dies at the age of 70, he still owned more than 1200 acres.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed - Fun Apple Facts | Apple Holler (2)However, if settlers and others were low on cash, John would be willing to barter goods in exchange for his seedlings. At times, he would even barter for old clothing, hence the depictions of him wearing old and torn clothing. Actually, there were times when not only did he give away his seedlings to folks who couldn’t afford them; he also gave them a gift of cash.

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Another legend that we simply take as fact is one of Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees and then feasting on his bounty of apples. Unfortunately, while this presents a nice warm fuzzy feeling, it isn’t quite true. The apples that John Chapman planted were small and tart “spitters”… named for what you would do if you happened to bite into one. They may not have been the perfect fresh-eating apple, but they were the perfect apples for hard cider. Unlike today, the water of the very early 1800s was filled with many types of bacteria and microbes that made most of the water unfit to drink. As a result, many folks drank apple cider instead; usually, this was hard cider.

In fact according to Michael Pollan, in The Botany of Desire, up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider. In rural areas, cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water.

Pollan goes on to credit Chapman’s preference for seeds over grafting for creating not only the varieties like the delicious and golden delicious, but also the “hardy American apple.”

Since apples that are grafted are the same as the parent tree, they don’t change. But by forgoing grafting, Johnny created the conditions for apple trees to adapt and thrive in their new world home.

Pollan writes, “It was the seeds and the cider that give the apple the opportunity to discover by trial and error the precise combination of traits required to prosper in the New World. From Chapman’s vast planting of nameless cider apple seeds came some of the great American cultivars of the 19th century.”

Remember the 1801 Act mentioned above? That may have been a great Act for folks who settled the land, however, it wasn’t a great Act for Native Americans; there were many clashes between tribes and settlers.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed - Fun Apple Facts | Apple Holler (3)Native Americans didn’t take kindly to settlers; however, John managed to win them over because, in addition to planting apples, he planted medicinal plants and herbs, such as mullein, motherwort, mayweed and pennyroyal, and more. By doing this, he was able to foster a friendship as well as admiration from Native Americans.

One of the reasons that John was so familiar with the medicinal plants mentioned above was because he understood how to derive treatments from using natural ingredients because he felt such a close connection to the earth and nature. It will come as no surprise then to learn that John was actually a vegetarian, who couldn’t the thought of causing pain to any animal or insect.

One story depicts his sadness when mosquitoes flew into his evening fire: “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of his creatures,” he reportedly said.

John was a member of the New Church, a Christian denomination that became established in the late 18th century (this church is also referred to as the Swedenborg church, and there are still branches today). One of the tenets of this doctrine was that nature and God are intertwined, so in addition to planting apples, and medicinal herbs, John also planted these teachings wherever he planted his seeds.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed - Fun Apple Facts | Apple Holler (4)John never married and as mentioned above, he owned 1,200 acres of tree nurseries, along with several other plots of land when he dies. His estate and holdings passed on to his sister. Chances are quite good that his holdings could have been much larger if he had recorded all of his orchards that he established (he didn’t). Unfortunately for his sister, much of what remained had to be sold off to pay back taxes.

There are still a couple of small apple orchards in Maine that are maintained by John’s great, great, great, great nephew (also named John Chapman). At least one of those trees is said to be descended from his forebear’s own trees.

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Appreciative of his ancestor’s legacy, the modern-day Chapman has donated new trees from the Appleseed collection several times, most notably one he planted at Unity College in 2012.

And now you know a bit about the man behind the legend.

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    (Video) Apples!! The History!!


What are two reasons Johnny planted apple trees? ›

He didn't just randomly plant trees

He would find unclaimed land and plant apple orchards on it. Planting the orchards was a legal way of claiming ownership in some areas of the West. After planting, he would leave them to grow and wait for people to settle in the region.

What kind of apple seeds did Johnny Appleseed plant? ›

The apples that John Chapman planted were small and tart “spitters”… named for what you would do if you happened to bite into one. They may not have been the perfect fresh-eating apple, but they were the perfect apples for hard cider.

Was Johnny Appleseed real? ›

Johnny Appleseed was based on a real person, John Chapman, who was eccentric enough without the legends. Johnny Appleseed depicted in an 1862 book. We learn as children that Johnny Appleseed spread the gospel of the apple throughout the Midwest.

Who planted all the apple trees? ›

Johnny Appleseed was the nickname earned by John Chapman, a Massachusetts-born nurseryman and orchardist, who planted more than 100,000 square miles of orchards across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Where did apples come from? ›

DNA analysis indicates that apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, where the wild Malus sieversii—the many-times great-grandparent of Malus domestica, the modern domesticated apple—still flourishes. There's a lot to be said for domestication.

What is the sweetest apple called? ›

1. Fuji Apples. The sweetest apple that is widely available in grocery stores is Fuji. Fuji apples tend to vary in color, from yellow to green to red.

Are thorn apple seeds poisonous? ›

The entire plant is poisonous if ingested, especially the seeds, so don't plant it where small children will be playing.

Why is it called Jonathan apple? ›

Higley gathered seeds from the local cider mill in Connecticut before the family made their journey to the wilds of Ohio in 1796 where she planted them. She continued to carefully cultivate her orchard to maturity and named the resulting variety after a young local boy that frequented her orchard: Jonathan Lash.

Who brought apples to America? ›

The first apple trees in North America grew from seeds brought by French Jesuits in the late sixteenth century.

Why did apples come to America? ›

Apples in the Americas

In the 1600s, apples made their way to North America, too. Crabapples preceded European colonists to America, but the fruit was not very edible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony requested seeds and cuttings from England, which were brought over on subsequent voyages to Boston.

Who planted apple seeds in America? ›

John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), better known as Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Ontario, as well as the northern counties of present-day West Virginia.

Who fell out of the apple tree? ›

Legend has it that a young Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree when he was bonked on the head by a falling piece of fruit, a 17th-century “aha moment” that prompted him to suddenly come up with his law of gravity.

Who planted 1000 trees? ›

Saalumarada Thimmakka, also known as Aala Marada Thimmakka, is an Indian environmentalist from the state of Karnataka, noted for her work in planting and tending to 385 banyan trees along a forty-five-kilometre stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur. She has also planted nearly 8000 other trees.

Who made the first apple tree? ›

Approximately 8,000 years ago: Neolithic farmers in (modern) Asia cultivated wild apples. c. 1300 BC: Egyptians began planting orchards along the Nile Delta.

Are apples asexual? ›

Like all flowering plants, apples reproduce sexually by pollination. In the wild, apple trees are generally pollinated by a large number of other apple seedlings, which leads to immense diversity.

What are 3 facts about fruit? ›

#1 - Apples, peaches and raspberries are all members of the rose family. #2 - Pumpkins and avocados are fruits not a vegetable. #4 - A half-cup of figs has as much calcium as a half-cup of milk. #5 - Green fruits help make your bones and teeth strong.

What is the real color of apples? ›

Mainly red (over ¾ of apple), green or yellow background, sometimes vaguely striped.

Can dogs eat apples? ›

Yes, dogs can eat apples. Apples are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber for your dog. They are low in protein and fat, making them the perfect snack for senior dogs. Just be sure to remove the seeds and core first.

What is the oldest apple? ›

The world's oldest apple variety are perhaps the Annurca Apple from south Italy. Annurca apple are believed to be the one mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia as Mala Orcula before the year 79. However it was first mentioned by the name Annurca by Giuseppe Antonio Pasquale in the year 1876.

Is a apple a berry? ›

Some fruits do dry out, but do not dehisce, at maturity; nuts fall into this category. Berries do not dry out or split apart at maturity. Now, at this point, we've ruled out apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pineapples, peaches, and plums. But blueberries, pumpkins, oranges, and bananas all are berries.

What apples taste like Pink Lady? ›

The Cripps Red is sold as the Sundowner apple and is very similar to the Pink Lady in taste and texture. Both varieties can be substituted for each other in baking.

Which apple is sour? ›

Other apple varieties that lean towards the tart side are: Pink Lady® apples, Braeburn apples, McIntosh appes, Jonathan apples, Empire apples, and Cortland apples.

Is Devil's apple poisonous? ›

Devil's apple is a poisonous weed from Africa. Called Devil's apple because of its toxic yellow fruit, Solanum linnaeanum made an appearance under my almond tree.

Is Rose Apple poisonous? ›

The skin is smooth and thin, and the firm flesh yellowish, sweet and rose scente. The texture is crisp, almost crunchy when the fruit is ripe and freshly picked. They contains one to four medium hard, round seeds, which rattle around inside the fruit. The seed as well as the roots are regarded as poisonous.

Can you burn thorn apple? ›

However, the plants are easy to remove – simply pull them out or hoe the seedlings. If you pull out the plants before they set seed then simply compost them, but if they have set seed you will need to dispose of them by burning or burying them deeper than 60cm in the soil, to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Can you eat Jonathan apples? ›

The Jonathan apple is a wonderful apple for fresh eating but also makes for a great freezing as well as cooking apple. Because the flesh of the apple may break down a bit during cooking, you can pair the Jonathan with other more dense apples such as the Granny Smith, or Fuji for your pie fillings.

Do Jonathan apples still exist? ›

Jonathan Apples are considered an American Heirloom variety that was passed over by the commercial world in favor of newer, more exciting apples. However, they continue to be a local favorite, a staple of the Northeast, and a parent apple to new varieties.

How long do Jonathan apples last? ›

It's a great apple for fresh eating, freezing, and cooking. The fruit ripens late in the season (mid-September to mid-October) and has a great shelf life, keeping anywhere from 3–6 months in the refrigerator.

Why is apple a slur? ›

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.”

What is another name for an apple? ›

An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (Malus domestica). Apple trees are cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus Malus.
Species:M. domestica
Binomial name
Malus domestica Borkh., 1803
14 more rows

How big is an apple seed? ›

The length of each seed is about 8 mm (0.3 inch).

How did apples look in the 1800s? ›

To the modern consumer used to apples that are sweet, round, and red, this number may seem enormously redundant. But in the 19th century, apples came in all shapes and guises, some with rough, sandpapery skin, others as misshapen as potatoes, and ranging from the size of a cherry to bigger than a grapefruit.

Who named the apple fruit? ›

The origin of “apple” is straightforward, traced to the Proto-Germanic *ap(a)laz, and likely ultimately the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *ab(e)l-. What is interesting is that the word æppel in Old English referred not only to apples but to any kind of fruit, or fruit in general.

When did humans first start eating apples? ›

Prehistoric wildings 8,000 BC -

Human beings have been munching apples since prehistoric times. They spar out apple pips in neolithic Britain. And 10,000 years ago they left apple remains to carbonize around their Swiss and Italian lakeside homes.

Is apple true to seed? ›

Apples do not come true from seed. Actually about 1 in every 80,000 apple trees grown from seed is quality factors good enough to even be considered for evaluation. Most of the time you end up with a tree with small or inferior fruit and its nothing at all like the parent.

What are 5 health benefits of an apple? ›

Scientists also give apples credit for helping:
  • Your lung strength.
  • Your heart.
  • With asthma.
  • Bone health.
  • Weight loss.
  • Your brain (easing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and age-related memory loss)
  • Your immune system.
  • Your gut health.

Is apple planted in Nigeria? ›

Apples hardly grow in Nigeria because they require cold conditions for optimal growth and fruit production; nevertheless, in the past apples were developed in regions of Nigeria like the Jos, Mambila, and Obudu plateau.

Who bit into a poison apple? ›

The Evil Queen later offered the cursed apple to Snow White, who willingly bit into it, fully aware of the consequences in order to save the life of Prince Charming. Moments after Snow White bit the apple, she collapsed and dropped the apple.

How long do apple trees live? ›

The average healthy and well cared apple tree can live from 50 to 80 years. However, there are striking exceptions to this rule. Some apple trees have been reported to live for more than a century.

Did Adam get the apple stuck in his throat? ›

The name "Adam's" apple possibly come from the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible — where Adam ate an apple, the forbidden fruit, which became lodged in his throat.

Can we plant 1 trillion trees? ›

The Trillion Tree Campaign is a project which aims to plant one trillion trees worldwide. It seeks to repopulate the world's trees and combat climate change as a nature-based solution.
Trillion Tree Campaign.
Formerly calledBillion Tree Campaign
6 more rows

Who planted 3 billion trees? ›

Planting in France and Denmark sees EcoTree contribute more than 143,000 trees to the EU's 3 Billion Trees initiative. The European Union's Green Deal includes a whole range of projects that together aim to help Europe become carbon neutral by 2050.

Did China plant a billion trees? ›

China has planted 78 billion trees since 1981, according to state media. As a result, a green wave has expanded across the map.
VolumeAverage price
Forestry and land use1154.73
Renewable energy801.1
Energy efficiency / Fuel switching16.11.57
5 more rows
23 Apr 2022

What was apples original name? ›

Apple was founded as Apple Computer Company on April 1, 1976, by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to develop and sell Wozniak's Apple I personal computer.

Did apples exist before humans? ›

Fossil and genetic evidence demonstrate that these large fruits evolved several million years before humans started cultivating them.

What color was the first apple fruit? ›

Until the 20th century, apples were so different that there may have been no standard minds-eye thought of 'apple'. In fact, there were very few apples which were colored in such a way that you'd call them red. Most times, they were various shades of green, yellow, and red – sometimes on a single apple!

Where did Johnny Appleseed plant apple trees? ›

He planted his first apple tree nurseries in the Allegheny Valley in Pennsylvania about 1798 and then began traveling west through Ohio, planting as he went.

Why are the trees planted? ›

Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people, absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere, and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines.

Where did Johnny Appleseed plant most of his apple trees? ›

John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), better known as Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Ontario, as well as the northern counties of present-day West Virginia.

How many apple trees did John Chapman plant? ›

By selling seedlings to people arriving in the wilds of Ohio and Indiana, Chapman made creating an orchard with at least 50 apple trees a lot easier.

Where did the apple seed come from? ›

Scientists believe that birds and bears would have transported apple seeds out of Kazakhstan long before humans started to cultivate them – by eating the apples and then pooping out the seeds.

Do trees need humans? ›

Unless planted in cities where they are maintained by people, trees typically live in forests which are complex renewable systems – a system in which many things depend on each other in order for life to continue in a healthy balance. Trees can't just live on their own; they would die.

Is a tree a plant Yes or no? ›

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, usually supporting branches and leaves. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height.

Why do people cut down trees? ›

Trees are cut down so their wood can be burned or used to make things, such as buildings, furniture, or paper. Large areas of trees are removed so that the land can be used to grow crops or to provide places where farm animals can graze.

Did the apple fall too far from the tree? ›

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is a proverb that means that a child displays the characteristics or tendencies that the parent does or has done, that a child behaves in a same way as the parents do or cares about the same things that the parents do.

Where is the oldest apple tree? ›

The secret soul of Kazakhstan is a project by Italian photographer Simone Donati and journalist Emanuele Coen who recount their journey in Kazakhstan along the Silk Road and through the forests of Tekeli where the planet's oldest apple tree Malus Sieversii still grows.

What were apples originally used for? ›

Apples were used for making cider, baking, drying, eating out of hand—even as livestock feed.

What is the rarest apple tree? ›

Few people have ever gotten to the chance to even taste the Black Diamond apple. These apples are extremely rare and only grown in remote places in the world.


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