Johnny Appleseed has become a folklore legend in the United States. Children of all ages are told stories of a man who loved to plant apple seeds around the country. These interesting facts about the man who was actually named John Chapman might not be as enchanting as the stories, but show off his genius nonetheless.
1. All About the Profits
In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the United States was expanding westward through the attitude of Manifest Destiny. This meant there was a lot of undeveloped land that needed developing. If someone would develop that land, then they would be awarded with the deed. One of the allowable methods of development was to plant 50 or more apple trees. This gave Johnny Appleseed more than 1,200 acres of free land.
2. Hated In the Prohibition
Alcoholic apple products were a staple of early Americana. Johnny Appleseed contributed to this thanks to his planting of thousands of apple trees that were known as “Spitters.” You couldn’t really eat the apples because they were small and sour, causing you to spit out the bite. They made a fantastic cider and with fermentation made a popular drink. In prohibition, Johnny Appleseed was so hated for the orchards he planted that many were destroyed by the US government.
3. An Active Missionary
Faith was important to Johnny Appleseed. He would often share his faith wherever his journeys took him, representing his love of the teachings published by the theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. About 1,500 active members of this branch of Christianity are still active today in 37 officially recognized churches. Worldwide about 30,000 people follow the teachings that Johnny Appleseed would teach in his travels.
4. A Legacy Not Passed Down
Appleseed’s faith also meant that he stayed celibate throughout his entire life as he never married. He had no known relatives at the time of his death, so the acreage he was awarded from his apple tree planting efforts were awarded to those who would maintain them on behalf of the community.
5. He Loved Animals
Johnny Appleseed loved animals so much that it is said that he once put out a campfire because he saw that it was burning the mosquitoes that would fly into the flames. He even became a vegetarian to help save what he described as God’s creatures.
Johnny Appleseed may not have gone around randomly planting apple trees, but his legacy in American folklore is assured. His orchards may not still stand, but his influence on this industry continues on today.