11 March 2009

Johnny Appleseed

Today is Johnny Appleseed day in the US. I can remember hearing about this person when I was a child probably through stories and maybe the Disney film. I don't think I really knew that he was real until today so I did a bit of exploring and found that Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – February 18, 1845).

He was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He was a missionary and his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance of apples led to him being made a legend in his own lifetime.

Apparently Chapman wore basic clothing nothing overly rich but probably not rags either, even in the cold of winter, and his lifestyle was generally a harsh, subsistent lifestyle; although he did go barefoot in summers to save leather.

According to Harper's New Monthly Magazine, towards the end of his career, he was present when an itinerant missionary was exhorting an open-air congregation in Mansfield, Ohio. The sermon was long and quite severe on the topic of extravagance, because the pioneers were starting to buy such indulgences as calico and store-bought tea. “Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to heaven bare-footed and clad in coarse raiment?” the preacher repeatedly asked, until Johnny Appleseed, his endurance worn out, walked up to the preacher, put his bare foot on the stump which had served as a podium, and said, “Here's your primitive Christian!” The flummoxed sermonizer dismissed the congregation.

Perhaps we still have something to learn from his ways, the kindness to others, less of the indulgences in life and living life without hurting the earth.


Kathy G said...

Thanks for the heads up! I also did a bit of research on Johnny Appleseed, attributing your post as my inspiration.

Janet said...

I can't believe we missed this. We LOVE Johnny Appleseed (we have the Disney movie). The Queen always puts her seeds out in the yard (we don't have the heart to tell her it probably won't work).

I LOVE that story about the missionary.

Janet said...

Ok, maybe I need to cut back on the capital letters a wee bit.