Johnny Appleseed Day
Johnny Appleseed Day is a day that commemorates the birth of John Chapman — an American pioneer who was responsible for introducing apple trees to parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and is better known for his nickname Johnny Appleseed than he is for his real name.
This American nurseryman became a legend during his own lifetime and was widely known for his conservation efforts. He was a missionary and is considered by many to be one of the first American conservationists.
This is a holiday that’s not only observed on September 26th for many people to coincide with Mr. Chapman’s birth anniversary but is also observed on March 11th to coincide with prime apple planting season. So feel free to celebrate one of these days honoring Johnny Appleseed, or if you’re a really big fan of his work and/or apples, feel free to celebrate both days.
The Life Of Johnny Appleseed
Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, to Nathaniel and Elizabeth Chapman in Leominster, Massachusetts. In 1776, Chapman’s mother died while giving birth to another son and John’s father returned to Longmeadow, Massachusetts in 1780 where he married Lucy Cooley.
The following year, Nathaniel and Lucy Chapman gave birth to a son named Nathaniel. According to some stories, 18-year-old John Chapman persuaded his 11-year-old half-brother Nathaniel to head west with him in 1792. The two supposedly lived a nomadic life until their father moved out west in 1805 and met them in Ohio.
Nathaniel decided to help his father farm his land, and John decided to become an apprentice under an apple orchard owner named Mr. Crawford. This would set John Chapman on a lifelong journey to plant apple trees.
Even though the popular image of Johnny Appleseed is that he spread apple seeds randomly everywhere he went, that’s not really accurate. What he actually did was to plant nurseries, erect fences around these nurseries, and then leave them in the care of neighbors to the nursery.
Every year or two, he would return to the nursery to tend to the trees. The very first nursery that he planted was on the bank of Brokenstraw Creek in Pennsylvania. One of the reasons why he planted trees so proficiently was because of a frontier law that enabled anyone to lay claim to a piece of land by merely establishing a homestead.
A homestead claim could be made simply by planting fruit trees on the land. He would plant apple trees to make a nursery, and then once they had matured, he would sell the land to settlers.
Over the course of his life, he traveled over 100,000 square miles, so that gives you an idea of just how much land he could’ve accumulated. By the time of his death on March 11, 1845, he had over 1,200+ acres of land.
Fun Facts About Apples
- The only apple native to North America is the crabapple.
- It takes approximately two pounds of apples to make a single 9-inch apple pie.
- Johnny Appleseed didn’t plant the first American apple trees. That would be the pilgrims.
- The pilgrims planted apple trees at the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- The biggest apple ever picked off an apple tree was 3 pounds.
- The average U.S. apple orchard is approximately 50 acres in size.
- To make one apple, the apple tree has to collect energy from fifty of its leaves.
- During colonial times, apples were known as winter bananas.
- Apples will ripen approximately 6 times faster at room temperature than in the fridge.
- How much does a peck of apples weigh? They weigh 10.5 pounds.
- Approximately 75% of the fiber and antioxidants found in an apple exist in the peel.
- Approximately 25% of all American-grown apples are exported.
- America’s longest-living apple tree lived from 1647 to 1866. It was killed by a derailed train.
Observing Johnny Appleseed Day
Anyone who wants to observe Johnny Appleseed Day can do so in any number of different ways. They can enjoy apple products such as apple tarts, apple pies, or even apple cider. Or, if they’re inspired by the story of Johnny Appleseed, they can plant their own apple trees.
If you decide to grow your own apple tree, just remember that apple trees like full sun, and well-drained soil, and will require some pest control measures being used to ensure that they remain healthy. While you’re enjoying this holiday, regardless of whether you observe it on September 26th or March 11th, be sure to use the hashtag #JohnnyAppleseedDay to spread the word about the life of this American legend.