Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today We're Observing . . .

The first item I saw when I checked my RSS feeds this morning was a post about Johnny Appleseed Day from Sage at Wise Herb's Random Jottings. I wasn't aware of the holiday, but thanks to Sage I researched the life of Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman on September 26th, 1774), is an American pioneer and folk hero who planted apple trees across the American Frontier. Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated on March 11th, which some believe is the day of his death in 1845, because it is during planting season.

He was an apple tree nurseryman who for nearly fifty years planted trees in much of what is now Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, providing orchards for westward-migrating settlers. Johnny arrived in an area before any pioneers, tried to predict where they were likely to settle, planted apple seeds, and waited. By the time the settlers arrived, he would have two- to three-year old apple trees ready to sell. He left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold the trees, and left to plant new nurseries, returning every couple of years to care for the orchard and the growing trees.

Johny Appleseed was a devout Christian who was known to preach his Swedenborgian faith during his travels. He led a simple nonconformist life, dressing in the worst of the used clothing he received, giving away the better items in barter, and often going barefoot to save leather. Contrary to popular belief, Johnny actually didn't wear a pot on his head.

Johnny rarely accepted money and donated any money he received to churches or charities. He looked upon nature as his friend, practicing kindness to animals that was contradictory to frontier customs. For example, he often used his profits to purchase lame horses to save them from slaughter, nursing them back to health and then donating them to a family in need.

Johnny Appleseed died in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The exact date of death isn't known, and there is some controversy about the burial site.

In honor of the day, I baked some muffins. I used oatmeal and whole wheat flour, folded one shredded organic Rancho Royale and one Granny Smith apple into the batter, and added cinnamon and nutmeg.

Here's the Johnny Appleseed blessing that I learned as a kid at camp, which is actually a Swedenborgian hymn:

Oh the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple seed
Oh the Lord is good to me


  1. What an interesting post and delightful blog overall.

    I had no idea Chapman was such a fascinating man. A year or two ago I wrote about Smucker's (hq northeast Ohio) and learned their original product, an apple butter, was made,at least in part, with apples from trees Chapman planted. My fun factoid of the day!

  2. Ella, thanks for your kind words. I also learned a lot about the man today.

  3. I did that same prayer/song while @ daycamp. Except that you add "Johnny Appleseed! Amen!" and there is clapping and/or snapping. It's strange because it's obviously a prayer and yet, we still did it @ daycamp...with no religious affiliation.

  4. LOVE this!
    Really, the idea of a nonconformist seeding the midwest....
    I knew of Johnny Appleseed, from legends, but not the truth. Thank you, think I'll go bake some old McIntosh(s) I have in the bin...;-)

  5. I can remember that song, don't know where I have heard it before... love the internet just for the sheer interest it develops in the memories we have.

  6. love it. I am teaching my daughter about Johnny Appleseed today (kindergarten) and we found part of the song but not all of it on Wikipedia. So thanks for the rest of it!!

    There is so much more to read about him. Fascinating fellow.

    Thanks for contributing the song. I remember it from my childhood too.

  7. Anonymous-you're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Thanks for your information. On what do you base your assertion that John Chapman did not in fact wear a pot on his head? I annually do musical presentations for children in school, and would like to know if there is verifiable factual information regarding the tin pot.