On Sept. 26, 1774, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born in Leominister, Massachusetts.
While there are multiple legends about Chapman, in fact he was an itinerant minister of the New Church (Swedenborgianism) and nurseryman, who fenced in land and planted trees for further sale and distribution in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
He was a naturalist and animal lover, who was reported once to have put out his campfire to spare the mosquitoes who were attracted to its light. He was considered a holy man by the Native Americans, who left him alone in his travels. Chapman died on March 18, 1845, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
American folklore is full of tall tales, such as many of those which surround Johnny Appleseed. As a people without a history, the creation of folk legends played an important role in creating an American identity. One theme is the relation between people and nature, and travel between civilization and wilderness.
- The “lone traveler” is an important theme related to American identity. Why do you think this is the case?
- What are some other examples of American legendary tall tales? What are their similarities and differences?
- Do you know the Johnny Appleseed song?
20, Sept. 2018, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed [Digital image]. Retrieved from <google.com>.