September 26 marks the birth date of a famous historical figure known for his generosity, conservation habits and the significance he credited to apples – John Chapman, more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed.
For over 50 years, Johnny traveled through Pennsylvania, the Ohio valley, and Indiana planting apple seeds, grafting trees and tending to his apple farms to help make the wilderness a suitable home for the advancing pioneers. His apples were used for food, juice, cider and as a means of trade. Legends portray Johnny Appleseed as a wanderer who plants seeds and sings songs. But in truth, he was a knowledgeable businessman who bought and sold land and used his nursery skills to cultivate thousands of productive apple farms.
Throughout history apples have had a bad reputation. Apples were the forbidden fruit in The Garden of Eden, the golden apple of discord played a large part in the start of the Trojan War, the wicked witch in Snow White presents the princess with a poisoned apple and in Latin apple means evil. Johnny Appleseed was one of the first men to help turn around the symbolic meaning of the apple. Thanks to him, the apple is an American icon for wholesome, nourishment, prosperity and American pride.
Johnny Appleseed was viewed as “eccentric” by most of the settlers in his days. He was a vegetarian, who chose to go barefoot, did not use a horse to get around and made friends with the Native Americans. Although most people found him to be an odd man, he was welcomed by all for his humanitarian efforts. His appreciation for nature, kindness to animals and open attitude toward Indians, although an eye opener for most, never-the-less made him an example to Americans everywhere.
September 26 not only marks the birthdate of Johnny but also serves as a reminder of the significance of apples. Celebrate this day with a delicious, sweet, nourishing apple and remember Johnny Appleseed for all his efforts during the 1700-1800s in bringing light to horticulture and humanitarianism.