There’s a story from the early days of America, discussing this near-mythical figure that traveled the wilds of America spreading apple seeds everywhere he went. He was known and lauded for his kind, generous ways, and the importance he placed on the apples. To this day he is depicted in stories and song as the man who made apples an American institution and is one of the most beloved characters in its mythology and history.
History of Johnny Appleseed Day
What many people don’t know is that Johnny Appleseed was no mere legend, but was, in fact, a missionary known by the name of John Chapman. Born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. While the most common display of the man who would be known as Johnny Appleseed is of him randomly spreading apple seeds everywhere, the truth of his methods were a bit more pragmatic.
He travelled throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and the lands that would become West Virginia planting nurseries. He would fence them in and leave them in the care of a neighbor who would then sell shares in the trees, and then come back every year or two to tend them.
His very first nursery was built on the bank of Brokenstraw Creek, south of Warren Pennsylvania, but dozens more were to follow. His work wasn’t focused just on apples, however. He had a deep and abiding love for animals of all kinds, including insects.
He may have been one of the first ethical vegetarians and spent much of his life taking pains not to harm animals. One popular story about him recounts his attitudes towards animals:
“One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burned. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures.””
How to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day
Celebrating Johnny Appleseed Day is best done by indulging yourself in the delicious fruit that he helped to spread across the US. Whatever form you choose to have it in, whether a fresh apple off a tree or a rich and flavorful apple pie, be sure to take some time to appreciate the results of his efforts. You may also take a day off of eating meat and be extra kind to animals on this day, in remembrance of his efforts and his beliefs.